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Maybe there is a god…

The fact that dumb-as-dirt Wolf Blitzer still has a job is one of those ineffable mysteries that I can’t explain.

Don’t worry, though: I caught a bit of CNN this morning, and it’s a lot of people praising god and saying they prayed continuously through the storm. It’s like they’re overcompensating now.

Comments

  1. scottrobson says

    Do you think Blitzer would have made that assumption about her thanking the lord if this had taken place in NY, LA or SF? Sounded awfully stereotypical to me to just assume this woman was religious in the first place. Also, to “thank the lord” is very much a christian thing to say and do. Again, he just assumed she was a christian. Sure, this is Oklahoma, good chance you might be right, but still!

    Anyway it was fun watching Blitzer getting his arse handed to him. I think I’m going to go watch it again.

  2. rogerfirth says

    Why aren’t they chewing out the lord for sending the tornado in the first place?

    The cognitive dissonance surrounding religion at virtually every level boggles the mind.

  3. says

    Cognitive dissonance of the highest religious order is required to get from
    “god causes, controls and knows everything” to “god killed those 90 people and flattened a suburb, but he let me live PRAISE THE LORD”.

    Too ironic Blitzer managed to pick the one atheist in the town for his interview.

  4. phill says

    But isn’t it a positive sign that the woman felt at ease saying, “Actually, I’m an atheist”?

  5. Thumper; Atheist mate says

    @phill #6

    That’s what I thought :) on telly too! Good on her.

  6. kevinalexander says

    But isn’t it a positive sign that the woman felt at ease saying, “Actually, I’m an atheist”?

    She probably realizes she’s moving anyway, her house being gone and all.

  7. DLC says

    I never understood all that thanking The LORD (it’s always all-caps) for everything, including having your house turned into toothpicks and your car treated like an angry 8 year old with dad’s hammer was having a go at it. “Oh thank you LORD for only making me homeless and without transport!, your mercy in not snuffing me out like a candle was just soo generous and loving! ”

    Talk about abusive parents.

  8. says

    Jim, she is a member of Oklahoma Atheists, so I bet if you contacted the president, Red McCall, he could hook you up with our assistance efforts: http://www.oklahomaatheists.com/contact-us.

    Rebecca and Anders (the baby) are awesome. If you watched the CBS Sunday Morning episode where they interview Red (and me, actually) you can see Rebecca and Anders sitting right next to me during the shots of us all eating pizza.

    Thanks for posting this, PZ! We are enduring the constant barrage of “thoughts and prayers” from the local media as best we can. ;)

  9. csrster says

    DLC: Or even “Thank you God for killing the other people instead of me.”

  10. says

    she is a member of Oklahoma Atheists

    Wait, what? God chose to kill school children but spared an atheist? This can’t be true, surely. God wouldn’t spare atheists?

    And on this, are you telling me it was Wolf Blitzer’s cunning plan all along to bump into an atheist and ask her if she had thanked god enough for her survival? Oh, no, wait. Blitzer is just an insufferable fool.

  11. dutchdelight says

    Transcript:

    Wolf wrapping up: blahblah you gotta thank the lord, right …. [Wolf switches to lower intonation] Do you thank the lord? [back to normal intonation] For that split second decision?

    Survivor: … … I’m actually an atheist.

    Wolf: Oooh [crosstalking] Ok well at least you made the right decision.

    Survivor: Yea, we are here. You know, i don’t blame anybody for thanking the lord.

    I just wanted to say that is a ridiculously inappropriate question to ask. It’s like an inquisition question really, taking some faith position and asking someone under pressure if they agree or so they can be judged.

    And definitely one of the best answers i can think of after being put on the spot like that. Only thing i would change is “lord” for “their god” in her last sentence there. With an audience of millions it might make someone think.

  12. bbgunn says

    The godbotherers in Moore, OK have selective memories. Moore, OK has been the bullseye of three large tornadoes in the three decades. Took their deity three times before he flattened it, though. Not much to praise there.

  13. md says

    They are overcompensating. And? They were terrified and really can’t process the randomness by which they were spared and others were not. They want to explain it, find a pattern, find a reason. News flash: this is tough for a lot of people and they react emotionally, irrationally even. Can you in this case forgive them their flaws and frailty? If you can, it doesn’t follow that we must also compromise and allow creationism to be taught in science class. We all can’t be abyss-staring Ubermensch Pharyngulites. People get scared sometimes.

  14. says

    Can you in this case forgive them their flaws and frailty?

    But this is why religion exists in the first place. People struggle to deal with death and natural disasters. They ask why instead of how. Our brains are wired that way.

    It’s not accusing anyone of any fault or frailty to point out that it is logically inconsistent to posit an all-powerful god on the one hand, and to not blame that god for a natural disaster occuring on his watch on the other hand.

  15. Usernames are smart says

    They want to explain it, find a pattern, find a reason. — md (#16)

    And one element of the solution is more education, not less. We need more STEM; we need more liberal arts; we just need more, period. Turning to a belief system of fear, ignorance and dependence is not the answer.

    Most anyone who has taken Meteorology 101 would know the reason and the explanation for tornadoes.

    A friend of mine (who is a dyed-in-the-wool Xian) once said he didn’t know how thunder occurred. I bit my tongue, but wished my 5-year-old was there to explain it to him (he’s known since he was three). Guess what? When it thunders outside, he doesn’t get scared. Sure, when there’s a really loud clap, he does a little (heck, I get the adrenalin rush when I get startled), but since he knows what it is, it isn’t scary. </personal-anecdote>

  16. Chie Satonaka says

    Can you in this case forgive them their flaws and frailty? If you can, it doesn’t follow that we must also compromise and allow creationism to be taught in science class. We all can’t be abyss-staring Ubermensch Pharyngulites. People get scared sometimes.

    This was a reporter bringing up religion and prayer to a person who hadn’t volunteered the information herself. It was inappropriate and gross.

  17. anteprepro says

    Holy shit, md actually has a fucking point for once. The title of this thread becomes even more appropriate.

  18. ekwhite says

    I was annoyed with the aggressiveness with which Blitzer asked “do you thank the lord”? As stated above, it did sound a bit like the Inquisition.

  19. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    md, noting people’s overcompensation and irrational responses is a requirement for moving on to better reactions, both societally and individually, to disasters like this. Not too long ago — hell, even now to many people in the U.S. identifying oneself as athieist immediately after a disaster could result in anything from social ostracism to murder-as-scapegoat by the irrational and overcompensating religious. We can’t let such reactions go by unnoticed.

    Also, none of us here have ever claimed Ubermensch status (that went to the highly-Catholic Nazis, Mr-Inaccurrate-Godwin), and — there is IS NO ABYSS.

  20. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Aargh! Sorry for borked italicization!

  21. Chie Satonaka says

    According to the thread on Gawker about this, she’s already getting harassment from religious people on Twitter. Keepin’ it classy, as usual.

  22. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Chie — Yup. “Love our Gawd! Love Him! Love Him we tell you, or we’ll (fill in the blank with whatever religiously-motivated obscenity you can think of).”

  23. anteprepro says

    It’s not accusing anyone of any fault or frailty to point out that it is logically inconsistent to posit an all-powerful god on the one hand, and to not blame that god for a natural disaster occuring on his watch on the other hand.

    md, noting people’s overcompensation and irrational responses is a requirement for moving on to better reactions, both societally and individually, to disasters like this

    But it isn’t just a little problematic to be playing “Point Out The Logical Inconsistencies” with people who just survived a natural disaster? Talk about the reporters, talk about the people safe hundreds of miles of way saying the same shit, talk about the preachers safe from their pulpits. But it seems incredibly assholish, despite all the illogic drowning the Average Joe, spilling from places of comfort and privilege, to mock the illogic of Average Joes who recently escaped a tornado.

  24. ck says

    @Chie Satonaka

    I guess they finally found the “reason” why their God had to destroy their town. He was trying to destroy the heretic, but his aim was as lousy as ever.

  25. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    anteprepro, no-one here is suggesting making fun of, or attacking people who are in dire emotional straits; no-one here is personally contacting, or holding up for individual ridicule persons who have been affected by the tornado. But the noting the unthinking responses of the religious IS necessary, particularly when some religious people are now attacking, publically and individually, the self-identified atheist. No-one here, let me say again, has done what you are accusing us of, and what you are accusing us of is what some religious people are now doing.

    Religion does not give people a pass to be crazy assholes.

  26. says

    @Hairhead #29 – “Religion does not give people a pass to be crazy assholes.”

    Yes it does! It also gives them a pass to be homophobic, misogynistic, racist bigots who are willfully ignorant of anything and everything that does not fit with their belief system. Just ask them, they will be delighted to explain it to you at length.

  27. kevinalexander says

    Just think, if she and her baby hadn’t run out of the house to safety but instead got down on their knees to ask god’s deliverance they might be with Jesus right now.

  28. erik333 says

    @13 rorschach

    Of course he would. God hates religious people, always bugging him with annoying prayers and shit. Especially on sundays. His day off* :-(

    * As pointed out by G. Carlin

  29. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    Gregory,. you are right. I should have said, “Religion SHOULD NOT give people a pass to be crazy assholes.”

  30. Blondin says

    Ricky Gervais tweeted:

    “@MTVNews: Beyoncé, Rihanna & Katy Perry send prayers to #Oklahoma #PrayForOklahoma”

    I feel like an idiot now…I only sent money.

  31. anteprepro says

    anteprepro, no-one here is suggesting making fun of, or attacking people who are in dire emotional straits;

    For fuck’s sake:

    Don’t worry, though: I caught a bit of CNN this morning, and it’s a lot of people praising god and saying they prayed continuously through the storm. It’s like they’re overcompensating now.

    Is the OP referring to the people who went through the storm?
    Is “overcompensating” not mockery?
    Did I also not allude to the fact that it even if it is pure Vulcanism, pure “what they said is illogical, I must point out the illogic”, it is still problematic to target the compulsive desire to correct logical fallacies towards these people?

    Also:

    Religion does not give people a pass to be crazy assholes.

    your ableism is noted.

  32. hillaryrettig says

    MD16 –

    if the “they” you are referring to is Wolf Blitzer, then they weren’t “overcompensating” but “pandering.”

  33. Sili says

    DLC,

    It’s easy, really.

    If you don’t thank the tantrumma eight-year-old properly, he wishes you into the cornfield, too.

  34. Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff says

    anteprepro: Can you not read? 1) I pointed out that no-one here has been attacking identifiable individuals. 2) I pointed out that the one individually-identified atheist is now being attacked by religious assholes. 3) It not problematic, it is necessary to point out *dangerous* fallacies when they are promulgated. 4) What is abusive about “It’s like they’re overcompensating now.”? Nothing. It’s an observation without personal insult, without condemning people, without laughing or taking delight at their tragedy. And it’s not “Vulcan” of me, either — I am quite emotional when I hear and see abusive religious idiocy.

    Strawman, strawman, strawman, anteprepro, in all of your responses — step out of the barn.

  35. dianne says

    So, let me think the implications through…God sends storm through notoriously conservative and homophobic Oklahoma. God saves the one atheist in town.

    You heard Him/Her, Christians. Repent now! If you immediately enact marriage equality, sane laws on abortion, improve education (God clearly thought your schools were inadequate…S/He knocked two of them down), and provide relief for the poor and those harmed by natural disasters (in Moore or New Jersey), then MAYBE S/He’ll let you live. Otherwise…don’t make any plans past next summer.

    Or maybe you could just do all of the above because you’re decent people who don’t want to judge your neighbors, want to provide all children with opportunities, and help those in need whether you’ll get any reward for it or not.

  36. md says

    Hillary @ 36,

    Yes, I know PZ is directing this at Wolf, at least at first. I don’t know a thing about Wolf but given that he’s marinated at CNN for a long time now Id bet he doesn’t have a religious bone in his body. So is he pandering? Maybe, or maybe you could interpret his words generously and say he was trying to identify with the victims on their own terms. Terms almost sure to comfort.

  37. anteprepro says

    1) I pointed out that no-one here has been attacking identifiable individuals. 2) I pointed out that the one individually-identified atheist is now being attacked by religious assholes.

    “Identifiable individuals” and “those religious people are being jerks to an atheist” are relevant to this, how?

    3) It not problematic, it is necessary to point out *dangerous* fallacies when they are promulgated.

    I already pointed out that less problematic targets spew out the same fallacies. Who can’t read again?

    4) What is abusive about “It’s like they’re overcompensating now.”?

    I didn’t say it was abusive, I said it was mockery. Who can’t read again?

    And it’s not “Vulcan” of me, either — I am quite emotional when I hear and see abusive religious idiocy.

    And yet praising God and praying continuously is abusive now? Or are you referring to the abuse suffered by the atheist in the video, which still has no bearing on the topic of whether or not we should be criticizing the logical acumen of natural disaster survivors, which is what my “Vulcanism” comment referred to?

    Who can’t read again? Who is erecting strawmen again?

  38. anteprepro says

    Don’t worry, I’m done now. I thought that it was a perspective that Pharyngulites might embrace, given our current zeitgeist of prioritizing social issues and human emotions and basic decency over pedantic philosophical arguments and just being Oh So Right about religion. But considering that md only brought this issue up to troll, like he does, and the basis for the complaint is a rather trivial remark when all things are considered, I’m done caring for the moment.

  39. md says

    But considering that md only brought this issue up to troll

    I do not want to make this thread about me, but here I go. What does this mean? That you think im being insincere? That is not true. Is it trolling to disagree? Is it because I dont post about what I agree with written on this site, which is considerable?

    If you want to answer in the Lounge or Thunderdome Id appreciate a sincere answer.

  40. says

    If people–CNN’s producers or tornado survivors–are talking more about religion because an atheist was given airtime, that is not overcompensating for the effects of the tornado. It’s not an understandable emotional response to the tornado. It’s a prejudiced emotional response to an atheist being given airtime.

    If people start talking about how white they are in response to seeing a family of Hispanic survivors, are you going to start pleading for us to be understanding of them?

  41. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Is it trolling to disagree?

    It depends why you disagree. And you disagreements are idiotlogical. You are an idiot, but think you are logical. *snicker*
    This is clear pandering to delusional religious folks. Their deity doesn’t exist. Ergo, nothing but delusions.

  42. says

    “Stars offer prayers for Oklahoma tornado victims” said the headline in the entertainment section of this morning’s paper. My thought on reading that was that the stars should donate money instead.

  43. anteprepro says

    I do not want to make this thread about me, but here I go. What does this mean? That you think im being insincere?

    Yes. Or just motivated to say whatever you can possibly can to somehow disagree with people. You consistently drop snide one liners here. You consistently play contrarian. You don’t have conversations, you don’t “just disagree”: You actively seek conflict. For fuck’s sake, you dropped a one liner in a thread about PZ fucking travelling by bringing up “carbon offsets” because an innocuous post about travel plans is the perfect place to bring up your global warming denialism. You have been posting here and doing this for a long fucking while, so don’t fucking play coy.

  44. anteprepro says

    If people–CNN’s producers or tornado survivors–are talking more about religion because an atheist was given airtime, that is not overcompensating for the effects of the tornado. It’s not an understandable emotional response to the tornado. It’s a prejudiced emotional response to an atheist being given airtime.

    Where is the indication that the overcompensation in question was a response to Wolf Blitzer running into an atheist?

  45. A Hermit says

    Apart from the obvious awesomeness of that quiet, courageous answer the other part of this I love is the failure of the usual lazy “interviewer gives interviewee the answer to the question” approach to the journamilisms…

    I’m interested in what SHE has to say Wolf, not in YOUR opinion…

  46. David Marjanović says

    given that he’s marinated at CNN for a long time now Id bet he doesn’t have a religious bone in his body

    – mbuh – what?

  47. otrame says

    It sounded to me like he was looking for the standard “thank god” so he could move on and she wasn’t giving it up. So he pushed her for it.

    Makes you wonder how many actually go around praising the Lord at these things. Some do, sure, but how many say it because they are getting pushed for it by a reporter and don’t want to say “I think thanking god for saving me when there are corpses littered about the place is obscenely insensitive” on national TV because they don’t want their flower shop boycotted once they get it rebuilt?

  48. says

    My bet is that Wolf Blitzer has had a talk with his producers and handlers, something on the order of, “Would you please screen these people first! Don’t bring me any more atheists.”

  49. rr says

    You heard Him/Her, Christians. Repent now!

    It’s funny – they think Yahweh sent the tornado, presumably because he’s mad at them. It seems to me the logical thing to do would be to try and figure out why he’s mad at them, and make some changes so that he’s happy instead. But I bet not one Christian will alter a single thing about their beliefs or their behavior after this disaster.

  50. carlie says

    My thought on reading that was that the stars should donate money instead.

    One NBA player did. Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, donated a million dollars. That was not only extremely generous, but shamed his team and the NBA into making large donations as well. It’s fantastic, but it really highlights how rarely (never, in my memory) we see celebrities making those kinds of donations.

  51. says

    anteprepro @ 49:

    Where is the indication that the overcompensation in question was a response to Wolf Blitzer running into an atheist?

    What does more Jesus compensate for except less Jesus?

  52. unclefrogy says

    it would be interesting to see the first part of the interview because I wonder what W.B. was referring to when his reply to her was about making the right decision.
    I think that some of the credit for the low death toll could be attributed to the science for being able to give a 15 min warning.
    uncle frogy

  53. mikeyb says

    Wolfie, you mean the media shill who practically cheered on during both Gulf/Bush wars and couldn’t get enough of shock and awe. That guy is an authority on God.

  54. tbtabby says

    I’m a little worried about this woman now. She just declared herself to be an atheist, in Oklahoma, on national TV. I doubt she’ going to be very popular among the more God-fearing survivors now.

  55. Ichthyic says

    I’m actually an atheist.

    Wolf: Oooh [crosstalking] Ok well at least you made the right decision.

    Indeed she did, good for noting that for the audience, Wolf.

    ;)

  56. Ichthyic says

    md bloviates:

    I don’t know a thing about Wolf

    but feels free to tell us all what’s really going on.

    dude… get a clue. You’re suffering from a bad case of Dunning Kruger.

  57. Ichthyic says

    News flash: this is tough for a lot of people and they react emotionally, irrationally even.

    and what about Rebecca?

    she isn’t allowed to both be scared AND conclude it has fuckall to do with a magic sky daddy?

    sorry, your “logic” fails.

  58. Ichthyic says

    Holy shit, md actually has a fucking point for once.

    ha! MD sure fooled you, antepro.

    :)

  59. Ichthyic says

    According to the thread on Gawker about this, she’s already getting harassment from religious people on Twitter. Keepin’ it classy, as usual.

    In the comments there, I really liked this one:

    “Local Infant a Hero After Stealing Bad Wolf’s Mic”

  60. pedantik says

    I don’t think this is so ineffable. Blitzer asked an effing stupid question.

  61. anteprepro says

    stay there.

    Crap, someone else beat me to that one.

    ha! MD sure fooled you, antepro.

    He was dangerously close to a point. Deceptively close. He got “better”.

  62. caecily (neither spineless, nor a worm) says

    They were terrified and really can’t process the randomness by which they were spared and others were not. They want to explain it, find a pattern, find a reason.

    They live in frickin’ Tornado Alley! Right there is your explanation, pattern, and reason, all rolled into one easily-digestible package.
     
    Cheez Louise, watch more Stormchasers, people!

    I think that some of the credit for the low death toll could be attributed to the science for being able to give a 15 min warning.

    Indeed!
    -

  63. kayden says

    Very classy lady (and cute baby). Horrible that she’s getting negative feedback from Christianists.

  64. Viktor Brown says

    No mystery here. Wolf Blitzer works at CNN. Truly it is a place of great reporting. /sarcasm Seriously, this is the network that had two of their talking heads pretend to be talking over a great distance when they were very obviously in the same parking lot.

  65. says

    Re: 78 kayden 22 May 2013 at 8:57 pm (UTC -5)

    She is? I haven’t heard of that. It’s expected, but I always hope for the best.

  66. says

    Wolf Blitzer is still employed because his name is “Wolf Blitzer.” You can’t really get a better name for a newsguy than that. He could be half-dead and incapable of speech, and CNN would still throw to him simply so they could say “We now go to Wolf Blitzer in Oklahoma…”

  67. robro says

    This Wolf Blitzer reporting from the Moore morgue where the bodies of some of the 24 people killed by the tornado are still waiting to be claimed by their loved ones. Here’s one of them. Sir, do you thank the Lord that you were killed in the tornado? Sir…well, we’ll just take that as a “yes.” Here’s one of the children. Hey, little fellow. How’s it going? Are you saying thank you to Jesus that you’re dead? Hello? Hmm, well, another yes.”

    And in other news…Wolf still has a beard. Is this evidence that beards are not an indicator of immense intelligence? Maybe it only works if you’re an atheist.

  68. kreativekaos says

    Wow,.. a milestone in my life. I’ve lived long enough to actually hear someone declare that they are an atheist in a news interview after a natural disaster, when typically the reporter tries the usual attempt at injecting God-talk. Amazing and encouraging (hopefully).

  69. saganite says

    That was so incredibly awkward. Loved it. And good on her for saying so on national TV. Every bit of exposure helps, I think.