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Dec 20 2012

What the word “perfunctory” is for

The thing about the NPR think piece on theodicy that was really annoying was the foregone conclusion that it doesn’t make any difference.

I knew that was going to be the conclusion as soon as whoever it was introduced it. I knew what was going to be said, and I knew what wasn’t going to be said. I knew they would say the obvious – god; all-knowing and good; bad things; Newtown. I knew they would get clerics to knot their brows. And I knew that would be that. Next story, then the pause to thank the MacArthur foundation.

I knew there would be not a trace of a genuine recognition that there’s a disconnect here, and that it matters, and that their fucking god would have a lot to answer for if it existed. I knew that no one would admit for one second that they were supporting the worship of a god that could prevent bad things from happening but doesn’t.

And yet at the same time they were mentioning the problem, so they get credit from brow-knitting NPR types for being thoughtful and worried and non-dogmatic. Lots and lots of brow-knitting but no real thinking or grappling at all. Just a rote gallop around the bases and then a return to exactly where we started.

It annoys the shit out of me. Look, if you’re going to bring it up, you ought to admit that it does make a difference. You shouldn’t bring it up just to dangle it around like an ornament and then put it away. And you sure as hell shouldn’t pretend that the absence of god equals no love while the presence of it equals love. God isn’t love, god allows horrors! Face up to what you’re saying for once, or else don’t talk about it on the radio.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    One thing I’ve noticed is that when something good happens the theists credit their gods for it. When something bad happens, blaming fingers point everywhere except at the gods.

  2. 2
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    And you sure as hell shouldn’t pretend that the absence of god equals no love while the presence of it equals love.

    So their god ISN’T everywhere?

  3. 3
    Paul K

    Wow, these were almost my exact reactions when I heard this story. It is sickening. I yelled at my radio, “Do you hear what the fuck you are NOT saying!!”

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    God allows horrors? Heck, x(?)e sometimes demands and commits them!

  5. 5
    Ani J. Sharmin

    I knew that was going to be the conclusion as soon as whoever it was introduced it. I knew what was going to be said, and I knew what wasn’t going to be said. I knew they would say the obvious – god; all-knowing and good; bad things; Newtown. I knew they would get clerics to knot their brows. And I knew that would be that. Next story, then the pause to thank the MacArthur foundation.

    I’ve been experiencing this kind of thing, too. It all gets to be repetitive after a while.

    And yet at the same time they were mentioning the problem, so they get credit from brow-knitting NPR types for being thoughtful and worried and non-dogmatic. Lots and lots of brow-knitting but no real thinking or grappling at all. Just a rote gallop around the bases and then a return to exactly where we started.

    I could appreciate the thoughtfulness if it seemed a genuine reflection rather than an answer repeated many times over, to avoid asking the more difficult question of whether the whole god concept maybe doesn’t make sense from the beginning. I mean, I’m not even saying they have to be atheists, but at least acknowledge that, yes, when you consider “God is good. Evil is real. And God is all powerful. Pick two” (as stated in the article) … you really do have to pick two, instead of avoiding that.

    Sometimes, it seems that after every tragedy, there are two types of responses that are most common: the type in this article and the type that blames godlessness/homosexuals/abortion/feminism/sin/etc. The second is more horrific. The first is frustrating, coming as it does from people who seem like they do genuinely realize there’s a problem, but don’t want to admit the problem strikes at the heart of the matter, instead treating it as a detail in an otherwise sturdy foundation of faith.

  6. 6
    'dirigible

    You would love “God Explained In A Taxi Ride”. It’s very much this kind of gratingly obvious cosy dissembling.

  7. 7
    sailor1031

    Well – it’s NPR innit? Whatdaya expect.? Would only be worse if they had had Barbara Bradley Hagerty do the piece; I recommend not listening to NPR – it’s not been worthwhile since the Bush administration parachuted a bunch of right wing apparatchiks into NPR management – including those surplus to requirements (and unfit for purpose) jackals from VOA and RFE

  8. 8
    Ophelia Benson

    I know; I don’t listen to NPR, mostly, except sometimes when I time things badly I catch a few minutes. That’s what this was.

  9. 9
    FresnoBob

    The really irritating thing is that they line up a selection of god-botherers in the assumption that they, and only they will have something constructive to say.

    It’s only a ‘paradox’ if you believe. Remove that and the paradox/mystery/conundrum/problem evaporates.

    An atheist could have told them as much.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    True. As if only god-botherers had expertise on the subject, and as if “expertise” on the subject really existed. I mean why ask them? They have no idea, any more than anyone else has.

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