Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another Goddamned Podcast #16:
May 29, 2008

THIS WEEK - Evangelicals for Israel, the Rapture, and a Big Ape

Pastor John Hagee and his ilk – why would the State of Israel in general, or Jews specifically, think this blowhard is their friend? We look at the many things he (and other fundamentalist Christians) do and say. They're repulsive, right? So is gaining their financial and moral support worthwhile for Israelis when it means having to stomach their hateful rhetoric. Can the meddling of the American evangelicals cause bad things to happen in the Middle East? Our biblical authority, OG, shows us how the “end times” crowd has the scriptures wrong. (0:00)

What is the “rapture” all about and who thought it up? Does the human brain have the ability to justify bogus "truths" in religion -- and in politics? How can a leader strongly influence beliefs in others, even without the ability to back his claims up intellectually? In this regard, we compare our current political players to religious leaders. No surprise: The Herd gets pissed off again. (32:05)

Ex tells a story about sticking his foot into his atheistic mouth at a party. Now that he finds himself back among friends, he asks: Can an intelligent person be religious? Philly wonders which came first, the religious chicken or the stupid egg? How do people who had the misfortune of being born into a highly charged religious environment fit into this picture? Evo hypothesizes that compartmentalizing may be a factor in the religiousness/dumbth phenomenon. Ex disagrees. Philly can't take his eyes off the 1,000 lb. gorilla sitting in the corner. (30:24)

Evo rethinks his hypothesis about compartmentalization and re-defines what he means by it. SI kicks in with what the Herd agrees to be a nice analogy. We review the interesting results of our latest “scientific” poll. Ex unveils a new feature of Another Goddamned Podcast. Have fun – win prizes (sort of). (48:14)

Opening Music [00:00]: excerpt from "Another Goddamned Draft"
Bridge Music [16:59]: excerpt from "Crouching Christian Hidden Atheist"
Bridge Music [31:00]: excerpt from "Swing to the Left"
Bridge Music [47:13]: excerpt from "Waltz of the Dead"
Closing Music [59:29]: excerpt from "As Jazzy as I Get"
(All music: copyright 2008 by Rachel Murie)


Red Expendable said...

Thanks for this latest show.

My immediate supervisor is a Christian fundie who attends Hagee's church and talks about it with another fundie co-worker at work within ear-shot. Lucky me!!

I can't tell you whether or not these people actually believe they are helping the Jews or not. But it doesn't matter too much. Reality is that by supporting Israel, it exacerbates an already tense situation in the Middle East. Especially, bringing more Jews into the country. Of course, this only reinforces the notion of people who think the land belongs to the Jews anyway.

This could be a case of "my enemies enemy is my man" -- in other words, the Jews may not like a Xtian fundie outlook but if they don't believe the BS they spout they are going to take whatever resources they can get to help support Israel - and both sides hate the Muslims, so it all works out nice and neat.

Not only is this bad for the Jews and American foreign policy, but lets not forget that global war with nukes, it is bad for everyone on the planet. Israel has nukes and when push comes to shove, don't you think they would use them?

To address the lying presidents and politicians - I have mixed feelings about this point. While I'm certainly not excusing politicians for lying while in office. Let's face it - human beings LIE. They do it constantly, sometimes big lies and sometimes "small lies". We all do it at different times throughout our life. Can we really expect the president (any of them) or any politician, or any human being NOT to lie? I don't think that's a reasonable request. We can uphold a standard - and say that lying is unacceptable and I would agree with this. But in reality it's not going to be 100%.

Look at it this way. We know humans lie at different times. We know that that politicians are human beings (at least that's what I'm told) are going to lie. The best we can do at this point is damage control.
Is that a cynical outlook?


PhillyChief said...

Actually, the best way to achieve what you want there with the lying is to demand a no lying policy. It's common human behavior to both take a mile when given an inch and to "cut some slack" from time to time when people do that. With this in mind, you set the standards high. If you lower the standards, with human behavior being what it is, you're just inviting even more lying and even more willingness to cut some slack.

Lying should be treated as a big deal, and scandalous for a President. It shouldn't be behavior that's become so common from the President that we shrug it off without batting an eye anymore. Mistakes are one thing, lying is another. Lying carries with it intent, and that intent should be demanded to be made clear by the people lied to. Mr. Bush, you got some 'splainin' to do

The Exterminator said...

I think the worst thing about presidential lying is the public's willingness to accept an apology: Oh, that's OK, prez. We know you won't do it again.

Yeah, all humans lie, and presidents are humans. But they're supposed to be the best humans when serving in their public capacity, not just the guy down the street who apologizes for stealing the newspaper from your front lawn.

Venjanz said...

You guys missed something about modern American Christian end-time theology.

In the most popular view of the “rapture,” Russia and her Eastern allies (Gog/Magog) will team-up with the Arabs to attempt to conquer Israel and take her resources-which God will divinely prevent-and the spoils and holy destruction of the invaders will give such a great boon to Israel that the Arabs will capitulate and allow the Jews to plan to rebuild the Temple of Solomon where the Al-Aqsa Mosque exists today. THEN, Jesus will take up his servants and start the 7 years of tribulation.

It could be argued that to an evangelical Christian in the 21st Century, the military support of Israel is a sign of a LACK of faith.

Otherwise, I face-palmed a few times and shook my head at the left-wing rhetoric, especially at during the first 20 minutes, than there was some good discussion, IMAO.

P.S. I voted: “Neither rational or an atheist.”


PhillyChief said...

Can you be more specific? Which of our left wing pinko comments truly ruffled your feathers, Venjanz?

Red Expendable said...

I prefer left-wing rhetoric to right-wing. We all have things that are going bother us. If you want right wing, there's other podcasts out there.

From wiki:
Rhetoric is the art of harnessing reason, emotions and authority, through language, with a view to persuade an audience and, by persuading, to convince this audience to act, to pass judgement or to identify with given values.

Just to keep things in perspective - I thought it was necessary to get a definition up there, as if left-wing is a bad thing, as if rhetoric is a bad thing. Fuckin' please.

The Exterminator said...

It's doubtful that you heard left-wing rhetoric coming from all of us, because I'm not "left-wing."

John Evo said...

In fairness to Venjanz, he did say "left wing", but the left wing is filled with Liberals:

1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
2. (often initial capital letter) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.
3. of, pertaining to, based on, or advocating liberalism.
4. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, esp. as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
5. favoring or permitting freedom of action, esp. with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
6. of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
7. free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
8. open-minded or tolerant, esp. free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
10. given freely or abundantly; generous: a liberal donation.
11. not strict or rigorous; free; not literal: a liberal interpretation of a rule.
12. of, pertaining to, or based on the liberal arts.
13. of, pertaining to, or befitting a freeman.
14. a person of liberal principles or views, esp. in politics or religion.

I hope Venjanz was referring to things I said! By the way: —Antonyms 1. reactionary. 8. intolerant. 9, 10. niggardly.

Red Expendable said...

I'm not sure if this podcast would be considered left-wing, but I know it's not right-wing because if it was, I wouldn't be listening to it.

Anyway, but to the end-times thing for a second. It's amazing how every generation thinks it's the 'end-times' and they were wrong, and the next generation comes along completely ignorant of what the people before them said.

At what point do you say: I guess the end times aren't coming after all. It's ridiculous.
They often don't even know the history of the bible/christianity.

How miserable does your life have to be that you're looking forward to "end-times"?

PhillyChief said...

First off, Venjanz said he voted for not rational. If that means he's not rational, then the effort of providing definitions and perhaps even an argument to him might be a wasted effort. ;)

Hey Red, I don't think we're collectively left. We, like most Americans, have views across the spectrum. I could get along with some right wing types if we're talking death penalty, guns, military and maybe some other things but then if I brought up civil rights I'd be shunned as a lefty or if I brought up universal health care I'd be shunned as a pinko. The Herd here disagrees on a lot of that stuff, too. Maybe it's time to revisit that political compass test. My score

Red Expendable said...

I understand. I'm not trying to say this is a left wing podcast. Not everyone is "left" or "right" - like you say, it's across the board for the The Herd and in general a lot people have views across the political spectrum where they can not be considered one or the other. In general I'm a lefty but I have some righty views as well.

I'm pro-gun. Pro-war but it must be for self-defense or national liberation to be justified. Pro-choice within limits - I think there should be a cut off time before abortion is considered not acceptable UNLESS the mother's life is in danger.

Anyway, this is way off topic from the show. Just my two cents.

Venjanz said...

In short…

Ex: I know you’re a libertarian-the more I listen to you, the more I think we’re blood brothers.

Philly: Nobody in particular, it was the Bu$hitlerchanyroveburton stuff, the borderline conspiracy theories, and the John Hagee stuff. Seriously, even though you guys didn’t go here, libs are desperately trying push the Hagee/McCain = Wright/Obama thing, which is like comparing apples to tilapia.

Red: Yes there are other podcasts, but I get a hard-on commenting on this one. So piss off.

John: One thing I have learned is that “left” and “liberal” is not the same thing, as it seems that you are saying. I’m a liberal when it comes to most things. But the left is even more authoritarian than the right in America. Don’t think so? Go visit a college campus.


John Evo said...

Venjanz, while pretty lee-bur-el, I certainly have tendencies toward the right on a number of issues. And I share your antipathy for authoritarians, of whatever stripe. Right at the moment though, I'm not quite a worried about Conservative professors being shunned at Berkeley as I am about a government that does "extraordinary renditions" of people (including it's own citizens) to secret camps, where the people are held incommunicado, tortured and never charged. Priorities my friend, priorities.

PhillyChief said...

Try Lafayette College, Venjanz. Decidedly NOT lefty. At least it wasn't 15-20 years ago (fuck, I'm old).

You're right though about Hagee/McCain vs Obama/Wright. Obama tried as hard as he could to not have to drop the hammer on his preacher, but finally had to. It's like having that crazy old uncle living with you who occasionally likes to take off his pants and walk around the neighborhood. You love the guy and have great memories of him and he's still nice, but he's grown senile. You plead with him to keep his pants on when out in public, and you try your best to keep him inside, but finally you have to face facts and put him in a home. Now in contrast, McCain went to that home and sought the craziest old coot he could find to bring home with him thinking having a crazy old coot in your house would play well to the voters and to his surprise found that it doesn't so he had to return him. Yup, apples and tillapia. Incidentally, he also had to return that other crazy fuck Parsley.

I find Bush to be an idiot, and Cheney and Rove to be quite clever. I don't find it to be a stretch to imagine Dubya being controlled. I don't think it has to be like in Being John Malkovich. I think you can spoon feed him shit and he gobbles him up. I also imagine them tailoring options so that only one choice seems good, so he can pick it and dance around saying, "I'm the Decider, I'm the Decider!". Yes you are George, yes you are. ;)

Comment on the AGP blog, 'cause it's cheaper than Cialis and you don't need a prescription. (If you have an erection for longer than four hours, consult a doctor, or take on some of those lingering carpentry jobs around the house)

Red Expendable said...

Piss off? I guess that's better than being pissed on.

Anyway, seems like Obama uses the church as a base and organizing tool for his political career. I'm not too concerned about what Rev. Wright said and I doubt Obama agrees with a lot of it. Although aside from the comment on Aids, what has Wright said that was really off the wall?

McCain's already distanced himself from Hagee so it's not even an issue, although what Hagee says is is more batshit insane than what flew out of Wright's mouth. Hagee wants global war so his imaginary friend, jesus, can rescue the survivors and bring them to an imaginary place called heaven.

It's a GIVEN that wherever black people live in the world, they are generally POOR - any fuckin' neighborhood you go to where there is a majority of black people you find poverty, and in this country, you'll also find a shit load of police who have a nasty attitude toward the community when compared to their presence in the white communities. So it's no surprise that Rev. Wright says what he says.
He's just looking for justice for black people. He wants to help them.

Hagee just wants to see people die. He's relishing in the thought. And for McCain to associate himself in anyway is a bad thing.

I for one would like to see a progressive, not reactionary president in office. Looks like Obama is the one out of the two remaining.

The Exterminator said...

I think the tendency is for unthinking people to knee-jerkedly categorize atheists as "liberal" or "left-wing." Our listeners -- the elitest of the elites -- should know better. What do "left" and "right" mean, anyway? Is there some kind of difference between the titular far left (Stalin's Russia) and the titular far right (Hitler's Germany)?

Maybe we should refer only to "authoritarians" vs. "libertarians." (See the link from Philly in his comment above.) I'd guess that all of us in the Herd fall outside the "authoritarian" range to a greater or lesser extent. (I myself score in the extreme of "libertarian," very near the bottom of the chart, but essentially neither "right" nor "left.")

By the way, Venjanz and Red, thanks for contributing to the ongoing conversation around here.

PhillyChief said...

Well I think there is a difference between left and right, and there is an explanation of that on that link. Could the suggestion to refer only to authoritarian vs libertarian MAYBE be because you happened to score essentially neither right or left, Ex? Hmmm...

The Exterminator said...

Well, the site itself says that the Left-Right line is basically economic. When we discuss economic issues on the podcast, by all means, we should use that scale.

For the issues we usually discuss, though, it's useless. (I could make a pretty good argument that even my economic views arise out of my libertarianism.)

But, of course, my own biggest bugbear is the authoritarian outlook. I'm more or less indifferent about the non-extremes of right and left.

Gee, you caught me.

PhillyChief said...

Well then, let's see if economics comes up in a future podcast

Venjanz said...

Ex said it best. Left-right is mostly a view when it comes to economics.

I like this site:


Personally, if there are two people that I agree with nearly 100% of the time, it's Larry Elder and Neil Boortz.

PhillyChief said...

I'm not familiar with them, but a quick google search turned up an astoundingly moronic article on a forum called RonaldReagan.com allegedly from Boortz's site spouting that nonsense about liberal control of colleges and universities along with painting liberal arguments as mere appeals to emotion and out yelling opponents. If that's typical of what to expect from Neil and/or Larry, I'll pass.

Btw, politicalcompass.org is the link I posted earlier here and what we've been talking about mostly since. Welcome aboard, sunshine.

John Evo said...

Well, Philly, I have to tell you that Larry Elder isn't much better! (Sorry Ven - don't know how long you've been listening to him, but he is an L.A. boy and I've heard him since the mid-90s. Ain't my cup of tea).

The problems faced by America are not, by and large, caused by too much liberalism. Hell, we were FOUNDED on the most liberal principles in the world, - at the time. If we had stuck to them a little more and not allowed religious beliefs to cloud our thinking on social issues, we might be as socially advanced as Holland. Damn, that would be great. Instead we waste precious time and resources in a never-ending battle over prayer in school, sex (movies), sex (birth control) sex (abortion), drugs, sex (gay acceptance), teaching evolution, sex (TV), sex (music lyrics), violent video games, sex (video games), sex (advertising), etc. These aren't problems generated from "the left".

The Exterminator said...

There you go confusing right/left with authoritarian/libertarian.

There were few men in our history more "left" than William Jennings Bryan. Yet, in your last paragraph, you've pretty much outlined the kind of policy he might have today.

In recent memory, that liberal sweetheart, Tipper Gore, led the fight against music lyrics that didn't reflect "family values."

And please don't borrow a tactic from the Christians and rewrite history. The founding fathers did not set up a Christian government, nor did they set up a "liberal" one. Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, et al. were interested in liberty, not liberality. The principles on which this country was founded are libertarian ones, not liberal ones. Please notice that I use lower-case l in both instances, so don't bother to challenge me to defend capital L Libertarians, within whose ranks are some thinly disguised conservative theocrats.

But don't twist history.

John Evo said...

[Philly - set up about 8 shot glasses if you would]

Ex you ridiculous twit... [Austin Cline - THAT was ad hominem]

There you go confusing right/left with authoritarian/libertarian.

Oh... sorry I confused you. You didn't mean I'M confused, did you?

There were few men in our history more "left" than William Jennings Bryan. Yet, in your last paragraph, you've pretty much outlined the kind of policy he might have today.

Absolutely true. The American notion of "left" was considerably different 100 years ago than it is today.

In recent memory, that liberal sweetheart, Tipper Gore, led the fight against music lyrics that didn't reflect "family values."

Absolutely true. As I said to Venjanz, I am anti-authoritarian, whatever the stripe. We are all atheists (here, now). We don't all agree on every atheist issue. People who self-define either "on the left" or "liberal" don't agree on everything. I consider myself a liberal (and on the left). I don't necessarily support the notion of "abortion on demand - at any point in the pregnancy". John Edwards is on the left. He doesn't support marriage for gays. We don't all agree and one of the worst (if not the worst) is those on the left who would use authortarianism. I am leery of these folks, trust me!

And please don't borrow a tactic from the Christians and rewrite history. The founding fathers did not set up a Christian government, nor did they set up a "liberal" one.

This may be one of those places where I was confusing (not confused). I'm not saying our country was set up AS A liberal country - simply that they did IN FACT set up the most liberal society in history (or, at least, since the Greeks. And I'd argue slightly more liberal). My argument for this based solely on the definitions of the word I gave in an earlier comment.

Look, if you want to rebut me on this, feel free. I know what you are saying. You know what I am saying. Liberal, Conservative, Left, Right, socialist, free-market, communist, libertarian, authoritarian, democracy - all of them are on a continuum that we have a basic understanding of when having these types of discussions.

Anonymous said...

The question about the relationship, if any, between intelligence and religious belief is a fascinating one that, I don't think, has a simple answer, or even a simple set of answers. Since I know a lot of intelligent Christians, I'll want to give this a lot more thought before saying anymore.

Red Expendable said...

Like most other people, I know some intelligent believers. Just because a person is intelligent, does it mean they apply it to all aspects of life? Just like if someone is rational, does it mean they apply it across the board?
The ability for someone to compartmentalize their beliefs and their understanding (or lack of understanding) about the world is also an interesting topic.
My brother who is a chemical engineer knows a lot about science - he's intelligent and not an orthodox jew at all, more like a lukewarm jew at best and I've never known him to be religious. Not until his wife said she wanted the kids be be raised with religion and it was going to either be Christianity or Judaism. So he said, well, if it's got to be one, might as well be the one he was raised with.

Anyway, at one point during a heated debate between my bother and I, he said that god was needed to create the big bag. His argument was that prior to the big bag you needed something to get the ball rolling, and that of course was god.

The usual replies to such nonsense:
The universe is infinite - or has always existed in one form or another, no "creation is needed".

God is not an "answer" to how, or even "who" because the word is meaningless. EVERYONE who says god is this or that, he simply created something in their imagination and assigned characteristics to it. And to say this imaginary friend created the universe is absurd.

I don't understand how someone who is intelligent, and who has a scientific background could just GIVE UP, and say - at this point, right -HERE- is where my imaginary friend stepped in and created everything from nothing.

Is there some benefit of being able to compartmentalize or shrug off the inconsistencies of such shoddy reasoning? From an evolutionary perspective, psychologically?

Speaking of that, have you guys ever touched on the subject of evolutionary psychology, and what does The Herd think of it?

Another thing I'd like to hear The Herd comment about is the concept of the meme. I've seen around the net people criticize this concept as being pseudo-science. It seems a like an unnecessary comment. Unless I'm mistaken, essentially a meme is just an idea or information - it can be stored in people's brains, computes, paper, etc. - however the concept is that looking at the idea is you would a gene.

The Exterminator said...


A meme is not just an idea: It's a self-replicating idea. That's what makes it comparable to a gene.

Read The Selfish Gene for Dawkins's original introduction of memes to the evolutionary dialogue.

I'm not sure that the Herd is qualified to discuss the idea of memes, except perhaps philosophically. However, if memes really do exist, they ought somehow to be measurable -- or at least locatable -- scientifically. At this point, I don't think the idea of memes can be falsified, which makes it pretty much like the idea of gods.

As far as evolutionary psychology goes, I don't know if we have enough knowledge to discuss that either. I'll tell you that I read a book called Madame Bovary's Ovaries, which was an attempt by an evolutionary psychologist to analyze literature using the techniques of EP. It was about 250 pages of badly written claptrap (not all of which I could force myself to read).

So, I guess I'd vote "no" on those two topics. Although there are four more of us to hear from. Of course, if we did decide to discuss either subject -- I'm sure something about it would crop up before the podcast to piss me off.

PhillyChief said...

Well it makes sense he chose judaism since people usually stick with the devil they know.

Evo may delight in an evolutionary psychology discussion but I think he'd be alone in that delight, which is very similar to when he sings, although if I had to choose between the two I might choose the devil I don't know, since the devil I do know scares me too much.

I'd say Red you tell your brother to stick his god in his big bag and toss it in the bin.

Many people are uncomfortable with unanswered questions. Why? I don't know. Maybe that's the evolutionary psychology part, but does it matter? There are plenty of evolutionary drives in us that we consciously restrain, so if there's some evolutionary drive to fabricate answers by any means necessary, including wholesale fabrication, then we can consciously resist and restrain that, too.

Keep the ideas coming, and we'll shove them in a big bag because we can't make a podcast from nothing. ;)

John Evo said...

Yeah, I'd probably be the only one really interesting in talking about Evo Psych.

Red, if you want to read a good book (don't know about Madame Bovarie's Ovaries) you should read the ultimate primer on the subject - Robert Wright's "The Moral Animal" - a book I really appreciated.

Evolutionary psychology is a very useful way of understanding many (most) aspects of our behavior. Philly is correct that we overcome these "instincts" every day. That's not a good argument for ignoring them. If you understand why you have a tendency to feel a certain way or do certain things, it makes it much easier to find the smooth paths towards overcoming the unwanted parts of our common Homo sapiens psychology.