I ♥ Iron Chariots

Just wanted throw some words of praise at the intrepid editors over at Iron Chariots. I just finished writing a long email response to someone who wanted to know what came before the big bang. When I was finished, I thought to myself, “Self, this would be a great addition to the big bang article at Iron Chariots.”

When I got there, however, I discovered that edits were completely unnecessary, as a very thorough and well written account of what I wanted to say was already there. Some of my thoughts about the cosmological argument were not in the big bang article, but instead there was a very tidy link to a cosmological argument page with some great responses. And when I thought “Ah but this doesn’t address the kalam version” I was again proved wrong, as one sentence in the middle helpfully informed me that “Changing ‘Everything that exists has a cause’ to ‘Everything that begins to exist has a cause’ produces a variant known as the Kalam cosmological argument” which in turn led to another page with some stuff I hadn’t even thought of saying.

Then I thought “Surely there’s a lot to be done on the transcendental argument. I remember how incomplete it was when I looked it up while talking to Matt Slick.” Well, the page is in progress, but it already has the full version of the Slick argument posted, plus some initial refutations based partly on Matt’s and my discussions with him.

Needless to say, I’m delighted. It lightens the load of answering emails tremendously, because I can just link a pre-written article which expresses it better than I would off the cuff. That is, of course, exactly what we hoped for when we created this wiki.

I well remember when about 50% of the content had to be generated by me personally, so I’m gratified to see that it’s progressing very well without my intervention. Thanks!

Gamers, get ready for Left Behind 2

Alert Non-Prophets listener “Rasputin” sent me this valuable information:

Greetings Unprophets,

After your recent lengthy hiatus I realized I just can’t get enough and with a lack of other listening material I decided to take a stroll through the archives.

…During the March 24, 2007 episode there was a story about the stock price of Left Behind Games hitting eighteen cents and someone questioned parenthetically “Weren’t they going to put out a sequel?”

To assuage my rampant curiosity on this issue I decided to make an offering to the Great Lord Google and what do I find?

http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Left-Behind-Games-Inc-Inspired-Media-Entertainment-1001802.html

Not only did they make a sequel but they released it yesterday making this insanely topical. Clearly my yearnings for the dulcet rantings of Jeff Dee were divinely inspired.

According to this press release the first game is “known as the most widely distributed Christian PC game in history.” I think that’s kind of like cruising for chicks in the maternity ward because you know they put out. It may be technically true but is missing quite a bit of the big picture. And by quite a bit I mean all.

I never did get around to playing the first Left Behind game, because the reviews were so awful it sounded painful to play even for camp value. This time will probably be no different, but I look forward to hearing whether they managed to remain utterly tone-deaf when we see how many flaws that were pointed out remain unfixed.

And now for something completely disturbing

Submitted by Arlo Pignotti. I’m not sure which part of this I find most face-palm worthy, but I suspect it’s a toss-up between:

  1. the demented giggling after they talk about shedding blood (1:30)
  2. the anthropomorphic glob of dough’s AWFUL line about yeast (2:10)
  3. the bit where they do a flailing do-si-do while chanting “Second Corinthians 5:17.” (2:15)

Also, a man who bought a… PEARL? (1:07) WTF?!?

Whyyyyyyyyyyy?

Imagine me in a scene from a bad movie, on my knees, in a rainstorm, reaching up to the skies and screaming the above, and you’ll have an idea of my often melodramatic reaction to some of the totally jacked up, hallucinatory theist email we get. Including this, which came to us in the ever-popular Multicolored Multifont Format. Seriously, if this one’s a Poe, somebody has way too much time on his hands to spend fucking with us (and the site it plugs is real enough).

War And Famine Coming To America!
Recent Prophecy Revealing The Identity of The Antichrist Is Also Included With This Bulletin!

Numerous prophets have issued grave judgment warnings for America. Linda Newkirk is one among many, sounding the alarm. See the foot of this bulletin for further information. Visit prophecies.org to learn the truth of Rev. 12!
As you will learn in this bulletin, warnings from Gods ‘true’ prophets are stern, no-nonsense, and very sobering. Many in the church will tell you that God no longer speaks through prophets, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, He does not change. We were not warned to reject all prophets, just the false ones. If God did not speak through prophets there would be no Holy Bible.
Jesus warned that He was coming back with a sword! He also said He was coming back as a Lion, not as a Lamb! Make no mistake about it, what we now face is referred to in scripture, as ‘The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord’
I have been given many divine revelations confirming ‘time and again’ the prophecies and revelations of Linda Newkirk. DO YOUR OWN HOMEWORK on the Antichrist prophecies. Background information to help confirm these revelations is widely available in the alternative media. The truth of this prophecy also becomes more obvious by the day. Many of those who shook their heads when these revelations were released last fall are no longer doing so.
Mark Brander

It goes on from there.

I mean, really goes on.

You’ll never guess who the Antichrist is.

Today’s live show – call with Skype!

Quick note…as the studio is closed for the summer, we’ll be doing the show live, from Dillahunty International Studios.

If you’d like to call in, here’s what you need to do:
– Download and install Skype (if you haven’t already)
– Setup a Skype account (if you haven’t already)
– Add ‘atheisttv’ to your contacts list

When the show is live, DO NOT CALL. Instead, send an IM to ‘atheisttv’ with your name, location and subject. The call screener will be making outgoing calls, as we can. He’ll contact you first to see if you’re ready for the call and we’ll see how it goes. :)

Please be patient…this is a first attempt and we’ll try to make improvements each week.

Ah, the righteous arrogance of crackpots

It all started when the Everything Else Atheist posted a somewhat scathing exchange between herself and a professor at her college. This professor had been bringing in students to participate in “psychology experiments” which were actually efforts to identify psychic premonitions.

EEA wrote to him with some extremely reasonable concerns about whether proper scientific rigor had been followed in a domain that is traditionally overrun with pseudoscientific hacks. Among other suggestions, the professor responded by asking EEA to read The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin. At that point there was another, somewhat more frosty exchange of emails.

It gets fun here, because Dean Radin apparently googles his name every single day to see who might be talking about him. A commenter found the Everything Else Atheist blog because Radin descended from his ivory tower to dismiss EEA on his blog for being an uppity atheist.

Of course, responding to clueless broadside rants against atheists is what us Tiggers do best, so away we go!


I remember

Ah, the righteous arrogance of youth.

Wait wait, stop right there. Oh, this is going to be too much fun.

So right away after just one sentence, Radin telegraphs his compulsion to latch on to superficial personal aspects of his target… the very definition of an ad hominem. We have a long way to go before we reach the end, but I want to point out that not once in this entire post does Radin ever actually respond to her criticism.

I remember what it was like to feel intellectually superior to my college professors, many of whom seemed to be dullards who understood nothing. I grew out of that phase when I started to apply genuine skepticism, not just to others’ beliefs, but to my own.

Radin mocks the temerity of those who would criticize a college professor, thereby offering an argument from authority, since those in high academic posts must never EVER be challenged. Which is a weird position to take, considering that Radin himself frequently has to explain that the scientific community doesn’t take him seriously because of a massive conspiracy against him. Uh, what is it that he grew out of, exactly? Beats me.

Here is a good example of a young person who fits the profile of adolescent certainty (some people never grow out of this stage). Once a Christian, she lost her faith, followed by a commonly observed flip-flop — she became a fervent atheist.

Atheists, especially young ones in the midst of existential crisis, do not yet appreciate that their strong stance against religious faith is just faith of another color (i.e., scientism). They are also unable to distinguish between beliefs based on empirically testable ideas vs. beliefs based on faith. And like most true believers in scientism, they become very concerned that one might conduct experiments where the underlying mechanisms are not yet understood. I wish I could say that most students grow out of an over-reliance on the certainty of prevailing theories, but as I mentioned in my previous post, unfortunately many don’t.

Oh, this is rich. First, like many apologists for woo striving to assert themselves as Real Intellectuals, Radin performs a little armchair psychology. His hypothesis is that nobody EVER disagrees with his point of view unless they are undergoing some sort of “crisis.”

Then he launches into a tirade about “scientism.” Now I don’t know about you folks, but the only context in which I ever hear this is from smarmy post-modernists who wish to appear clever by deriding science as a legitimate means for finding things out. Wikipedia helpfully supplies:
“The term scientism is used to describe the view that natural science has authority over all other interpretations of life, such as philosophical, religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic explanations, and over other fields of inquiry, such as the social sciences.”

Okay, so here’s Dean Radin, exuding scorn for EEA because she applies the concepts of science to a realm in which he implies that it does not belong, since presumably it is information of a “philosophical, religious, mythical, spiritual, or humanistic” nature and not science at all. And you know, that’s cool with me. Radin’s under no obligation whatsoever to care in the slightest about silly concepts like “scientific method” and “peer review” and “academic honesty” or anything like that.

But wait a minute, let’s remind ourselves of the context which brought about this exchange. A professor in EEA’s science department was attempting to perform a science experiment in which he proved that precognition has scientific merit. And as support for this position, in lieu of offering up scientific research, he helpfully steered EEA towards Radin’s book. Gee, I think somebody might want to notify this professor about how Radin really feels about science.

Her angst centered on an experiment studying precognition. Impossible! Violates natural law! Must be pseudoscience! With that attitude, any evidence offered, however obtained, can only be fraud, or worse.

Of course precognition is not prohibited by physics. The laws of classical and quantum mechanics are time symmetric, and there are many serious articles (this link has just a few examples) available on the topic of retrocausation, which is far more interesting and complicated than a superficial scan might suggest.

I’d just like to point out that at no point in EEA’s post did she actually say any of this nonsense. She didn’t say “ZOMG precognition that’s like totally against the laws of NAYCHER!!!” Those hysterics are entirely from the voices in Radin’s head. What she said, rather, was that (1) parapsychology is not taken very seriously among the scientific community; (2) it’s had a really long time to produce the kinds of results that would make it worth taking seriously; and (3) the professor’s techniques are riddled with holes that even an undergrad can see.

What does Radin do to respond to these charges? Well, he makes fun of her, and simultaneously manages to confirm her issues by blowing off requests for scientific rigor as “scientism.” Good job, Dean.

Besides my own books (The Conscious Universe is finally in paperback!), I recommend Larry Dossey’s new book to get a feel for the art and science of precognition.

But doing one’s homework can be so taxing….

Hey, remember earlier when I said that Radin never bothers to actually address EEA’s arguments? Maybe I should apologize for that because here’s where he…

Oh wait, no. No, he’s just trying to peddle his books.

I remember the sanctimonious pride that accompanies feelings of certainty, and I’m glad I outgrew it.

Thank goodness Dean doesn’t have any lingering sanctimonious pride or feelings of certainty, because otherwise his post would have been really hard to read.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

I recently had a conversation with a man who had lost his son. He answered the phone and was pleased to hear from me after many years. We had a wonderful conversation and I was glad that I called. He told me what had happened. He talked about how he was doing. And he waxed philosophic on the meaning of it all.

“How someone can look at a tree or a human body or even a human eye, and not see that there is some design to all of this,” he thought out loud. He went on to describe the wondrousness of nature and his theistic leanings, and to express bewilderment at how anyone could accept evolution and other things our public schools and universities are teaching now-a-days. “It’s so much easier to believe in god—so much easier to believe a god did all this.” Yes, he actually said that. And yes, he did use the human eye example.

Obviously I don’t share his views. But I do share, to some small degree, his loss and his hope that things can and will get better as we all come to grips with the death of a loved family member and all that the young man had come to represent for each of us—whether as a fond childhood memory or a son.

We often get letters from atheists asking how to handle social situations where theistic ideas are laid bare to them from those they love or respect. Whether other atheists agree or disagree with me, there is no way I was going to address my opposing views to this man in this circumstance. He wasn’t asking me what I thought. He wasn’t requesting my approval. He was communicating feelings and simply wanted to be allowed to do so. And if I could help him feel comforted by merely listening in this moment, without expressing judgment, I felt I could offer him at least that much.

So, I continued to listen. And he finally began to talk about other things. He is an impressive man of many talents. Not complicated or intellectual—but interesting and clever. He owns some land where he raises orchards and honey bees. Not a large farm, but enough to keep him busy in his mid-70s. And being a garden enthusiast myself, I found I was quickly drawn into some of the most interesting conversation about nature I’ve had in awhile.

I need to try grafting—he insists. I have an apple sprout. When it gets to be as big around as my finger, I can cut it just so, and add a fruit apple stem to the stalk, in order to grow the fruit variety of apple on this useless sprout. And, as it turns out, I can keep on grafting different varieties, and they will all grow on the same apple tree. He has in his garden an apple tree upon which he now boasts 21 different varieties of apples growing on a single trunk.

Many people don’t realize that most of the plants that supply us food don’t exist in the wild. If I grow an apple tree sprouted from seed, it may never fruit. And if it does fruit, there are nearly perfect odds the fruit will be bitter, small, and inedible. Growing an apple tree from a Red Delicious apple seed will not yield you a Red Delicious apple tree. Some of you may have known that—but I’m guessing many of you may not have. To grow Red Delicious apples, you have to graft a Red Delicious apple stem to an existing apple tree trunk—of any variety (even a rouge like the one I have sprouted). The graft will produce Red Delicious fruit. You can’t grow modern domestic apple strains from seed. I don’t know if there are exceptions to this—but in general, this is the rule with much of our fruit bearing domestic crops. They don’t exist in the wild. And if all we had was seed, we would have to rebreed it from existing stock—re-engineer it, genetically, using a lab or evolution and artificial selection to recreate “Red Delicious” apples again.

Not only is the man on the phone aware of how this works—he knows more about it than I do. The only way to create something like a Red Delicious apple, in the days before genetic modification in a lab, was to use evolution and artificial selection to make it happen, yourself. You had to direct nature away from natural selection and use artificial selection to get what you wanted. Most people understand this is how we have dogs in our homes that differ drastically from dogs and wolves in the wild. In fact, we have dogs in our homes that differ drastically from other dogs in other people’s homes.

But he understands we breed strains of plants that become unable to reproduce themselves without human intervention. And he knows how it works and takes great pleasure from actually doing it—from diving into nature and taking control and directing nature and making nature do all sorts of weird and “unnatural” things that, ironically, only nature can do for him. He knows nature. He works nature. He sees nature with his own eyes.

But he doesn’t believe nature.

This same man has seen firsthand how nature can change and produce and reform and repurpose, how it can be made to stretch with agility and be tortuously forced to produce extremes of diversity through such minor interventions as a cut in a limb or picking this type of parent stock over that one. He has seen nature.

But he doesn’t believe nature.

“Who could believe evolution?” he sincerely wonders. And for now, I won’t reply to him. Now is not the time to argue with a bereaved parent. But in my own mind I cannot help but ask, “Who can see nature and do what you have done with nature, and still not believe what nature can do?” The diversity, flexibility and novelty of nature is something to behold. To see someone else behold it and then reply, “it’s so much easier to believe a god did it,” is hard to fathom. Perhaps it is a compliment to nature that what it does is so unbelievable to so many that they think something more must be involved?

To see nature do it, and then say “nature can’t do it—it must be a god,” is interesting to say the least. I’ve never seen a god, let alone seen a god do anything amazing (or anything mundane for that matter). So, how could it possibly be easier for me to identify a god as the cause of what I observe that nature does, than to identify nature as the cause of what I observe nature does? How did “god” come into this equation? At what point do we employ a touch of god to get the grafting to work or to breed the new spaniel? Which step was “add a bit of god” in that?

The fact is, there is no “add a bit of god” step. And everyone who works with nature knows that it does what it does how it does it. If we didn’t understand that much, we would be unable to guide it and use it as we have and as we do. We know, to some useful degree what nature is, what it does, and how it accomplishes those things. That’s how we put it to work for us. And still, it manages to come up with new and interesting things nearly every day to continue to amaze us with its revelations.

If we understand a process, why should we employ god—an unnecessary, extraneous step—to explain it?

And if we don’t understand a process, I must still wonder why should we employ god to explain it?

If I have never seen a god and don’t know what a god is or how it functions and operates and what actual impact it has on anything—how do I employ it and use it to produce explanatory function for anything in nature? How is what cannot be observed, examined or understood, useful or helpful in understanding anything? If I don’t understand natural process Y, and I say it’s the result of undefined function X—what have I learned? What have I explained or added to our knowledge? How does that help at all? And why would I put such a baseless thing forward as useful or real?

How can a person so involved in nature and natural processes accept that a divine cause is required for what he can plainly observe nature doing—apparently, by all observation, unaided?

Ironically, most creationists would respond that I’m stripping god of his rightful credit by endowing nature as its own source. But really, if I go by what is supported via the evidence and reason, it’s clearly the other way around. Nature, a wonder to observe (and, importantly, it can be observed) is not served by handing credit for all it does and all it can do, to god-X (and note that, importantly, god-X cannot be observed). Fortunately for nature, it does not appear to have an ego to bruise. But if it did, it might wonder, “on what grounds can any reasonable person assert that I can’t do what I clearly do? How does anyone know what I can do, but by observing what I do before their very eyes?” And if there were some world behind the world, how could we reasonably credit it, while it works in shadows, hides its hand, and pretends to not exist—putting forward a façade that nature can do all this hidden world is supposedly “really” doing? If there were such a hidden world, there would be nothing to observe or examine to make anyone think it exists.

How would that be easier to believe than what can actually be seen, examined, and understood? For me, it’s not hard to believe what I can observe and examine and come to understand. But it’s very hard to believe that which is supported by nothing I can see and examine—and which, due to that, could never be understood, and therefore never believed, because there is no way to reasonably assert belief in things we cannot or do not understand.

We get email… strike that, we get cut n’ paste

So I see this in my inbox:

Who Created God? A number of skeptics ask this question. But God by definition is the uncreated creator of the universe, so the question Who created God? is illogical, just like To whom is the bachelor married?

This was the first paragraph in a very long email, all neatly formatted in a shiny blue font. Naturally I suspected a cut and paste job, so after ascertaining that this was simply a parrot of the Kalam Cosmological argument, I simply googled key words and found it to be a word for word transcription of this page at Christian-answers.net.

Thus I replied:

Hi,

I see you haven’t troubled yourself to come up with an original argument, but merely cut and pasted the writings of another author citing the Kalam Cosmological argument. Therefore, I will respond in kind and simply link you to a thorough refutation of this claim.

If you want to respond to this page, please email me back in your own words and we will discuss it from there.

He wrote a slightly longer answer, and my counter-response (which includes the full body of his message) is below.

your right russell i didnt write it all myself because I didnt think I had to….

Sure, I don’t blame you — no sense reinventing the wheel. That’s why i did the same thing. I bet you didn’t read the refutation yet, did you?

i know im not going to persuade you that there really is a God.

Not with weak semantic hand-waving like Kalam, you won’t. Present us with some evidence for God, and we’ll be all over it.

i can tell the devil has a deep grip on your heart

It must make your life very simple when you can dismiss any counter-arguments by saying “Well, the only reason you don’t believe me is because you’re a slave to EVIL.” It’s easier than trying to read and understand things, that’s for sure.

and i hope and pray you can see that also….what you are believing is lies. you dont need to have a college degree to see it either….

Yes. I can tell.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and I am not ashamed at all to say that.

I don’t think you should be ashamed for saying what you believe. Now, not having the integrity to understand the arguments you’re making and back them up — THAT would make me ashamed.

The reason i believe in Jesus is because of the Bible. I believe it is true. Its proven to be true. through archelogical discoveries and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know you cant understand that because you havent had that happen….

Okay, so wait a minute. You believe in Jesus because of the Bible… and you think that the Bible is “proven” by virtue of the holy spirit. Either that is a textbook case of circular reason (Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same thing under trinitarianism, yes?) or you left out the step where you explain why you believe in the holy spirit.

Of course, you throw in the towel when you say I can’t understand something because I “havent had that happen.” (What does “that” refer to anyway?) Proof is proof — it is repeatable and accessible to everyone. Something that only you can understand may be real, or it may be inside your head. In any case, if you don’t think you can prove the existence of God without special pleading, then why did you bother sending us a cut and paste of Kalam?

I can guarentee you have had authority problems in your life. All athiests do. their denying an authority figure over them. its simple even a 6 year old can understand…..

Didn’t I see you in a movie once? “You’re a rogue cop, Glasser! Sure, your unconventional methods and boyish charm get results, but they have no place on this force! Turn in your badge, you’re on leave until further notice!”

And with THAT uninteresting argumentam ad hominem out of the way, I’ll sign off.

Russell

Here’s the final reply, but I didn’t find it worth responding to.

first off yes i did read your refutation. thankyou for it. my reason for emailing you is because i am concerned about your soul. Everybody has a soul whether you deny it or not. Im not a smart asshole thats trying to get you to repent…..i just question your “show” or whatever it is. If their is no God then why do you care about all this? why are you wasting your time trying to persuade people? you still must be fighting a little voice or something?

It’s no mystery why we do a show. Among other things, it’s so we can have the pleasure of getting a rise out of people like this. I’m just sad that it wasn’t on air.

Sometimes it’s nice to disengage…

Again, the blog has lain fallow for around a week. Sorry about this. I keep forgetting that when I don’t post, no one else does either. But then we all have lives down here, and sometimes that just takes us away from the world of computering and blogging and online ranting. And I must say, it’s nice to take a break sometime.

Because dealing with the nonstop depredations of those with whom we’re unfortunate enough to share the planet can just be wearying. Sometimes it’s just nice to go off and live your life, blessedly free of religion and crazy religionists, and unhinged political ideologues.

I mean, good grief, in the past week, since the Tiller murder, we’ve not only had another right-wing psychotic demonstrate his moral superiority to us all by going on a public shooting rampage (today’s appalling incident at the Holocaust Museum), but we’ve also seen a spectacular act of douchebaggery from — as if they could get any worse — Operation Rescue, who have actually had the audacity to make an offer to buy the now-closed clinic of Dr. Tiller. I cannot imagine what they would want it for, except as a chance to showboat. And the Tiller family lawyers, recognizing an exercise in showboating when they see one, have turned them down flat. I mean, how could anyone interpret the purchase offer as anything but tacit approval of Tiller’s murder? Even if that is the last thing O.R. intended by making the offer, well, you know, appearances count.

I’d like to think that maybe O.R. have sprouted a sudden conscience, the way your nose sometimes sprouts a pimple while you sleep, and thought that they might turn Tiller’s clinic into something like an adoption agency. But then I’m reminded of the fact that radical anti-abortionists don’t give a shit about human life unless it’s fetal. Once those babies are out of the sanctified amniotic sac, they’re on their own! And don’t even think about offering them anything like health care.

So, yeah, sometimes, it’s just nice to shut the crazy out and decompress for a while. Read a book. Spend time with your family and pets. Resuscitate an old hobby, like gardening or working out. It can be a relief when the lunacy that has taken over our planet gets too much for you. At least, it’s a relief that’ll last until some enraged, God-soaked lunatic bursts through the door and opens fire.

George Tiller: Death by Propaganda

In today’s Austin American-Statesman, there was an editorial that included a photo of a church marquis letting us know that George Tiller died the same way he lived. I believe the inferred connection there is intended to be “murder.”

The first article I read about this was in the June 1 edition. President Troy Newman of Operation Rescue responded to the murder by saying he was “shocked” and that “Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice…We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning.”

In fact, Tiller was, actually, “brought to justice” where justice, it seems, acquitted him of charges that he had illegally performed late term abortions without a proper medical second opinion.

In addition to seeking peacefully to bring Tillman—a man who was found to be breaking no laws—to justice, Operation Rescue also featured a “Tiller Watch” at their Web site. I guess now they can take it down. It’s work here is done, as the saying goes.

It didn’t get done right away, though, because it turns out that Tiller was actually the victim of a similar shooting in 1993, when another life-affirming, anti-choice, protestor—a woman—managed to get within range. I wonder if “Tiller Watch” was up back then as well to inspire her—or if it was put up after the first attempt failed to achieve the goal?

When I read Newman’s comments about his “shock”—I was, ironically, shocked myself. I turned to my friend and said, “If you go around screaming that someone is mass murdering babies—what do you think will happen?”

And this was before I had read down to the part of the article where Operation Rescue Founder Randall Terry had actually called Tiller “a mass murderer.”

Everyone has a breaking point. I don’t care who you are. You have one. Seriously, let’s say you sincerely believed your neighbor was mass murdering children in his home. You call the cops, frantic, and explain to them that he’s torturing and killing young children—you’re absolutely sure of it! But the dispatcher just says, “Yeah–that’s totally his right. We really don’t come out for things like baby killings.” You keep calling back. Surely they didn’t understand you the first fifty times you called? But the response is always the same. And here you are, on the phone, wasting time, while the monster next door is killing more and more innocent children! My god, man! What do you do?!

If this was actually happening, and you knew it, and nobody was stopping this killer, at what point—if out of nothing more than pure altruism (if there is such a thing?)—would you finally say, “I don’t care if I die for this or go to prison for the rest of my life—someone has to do the right thing and stop this monstrous freak!”

Groups like Operation Rescue consist of members (and apparently leadership as well) who make a point of publicly labeling these doctors, and their patients, as “baby killers”—literally mass baby killers. And maybe it’s just me—but if someone actually is going around mass murdering children—I don’t think I would be “shocked” that someone stepped up and killed that person. So, why is Operation Rescue expressing “shock,” if they know this man is a baby killer? Are they “shocked” that by labeling such a person a “baby killer,” that someone might think he should be stopped by any means necessary? I mean, would it shock you if you believed what they believe? What, exactly, do they think happens when you whip up masses of (often already emotionally driven) people with something like that?

We’re all supposed to play along, I guess, that they never expected anything like this to happen as a result of merely calling someone something so benign and harmless as “a mass murderer (of babies)”? Who would have thought people would be all “up in arms,” literally, and excited over something like that? Apparently not Newman. But I think most other people could have seen it coming light years away. And I can’t really bring myself to play along that Operation Rescue is “shocked.”

I have a saying when someone asks me to believe obvious bullshit. I say, “Either you’re stupid—or you think I am.” And like most people, I don’t appreciate it when someone, or in this case some organization, communicates to me like I’m an idiot. It doesn’t upset me, but I find it hard to play along. No, Operation Rescue, you’re not shocked. Please stop pretending, and have your victory celebration unapologetically.

I guess that would result in some really crappy P.R. But, still, how refreshing to see some noble honesty for once?

“Mass baby killing.” There’s the trigger. Pun not intended, but wholly (holy?) appropriate in this case.

Most people agree with rule of law. If they didn’t we’d have far more chaos than we do. But I don’t think there is anyone who does not understand that at some point, we would all be willing to defy the law in order to do something we consider morally necessary.

Yes, it’s cliche’, but I’m going to use an example from Nazi Germany until a better example comes along—which will, hopefully, be never. But, if I lived in Nazi Germany—I hope I would not turn someone in if I knew they were a hiding Jew. I hope I would, like I hope many of you would, end up breaking the law, and maybe even dying, myself, or potentially killing someone, to protect others from people I view as utterly wrong and dangerous. So, it’s no “shock” to me, and probably not to you, either, that if you whip up huge numbers of fundamentalist-thinking people with things like “godless baby killers!” you’re going to get not a few individuals (I’m surprised they don’t get more) who go ape-shit and fly completely off the rails in the worst way.

I don’t think Operation Rescue crosses a line against free speech—such as someone who might say, “Somebody needs to put a bullet in these doctors. Can I interest you in further details?” would be doing; but, when they try to divorce themselves from a natural—and, let’s be honest here, pretty predictable—consequence of their influence—that’s where I want to cry “hypocrite.” Not “foul.” Not “lock you up for what you said.” But “Don’t talk to me like I’m stupid—that did not shock you.” In fact, if it shocked any one of you, you don’t get out enough.

This isn’t a video game about killing doctors. This isn’t a music CD about killing doctors. This is a group of real human beings calling other real human beings “baby killers” and then saying they can’t believe that simply being consistently and publicly labeled as a “baby killer” would make someone want to kill you. I mean, he was just a baby killer—nothing to get all worked up about and start shooting people.

Really? Can’t imagine how an agenda of working nonstop to convince (many already deluded) people this guy was a baby killer, could result in someone getting hurt?

Are you stupid, or do you think I am?

What’s sad, though, is that if they were really shocked—then this man died for some mysterious agenda. “Shocked” means you don’t really think what he was doing was something a person might kill another person over. And that means you don’t believe he was a mass baby killer—because who wouldn’t expect a mass baby killer might be, himself, killed by someone one day? So, what is going on over at Operation Rescue, where they aren’t at all responding like they believed he was a mass baby murderer? What if they had some other, ulterior motive—and this guy died as collateral damage for some superficial propaganda blitz? That would really be hosed up, wouldn’t it?

But—other than their inexplicable, “shocked” reaction—why would anyone think Operation Rescue wasn’t since
re about their claims that abortion doctors are committing mass infanticide, unhindered within our own borders?

Well, here’s my theory: If they truly believed what they say they are convinced of, then abortion in the U.S. is probably the largest, mass infant murder movements in history. I’m going to assert that they’d all be shooting doctors. And, I would hope that if I really, truly, sincerely believed there was a mass child killer on the loose and nobody was stopping him or her—that just maybe I would courageously do the same thing—if I really believed it. Of course, if I just wanted to emotionally manipulate a huge bunch of people, and I didn’t really believe or care about what I was saying, then I’d be doing exactly what Operation Rescue does—taking my time in courts, standing on corners with signs, taking people’s money, telling them who to vote for, and watching them hang on my every recommendation as I play on their fear and hate.

The fact that groups like Operation Rescue stop short of reaching the, not only logical, but obvious conclusion of what needs to be done if their claims are believed—and human children are being slaughtered in droves—demonstrates to me, or to anyone, a lack of genuine belief in their own propaganda. I think, like most religious views, they “believe” it in some weird way on some odd, superficial level where it hits emotional response (and, I mean, come on, how easy is that?), but doesn’t ever sink down into thought centers, where it would normally ruminate and ferment into a more cohesive and fully formed “idea”—with actual implications and repercussions and consequences. But they obviously don’t believe it on that sort of level—on the sort of level where any real, proportional “action” would necessarily follow—as I would expect action to follow if any real, thinking human being believed unhindered mass murder was happening unabated?!

Where is the courage of conviction here?

Where is any conviction here?

What the hell do these people honestly believe?

And why did this guy really die?