Tag Archives: power

Iran, John McCain, and Ancient Rome

John McCain is a temporal anchor on American politics, and he’s dragging the rest of us back in time to the Vietnam era when black & white militaristic thinking got us bogged down in an unwinnable war. Oh, wait. I think I’m confusing him with the present day incarnation of John McCain who helped get us bogged down in Iraq. Perhaps, John McCain is Dr. Who, and enjoys sticking his big nose in other people’s business because he has a god complex. Ever since the US presidential election, I have to admit I can’t recognize the real John McCain. For example, does he support nation building or not?

Yes, why don’t we publicly take sides in Iran and further fan the flames of Islamic extremists? Then all we’ll need is a fatheaded congressman suggesting we send a team of advisers to Iran to help the protesters liberate the country. Apparently, someone in the US State Department already made a play and requested that Twitter delay its site maintenance so the Iranian people could still communicate their protest strategy.

I long for the day when politicians will sit twiddling their thumbs, not thinking about how to spread democracy around the world. Aren’t their domestic plates full enough?

Let’s gain some wisdom from the story of an ancient Roman politician named Cinna in his campaign for power:

They contributed money and military forces, and he was joined by many more people, including some of those who were influential at Rome, who found political stability not to their taste.

From The Civil Wars by Appian

Does an old, war dog like John McCain live for peace or conflict? I wonder.

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Faith By Any Other Name Is Just As Empty

In a Newsweek opinion peice from September 27th, writer Lisa Miller, “argues against the atheists”. The column is called “Belief Watch”, and Miller’s apologetic scribblings do the vacuous nature of religious belief complete justice. She begins by arguing that atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are unfamiliar with real believers.

First, if 90-odd percent of Americans say they believe in God, it’s unhelpful to dismiss them as silly. Second, when they check that “believe in God” box, a great many people are not talking about the God the atheists rail against—a supernatural being who intervenes in human affairs, who lays down inexplicable laws about sex and diet, punishes violators with the stinking fires of hell and raises the fleshly bodies of the dead.

When over fifty percent of Americans believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, what are we atheists supposed to think? If we include all Christians worldwide, particularly the ones in poorer Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations, the percentage is probably much higher. This doesn’t take into account the non-democratic Islamic nations, where Western ideas are spat upon, and where basic education is limited to males, and where people are threatened into believing in the all-powerful Allah. So, the actual number of believers in an angry, vengeful, and intervening god is probably much much higher than even Lisa Miller cares to imagine.

Apologetics is a form of faith; it’s faith in faith. Miller finishes her paper-thin argument by hauling in the invisible sacred cow.

Submitting faith to proof is absurd. Reason defines one kind of reality (what we know); faith defines another (what we don’t know). Reasonable believers can live with both at once.

Reasonable believers? Can reason and faith coexist? And how can faith define the unknown? Isn’t the unknown, by its very definition, indefinable? Here, Miller’s mental gymnastics are Olympic quality. And most believers would likely take great offense to her reducing their unshakable faith to an algebraic X. Personally, I prefer to think of all faith simply as a Y.

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity