Thursday :: Oct 21, 2004

Fact vs. Faith

by larre

I feel a bit like Gulliver, returning from his travels to discover home has become Lilliput and there's a war on with Blefuscu.

Whereupon the emperor his father published an edict, commanding all his subjects, upon great penalties, to break the smaller end of their eggs. The people so highly resented this law, that our histories tell us, there have been six rebellions raised on that account; wherein one emperor lost his life, and another his crown. These civil commotions were constantly fomented by the monarchs of Blefuscu; and when they were quelled, the exiles always fled for refuge to that empire. It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several times suffered death, rather than submit to break their eggs at the smaller end. Many hundred large volumes have been published upon this controversy: but the books of the Big-endians have been long forbidden, and the whole party rendered incapable by law of holdarsloyments.

The contretemps between Pat Robertson and George Bush The Younger is entertaining, after a fashion, but it also reminds one of the war between the Big Enders and the Little Enders. Most of the time, each oh-so-publicly-pious man carries on as if he alone owned a personal receiver for God's transmitted Word.

The rare thing about all this is that Robertson seems to find himself in the unusual position of arguing from facts rather than faith. It is a momentary lapse from which he will recover quite soon, I am sure.

Maureen Dowd, who is, herself, rarely an unmixed blessing, has a line or two in today's New York Times that captures the essence of the dispute as it bears on the choice between Bush and Kerry. Essentially, she is saying it comes down to whether one wants national policy to be governed by the world view of the Dark Ages or the Age of Enlightenment.

I never thought I'd see the day when leaps of faith would be national policy, when the fortunes of America hung on the possibility of a miracle. What does it tell you about a president that his grounds for war are so weak that the only way he can justify it is by believing God wants it?

People who live by religious certainties don't have to waste time with recalcitrant facts or moral doubts. They do not need to torture themselves, for example, about dispatching American kids into a sand trap with ghostly enemies and without the proper backup, armor, expectations or cultural training. Any president relying more on facts than faith could have seen that his troops would be sitting ducks... .

The president has this strange notion that his belief in God means detailed and perfect knowledge of everything that God wants. * * *

"Strange" notion hardly says it all. Consider the Iraq war or stem cell research; the flu vaccine foul-up or tax cuts for the wealthy as an economic stimulus; relaxing industrial pollution rules to cleanse the air and water or drilling the Arctic wilderness to sell oil to Japan as a way of resolving U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Just about every policy initiative of Bush and his administration has been informed by blind faith rather than hard facts.

Break that egg on the small end, dammit! God wants it that way. She told me so herself.

larre :: 5:01 AM :: Comments (6) :: Digg It!