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The people who safeguard our liberties…

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes in the devil.

You believe in heaven and hell?
Oh, of course I do. Don’t you believe in heaven and hell?

No.
Oh, my.

Does that mean I’m not going?
[Laughing.] Unfortunately not!

It doesn’t mean you’re not going to hell, just because you don’t believe in it. That’s Catholic doctrine! Everyone is going one place or the other.

But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
Of course not!

Oh. So you don’t know where I’m going. Thank God.
I don’t know where you’re going. I don’t even know whether Judas Iscariot is in hell. I mean, that’s what the pope meant when he said, “Who am I to judge?” He may have recanted and had severe penance just before he died. Who knows?

Can we talk about your drafting process—
[Leans in, stage-whispers.] I even believe in the Devil.

You do?
Of course! Yeah, he’s a real person. Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

Every Catholic believes this? There’s a wide variety of Catholics out there …
If you are faithful to Catholic dogma, that is certainly a large part of it.

Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

No.
It’s because he’s smart.

So what’s he doing now?
What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

That has really painful implications for atheists. Are you sure that’s the ­Devil’s work?
I didn’t say atheists are the Devil’s work.

Well, you’re saying the Devil is ­persuading people to not believe in God. Couldn’t there be other reasons to not believe?
Well, there certainly can be other reasons. But it certainly favors the Devil’s desires. I mean, c’mon, that’s the explanation for why there’s not demonic possession all over the place. That always puzzled me. What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament.

Right.
What happened to him?

He just got wilier.
He got wilier.

Isn’t it terribly frightening to believe in the Devil?
You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.

Jesus fucking christ. I’m speechless.


The power of speech returns to me. That interview by Scalia is pure religiously driven anti-intellectualism — he short-circuits reasoned thought about an issue to fall back on dogma, the doctrine of the Catholic church, and on popular opinion — hey, lots of good Catholics believe in the devil, therefore my belief is justified.

The Catholic church also believes witches should be killed. Does he believe in witches, then, and does he agree that they deserve the death penalty? If a million Catholics thought it was a good idea to strangle a puppy before breakfast, would Scalia be making daily trips to the animal shelter?

This view of Scalia’s is the antithesis of mine. When I was a church-going kid, the final straw for me was going through confirmation classes and being told that good Lutherans had to believe in every word of the Nicene creed. I did not say, “I’m a good Lutheran, therefore I believe this.” I looked critically at what I was asked to believe, judged whether it was true and reasonable, and decided, “I do not believe any of this, therefore I am not a Lutheran.” Or a Christian of any kind, for that matter.

Scalia is a mindless ape. Why is he on the Supreme Court again? Oh, yeah, he was appointed by that senile evil goon, Reagan.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

    Except in the House of Representatives.

  2. Great American Satan says

    He’s not quite right about what I do. I won’t get into particulars, but I do spend some of my time making
    Antonin Scalia think he’s righteous, in the face of blistering evidence to the contrary. It isn’t easy.

  3. says

    You’re looking at me as though I’m weird, just because I don’t believe in in door plumbing. My God! Are you so out of touch. I mean, Jesus Christ shitted in a hole besides the road! It’s in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the superiority of an outhouse! Most of mankind has shit in buckets or holes on one kind or another, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have shit in holes before.

  4. says

    I somehow managed to miss the introduction to the blockquote and thought this was some imaginary dialogue in a tract distributed to soldiers or something. Imagine my horror when I scrolled back up.

  5. Doubting Thomas says

    So presumably, ‘the Devil made me do it’ would be a valid defense before this justice?

  6. says

    So, we don’t see the devil possessing people or making pigs run off cliffs “because he’s smart”? That kind of “reasoning” always reminds me of the old silly joke: “Have you ever seen an elephant hiding behind a tree?”

  7. wcorvi says

    Actually Catholics believe that the only admission to heaven is to be canonized by the pope – ie become a saint. Only saints are in heaven. Or, at least the pope believes this. And of course the pope is infallible, therefore it must be right.

    So, if someone fools the Pope into canonizing him (say, by giving the pope lots and lots of money), then even if god doesn’t want that person in heaven, they must still be there. In other words, it must be god that’s wrong, because the pope can’t be?

  8. sowellfan says

    I’m disappointed that the interviewer didn’t go on to ask Scalia about why *God* wasn’t doing much active stuff nowadays. If you think the Devil has been inactive in recent years, and that leads to more atheists – then what about the inactivity and massive drop-off in number of miracles that are supposedly done by God? Is God then trying to create more atheists?

  9. Nemo says

    The doctrine is: Saints are the only people in Heaven, because that’s the definition of “saint”. But canonization doesn’t make people saints — it’s just a formal recognition that they already are saints. As Scalia says, for most cases, we can’t judge; the recognized saints are just the people for whom we’re really, really sure that they made it in, because they meet a certain set of criteria.

    Also, Scalia is right: most people do believe in the devil, even a great many very smart people. I don’t see where anything he said is surprising. Disappointing, maybe, but not surprising.

  10. MJP says

    The Devil is a kind of anti-sockpuppet. Christians use him to almost define their opponents as evil. Don’t agree with Christianity? Well, the Devil tricked you. Have a bunch of evidence for the theory of evolution? Well, the Devil planted it. Don’t have any evidence that the Devil exists? Well, the Devil is really good at hiding. It’s on par with propositions such as “What if we’re all brains in a vat?” or “What if we’re in the Matrix?” except we’re being accused of being evil for not being able to detect the simulation.

  11. sumdum says

    Holy crap, that’s not parody? Wow.
    You never hear of a Christian worrying about going to Muslim hell, or Nordic Hel, why should I worry about Catholic hell?

  12. strange gods before me ॐ says

    why should I worry about Catholic hell?

    Because more people believe in Catholic hell than any other hell. Why, it’s the very same hell that Pascal warned us about!

    And if that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

  13. Nemo says

    P.S. Truthfully, I’m not even disappointed, because hey, he said that a) non-believers could go to Heaven, and b) Satanic inspiration is not the only motivation to atheism. Think how few right-wing evangelical fundies would agree with either of those statements.

    Now, as a non-believer in Heaven, you may wonder why I care whether he thinks I can go there. It’s because, if you’ve already condemned someone to Hell in your own mind, I think you’re less likely to treat them with respect in the here and now.

  14. says

    I’m surprised that Jennifer Senior, the interviewer, actually states she doesn’t believe in Heaven and Hell. Given how God besotted a lot of US workplaces apparently are you’d think she’d be a bit worried about pissing off her coworkers. Or bosses. At the very least she’s likely to get a lot of nasty emails from nincompoops.

  15. stevebowen says

    The Devil isn’t really a biblical character anyway. Satan works for Yahweh as an agent provocateur(see the booke of Job) and the idea that the snake in Eden was Satan/Lucifer is 2nd century theology not supported by the earlier scripture. Lucifer specifically is only mentioned once ambiguously and was probably an oblique reference to Nebuchanesser, it’s not even clear whether the capitalisation in the KJV was an error.The whole fallen angel schtick is way later and re-inforced in the cultural imagination by Dante’s divine comedy.
    However if you go back to 1000/1200 or so BC to Zoroaster, then you have a genuine evil deity in Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) which may have crept somewhat into Jewish theology during the Babylonian captivity and into Christianity via Augustine of Hippo who flirted with Manicheism (and by association Zoroastriansm) before converting.

  16. mattand says

    I really, really wish the Constitution had term limits for SCOTUS judges. 20 years or something. The fact that a guy like this gets to interpret the Constitution is frightening.

  17. gussnarp says

    Earlier in the article he says he thinks flogging is Constitutional, too. He’s so committed to his notion of originalism that he thinks that since flogging wasn’t considered cruel and unusual in 1789, then it must not be cruel and unusual. I can’t get my head around this, that he thinks we have to live exactly the way the founding fathers wanted us to 200 years ago based entirely upon their outdated worldview. Cruel and unusual has to be defined as what the writers of the declaration thought was cruel and unusual? This is an untenable legal doctrine. Oh wait, maybe since he believes in the devil as a literal person he also believes he can commune with the souls of the founders and discover their true intent….

    Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse in a Supreme Court Justice, religious beliefs that demonstrate an inability to grasp reality or legal constructs that make no sense whatsoever. That this man has so much power is terrifying.

  18. gussnarp says

    @mattand – With a twenty year term limit, Scalia’s replacement would have been selected by G.W. Bush.

    Hey, speaking of the court, did you guys know that John Roberts appoints ALL of the FISA surveillance court judges. No one else, just John Roberts.

  19. gussnarp says

    I need to stop reading this article:

    I usually skim them. We just get The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times. We used to get the Washington Post, but it just … went too far for me. I couldn’t handle it anymore.

    The Washington Times? Fine, the Post is “liberal”, but the TIMES? The mouthpiece of the Moonies? And this man gets one of only nine votes in determining what is and isn’t constitutional? This alone is reason to go out and vote for whatever Democrat is running for President. Every. Single. Time. We really can’t afford another of these clowns getting onto the court.

  20. says

    Scalia’s belief in a pile of theological nonsense is unsettling, but to me it is ultimately less important than his adherence to the intellectually bankrupt doctrine of originalism. The main problem with originalism, the doctrine of interpreting the Constitution as the framers intended, is that it is self-contradictory, because there is no evidence that the framers of the Constitution intended the document to be interpreted in accord with their original intent. In short, by promoting originalism, Scalia is engaging in intellectual fraud. And because he is a Supreme Court Justice, this fraud has far-reaching consequences.

  21. Bicarbonate says

    Originalism.

    Not to mention that it’s pretty clear the founding fathers never intended anyone to vote except for white property-owning men. And that they either supported or tolerated slavery.

  22. David Marjanović says

    Hey, c’mon, that’s standard Catholic doctrine! Every Catholic believes that.

    Under that definition of “Catholic”, there’s maybe one million Catholics in Europe.

    The Catholic church also believes witches should be killed. Does he believe in witches, then, and does he agree that they deserve the death penalty?

    Uh, wait, wait, wait. It probably took them till the 2nd Vatican Council, but the Catholic Church no longer believes in witches – and it is consistent enough in its “pro-life” stance to be against the death penalty, removing it pretty far from Scalia’s mainstream America.

    I can’t get my head around this, that he thinks we have to live exactly the way the founding fathers wanted us to 200 years ago based entirely upon their outdated worldview.

    You know, you could fully accept his ludicrous position and amend the big-C Constitution.

    It’s quite ridiculous that you still count your amendments after 220 years!

  23. Ingdigo Jump says

    I really wish people would stop saying he’s a smart legal mind. to this outsider he looks like a hupocritical simpleton

  24. robro says

    Originalism sounds a lot like literalism in Biblical studies. Although we may have more commentary about the Constitution by the Framers than we do the Bible, any so-called “literal” interpretation is still just someone’s opinion. Anyone who claims to be using “only the words” in their original intent is self-delusional and probably prone to confirmation bias. But then this guy believes in gods and devils.

  25. says

    What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

    This quote from Scalia comes very close to an apt description of the mormon version of the Devil. As “The Adversary,” the mormon version sneakily turns people away from God by making them doubt the mormon church and its leaders. The mormon Satan also has a deep and abiding interest in deploying sex to dissuade mormon missionaries from accomplishing their tasks.

    As for the way we imagine Satan, Milton’s Paradise Lost has a lot to do with that.

  26. Rip Steakface says

    You know, you could fully accept his ludicrous position and amend the big-C Constitution.

    It’s quite ridiculous that you still count your amendments after 220 years!

    It’s incredibly hard to amend the Constitution. Not just incredibly hard like “it’s incredibly hard to play like Art Tatum.” More like “it’s incredibly hard to convince three-quarters of the American population of anything.” Remember that to get a Constitutional amendment passed, it requires 3/4ths of the states ratifying the amendment after a supermajority in both houses of Congress passes the amendment.

    This is the country in which less than half of its population considers evolution to be true. The government is shut down because we have a house of the legislature which refuses to fund a law signed into law three years ago and found to pass constitutional muster. Shit, if you asked every American whether they preferred Coke or Pepsi, a third would say, “I don’t know.” The last Constitutional amendment with any measure of controversy was fifty years ago, with the end of poll taxes. We can’t even get 3/4ths of Americans to agree women are people (Equal Rights Amendment)!

  27. frog says

    What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him…

    –>But does Scalia believe in Kaiser Soze?

  28. says

    @robro: Originalism is just a tiny bit more nuanced than that, but not by much. Originalism asserts that we should interpret the Constitution using only the meanings that the framers intended its provisions to mean, but it is not a suggestion that we should only look at the bare words of the document. Instead, originalism asserts that we should look at the writings and accepted practices of the period to determine what words mean.

    This is how Scalia gets to the position that flogging is Constitutionally permissible. At the time the Constitution was written, several states had flogging as an accepted judicial punishment. Therefore, Scalia reasons, the eighth amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment cannot prohibit flogging, because the people who wrote the document didn’t seem to think flogging was either cruel or unusual. Essentially, Scalia says we are locked into reading the document in a manner identical to the manner he presumes people would have read it in the 1790s. Given that there is no evidence that the framers intended this method of interpretation to prevail, making originalism entirely self-contradictory, it is a wholly fraudulent way of interpreting the document.

  29. says

    At an event in Colorado in July, Scalia talked about 1930s Germany in a way that caused some head-desking at the time … then everyone conveniently forgot about it:

    Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

  30. dmcclean says

    This is the really bad part:

    Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history.

    This is only true under the white european concept of history where “most of mankind” “for all of history” has been christian. It isn’t true on planet earth where there hasn’t been a single moment in “all of history” at which “most of mankind has believed in the devil.”

  31. Rey Fox says

    P.S. Truthfully, I’m not even disappointed, because hey, he said that a) non-believers could go to Heaven, and b) Satanic inspiration is not the only motivation to atheism.

    He really tries to have it both ways here, and ends up making no sense.

  32. Ingdigo Jump says

    The core of it is that Scalia doesn’t give a shit about people or harm or the purpose of law, the law itself is it’s own goal and end.
    He wants people to live for the law regardless of whether it’s healthy or makes sense

  33. Sili says

    But you don’t have to be a Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?

    Of course not!

    Whatever the Catholic Hell happened to extra Ecclesiam nulla salus?

  34. boskerbonzer says

    Shit, Scalia’s not even well informed when it comes to Catholic teachings.

    But you don’t have to be Catholic to get into heaven? Or believe in it?
    Of course not!

    When I was a kid my best friend was Catholic and she was most definitely taught that only Catholics got into heaven, period. And from here, the expanded explanation, which also should make PZ ashamed, ASHAMED, I SAY!!!, for using the body of Christ in a derogatory manner. Now, a rusty nail, a few ripped-out pages of the Qur’an and The God Delusion, some old coffee grounds and a banana peel are going to heaven. (If you don’t click links and read religious propaganda here’s the short version: “The Catholic Church is the necessary instrument by which one can know Jesus. Thus, without the Catholic Church no salvation is possible. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” If you don’t crunch the cracker, you don’t pass the pearly gates.)

    I find it interesting that the Catholic church won’t give communion to anyone who isn’t Catholic, since they would be saving those poor souls from eternal damnation.

  35. Goodbye Enemy Janine says

    Please remember that Scalia said this back in 2002.

    Indeed, it seems to me that the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe and has least support in the church-going United States. I attribute that to the fact that for the believing Christian, death is no big deal.

  36. mnb0 says

    “He’s making pigs run off cliffs”
    Now that’s truly embarrissing – it was Scalia’s personal saviour, who lived 2000 years ago and had that resurrection thing who made those pigs run off cliffs.
    It’s an interesting story as it expressed the Hebrew wish to get rid of the Romans (who are the pigs). So at one hand Jesus didn’t care much about animal rights and at the other hand the story tells us Jesus was a failure – the Romans were there to stay for another couple of centuries.

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

    Holy motherfucking shitballs!

    Then again, why should I be surprised at this. It was, after all, Scalia, who said that, once convicted of a capital crime, a person should be executed, even if that person were later (but prior to the execution) found innocent)!

    Mind you, in Canada, our federal minister of science is a creationist! (headdesk headdesk, waiting for the next election and Justin Trudeau).

  38. kantalope says

    I’ll have to disagree with the above interpretations of Scalia’s Originalism. What Scalia really and always means is that the framers have always agreed with what Scalia personally thinks and he will go through any verbal or intellectual contortions to prove it.

    And wait until Scalia finds out about how the framers felt about papists (and the devil for that matter)….oh boy, is he gonna be disappointed.

  39. anteprepro says

    -Have you seen evidence of the Devil lately?
    -You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore….
    It’s because he’s smart.
    -So what’s he doing now?
    -What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way…..What happened to the Devil, you know? He used to be all over the place. He used to be all over the New Testament….
    He got wilier.

    I feel a strange urge to Find and Replace “the Devil” with “God” and laugh my ass off. Because the Devil didn’t even have many tricks to begin with, but the absence of God’s magic act is even more notable and even less logical.

  40. says

    Doesn’t Scalia sound like every other befuddled right-winger with a religious bent? Slightly more well spoken thanks to his education, but fundamentally a fundamentalist.

    Here’s more on his anti-gay rhetoric:

    Scalia’s writings on gay rights explode any notion of judicial remove, rocketing beyond casual homophobia into the repugnant realm of virulently anti-gay invective. Scalia has compared homosexuality to murder, polygamy, and animal abuse. He’s analogized gay people to drug addicts and prostitutes and likened gay sex to incest, adultery, and bestiality. He’s echoed his son in questioning whether gay people even exist, suggesting that homosexuality is actually aberrant, depraved conduct rather than a true identity. And he’s derided the “homosexual agenda” for “eliminating the moral opprobrium” against “a lifestyle [many Americans] believe to be immoral and destructive.”

    Slate link.

  41. says

    Obviously, he’s not a real judge, to accept something as hugely important as the existence of the christian god, based on such flimsy evidence.

  42. David Marjanović says

    It’s incredibly hard to amend the Constitution.

    I know, I know. Communist Yugoslavia having fallen, it’s the hardest remaining constitution in the world to amend.

    That, too, is ridiculous.

    Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

    what

    *blink*

    what

    No, they made heaps and heaps of new laws. They didn’t interpret existing ones, they abolished them en masse. Back to middle school, Tony-boy.

  43. says

    Satan gets such a bad rap. As Steve Wells pointed out in Drunk With Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, it wasn’t the devil slaughtering people left and right on a whim.

  44. iplon says

    It’s amazing how the monsters under my bed and in my closet got so much more clever too when I grew up.

  45. says

    Here’s some good news from the Supreme Court:

    The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it would not hear Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s (R) appeal of a lower court ruling that held that the state’s sodomy ban is wholly unconstitutional. Cuccinelli had made his defense of the law an issue in his campaign for governor.

    Virginia’s archaic Crimes Against Nature law made oral and anal sex a felony — even between consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom. In 2003, the Supreme Court held in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy bans like Virginia’s violated the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.

    … In 2009, he told a newspaper that he supported keeping restrictions on the sexual behavior of consenting adults: “My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law based country it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that. … They don’t comport with natural law.”…

    This is not Cuccinelli’s first high-profile legal defeat as attorney general. His legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, his attempt to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and his fishing expedition into a former University of Virginia climate scientist have all been defeated by the courts.

    It is possible to occasionally defeat the right-wingers. If we elect Republican Presidents who appoint more Scalia types to the Supreme Court, all bets are off.

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/10/07/2742221/cuccinelli-sodomy-supreme-court-loss/

  46. says

    As Steve Wells pointed out in Drunk With Blood: God’s Killings in the Bible, it wasn’t the devil slaughtering people left and right on a whim.

    Stephen Brust did a novel about that, in which Satan was cast as the loser in an authoritarian war about heaven and whatnot, history being rewritten by the winner to make the losing side look all evil and stuff. I thought the idea was very clever.

  47. gussnarp says

    @Marcus Ranum, #55:

    And of course, His Dark Materials. The least critical reading of the Bible and some of the later interpretations of it makes it quite easy to cast Yahweh as the villain and Satan/Lucifer as the hero. Even with all the works that have done it, there’s still a lot of rich material there. I mean come on, Yahweh wants his people to stay ignorant, never eat of the tree of knowledge, is jealous, wants to be worshiped and praised constantly, slaughters millions, hands down often bizarre sets of onerous laws, and plays manipulative games with his most loyal followers. Casting the Satan, Lucifer, and the Serpent all in one as the bringer of light, the dispenser of knowledge, and the adversary to an authoritarian God is much more interesting and thought provoking.

  48. zetopan says

    And one should never forget that Scalia (along with Rehnquist) very strongly dissented with the rest of the supreme court in the Edwards v. Aguillard court case by insisting that teaching “creation science” [sic, 1] to school children actually served a secular purpose. That way the children get “to decide for themselves how life began [sic, 2], based upon a fair and balanced presentation of the scientific [sic, 3] evidence”.

    1. An obvious oxymoron that only the willfully ignorant could fail to detect.
    2. Evolution is not abiogenesis.
    3. There is no science in creationism. Interesting that Scalia and Rehnquist both ignored that “72 Nobel prize-winning scientists,[1] 17 state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations filed amicus briefs which described creation science as being composed of religious tenets” at the original trial. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwards_v._Aguillard

    Scalia is profoundly scientifically illiterate, which makes it quite easy for him to embrace religious absurdities. Of course the latter may actually be the cause of the former.

  49. Harry Tuttle says

    Because more people believe in Catholic hell than any other hell.

    If I may quote the inestimable Eddie Lee; “Chinese have a lot of hells.”

  50. Wowbagger, Designated Snarker says

    I wish the interviewer had asked him why, if Satan is so powerful a trickster, how can we know anything to be true? How do we know that Satan didn’t write the bible? How do we know Jesus wasn’t Satan in disguise, luring people away from the true faith of Judaism?

  51. says

    I’ll have to disagree with the above interpretations of Scalia’s Originalism. What Scalia really and always means is that the framers have always agreed with what Scalia personally thinks and he will go through any verbal or intellectual contortions to prove it.

    That would actually be less damaging than the version he promotes. If Scalia adhered to that judicial philosophy, then no one would take originalism seriously. Instead, by painting over the shittiness of originalism with a verneer of respectability, they make it palatable and, as Scalia noted, get intellectual frauds who espouse it into the faculty of places like Harvard Law School.

  52. says

    My response to Scalia’s originalist dogma is, appropriately enough, taken from the words of a Mr. T. Jefferson, a Virginian who might have had some vague ideas of the intent of the founders of the USA:

    I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

    Monticello (emphasis added by me)

    So one of the founders said, “Don’t try and keep governing just the way we have just because we’re the ones who did it; laws must move with the times and the people’s will.” Answer, Mr. Scalia? I didn’t think so.

  53. J Dubb says

    Confirmation and the Nicene Creed… That was exactly how it went down for me too. My family was nominally Catholic but rarely went to mass. I did first communion but have no memory of that. I do remember going to CCD (catechism) classes as a young teen. I couldn’t go through with it. I must have been the only person taking it seriously. One of my best friends begged me to ‘just do it anyway’ but I couldn’t. There was no way I could believe that stuff they asked me to believe. How can ANYONE believe it?

  54. ironflange says

    Even taking all of this into account, I still think Clarence Thomas is the most noisome justice.

  55. says

    What he’s doing now is getting people not to believe in him or in God. He’s much more successful that way.

    Hey, you know what else could make people not believe in God or the devil…?

    You know, it is curious. In the Gospels, the Devil is doing all sorts of things. He’s making pigs run off cliffs, he’s possessing people and whatnot. And that doesn’t happen very much anymore.

    As has been pointed out, that’s… not quite how that verse went down.

    I’m about as far removed from a biblical scholar as you can get; but as far as I’m aware, despite getting blamed for all the ills of the world, Satan/the devil is only directly responsible for a few things in the bible –

    * Depending how you look at it: either giving humanity the knowledge of good and evil, or just offering a persuasive dare to eat some fruit (And that’s only if you credit Satan as being the serpent, which isn’t actually clear)

    * Being God’s poker buddy, in the bet over Job

    * Tempting Jesus to get off his arse and do something

    I guess he also features (at least metaphorically) in Revelation, but most of the horrible events in that acid trip are God’s work, not Satan’s.

    Is there anything else specific that is actually attributable to the devil?

  56. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Scalia is a mindless ape. Why is he on the Supreme Court again? Oh, yeah, he was appointed by that senile evil goon, Reagan.

    Err, shouldn’t we have a 200+ comment derail about PZ using a slur? *eyeroll*

  57. strange gods before me ॐ says

    What kind of person is Scalia, such that calling him an ape would be a slur?

    And if you can’t answer that, then: Azkyroth, why are you passive-aggressively trying to start a fight?

  58. says

    tsraveling @69, yes, the devil guy is a tricky bastard.

    Cross-posted from the [Lounge] thread:

    Shady Republican and Supreme Court Justice Scalia is looking for more ways to help his friends eat all the pie.

    The Supreme Court’s consideration Tuesday of a bid by the Republican National Committee to make it easier for wealthy individuals to influence elections fixated on a series of related hypotheticals, all involving schemes enabling the very rich to lavish money on their favorite party or candidates. In Justice Elena Kagan’s version, activists set up literally hundreds of shell organizations, each of which promises to work to elect like-minded candidates in the five most contested U.S. Senate races. A donor then makes a maximum-dollar donation to each of these shell groups, effectively laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars to each of these five grateful candidates. Thus, although federal law bans massive dollar donations to individual candidates in order to prevent corruption, Kagan’s hypothetical offers a way around that law.

    And if the Supreme Court gives the GOP what it is asking for, this money laundering scheme will almost certainly be legal. …

    In the past, less conservative Supreme Courts have allowed … caps to exist, citing the government’s interest in preventing corruption. As Kagan’s hypothetical suggests, it is very easy to launder money from PACs or party organizations to benefit individual candidates. So, without these limits, quid pro quo deals where a donor launders hundreds of thousands of dollars to aide a single candidate in return for some policy consideration will be very easy to strike.

    Yet, as Justice Antonin Scalia eagerly points out, there’s a problem with this rationale. Thanks to the five Republican justices’ decision in Citizens United, there’s now a much easier — and perfectly legal way — for millionaires and billionaires to do expensive favors for candidates. Though massive gifts directly to candidates and parties remain illegal after Citizens United, wealthy donors can give as much money as they want to Super PACs and other so-called “independent” organizations backing one candidate or another.

    If Sheldon Adelson can already spend $150 million to put his favorite Republican candidates in office, what’s so bad about him laundering some of that money to these candidates in the way Justice Kagan laid out?

    It’s a neat trick. First Scalia, along with his four fellow Republicans, sign onto a Supreme Court opinion holding that “independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Having enshrined this doubtful proposition into law, Scalia now points out that money given directly to parties isn’t any more corrupting that money given to super PACs. And Scalia is right!

    Scalia’s path is the path to campaign finance anarchy, and it ends with Sheldon Adelson writing massive checks directly to Republican candidates.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/10/08/2750331/the-shady-trick-justice-scalia-plans-to-use-to-inject-even-more-big-money-into-elections/

  59. David Marjanović says

    It’s amazing how the monsters under my bed and in my closet got so much more clever too when I grew up.

    I’m bringing your new internet. Where should I put it? It’s heavy…

    Revelation [...] that acid trip

    Mushroom trip. :-) Sliced mushrooms are, some think, even mentioned in the text (as “scrolls” which the narrator eats between the parts of the trip).

    Is there anything else specific that is actually attributable to the devil?

    Not that I remember. Try the apocryphal Book of (H)enoch… assuming Azazel is Satan, anyway.

  60. F [is for failure to emerge] says

    David Marjanović

    If the US constitution weren’t so difficult to amend, we’d all be well and truly fucked. For every good idea, there are a hundred bad ones, and enough stupid Americans to vote in their favor. Which is really a sorry state of affairs.

  61. roda says

    In my opinion the US constitution is centuries out of date and needs to be completely rewritten, Even Jefferson expected that to happen every generation. Retain the good ideas such as separation of church and state, checks and balances, freedom of speech and so forth, but get rid of the antiquated and irrelevant text. and bring it up to date. It should be a living document and reasonable easy to ammend. Get rid of super majorities which are nothing but tyranny by the minority (witness Congress now). And definitely have term limits on Supreme Court justices.

  62. David Marjanović says

    If the US constitution weren’t so difficult to amend, we’d all be well and truly fucked. For every good idea, there are a hundred bad ones, and enough stupid Americans to vote in their favor.

    Can it be that much worse than in other places?

    Retain the good ideas such as separation of church and state, checks and balances

    Well, at present, some of the checks & balances lead to paradoxical situations like the current shutdown. Elsewhere, the government (the administration in US terms) depends on parliament, so when the government can’t get a law passed, it’s fired, and this triggers new parliamentary elections, according to the outcome of which a new government is formed. In the USA, you simply shut the state down instead and drift towards national bankruptcy.

  63. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    74
    David Marjanović

    Well, at present, some of the checks & balances lead to paradoxical situations like the current shutdown. Elsewhere, the government (the administration in US terms) depends on parliament, so when the government can’t get a law passed, it’s fired, and this triggers new parliamentary elections, according to the outcome of which a new government is formed. In the USA, you simply shut the state down instead and drift towards national bankruptcy.

    …I seriously want the Fire Them All solution.

  64. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    We have the Fire Them All solution. We call it double dissolution. It has some caveats about when they’re able to actually do it, but it’s possible and has been done.

    Of course we have mandatory preferential voting. And we still got the right wing in because Murdoch :( But they don’t control the Australian Senate.

  65. Azuma Hazuki says

    @20/Steve Bowen

    The Devil isn’t really a biblical character anyway. Satan works for Yahweh as an agent provocateur(see the booke of Job) and the idea that the snake in Eden was Satan/Lucifer is 2nd century theology not supported by the earlier scripture. Lucifer specifically is only mentioned once ambiguously and was probably an oblique reference to Nebuchanesser, it’s not even clear whether the capitalisation in the KJV was an error.The whole fallen angel schtick is way later and re-inforced in the cultural imagination by Dante’s divine comedy.
    However if you go back to 1000/1200 or so BC to Zoroaster, then you have a genuine evil deity in Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) which may have crept somewhat into Jewish theology during the Babylonian captivity and into Christianity via Augustine of Hippo who flirted with Manicheism (and by association Zoroastriansm) before converting.

    This. This this this. Knowledge is the antidote to fear. Spread this around!

    And, as has been mentioned upthread several times, if anything Satan is Yahweh’s betting buddy. I wonder why so few biblical scholars or apologists concede the obvious here and admit that at best we’re the stakes in a Lovecraftian game of poker?

  66. nathanaelnerode says

    @56: FWIW, the Gnostics seem to have believed (hard to tell given how much of their beliefs were secret) that Yahweh *WAS* the Devil, basically. They called him the “Demiurge”. They believed that there was a different, good God, who didn’t create the universe, but that the universe was created by this evil God.

    Weird, goofy belief system. Makes a lot more sense of the Bible than conventional Christianity does, though.

  67. nathanaelnerode says

    Regarding the US Constitution:

    Can it be that much worse than in other places?

    Yes.

    It’s sufficiently bad that when American experts were sent in to advise on the drafting of the German and Japanese Constitutions after WWII, the first thing they said was “don’t copy the US Constitution!”

    Among the major problems:
    (1) The badly designed “checks and balances” system leads to gridlock and paralysis in Congress frequently
    (2) Lifetime appointment for judges combined with an all-powerful Supreme Court which can overturn any law, even on a gross whim, leads to politicization of the court system
    (3) Despite the “checks and balances”, it’s practically impossible to remove a dictatorial President, even if he announces that he’s going to murder people with robots with no oversight (which he has done), because impeachment conviction requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate, which is impossible.
    (4) The Senate is grotesquely malapportioned — completely undemocratic — and yet it not only has the power to stop legislation, it acts as the only check against the President on treaties and executive branch appointments.
    (5) Single-member first-past-the-post districts lead to a two-party system thanks to Duverger’s Law,…
    (6) …and we don’t even have fair redistricting like the UK does, we have gross gerrymandering, which nobody has been able to stop, which makes the system even less democratic.

    We’ve ended up with a system which is extremely nonresponsive to the public, very expensive, and tends to gridlock and shut down frequently. Due to the gridlock it is prone to dictatorial creep: when someone (President, Supreme Court) *does something* they often get away with it even if it’s grossly illegal because at least someone is *doing something*.

    We could do worse but it would be hard. Presidential systems are defective compared to parliamentary, and we have Presidential. Single-member districts are defective compared to proportional representation, and we have single-member districts. Nobody in the world considers the US Senate to be democratic, and it is far more powerful than comparable upper houses, which makes the US blatantly less democratic. We have the worst structural aspects of most of the democratic systems ever tried; I suppose we could do worse by establishing term limits.

    The Bill of Rights is a great thing. The structural parts of the Constitution? They suck. To be fair, they didn’t have much to compare it to in the 1780s, but we know better now.