Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Important Theological Stupidity Of Marco Rubio

Yes, stupidity.

Normally one tries to refrain from this kind of language. Some people do anyway. But I think occasionally you come across an idea that demands to be labeled in these terms. It's a kind of intellectual biohazard sign - A way of loudly and clearly saying, "Do Not Handle."

When I was younger, I remember a discussion in class about when and how the Russians were going to blow us to smithereens. A girl in front piped up with this nugget:

"Jesus won't let nuclear war happen, because then He wouldn't be able to return."

The idea that we didn't have to worry about an arms race getting out of control because the Lord was acting as the final security mechanism on the atomic arsenals of the world - that Jesus had to turn the last, phantom key along with our missile commanders - it was so idiotic I marveled at it like a rare bird. It was in fact the dumbest thing I ever heard. Until last night.

"Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio," said Marco Rubio, who was by all reports not suffering from oxygen deprivation. "But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called 'clean energy' companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration.'"

Let's ignore the fact that this was a sly fist-bump with right wing Christians, many of whom believe that environmentalism goes against God's plan. Rubio's statement was wrong on many levels, and I want to focus.

He attempted to cut through all the complicated issues about what we're doing to the climate, how bad it is, and what we can do to stop it. Instead, he appealed directly to the faith of millions of Americans with a very simple argument: God put that oil and coal there. Therefore He wants us to use it. Therefore using it won't result in anything bad. That was some powerful imbecility right there. And it's important to counteract it on its own terms. So...

Everybody, listen. God also made cliffs. He made lava. He made poisonous snakes, and jagged rocks, and jellyfish, and Courtney Love. Just because He put something there doesn't mean He wants you to mess with it.

There's a more complicated argument involving the existence of Natural Evil, which is there for the testing of the faithful and the ultimate perfection of the universe. Guys like Augustine and Origen had a whole theory about it, and I don't pretend to understand. And I'm an agnostic. Enough to say that God, if He exists, won't give you a pass to endanger yourself and then whisk you away from trouble. There's evidence of that. We should all agree with that. Anyone who doesn't needs the "stupid" tag, and needs it badly.

26 comments:

  1. Paul, you are just pulling stuff out of your ass now --- making big leaps of logic and attributing them to statements when they are not there.

    "God put that oil and coal there. Therefore He wants us to use it. Therefore using it won't result in anything bad."

    There is no reasonable way you can get to that from this:

    "God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. ...let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration."

    Just no way way you can make that leap without imparting your own philosophical leanings.

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    1. No. It's there. When someone says that God blessed you with X, that means God gave it to you as a way of benefitting you. How can that be interpreted any other way, but for you to use it with God's (wait for it) blessing?

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    2. Marijuana was given to us too. Time to legalize His gift

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    3. Earth to Rubio and RR: God is a human construct so I hardly think "he" put anything anywhere. And anyway, what god was Rubio referring to anyway? His mormon god who lives on the planet Kolub and probably doesn't give a flying fart for the fate of planet Earth?

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    4. Rubio and Ryan are Catholic, not Mormon.

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  2. I'm curious, RR - if he didn't mean that, what did he mean?

    He's straight out saying "despite the scientific evidence, we don't feel that global warming is an issue, so we should just keep digging up hydrocarbons 'cause it's easier and we have a lot of them". The only 'rational' justification for that line of thinking that I can see is that he genuinely believes that God wants the stuff to be used and that using them won't cause any harm.

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    1. BTW, I happened to run across this film the other day, "Windfall." It's pretty well done, which the NY Times even says. What's interesting about it is that the protagonist and the antagonists don't necessarily end up being who you'd expect. You can stream from NetFlix if you have it. It's well worth the watch. Here's the link to the NY Times piece on it:

      http://movies.nytimes.com/2012/02/03/movies/windfall-a-documentary-on-wind-turbines-by-laura-israel.html?_r=0

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    2. I'm sure it is, and I'm sure the wind turbine cartel is just awful.

      But maybe also watch the Frontline documentary on BP for balance here:

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/the-spill/

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  3. What you said the second time, Paul, is a lot different than what you said the first time. The first time you included, "Therefore using it won't result in anything bad." That's a huge addition on your part. God gave you a penis and with his blessing he wants you to use it. But obviously, there are ways that you can use it that cause harm. Doesn't mean he doesn't want you to use it, does it? It comes with a responsibility to be used respectfully.

    So maybe hydrocarbons in their present use pose a problem for the environment. True. But don't they pose less of a problem than they did 100 years ago. We use them so much more efficiently and cleanly. Can we not continue to explore, as you know we already are, further ways of increasing efficiency and reducing environmental effects? Why do you assume that we've reached the pinnacle of our knowledge in this field while in others we make advancements faster than ever before? In fact, advancement continues non-stop in this field as well.

    True, he used the terms "safe and responsible" when referring to exploration, but it's safe to say that attitude can be applied to use as well... because we already are taking positive steps in that direction.

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    1. Now you're making an argument that Rubio didn't. And he didn't mention climate change at all. So my interpretation of what he said is pretty solid.

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    2. He did scoff at it with his changing the weather comment - sorry. But that makes my case stronger. The guy basically said God told us to use the oil, made light of the consequences, and it's stupid for the reasons I said it was stupid.

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    3. if said penis quits working, why isn't this seen as a sign from gawd that you're supposed to quit using it for anything other than urination? It sure is interesting how many religious folks believe they know better what gawd's message is than gawd herself does.

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    4. WOW! The Rubio apologists are out in force ALREADY and the guy isn't even running for president yet. Good luck with that in 2016.

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  4. I was simultaneously responding to Jeremy's comment about hydrocarbons and global warming. And I'd say making an argument that he didn't is on a lot safer ground than saying he said something he didn't. Regardless, the argument is mine and I never presented it any other way.

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    1. But he did say it. My characterization of his remarks is on point.

      He's clearly responding to the climate change argument by saying that God blessed us with these resources, implying that they should be used, and he specifically scoffs at climate change, so it's clear his (and God's) definition of responsible use doesn't include worrying about putting all that CO2 in the air, and therefore he clearly thinks God isn't going to punish us with an end to Autumn. So every one of my statements characterizing his comments are completely correct, which means someone is pulling an argument out of their ass. But it's not me.

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  5. Added stupidity: We use 25% of the world's oil production and we have 3% of the world's resources. Developing federal lands won't get us out of the hole, even temporarily.

    Non-renewable energy is non-renewable. There is less of it every day. We know the end game. Let's accept it and get with the program. The magic sky dude doesn't seem to want to change the rules of geology for us.

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  6. I had this argument a few years ago and the response I got was "God wants us to use it all." I asked what happens when we're out of oil and he said, "God will provide a new energy source." I said "Wind? Sun? We have those now!" and got "Those don't count."

    Not a winnable argument.

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  7. "Enough to say that God, if He exists, won't give you a pass to endanger yourself and then whisk you away from trouble." Makes me want to respond with Matthew 4:5-7: "5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

    “‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[c]”
    7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[d]”

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  8. God also created pot and human sexual organs, thus are they ok for us to use them as much as possibly can?

    By the way, God also created the sun and wind...

    You've got to love the conservative mind: one solar energy company was a flop? Then never again! Gun regulations don't prevent ALL murders? Then never again! Conservative politician cheated on his wife, had to resign and now wants back in? Well, a man deserves a second chance...

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  9. Why is "god" a reasonable excuse for dictating what energy sources are used on large scales, or for anything at all, for that matter? Willful ignorance of science in preference of bronze age beliefs will do none of us any good whatsoever. You don't like renewable energy? That's unfortunate. Remaining addicted to fossil fuels is contributing to climate change on a vast scale, and as a strictly political side effect, keeps us entangled in the ongoing issues in the middle east, engaged in a military quagmire which forces unnecessary military spending in an already inflated Federal budget.

    God isn't helping.

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  10. If coal is so great why don't we leave it in the ground for future generations? Why wouldn't its value appreciate like a good investment? Maybe we need to exploit our coal leases now because solar could get so cheap in the near future that digging up coal no longer made sense? I mean, coal is just so much more abundant than sunlight, and coal is so much cleaner and, well, easier to make a profit from if you already have the leases. That pesky sunlight just bounces everywhere, you can't really monetize it.

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  11. Did God also put that weed there to smoke? Just curious, Marco.

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  12. Here's another question about Rubio's reasoning: if Gawd put the oil and coal there for us to use, why did He wait thousands of years to show us how to use it? Wouldn't all that fuel (and the technology to refine it and use it for energy) have been handy 6000 years ago, or even 2000? What made the past few hundred years worthy of this blessing? And if he made it for American Christians (the best kind of Christian, they say), why did He put so much of it in Muslim countries?

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  13. What God gave us were choices and consequences for those choices. It's up to us to make good ones.

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  14. The reason these politicans say this crap thier payed. Religous orgs donated $390,000,000.00 to these jokers in the last election. Just think if the churchs did their jobs. Feed the hungry. help the sick and give a roof to familys that are homeless. God's watching.

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  15. Along with HuffPost I am placing your blogspot in my Chrome favorites folder. Excellent and funny. Look forward to more. Thank you.

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