Yes or yes? ANSWER THE QUESTION, LADY! (Via BoingBoing.)

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  1. Hey guys, here’s a little secret — all the bad stuff in the world, like tornadoes? That’s God’s department. Just a few bugs in his perfect creation. Heck, he even made me, because something something free will. I don’t really care why. So, this is why you should drink too much this evening and make a pass at your neighbor’s son who is home from college. Because “Mr. Almighty” is really kind of a dick.

    • Maybe this will be more relevant than the last link I spit at you:

      • I’m not convinced using arbitrary displays of power is any less abusive than punishing “sins”

        • Right. I agree. Two things.
          1. I’m reading into thedevilprobably’s comment at “something something free will” to be a call back to our last conversation on the subject which is here:

          2. It sounds like you’re having the same problem that facetaco had which is separating the bad theology of guys like John Piper and Pat Robertson from the theology that I believe is most prevalent in Christendom. In other words, I believe neither of the positions you propose to be true of God. But, we’ve (as in everyone, athiest and Christian alike) caricatured Westboro Baptist and Pat Robertson so much, we’ve (Christians) forgotten what we believe and can’t even communicate it well to anyone else. So we only see what’s wrong with a crappy view of God and can no longer iterate an appropriate, biblical, logical, moral, complete view of God. I posted Evans’ article because she articulates a healthier view intelligently and in the voice of the current generation.

          • I really was mostly responding to her quote from the book of job which has always been a very troubling book for me.

            I think the real problem with this clip is that i find more often that not the media writes off disasters as acts of god and violence as acts of scary outsiders using the human interest angle to avoid the more difficult stories of climate change and a violent culture.

          • Ah. Gotcha. She’s not endorsing the quote. She’s calling into question the way in which it is being applied by the person tweeting. I think she’s right. The use of the verse in that way is irresponsible and reprehensible.

            Good points about ducking the tough questions/angles.

      • Well, like your last link (IIRC) that doesn’t really answer the question, though. Which is if God is omniscient and omnipotent and loves us, then what the fuck. If you are giving him credit for anything good happening, ever, then logically you should ask why he allows bad things to happen to good people. The only explanations that make any sense are about original sin and what-not, but they are unsatisfying because they lead back to him creating things as they are, on purpose.

        Of course if you turn the corner and accept a Godless universe, it makes perfect sense that nobody is in control. It is consistent with observable evidence.

        Then you are denying the existence of ME, though. But I don’t mind. It’s all part of my plan.

        • What the fuck is a perfectly appropriate question. There are many devout Christian asking the same question.

          I addressed your concern a little last we spoke, but another thing to consider is that love may be of higher value than lack of suffering. This is shown in that Jesus preferred to love rather than to avoid suffering. It may be that a universe where we can choose to love and a universe where all suffering is avoided cannot be the same universe.

          The observable evidence of a God-filled universe is supposed to come in the form of Christians who act together to end suffering as often as possible. It seems we’ve failed miserably, but it’s sometimes harder to see the positive side of that when the negative side can be so loud and terrible. I’m sure there is SOME good coming from Christians in the world.

          I’d never deny your existence, thedevilprobably. I am sorry for the way Christians have treated you. It embarrasses me greatly.

        • You’re touching on the biggest mystery, as far as I know, in Christianity: The ethics of God creating while knowing there would be tragedy. This is definitely an issue that can’t be resolved completely in real life, let alone on a web board. I think Christians go about dealing with this in a peculiar way, as it’s scripturally illustrated as a matter of a faith decision rather than one of being logically convinced: Job wanted an explanation, all God essentially said was “I am who I am. What are you going to do about it?” This answer is either horrifying and repugnant (which I understand completely) or an extremely poignant qualitative illustration of the nature and relationship of creator and creature. The reaction depends entirely on the reactor’s perception of the person and implications of God. That is not something I, or anyone else, can really convince anyone of one way or the other on any argumentative terms.

          I can really only offer a few points on how “I am who I am” became satisfactory, or at least close to it, to me. I have huge philosophical issues with saying “Non-existence would have been better than existence.” so I can’t begrudge God for the act of creation as a start. As far as a Godless universe, I have trouble reconciling the concept of “tragedy” to an arbitrarily chaotic reality. If significance of life or an individual exists in such a universe, it is entirely subjective. If our origins are “accidental” or the result of the settling of atoms in the expansion of an arbitrary universe, than so is our existence and destiny, which in the former is brief and painful, and the latter is uniform annihilation. Any feelings of significance or meaning an individual experiences is simply a matter of choice or happenstance, and correlates to nothing objective. This does not mean that such a reality doesn’t exist, it simply means once we accept it on a logical basis, the HONEST course is to address the concept of tragedy as nothing more than an unpleasant evolutionary specter. Anyone can, of course, decide to react and hold to concepts about anything however they want to, but I take issue with trying to, on one hand, show the universe to be a hopeless place, and then cram sentimentality into it, and claim logic as their sole compass.

          This is going to get very long, so I’ll cut to the chase. I accept hope in God, not in spite of suffering, but because of suffering. I believe that God suffered for the sake of man, and thus suffering can serve a real purpose, not necessarily in of itself (God does not like suffering) but suffering can participate in an objective meaning, which is His purview. The Cross is my nexus point between suffering and benevolence, and because of that instance, I can’t hold suffering as an indictment against God’s love. I cannot possibly know if or when there is an objective meaning to any particular case of suffering that does not relate directly to me, or what that specific meaning is. I distrust anyone who offers such an explanation, but I also distrust anyone trying to rule out the possibility of meaning as well.

  2. Wow seriously CNN.

  3. I mean… he WAS in the Bible Belt. It was poor execution, but I think some people want this to be a bigger blunder or hugely awkward situation than it was. I get plenty of loaded blank stares or demands for explanations from atheists as to why I go to church. Being offended over what other people think of your beliefs is not the worst thing that can happen to you, as evidenced by the pile of rubble behind them in the video.

    • But when the standing assumption is one thing, it can easily make the other invisible or outcast, and that is pretty much how this country operates with atheism and it is for sure what Wolf did here, made worse by his rather forceful “Do you thank the Lord?” I mean, the tone was entirely “You thank the Lord, right? You’re not some weirdo?”

      I mean, I’m pretty sure that we have a woman, latino, and an openly gay person for president before we have an atheist.

      • Haven’t we had atheist presidents before? Maybe not super openly atheist, but there is pretty strong evidence (IMO) in favor of Thomas Jefferson, at least, being an atheist.

        • Jefferson get claimed by pretty much everyone. From all I know, he had pretty complicated views on religion/god that changed a bunch, so putting him in any specific belief system doesn’t really seem possible.

          • True. I want to make a “he was a complicated man, and no one understands him but his woman” joke, but given what we know about Jefferson I think it would be in poor taste.

            Instead I will just make this joke:

            Q: What’s the wettest part of the alphabet?
            A: H to O!

        • Eisenhower was pretty close: pro forma holiday stuff in the WH, absolutely no religious markings on the gravesite (a parting f-you like his “military industrial complex” speech). As the only president who ever got up close and personal with the Holocaust, if there was a God, Ike would have had a reasonable explanation for why he didn’t believe.

      • Brother Blitzer was making an assumption in order to connect with his interviewee and likely audience. It was awkward for him because he doesn’t normally try to connect in that way and it was funny because of how big a swing-and-a-miss it was. He needed some suspenders of disbelief because his stereotypes were showing.

      • Na, it wasn’t that bad. He was just trying to kill time not force her to thank the Lord. Just Wolf wingin’ it.

      • I’m not saying he should have made the assumption, but I don’t think it was a wild one. He’s in the most religious part of the entire country. He recovered and made sure the woman was comfortable and affirmed her and they both seemed fine.

        Segments of the religious and irreligious claim levels of cultural persecution, and I think that’s true on a relative scale for both: You and I are from the same area, which is a much more secular-dominant place than Oklahoma. I’m way more cautious discussing my faith in Boston because frankly, I don’t like dealing with the possible, borderline-probable, instant barrage of judgemental hand-wringing, which is not exclusive behavior to the religious community. But if I were an atheist in Texas, I’d feel the exact same way, which bothers me just as much, if not more. The fact that Wolf and Lady could laugh it off and move on is more important than the gaffe, because it’s a good example of how everyone should deal with that kind of mistake.

        • Believe you me, I have zero time for the atheists who treat religious people with assumptions on the same manner that some religious people treat atheists. I do think it was nice that they laughed it off and moved in, and I particuarly liked that she handled it with some extra grace.

          I think my frustration with it is a combination of assumption in an area I am defensive, plus shit-poor journalism that is a reminder of the overall shit-poor state of journalism.

          • And the assumption problem is very real and totally worthy of a lot of discussion. I’m just seeing a lot of atheist friends on social media use this as an indictment against the entire religious community as some kind of “SEE? LOOK! THEY ARE OPPRESSING US!” and this just isn’t a good example of the actual cultural oppression that takes place by localized religious communities.

          • I also want to note that on all of the internet, the videogum community has probably been the best place experientially for me to discuss my point of view on religion and my beliefs. I’ve always felt that I’ve received a lot of grace and understanding from the other commenters who have disagreed with me, which is unique and not lost on me. Ya’ll aren’t knee-jerk redditors who are out to make other people feel bad, and that’s pretty great.

          • I’m glad you’re comfortable with talking about it here. You should be. I’ve gone through a bunch of phases with religion: raised strict Catholic, and actually believed pretty strongly for a while, but eventually being forced to Church every Sunday, and seeing little of Jesus’ preachings reflected in my parents’ behavior, fell away hard and eventually became that “fuck Christianity” angry teen, who then learned about Buddhism and decided that was cool and perfect. Eventually, I learned that was dumb too and remembered that every religion has its hardliners and problems and hatred and violence, which was actually really great to realize because it freed all the good up too. Somewhere in that, a high school teacher I had (went to Catholic high school) who had a major influence on my in general in school, worked his way back into my brain much later in life (and I realize that I miss the guy). Simply put, he was the greatest Christian I’ve ever met. You want someone who was plain a warm, loving, funny, open human, this man was all of that and more. His faith was strong enough that he really believed he had met an incarnation of Jesus once (a great story, honestly), and all that faith led him to honestly, intelligently, try to follow in Jesus’ path, not the church.

            So basically, right now I’m at the place where I honestly don’t care if there is a god or not, whatever gets people through and gets them treating people right.

    • I think it’s just an awkward silly thing, on par with when I ask friends/acquaintances about their SOs and find out they have broken up (or something to that effect). Yeah, I couldn’t have known that BUT its a good lesson to maybe not lead with that question.

      That said, obviously OBVIOUSLY much worse things in the world.

      The most objectionable thing about this is that Wolf Blitzer still expects us to believe that we should trust someone who calls himself Wolf Blitzer.

    • Yeah, I don’t think it was that bad, just awkwardly put. I think the biggest problem is that Wolf is trying to be folksy and empathetic in the first place. Journalists should be more like, “I didn’t come here to make friends.”

  4. “Do you accept Jesus Christ as you Lord and Savior? Have you been cleansed of Original Sin or do you still live in its darkness?”

    Also, just so you all know, history has come full circle. I was approached yesterday by a Christian missionary looking to convert me. Not that odd. Except that dude came here from China specifically for that purpose.

  5. The question of whether Wolf Blitzer was wrong or simply misguided can wait until after we get protective services to rescue that child from his godless mother.

  6. That’s what you get when you send a guy named Wolf Blitzer into the field.

  7. I understand that to some people, “thank god” means the same as “thank my lucky stars”, but Wolf said “thank the LORD”, which sounded really awkward coming out of him… BTW, it’s not like the bible belt is 98% christian or anything, just like lots of “red states” are actually just 55-60% republican.

    At what point do these questions start making you uncomfortable?

    “Do you thank the lord that you survived?”
    “Do you thank Jesus Christ that you survived?”
    “Do you thank Jesus Christ Our Lord And Savior that you survived?”
    “Which catholic saint do you feel is most responsible for saving your life?”
    “Do you thank Allah you survived?”
    “Do you wish The Lord loved those who died from the tornado as much as He obviously loves you?”

  8. News Flash: CNN uncovers a real life atheist being reasonable and affable about her beliefs! Thank God.

    (disclaimer: Just poking fun at my fellow non-believers! We’re portrayed as being grumpy about it, well…all the time.)

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