Improbable tweet of the day


As I’ve said many times over the years, belief in anything becomes permissible under the rubric of faith. If you can believe without evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, then you can just as easily believe that an Invisible Friend wants you to steal an airplane and fly it into a skyscraper. If it’s a virtue to believe without evidence — or even in spite of evidence — why should Platt reject such an improbable story? Especially a story so flattering to his superstitions?

Science and engineering have epistemic standards; they demand evidence. That, in a nutshell, is why science and engineering have been such a positive force in human history, and why religion has nothing to show for itself but Niagaras of bloodshed.

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Time to shut up, Donald

Watch Donald Trump long enough, and you’ll figure-out that his problems are layered. Not only does he say a lot of painfully stupid things, that is, but he doesn’t know when to stop saying stupid things.

At the end of Monday night’s presidential debate, Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of taunting one of his former Miss Universe contestants about her weight.

Clinton said the Republican nominee’s criticisms of Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan who won the Miss Universe contest in 1996, was “one of the worst things he said” about women. “He called this woman Miss Piggy. Then he called her Miss Housekeeping because she was Latina.”

While Trump appeared to dispute Clinton’s accusation on the debate stage, he called into Fox and Friends Tuesday morning and once again called Machado fat.

“I know that person. That person was a Miss Universe person,” Trump told the Fox News morning show. “And she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst, she was impossible,” he said. “She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude.”

Okay. Fine. Let us grant that Ms. Machado gained weight following her victory. Let us grant, too, that long association with The Donald left her with a testy outlook.

That could never have justified calling her Miss Piggy. Never.

Let us suppose it was a one-time eruption of The Donald’s turbulent id, that he is ordinarily a gentlemen and on just this one occasion was provoked to madness. It happens.

What sane adult, reminded of that unseemly outburst, calls up FOX News to double-down? Maybe he thought he’d get a sympathetic hearing — She really is a fat pig!! — from Megyn Kelly?

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Abortion lunacy

There is a group down in Florida who think it’s time to stop messing around and update the state constitution to define procuring or performing an abortion as capital murder — meaning eligible for the death penalty.

A new effort underway in Florida would establish the harshest penalties ever proposed for those who both perform and procure abortions.

Abolish Abortion Florida has launched a ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution to punish abortion as capital murder, both for the physician who performs the procedure and the woman who seeks it. Additionally, it defines “abortion” to include “any abortifacient drug or device that can kill an embryo by preventing implantation, as well as the intentional destruction of unwanted IVF embryos.”

There is a similar effort underway in Ohio.

A proposal to amend the Ohio Constitution to classify abortion as aggravated murder has been presented to the Ohio attorney general for review.

Petitions were submitted Friday to Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office — the first step in a long process to reach the Ohio ballot. DeWine must decide whether the proposal moves to the second step by Monday.

These are both instances of something I’ve been talking about and predicting for a long time: As the evangelical right is moved by cultural change to the margins of public life, they’re just going to get crazier and crazier. And, of course, in abortion clinic shootings and bombings, and yesterday’s shoot-em-up at a Houston mall by a neo-nazi, we have already begun to experience the violence that goes with it.

Because we are a secular democratic state with plenty of built-in relief valves, I don’t think we’re in for the sort of massive uprisings that have deformed and led to the failure of so many other countries (Rome, for instance), but we are certainly in for a long time of instability. It is not transient political events that are at the heart of America’s political problems, but an epochal philosophical shift. Science and technology are eating the supernaturalism and mysticism that underpin the metaphysics of the Abrahamic faiths just as Christianity ate paganism.

Their day is ending, and they are not going to be good sports about it. Expect more craziness.

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Oblivious theology-related tweet for the day


Right. Do as Albert the Pious urges — simply ignore unpleasant facts and continue insisting the Bible is inerrant.

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Theology-related quote for the day

From a good piece by psychologist Valerie Tarico that takes-up addictive religiosity.

Religion perpetuates a dependence on identifying as broken and needing to be fixed.

That goes to Christianity’s only truly indispensable claim: You’re no damn good. If you don’t believe that, if you don’t believe you were born defective and deserving eternal punishment, then what could be the point of salvation? Christianity’s premises are degrading at the root and necessarily conduce toward decadence.

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