The difference between “atheism+” and humanism »« Temporarily Broken

Todd Akin and how the Christian Right’s delusion of an all-powerful God hurts people

I am about as far from the Christian Right as you can get, religiously and politically, and it’s not always apparent how closely that religious fervor is related to what I think of as the most cruel and stupid of the beliefs that the right-wing clings to.

Todd Akin, current representative and Senate nominee, said one of the most offensively stupid things I’ve ever heard.  Admittedly, I am as far from him on the abortion debate as one can get, but I do have some sympathy for people who think abortion is murder without exception.  I happen to think that it doesn’t matter whether it is murder or not — in all other circumstances, people have the right to use any means necessary to protect their own body from unwanted invaders and harm, I don’t see pregnancy as different.

Regardless, his scientifically illiterate justification for allowing no exceptions for rape is rather astonishing:

People always try to make that one of those things, ‘Oh, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question.’  It seems to me, first of all, what I understand from doctors is that’s really where—if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

Todd Akin’s absurd claim that people who are “legitimately” raped can’t get pregnant is symptomatic of the larger problem of the Christian Right. When you think that there is an all-powerful God overlooking everything, it’s difficult to cope with the cognitive dissonance that bad things happen to good people and that most solutions to problems are imperfect.

The problem of evil in the world is nothing new, but it is much easier to ignore if you blame all bad things on bad actions on the part of victims rather than societal problems or true injustice.  It would be too cruel for someone to get pregnant from a rape, so she must have not been raped, not really raped, only kind of raped.  They aren’t saying these things to justify their positions, they genuinely believe them because not to would be so difficult to all of their other beliefs.

There can’t be systematic injustice — God wouldn’t allow it, so women and black people and poor people are all simply reaping what they’ve sewn or playing their appropriate role, not being hurt by unnecessary prejudice and cruelty.  Women can’t be raped, they are always asking for it.  People on welfare must be bad people, that’s why they deserve to be poor.  They are different from us.  That’s why when Rush Limbaugh takes government handouts, it is OK, because he’s really a good person, but when some black welfare queen takes it, it is not OK, because she’s really a bad person.  Limbaugh doing drugs is someone who needs counseling, inner city kids doing drugs are criminals.  Why should there be social safety nets for bad people?  Because in the mind of a Christian, the world can be broken into the good people and the bad people.  Somehow they miss that almost everyone is just a people people, not particularly good or bad.

To be a Christian, you must believe that God is all-powerful and good, and so you’re forced to believe that people have asked for their bad fates and that solutions to problems are simple, otherwise you have to start questioning the God hypothesis and admitting that the responsibility for making to world a better place for your fellow man is yours.

Comments

  1. Robert B. says

    “Legitimate rape” = “Perfect victim” (A magical, mythical creature, the imaginary symbol of purity. Like a unicorn.)

    “Illegitimate rape” = “Bitches be lyin’, amirite?”

  2. says

    You can certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  3. Konradius says

    You know what I am wondering?
    People like Rick Santorum and Todd Akin wear seatbelts.
    They go to the doctor when they’re sick. They have bodyguards in public (At least, Rick had when he mattered). They look both ways when crossing the street.
    When they shoot a gun they point away from themselves.
    Why don’t they accept all that god can give them?

  4. rempetis says

    Because in the mind of a Christian, the world can be broken into the good people and the bad people. Somehow they miss that almost everyone is just a people people, not particularly good or bad.

    Your analysis took an interesting turn there, that’s a huge subject that sadly not many people touch upon. I have my doubts though that it is only in “the mind of the Christian” as you put it, i think that this kind of thinking is integrated in most of the culture.

  5. lactose fermenter says

    Um, because God helps those who help themselves?

    Or maybe deep down even they don’t believe the bullshit they spew.

  6. thisisaturingtest says

    @#4, rempetis:

    I have my doubts though that it is only in “the mind of the Christian” as you put it, i think that this kind of thinking is integrated in most of the culture.

    I wonder if you could take this a step further, and say that this sort of thinking is not just a cultural imperative, but an imperative of mind (as opposed to “the brain”). The mind works on a normative basis, and the natural instinct is to apply this to all nature. So religion is an impulse to follow that instinct, and rational thought is an effort to override it.

  7. lactose fermenter says

    “To be a Christian, you must believe that God is all-powerful and good, and so you’re forced to believe that people have asked for their bad fates and that solutions to problems are simple, otherwise you have to start questioning the God hypothesis and admitting that the responsibility for making to world a better place for your fellow man is yours.”

    This is what makes Christianity so appealling. You can suspend thought. Why trouble yourself with all that critical thinking? The complex reality of the world gives way to simple dualities of good and evil, right and wrong, us and them. Seeing the world for what it really is is difficult. It can be painful. You might learn something you don’t want to know. It’s best not to try and retreat into the comforting embrace of cluelessness.

  8. rempetis says

    Yeah, i agree. Surely if ALL kids were given the tools to develop critical thinking and rational thought the culture would probably be very different a generation later, and there would probably be a lot less believers.

  9. The Pale Scot says

    As was said, good and bad duality isn’t restricted to the religious. I think though that in this case “Calvinist” should be substituted for Christian. What isn’t talked about, I wasn’t aware of it myself until recently, is that the Evangelical and Pentecostal dogmas are Calvinist in nature. I thought this way of thinking had been relegated to the ash-bin of history or was like transubstantiation, a belief that while still part of the system didn’t really affect day to day interactions with reality. But that’s not the case. Predestination is the scale they use to judge others. Those that believe as they do are have obviously been pre-selected (before birth) as god’s chosen. Everyone else isn’t. Most importantly, free will is an illusion and and belief itself supersedes good acts.

    Here’s a quick overview; http://www.the-highway.com/compare.html

  10. says

    I would point out that this sort of thinking is not limited to Christianity. This sounds much like the bias from the just-world hypothesis. Now, in the mind of the Christian, it would be their god that is the force, or cause, behind keeping the world just. So this god belief does reinforce the just-world bias. But is this god belief the cause of the just-world bias? Or does the god belief develop to explain the just-world? Maybe it’s a packaged product?

  11. smrnda says

    Given that I’ve never been religious, it’s always been obvious to me that I was living in an unjust world, where innocent people get pissed and shit on on a regular basis, and where it’s almost safe to assume that anyone sufficiently powerful or privileged is fairly amoral.

    There’s also a belief that people should just accept whatever happens to them as “God’s will,” which is a convenient load of bullshit for someone with a great deal of privileged to preach to the less fortunate. There’s also a lot of authoritarianism, where certain hierarchies are believed to be established by God and, no matter how bad it is for people on the bottom, that’s just how it is.

    I find the last bit odd since many right-wing Christians would seem to believe that say, the authority of an employer over a worker is God ordained, but that the authority of a regulatory agency over an employer is an intrusion into God’s established order. Then again, holding nonsensical, contradictory beliefs seems part of the package.

  12. Corvus illustris says

    I think though that in this case “Calvinist” should be substituted for Christian.

    Yeah, I was going to point this out. This is Kalvinist Karma. The RCs have a completely different take on it.

    What isn’t talked about, I wasn’t aware of it myself until recently, is that the Evangelical and Pentecostal dogmas are Calvinist in nature.

    This is pretty obvious from a USAmerican perspective. Hey, you really are a Scot and the Kirk is deader than I would have thought.

  13. Corvus illustris says

    Whether they come up with some pseudo-medical rationale like Akins’ or not, my reaction to these guys (other than mindless rage), with or without rape, is the usual “Where the hell do you get a license to make women into involuntary incubators? Law? How would you like a law that made you into an involuntary kidney donor? Hey, it would save someone’s (adult, real) life and you could probably get along on one kidney.”

  14. The Pale Scot says

    That’s one of my solutions, classify the willfully ignorant as IOD’s, Involuntary Organ Donors.

  15. says

    I’m going to go a bit off the main point. Apologies if that constitutes and unwelcome distraction.

    …but I do have some sympathy for people who think abortion is murder without exception. I happen to think that it doesn’t matter whether it is murder or not — in all other circumstances, people have the right to use any means necessary to protect their own body from unwanted invaders and harm, I don’t see pregnancy as different.

    It’s stuff like this that keeps me reading your stuff. So often I find each side in the abortion debate is unwilling to appreciate the value in the other side’s perspective. I personally do think that it matters if a fetus is a person or not*; that has had me labelled as anti-choice or anti-woman a number of times. I think that’s an unfair characterization, just as it’s unfair to criticize people who are pro-choice as somehow being pro-murder.

    *I don’t think there’s a clear line in what constitutes a person, so I am very much pro-choice up to approximately 6 months into pregnancy. (I just want to clarify my position, not start an off-topic debate.)

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