Monday, September 15, 2008

15 ’Elul 5768: National Woman Road Warrior Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day: “Add Your Voice” and “End the Financial Irresponsibility of the War in Iraq”.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions:
  1. “The pastor who clashed with Palin”:  The dirt, both political and theological, on Sarah Palin keeps on coming, in this case further documentation of her clashes with Rev. Howard Bess, now-retired Baptist minister in Palmer, Alaska (near Wasilla) and author of Pastor, I Am Gay.  Palin is described as “a woman whose mind is given to dogmatic certitude”. Now, logically, if one is definitely right, anyone who believes or practices anything different must be wrong, so in this world view, everyone and everything is divided between the forces of good and the forces of evil with no middle ground.  Bess notes about people with such a world view:  “They view life as an ongoing struggle to the finish between good and evil. Their mind-set is that you do not do business with evil -- you destroy it.”  As such, Palin has acted to impose her belief system on others whenever possible, e.g., seeking banning of certain books and making it impossible to get an abortion in the Wasilla area.  This world view also explains why those who do not kowtow to Palin in everything are subject to feeling her wrath:  since they do not agree with her on something, they must be wrong and therefore evil, and evil is to be fought at every turn.  And since this is a war, practically anything goes in fighting the forces of evil.

    The problem with this world view is that it rests on the assumption that Palin is perfectly right.  Unfortunately for Palin, this is not justifiable.  Perfect certainty is only attainable in the world of pure mathematics, and then not in all cases.  (See Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, which is one long proof of this.)  In science and every study of our universe, we are limited by the Heisenberg uncertainty principle as to what we can know, so perfect certainty there also is impossible.  Even in religion, uncertainty reigns; even though a deity who is not part of our universe may violate our laws of physics with impunity and thus know perfectly the true configuration of our universe, any information given to us by a deity has to be given through sensory experiences and words we can understand.  Human language is notorious for ambiguity and imprecision, problems which get worse when filtered through translation.  The idea that anyone can know perfectly the Will of God as presented in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament without having to worry in the least about misinterpretation, is not credible.  Therefore, Palin has no case for her behavior.  QED.  (I could write more on the virtue of tolerance, but I have other things to do today.)
  2. “Science lessons should tackle creationism and intelligent design”: I just know I will never hear the end of this if I do not mention this.  Basically, bioethicist cum Anglican priest Michael Reiss has proposed that science teachers should directly address creationism in science classes.  He has gotten a lot of flack about this already, but there is some sense to this.  As he notes, belief in creationism is often part of a larger world-view, and if that world-view is addressed it might be more effective in getting students to understand and accept evolution.  There is also the potential problem that many people who promote evolution have little or no understanding of theology, which if it holds true among science teachers also, it may make addressing the creationist world-view difficult.
Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the shockingly accurate “Tina Fey as Sara Palin on Saturday Night Live!!!”. (LANGUAGE WARNING FOR THE SENSITIVE!) The news has had fun with this, and I could not resist.

Enjoy (or be scared) and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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