A particularly poignant instance of brain poisoning

I exchanged some words a year ago with this Jared fellow after following a link from the now-defunct blog Scientia Natura to a post on Finite Calls Infinite in which Jared claimed that it is impossible to live as a “true atheist,” whatever that is. He was full of hubris and familiar arguments, but his assertion was a non-starter, and after being my typical diplomatic self and prodding him to answer questions I knew he could not, I forgot about the whole mess, and only now see that it continued to fester for months after I abandoned it.
The thing is, Jared seems like a bright guy, and better yet a nice guy. That is why it is especially dismaying to see him defending Rick Warren.


You see, Jared’s defense does not include the vapid, knee-jerk, incurious bleating that has spattered the Web ever since Obama announced his selection of Warren to offer the invocation at the presidential inauguration. That crap, little more than complaints that atheists and liberals are simply trying to squelch all evidence of Christianity owing to straight-up hate, is easily ignored in some ways because those producing it can be dismissed as a workaday morons. But Jared’s having a head on his shoulders makes it all the more troubling that he puts all his eggs into the faith basket and overlooks things about Warren that he is presumably aware of: the disgusting attitude toward gays, the anti-Semitism, the various lies Warren has fed the public here and abroad (although Jared may not read papers much).
While I don’t expect someone of Jared’s ilk to have a problem with Warren’s belief that dinosaurs and man coexisted and that the earth is younger than glue and the earliest domesticated dogs, I would like to think that Warren’s more outlandish statements and positions, which an only be called bigoted and flagrantly so, would give Jared pause. But it doesn’t, because Jared’s ability to think clearly about this was plainly robbed from him a long time ago. He notes that “given [Obama’s] stated positions on several issues which go against the grain of Biblical authority, I am certainly dismayed by his candidacy,” meaning that considering the substance of these issues is meaningless to him; it’s all about cherry-picking mandates from an ancient amalgam of faery tales. He writes “I am staunchly in favor of outlawing abortion in this country just as slavery was outlawed in past times” as if abortion and slavery are remotely similar issues. However, he does acknowledge that “it is ultimately not the devil who put Barack Obama in the seat of presidential power,” but God, which–although certainly inane–at least signifies Jared’s willingness to nominally stand behind a president he considers an “enemy” of, and an “affront” to, his version of Christianity
Watching someone capable of writing in clear English and from a manifest position of calm churn out arrant garbage is much more disturbing than watching your everyday rage-driven rust-belt hilljack struggle to match noun to verb while saying essentially the same thing Jared does. It’s like watching someone methodically gut himself with a pocketknife rather than see someone with a thousand-yard stare blow his grinning head off; both are ugly tableaus, but only one makes no sense at all in the context of underlying psychology. And I will never get used to watching intelligent brainwashing victims go about their mellowly maniacal ways.

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  1. #1 by Fargo on January 2, 2009 - 5:59 pm

    I have a client (I fix and setup computers) who seems very rational, fairly intelligent, and quite calm. Then he’ll go on about whatever fever is currently gripping the religious as though it were the most scientific thing in the world. I recall him talking about how the speed of light isn’t a constant, as “proven” by a variety of devices over the centuries, and thus the planet is a lot younger than scientists think. It’s enough to make me want to jam a fork in his eye.

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