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I am not a presidential candidate, but…

Some rag called Cathedral Age interviewed Obama and Romney about faith. The two responded by ladling out dollops of pious porridge, all of which was nonsensical and fact-free, but did occasionally serve up scraps of information that were mainly horrifying (did you know Obama has a “faith advisor” who sends him bible quotes and CS Lewis quotes and that sort of thing? That’s not the daily briefing I imagined). Read it if you really want to be bored or aggravated.

It did make me wonder, though — if a bunch of Episcopalians can get the attention of the presidential candidates during the election season, could atheists do likewise? Get on it, Dave Silverman: send the two a set of questions that actually drill down to some secular substance. I suspect they’d both ignore them, unfortunately.

And then I thought, well, what if I were asked these same questions in an interview? How would an atheist answer them? Especially, an atheist who wasn’t trying to pander his way into political office? So I took a vicious, bloody-minded stab at it. These are the same questions Cathedral Age aimed at our two candidates, and I’ll just pretend I’m the nominee of the Atheist Party.

How does faith play a role in your life?

It doesn’t. Faith is a poison, a shortcut to answers that avoids reason and evidence and cultivates an undisciplined and lazy mind. I abjure it and think all political candidates should do likewise.

Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

No.

Scripture is a morass of inconsistency and lies. Even where it is gifted with poetry (which isn’t often), it is simply an accreted mass of dogma. I never consult the Bible, the Koran, or any other holy book for advice, since they are never applicable, and are usually informed by a barbaric morality.

I don’t do prayers. Entreaties to a nonexistent superman seem singularly pointless.

“Words of wisdom” is a stock phrase that usually means “reassuring cliches”. Nope, I avoid those as well.

How do you view the role of faith in public life?

Faith is the great leveler, the delusion that allows any ignorant asshole prancing in self-serving fantasies of being the center of the universe to claim divine, cosmic authority behind his words. It has corrupted American discourse, because it privileges medieval nonsense about how the world actually works and allows antique bigotry to persist, allows people to make claims without concern for evidence, and gives every idiot with a dog-collar a pedestal to stand on.

Faith ought to be mocked and derided. That we give it special authority in public discourse is a disaster.

As a country of great religious diversity and divisiveness, how can faith play a role in unifying america?

It can’t. Faith is unmoored from reality — it gives every blithering child of god a special place free of responsibility, where their beliefs are stamped with divine approval by the voices in their head. Every one of those religions touts itself as the one great truth about the universe, and they can’t all be right, and most likely none of them are right. We’re looking out on a circus arena populated with clowns, and you’re trying to ask me which one’s shoulders I should stand on to bring order out of chaos. And I say none of them.

Some people have questioned the sincerity of your faith and your christianity. how do you respond to those questions?

Well, that’s kind of inappropriate question for me, since I’m not pretending to be a Christian. I’m not and never will be.

What does a political leader’s faith tell you about him/her as a person?

Oh, it hints at many things.

They could be a gullible fool. It could tell me that they don’t think very deeply at all, and have never put much thought into these bizarre claims that they may say are important forces in their lives.

They could be a dishonest opportunist. The media is always touting faith as a marker for morality, despite the fact that it is actually a very cheap signal — anyone can mouth pieties, and even the most corrupt child-raping priest can say they believe in a god — and in the US, it’s virtually impossible to get elected as an atheist because of the raging bigotry against rational intellectuals.

They could be a brilliant rationalizer, who has built up an elaborate set of excuses for their ridiculous beliefs. I would worry that they’d do likewise for any conclusion they wanted to reach in office.

At the very best, they could be a person who’s never put much thought into their inherited religious tradition; maybe it’s because they’ve put more effort into studying economics or political science or sociology, I don’t know. In this case it would be a misleading indicator.

A leader’s faith basically tells me nothing good about them at all.

How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

They can’t. Read the Constitution. This country was founded partially on an understanding that bringing god and state together corrupts both. Some thought that because they wanted a secular government free of superstitious influence; others loved their peculiar religions and did not want the state to endorse some other faith. Either way, they were in agreement: government and faith should not work together. So why, Cathedral Age, are you trying to blur the boundaries? Do you think that having a big expensive elaborate building in Washington DC means that when the government decrees a state religion, it will be Christianity or Episcopalianism?

Washington National Cathedral is called to be the spiritual home for the nation. from your perspective, how can the cathedral live out that mission?

This is a secular nation, or it should be. We are not going to have a spiritual home, and we shouldn’t want one.

The best way that the National Cathedral can serve the country is by ending this pretext that it represents faith in America. Gut it completely of its superstitious trappings, fire the god-soaked leadership, and turn it into something secular and useful. Turning it into a bowling alley or a movie theater would be an improvement, but you could also aim higher and make it into a library or a secular meeting hall. Find something better to do with your time and money.

I think you should be embarrassed that you’re maintaining this expensive, opulent building to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year, all for the purpose of babbling at a nonexistent space ghost.

Well, what do you think? Would those answers help me get elected to high political office?

Comments

  1. Janine: Fucking Dyke Of Rage Mountain says

    Washington National Cathedral is called to be the spiritual home for the nation.

    Who calls it that?

  2. says

    I’d vote for you. Maybe. What’s your economic policy? Or important things that aren’t faith based ;)

    Wouldn’t a more appropriate answer for all of them be derisive laughter? Especially:

    How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

  3. raven says

    LOL, that was funny.

    Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    Sure.

    I always quote the bible verses about stoning disobedient children, nonvirgin brides, false prophets, heretics, and sabbath breakers to death.

    It reminds me of just how useless that book is as a source for morality.

  4. KillJoy says

    They would certainly make me consider voting for you!
    Im not a one issue voter though. Tell me, Dr. Myers, where do you stand on the “Free tacos for KillJoy” issue?

    Hungrily yours, I remain,
    KJ

  5. says

    @raven

    My favorite:

    There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

    Which I will bring up any time someone asks about favorite religious quotes. No matter how old the joke is, no matter how polite the company, this verse needs to be spoken (Ez23:20 in fact ;)

  6. eric says

    Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    “Well Bob, I’m a fan of the golden rule. Aside from being a pretty good moral rule of thumb, its also appealing to me because it was independently developed by a wide range of peoples from many times, places, and backgrounds. This makes me optimistic for humanity and appreciative of our general good sense, because it shows that we are fully capable of arriving at good moral positions regardless of our specific faith tradition or even whether we have any faith at all.”

  7. mythbri says

    How does faith play a role in your life?

    Peripherally, because I have none. My family clings to the faith of their tradition, though, and I can’t escape it without cutting ties to them.

    Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    No to scripture. No to prayers. Words of wisdom is a little trickier, because I don’t think that I see words of wisdom in the way other people see them (i.e., akin to scriptures and prayers). Words of wisdom are the thoughts of people, who are flawed and imperfect and sometimes admirable and respected. I can take them or leave them, but in no case would I substitute “words of wisdom” for my own judgment.

    How do you view the role of faith in public life?

    I reject the notion that faith must be necessary for public life. If we’re talking “public” in the sense of government institutions, services or spaces, it has no role – or at least, it has no greater role than reason. Faith is not automatically worthy of respect and immune from criticism, any more than other kinds of opinions.

    As a country of great religious diversity and divisiveness, how can faith play a role in unifying America?

    It can’t. By definition, it cannot – because faith is not a universal thing that all people possess. Unless one is willing to change the definition of “unity” to mean “everyone but those people over there”, then it will never accomplish “unity”.

    Some people have questioned the sincerity of your faith and your christianity. how do you respond to those questions?

    Some people? I did. How else do you think I became an atheist?

    What does a political leader’s faith tell you about him/her as a person?

    It tells me that there is a good chance that they prefer delusion to reality. It tells me that they are willing to take irrational risks based on a belief that “things will work out.” It tells me, in some cases, that they’re willing to deny my personhood in favor of a potential person. It tells me that nothing but the tenuous separation of church and state prevents them from putting people in their place, the way that God wants them to. The weaker their faith, the less emphasis they place on their faith to pander to the voters, the more I’m willing to trust that they’re going through ridiculous motions to reassure the supersitious among us.

    How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

    They can’t. They can’t “work together as a positive force for the nation” without disenfranchising other groups of people – be they atheists, women, people of color, LGBTQ or any other traditionally underprivileged minorities. Faith communities, as institutions, have no interest in being a positive force for good, anyway – what they want is power, and they get that through control, and they get control by policing people’s behavior by threatening them with persecution in this life and eternal torture in the fictional next.

    Washington National Cathedral is called to be the spiritual home for the nation. from your perspective, how can the cathedral live out that mission?

    It can be a pretty historical building that people stand in front of and take pictures on their way to something more interesting.

  8. hockeybob says

    Are there any public offices up for election in Morris?

    You should run – I’d vote for you in a heartbeat.

    Since I live in Maplewood, though, it would be difficult, but I’d be willing to try!

  9. gussnarp says

    Whatever happened to the Science Debate? I don’t hear much agitating for that going on, but I’d love to hear the candidates answer questions about basic science and technology policy. Throw in an explanation of their understanding of the separation of Church and State and how it affects their role as president, and I think you’ve got a pretty good secular questionnaire right there.

  10. dccarbene says

    Favorite scriptural passages….?

    My answer would be from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 72, verse 3:

    “A fool may ask more questions in an hour than the wise can answer in seven years.”

    Um, that would be the Book of Proverbs from The Good Book, complied by the sublime and incomparable A. C. Grayling. A must read in these troubled times.

  11. catwhisperer says

    Well you’ve got my vote. Oh wait, do I have to be an US citzen? Damn, foiled again!

    @logicpriest:
    Damn, what version is that? My King James version gives the same verse as “For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and who’s issue is like the issue of horses”

    I feel cheated.

    Oh and for the record, horses smell pleasant.

  12. says

    @catwhisperer

    That is the NIV. I grew up with the KJV but I like the more…plain spoken version of that lovely verse.

    And horses are ok in the winter. Summer time in the dry Kentucky heat makes for… a lovely odor.

  13. gussnarp says

    @catwhisperer: Logicpriest’s wording can be found in the New International Version.

    Then there’s the Common English Bible:

    She lusted after their male consorts, whose sexual organs were like those of donkeys, and whose ejaculation was like that of horses.

    Complete Jewish Bible:

    Yes, she lusted after their male prostitutes, whose members are like those of donkeys and who ejaculate like stallions.

    Lexham English Bible:

    And she lusted after her male lovers whose genitalia were the genitalia of male donkeys and their seminal emission was the seminal emission of horses.

    Was there actual transplant surgery there?

    I wonder if the people who created BibleGateway.com had any idea how much of their bandwidth would be dedicated to people searching for the most salacious versions of the porn bits of the Bible?

  14. Akira MacKenzie says

    Barry* from the Cathedral Age,/i> interview:

    “First and foremost, my Christian faith gives me a perspective and security that I don’t think I would have otherwise: that I am loved. That, at the end of the day, God is in control…” [Emphasis mine.]

    Oh, so that’s who is to blame for the piss-poor way this country has been run for so long. When is this Mr. God fellow up for reelection? Who is running against him? We need to run this moron out of Washington D.C. on a rail!

    Come to mention it, I don’t see Mr. God’s office mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. What position does he hold again? Is he one of those appointed “Czar’s” the Tea Baggers keep whining about? Why aren’t they out complaining about some unelected, unaccountable, politically omnipotent, and utterly incompetent fool whose edicts get to circumvent the “limited government” that they are supposedly so fond of?

    *Yeah, yeah, I know… “ROMNEY WOULD BE WORSE!!!”

  15. mwitthoft says

    Okay, I guess. I’m not really as religion-friendly as PZ, but I appreciate his position on the issue.

  16. tubi says

    Doesn’t “emission/issue” of horses refer to ejaculate? At least that’s how I read it. I’m not sure what horse ejaculate smells like, but pretty sure I don’t need to know to be content in life.

  17. r3a50n says

    Well, what do you think? Would those answers help me get elected to high political office?

    You would certainly get my vote and all the financial and activist support that I could muster. You wouldn’t win but I would still support your candidacy to the utter extent that I could and I would imagine the same would be true of other free thinkers. How many others is the question, but one thing we can be sure of is that our numbers are growing.

    I hold out hope that someday (probably not in my lifetime) we will have an atheist president.

  18. carlie says

    And she lusted after her male lovers whose genitalia were the genitalia of male donkeys and their seminal emission was the seminal emission of horses.

    Oh no, Facebook was right – “likes” are important.

  19. chrisv says

    @8. Unfortunately, many take these same sections to be their Official Operating Procedures Manual.

  20. Randomfactor says

    Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    I kinda like the bread recipe in Ezekiel 4:9-12. But nobody but me bakes it properly, the way god instructed.

  21. says

    So what do youse guys think of Ez 23 3?

    ‘there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity’ (KJV) Sounds like they had mammograms even back then??

  22. r3a50n says

    @ 29:

    I think Obama is a closet atheist. Just playing along.

    I would like to be able to think the same thing but in order to do so would require faith, i.e. belief in something that isn’t supported by evidence, and therefore I reject it.

  23. catwhisperer says

    In light of tubi’s comment @24, I’d like to make it clear that when I said horses smell pleasant, I meant in a horse BO kinda way.

    Right, so NOW I learn that I’ve got about the most boring version of the bible I could gave chosen? I’m devastated. Wouldn’t even make good bogroll…

  24. says

    Bread, breasts and emissions, what doesn’t Ezekiel have? From now on all bible quotes are to come from Ezekiel.

    On a different note, my cat is assaulting a cup noodle. He is now the VP pick for PZ. We have spoken

  25. says

    Well, what do you think? Would those answers help me get elected to high political office?

    You’d get my vote. I’d love for a politician to give those answers, if, for no other reason, to enjoy the furor it would ignite.

  26. Shawn says

    Smiling at the thought of the future election where such a speech would actually happen…. and be supported by the public.

  27. says

    @catwhisperer

    Don’t be too disappointed in the KJV. It gives us some of the best euphemisms. Used to use them constantly while I was still being forced to attend Sunday school.

  28. pensnest says

    I suspect your forthrightness would disqualify you instantly from a career as a politician, although it would certainly make a welcome change.

  29. generallerong says

    Damn, another thing to have embroidered as a giant wall hanging. Place is starting to look like a medieval castle.

  30. No One says

    -How does faith play a role in your life?

    *It’s a pain in the ass constantly having to deal with neurotic delusions.

    -Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    *The donkey dick one is pretty funny. Ecclesiastes made a pretty good pop song.

    -How do you view the role of faith in public life?

    *Pretty fucking annoying. See the 1st question.

    -As a country of great religious diversity and divisiveness, how can faith play a role in unifying America?

    *By disappearing.

    -Some people have questioned the sincerity of your faith and your christianity. how do you respond to those questions?

    * “Fuck off.”

    -What does a political leader’s faith tell you about him/her as a person?

    * Which set of neurotic delusions we have to deal with.

    -How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

    *Pay taxes.

    -Washington National Cathedral is called to be the spiritual home for the nation. from your perspective, how can the cathedral live out that mission?

    *Re-purpose the building as a center for the homeless.

  31. David Marjanović says

    National Cathedral

    For fuck’s sake.

    It doesn’t happen often that two words are together unconstitutional; but this is one of those cases.

    How the fuck dare a cathedral usurp the term “national”?

  32. David Marjanović says

    Your presidential aspirations blowed up real good.

    I like explosions! :-)

    “Well Bob, I’m a fan of the golden rule.

    Heh. Rmoney is also a fan of the golden rule: the one with the gold makes the rules.

    Whatever happened to the Science Debate?

    I still get their e-mails…

    Oh no, Facebook was right – “likes” are important.

    Day saved. :-)

    I think Obama is a closet atheist.

    I don’t. I think he’s actually a strong believer in a kind of liberal Christianity that is common in Europe but less so in the US. He definitely seems completely godless when you’re used to fundies, but that’s not the whole story.

  33. Johnny Vector says

    Goddammit, I’ve had about enough of your goddamned bigotry, Myers. One of these days I’m gonna send Bill Irwin and/or Mark Jaster up there to give you a little goddamned schooling about goddamned clowns. Just see if you aren’t wiping away tears when they get done with you.

    Goddammit.

  34. markr1957 Inc. says

    How does faith play a role in your life?

    It provides me with an endless source of entertainment taunting the believers who are stupid enough spout their crap at me ;-)

    Do you have favorite scriptural passages, prayers, or other words of wisdom to which you often turn?

    Psalm 137:9 – Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

    Great way to tenderize them for the BBQ ;-)

    How do you view the role of faith in public life?

    The only useful role I know of for faith is to identify people who shouldn’t be allowed to operate heavy machinery.

    As a country of great religious diversity and divisiveness, how can faith play a role in unifying America?

    If faith works for us as well as it did for Northern Ireland we should be seeing a lot more bombings and even more pointless murders, although the sectarian murders are impossible to separate from all the other pointless murders.

    Some people have questioned the sincerity of your faith and your christianity. how do you respond to those questions?

    I sincerely believe that I am not a Christian, or any other kind of religious fruitloop. Is that clear enough?

    What does a political leader’s faith tell you about him/her as a person?

    It tells me they are lying every time their lips move.

    How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

    The only way government can work with faith communities is to build a fucking great wall around them and make sure they can’t escape. That’s the kind of boundary I want to see between church and state.

    Washington National Cathedral is called to be the spiritual home for the nation. from your perspective, how can the cathedral live out that mission?

    It isn’t called that by me. From my perspective the building would best serve the nation’s needs if it was converted into the world’s largest public toilet. This way the crap coming out of Congress can be safely disposed off without affecting the rest of the nation.

  35. Loqi says

    I’d vote for you. Don’t let it go to your head, though. I’d vote for a ketchup milkshake over the current crop.

  36. dcg1 says

    What does a political leader’s faith tell you about him/her as a person?

    It tells you that Obama’s either a credulous fool or a lying dishonest shit.

    I’d suggest credulous idiot for this Romney Guy, lying dishonest shit applies to both candidates.

  37. saysomething says

    In high school, we had one of those boys who would print out a ton of bible quotes on little slips of paper to pass out each day. To counter him, my friends and I would find really weird bible quotes to pass out in rebuttal. We couldn’t get away with these fun ezekiel quotes (talk about hypocrisy) from the admin. So we’d pick something totally ridiculous but ‘tame’ sexually.

    My favorite one, and still oft quoted when I see those high school friends, is Genesis 27:11:
    “Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I’m a man with smooth skin.”

  38. David Marjanović says

    Whatever happened to the Science Debate?

    I just got an e-mail from them! Here goes:

    Dear David:

    House Committee on Science, Space & Technology member Rep. Todd Akin’s recent remarks regarding a woman’s body’s natural ability to “shut that whole thing down” and prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape” help illustrate why science needs to be a higher priority in the national dialogue when selecting candidates for office.

    Working with America’s leading science organizations, we’ve developed the Top American Science Questions: Congressional Edition to help address this need.

    Working with us, Scientific American has asked key Members of Congress who have influence over science policy to answer these eight critical questions. So far, only a handful have indicated they will.

    If you are a constituent of one of the following Members of Congress, please contact the Member’s office and ask them to respond to the ScienceDebate and Scientific American questionnaire immediately. Be respectful, and tell in your own words why this is important. Ask them to send their responses back to [email protected].

    Thank you!

    Senate

    Lamar Alexander: Tennessee (R)—ranking member, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

    Barbara Boxer: California (D)—chair, Committee on Environment and Public Works

    Jim DeMint: South Carolina (R)—member, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchinson is retiring)

    Michael Enzi: Wyoming (R)—ranking member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

    Dianne Feinstein: California (D)—chair, Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

    Tom Harkin: Iowa (D)—chair, Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

    James Inhofe: Oklahoma (R)—ranking member, Committee on Environment and Public Works

    Mitch McConnell: Kentucky (R)—Senate minority leader

    Patty Murray: Washington State (D)—member, Committee on the Budget (Chairman Kent Conrad is retiring)

    Lisa Murkowski: Alaska (R)—ranking member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

    Harry Reid: Nevada (D)—Senate majority leader

    Pat Roberts: Kansas (R)—ranking member, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

    Jay Rockefeller: West Virginia (D)—chair, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

    Jeff Sessions: Alabama (R)—ranking member, Committee on the Budget

    Debbie Stabenow: Michigan (D)—chair, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

    Ron Wyden: Oregon (D)—member, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Chairman Jeff Bingaman is retiring)

    House of Representatives

    Timothy Bishop: New York State–1 (D)—ranking member, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

    John Boehner: Ohio–8 (R)—speaker of the House

    Scott Garrett: New Jersey–5 (R)—vice chair, Committee on the Budget (Chair Paul Ryan is the Republican vice presidential candidate)

    Bob Gibbs: Ohio–18 (R)—chair, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment

    Ralph Hall: Texas–4 (R)—chair, Committee on Science, Space and Technology

    Doc Hastings: Washington State–4 (R)—chair, Committee on Natural Resources

    Eddie Bernice Johnson: Texas–30 (D)—ranking member, Committee on Science, Space and Technology

    Frank Lucas: Oklahoma–3 (R)—chair, Committee on Agriculture; member of Committee on Science, Space and Technology

    Edward J. Markey: Massachusetts–7 (D)—ranking member, Committee on Natural Resources

    John Mica: Florida–7 (R)—chair, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

    Nancy Pelosi: California–8 (D)—House minority leader

    Best,

    -Shawn Otto and the team at ScienceDebate.Org

    (most links removed, because there are just too many; Comic Sans added where absolutely necessary)

    I nominate PZ for Emergency Backup Leader!

    Ne quid res publica detrimenti caperet!

    Infinite is your wisdom, o Lord. And Older Than Feudalism.

  39. Randomfactor says

    I nominate PZ for Emergency Backup Leader!

    I can’t imagine any job for which PZ and Scott Adams would both be qualified candidates. But then again, I can’t imagine one which would suit both Barack Obama and Willard Romney, either.

    Adams notes about armed insurrection by idiots that “you never see it coming.” But Jefferson clearly foresaw it.

    Living before Darwin he doesn’t expressly say he approved of the teabaggers getting shot over it for evolutionary reasons, just that he approved of their getting shot.

  40. Randomfactor says

    Whatever happened to the Science Debate?

    Now that Rick “Saddleback*” Warren has cancelled his planned event, we should have a schedule window open.

    *(Did he KNOW what that term meant when he named his church? The guy’s more progressive than I thought…)

  41. cuervodecuero says

    Grumpy joking aside, is it a workable project for Ftblogians to compile a list of education/separation/evidence/justice themed questions to put to politicians in this election year and publicize it as being put to them from FTB or at least providing it to FTB-orbit individuals living in said politicians’ voting districts? Of all levels of politics?

    Would that be seen as overlapping other civic action groups’ efforts or could it be seen as part of the Plus? Or has the like been done already and I’m way behind the curve?

  42. Paul says

    *(Did he KNOW what that term meant when he named his church? The guy’s more progressive than I thought…)

    Did Santorum’s ancestor know what that Santorum meant?

  43. charlessoto says

    So, the “National Cathedral” isn’t a government building, nor is it supported by taxpayer funds (though honestly tax dodging churches all basically get our support). It has been designated something like a “national house of prayer” (as opposed to pancakes) at least once in the past (WWII and maybe other times). But that’s like designating Denny’s a “national house of atherosclerosis” or declaring January 29th “national ferret shaving day.”

    It’s also where important dead Americans get carried down the aisles. But, beyond that, it’s not a federal institution.

  44. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    davidmc:

    If i had a vote, i would vote for you. Who is your VP candidate?

    Rebecca Watson.

    ****

    Caine:

    I’d love for a politician to give those answers, if, for no other reason, to enjoy the furor it would ignite.

    Imagine the exploding heads on FOX News!

    ****

    cuervodecuero:

    Would that be seen as overlapping other civic action groups’ efforts or could it be seen as part of the Plus?

    That would *so* be part of A+’s mission!

  45. stevebowen says

    Yes, yes OK I’ll vote for you. Providing you stop being Pee Zee Myers and, and….
    accept that you should be Pee Zed, dammit, is that too much to ask, is it , is it???

  46. r3a50n says

    @ 64:

    Did Santorum’s ancestor know what that Santorum meant?

    Heh, that reminds me of the (incredibly tasteless) joke about Lou Gehrig’s Disease. i.e., geez, how’d Lou Gehrig not see that one coming?

  47. rafaelruiz says

    I wold never vote for you, you have no chance since be popular an be intelligent is not the same… Lets imagine Galileo postulated to be president and saying earth is an sphere in his coutry and time…

  48. Randomfactor says

    but only if the bumper sticker is hip enough.

    “You can’t spell ‘Prezident’ without PZ”

    “Myers/Cthulhu ’12: Elder God/Lesser Evil”

  49. says

    Wow, they forgot to ask about your position on rape and abortion. So that means they were “soft balling” you. Or maybe they were just assuming that any candidate is against it?

  50. macallan says

    You’ve got my vote.
    Oh, wait, I’m one of them dirty furriners, got to wait till I get around to do the naturalization paperwork…

  51. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Pharyngulate the election.

    Hardy har. That was funny. But also a good idea.

    PHARYNGULATE THE ELECTION!

  52. Erp says

    Actually the fun bit would be seeing how Paul Ryan would answer the National Cathedral as spiritual home question given that the Catholic church view is that Episcopalians are a bunch of heretics. He is conservative Catholic on many issues and the Episcopal church is the opposite on many of those (women priests, the DC Episcopal bishop is a woman; attitude towards gays, Episcopalians more or less welcome them and have a bishop in a same-sex marriage; laity involved in choosing bishops and deciding church policy, much more so in the Episcopal church [even in contrast to other Anglican churches]; etc). It is also close enough that people move fairly easily from the Roman Catholic tradition to the Episcopalian tradition (and vice versa) and both sides are engaging in a bit of sheep stealing (gay Catholic, you don’t have to hide here; female Catholic wanting to become a priest, welcome; opposed to women/gay priests/liberation theology, welcome back to the one true church).

    Episcopalians are not a huge denomination but they are overrepresented amongst the wealthy and powerful.

    BTW I noted that Obama side stepped the question by saying the Cathedral was a good place to have questions discussed. Romney did another call-out to the right “And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action”.

  53. sumdum says

    We’re having elections in the Netherlands soon too. Again, I should say, cause the last 10 years we’ve had new elections roughly every 2 years instead of the standard four. We’ve really become a joke..
    Anyway, religion hasn’t really been an issue. Nobody asks or cares about what religion a politician has. Makes elections terribly boring though.

  54. Fred Salvador - The Public Sucks; Fuck Hope says

    As a country of great religious diversity and divisiveness, how can faith play a role in unifying america?

    It can’t. Faith is unmoored from reality — it gives every blithering child of god a special place free of responsibility, where their beliefs are stamped with divine approval by the voices in their head. Every one of those religions touts itself as the one great truth about the universe, and they can’t all be right, and most likely none of them are right. We’re looking out on a circus arena populated with clowns, and you’re trying to ask me which one’s shoulders I should stand on to bring order out of chaos. And I say none of them.

    When I grow up, I want to be PZ Myers. Except that name is taken so I will have to be PZ Meyers instead. The bolded portion of this quote needs to be a motto or a creed or something.

  55. joed says

    If my vote counted I would vote for you!
    I would vote for you even though my vote doesn’t count. Maybe start a write-in campaign.
    With Joe Bageant for VP!

  56. otrame says

    How the fuck dare a cathedral usurp the term “national”?

    Actually, there are two of them. The “National Cathedral” is one. The “National Shrine” is the other. Protestant and Catholic, respectively. And, yeah, they are maintained at your expense.

    The Cathedral is relatively bare and depends on a pervasive feeling of walking around under many tons of stone to achieve its sense of awe.

    The Shrine is gaudier by far. The awe there comes from realizing that stripping all the gold out of the building would probably significantly pay down the national debt*–except that much gold hitting the market all at once might drive down the price temporarily.

    *Yes, I know. Call it exaggeration for effect. And it is the first thing that popped into my mind all those years ago when I saw it.

  57. says

    It’s not on this computer, but I will have to share with everybody the illustration of Ezekiel 23:20 that was allegedly drawn on a wall of a boys’ bathroom of a Christian school or camp.

    Then there are the verses about foreskin necklaces, dung eating, pissing against walls, and dashing babies’ brains out. I’m sure I’m missing a few goodies.

    David, you should definitely have Comic Sans’d the names of DeMint and Sessions as well.

  58. JohnnieCanuck says

    What would really be a thrill would to see something like this on national television.

    I wonder what Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart would be able to do with this concept. I’d pay money, first to watch it done and second to see the reactions.

  59. karadoc says

    PZ, I agree with the content of your answers, but I think they are phrased very poorly. They come across as being very adversarial and somewhat arrogant. You’re essentially saying that any who has any kind of religious believe is whole unqualified to be president (because they’re gullible and lazy minded and so on). I think that’s a bit harsh.

    It’s one thing to say “faith and religion should play no part government decisions whatsoever“, but quite other to say “anyone for whom faith and religion are important is a stupid idiot“. I think that the first option is a good and reasonable thing to say which would make me more likely to vote for the person; but the second option is offensive and overly simplistic, and would make me less likely to vote for the person.

    In my view, it’s best to avoid damning generalizations such as “Scripture is a morass of inconsistency and lies“. Not all ‘scripture’ is full of inconsistency and lies, and I think your statement could be significantly improved if you just put the word “most” at the start of it. (If you wanted to be even more diplomatic about it, you could say something like “I don’t see any reason why the content of holy scriptures should be viewed as being special or even credible – in fact, a lot of it is complete nonsense – and so I don’t think it’s wise to draw any inspiration from those things.

    You were (in this hypothetical interview) asked this:

    How can our government and faith communities work together as a positive force for the nation while also respecting the boundaries between the two?

    And your answer started by saying “they can’t“. I think you’re way off the mark here. By saying that faith communities can not do anything positive for the nation without violating the constitution basically just serves to alienate those people involved.

    I’m sure the constitution doesn’t say that faith communities cannot play any part in helping the government. I agree that the government should not go out of their way to help faith communities, but if faith communities can find something useful and productive to do to help the nation, then good for them!

    There’s nothing intrinsically bad about ‘faith communities’. The badness arises when the communities start trying to push some kind of agenda which is against the interest of the people outside of the communities. Otherwise, everything should be fine. I believe that a bowling community, or a gay community, or a sci-fi community could have a positive force for the nation without messing up democracy; and so I think a faith community could in principle do that as well.

    I hope my feedback will help you fine-tune your answers for your next interview so that you can gain the respect of religious people rather than simply attacking them, then you might gain some influence to clear up some of their faulty beliefs. (Ideally you want to attack the faulty beliefs; not the people who hold the faulty beliefs.)

    So, when do you think you’ll be nominated?

  60. seasofbrightjuice says

    I think you have a provincial definition of “scripture” in mind PZ. (As the interviewer doubtless did too; but then, all the more reason to be broad yourself). Mahayana Buddhist Sutras, for instance, with their ubiquitous concern with boundless compassion and with “skillful means” — i.e. a kaleidoscopic flexibility of approach for helping different beings — are hardly characterized by barbaric morality. Tao Te Ching, Ashtavakra Gita, Prajnaparamita, Dzogchen Tantras — all strangers to most of your characterizations of scripture.

    But yeah Torah Gospels Koran, have at em.

  61. bcskeptic says

    Sigh. PZ, I have to say it again. Run for president. Tell it like it is. Put a stop to all the ridiculous pandering. Help to save your country from idiocy.

  62. Christoph Burschka says

    Obama has a “faith advisor” who sends him bible quotes and CS Lewis quotes and that sort of thing?

    Not to defend Obama’s stance on religion, but that’s the sort of meaningless thing I’d do if I had to pretend religious doctrines were influencing my policies. Spineless, but not exactly God-told-me-to-invade-Iraq Dubya.

  63. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    If PZ ran, I would strongly consider voting for him since there’s pretty much no chance WV is going to vote blue.

    There may be no chance that he’d get elected, but it could certainly help to shift the Overton Window.

  64. John Phillips, FCD says

    … or other words of wisdom to which you often turn

    Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

    And for when you are having difficulty with making a decision, e.g. press the red button, don’t press the red button;

    eeny meeny miney mo, cachu buwch a pisho llo.

  65. julietdefarge says

    Please, please, print this up as a tract. I promise to leave copies in every veterinarian’s waiting room, every car dealership, etc., etc, in central VA.

  66. neuralobserver says

    @karadoc, #84: I certainly appreciate your balanced and measured approach in commenting on a hypothetical interview such as this, and basically agree with your criticism of Myers’ responses to an interview such as this.

    It’s unclear to me whether or not you are coming from a position defending faith, and advocating keeping it in check with respect to greater secular issues. If you are, I would disagree somewhat with you. I DO think the need for total elimination of religious sensibilities is of prime importance in this political system–and frankly, I am sick of it.

    However, to the degree that you suggest the need for tact in advancing a secular, non-theist approach to political discourse and governing, I would agree that Myers and supporters fail to understand the need for a savvy intelligence, a subtle technique and rhetorical tact in trying to move the political consciousness into the 21st century.

    Rhetorically speaking, less ‘blunt force trauma’ via endless crude insults; more ‘slipping them a Mickey’ via savvy argumentation and positive public relations.

  67. karadoc says

    neuralobserver, thanks for the comment. I think we’re in agreement and that you’ve understood what I was getting at.

    Just to clarify: I’m not trying to defend faith at all. I’d prefer it if faith and religion had nothing to do with any of the decisions made by governments or politicians, or by anyone in choosing who to vote for.

    I just think it’s good to have bit of patience and respect when attacking other people’s views. I’ve been on the wrong side of the facts from time to time in my life. I think we all have. And I think it’s clear that blunt attacks are more likely to make one dig their heels in than change one’s mind.

  68. neuralobserver says

    kardoc @ #92:

    Well said,..well said. Basically, I’m in total agreement. I guess my issue is that, unfortunately, many if not most in the Freethought blogosphere defend moderate to harsh ‘blunt force’ attacks on those who pose the approach you–and many others– support in moving the perspective and dialogue forward with the goal of beginning to wrench ourselves free of religious dogma and its negative effects.

    I basically feel as you do, that many in our camp–especially the leaders of the movement– need to ‘cool our jets’ and be very thoughtful and tactical about how we move the collective consciousness out of the mists of superstition. The ‘blunt force’ of disrespect, cursing, name-calling that many defend as a way to deal with rampant religiosity simply will not do much in the long run, despite our fellow freetinkers’ claims to the contrary.

    As some have compared the more moderate and tactical leaders (like Chris Mooney) to the ‘no holds barred’ leaders (like Myers), it mirrors the ‘good cop/bad cop’ analogy (as described by Myers). Sounds good,… but it’s not a good analogy. In a ‘god cop/bad cop’ situation, you still have two approaches working toward the same goal, but in that case, ‘bad cop’ is there to present a position threatening enough to the subject that said subject will fear the option of ‘bad cop’ enough to convince the subject to accept ‘good cop’s’ position. In any case, ‘good cop/bad cop’ is still disingenuous, and I wouldn’t think we would need an approach like that.

    Not so, when overlapping this approach with atheists trying to move their ideas forward. In this case, Myers’ version of ‘bad cop’ merely serves to insult and push away those that may be open-minded enough to begin rethinking their worldview, doing nothing but shutting the door on anyone that may be open to new thinking, and therefore stifling potential new thinkers to the larger group. In my opinion, his ‘Shock and Awe’ approach isn’t a very effective rhetorical strategy. (Although I would grant that strategy in very rare circumstances, such as CLEARLY those who are trying to denigrate the atheist position for political, social or monetary gain (such as politicians, media and religious demagogues, and the like.) Those types deserve no special treatment, and I would be perfectly fine watching them be rhetorically demolished using the ‘blunt force’ approach. Those types deserve no less.)