Questionable Motives

September 29, 2011

What is the fundamental error we make of religious scripture?

Presuming it’s true.

Once this fundamental error is made, there is a cascade effect that greatly impairs one’s cognitive ability to make later corrections for it; instead of simply correcting the original error in the face of mounting contrary evidence to its veracity, we see otherwise rational people perform amazing feats of mental gymnastics to accommodate its fundamental irrationality.

One of the most common ways for the believers to maintain the presumption of scriptural truth in the face of a contrary reality is to alter the language we use to describe that reality, and then shift blame for the obvious scriptural failure unto reality itself as some kind of dirty and obnoxious pollutant. This is where denial of reality finds sustenance in the religious community and offers aid and comfort to anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-rational proponents.

Surely such deluded and intellectually dishonest people as reality deniers must be at the fringes of society, wouldn’t you think?

Apparently not.

Consider the legal wisdom delivered by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during his recent lecture at Duquesne University Law School, a catholic university in Pittsburgh:

“The Rule of Law is second only to the Rule of Love. The here and now is less important than the hereafter.”

Now think about that for moment.

His priority as a Supreme Court Justice is not about the rule of law in the here and now but about love leading to something he calls the “hereafter”. This is religio-speak for obeying the authority of scripture first and foremost. This blind obedience to the vagaries of biblical scripture to outline appropriate religious behaviour is what Scalia calls love, and its purpose is to exchange the legal respect owed to the individual here and now to some earned eternal bliss… the fulfillment of a nebulous contract to be fulfilled by god after that individual’s death.

That’s an insane contract in any other connotation: for example, how big a fool must you be to seriously accept the contract to pay me all your money throughout your life on the promise that I will pay you back a thousandfold after you’re dead.  It’s an insane presumption based as it is on no evidence outside of its religious connotations that it might be true. Yet for anyone inside its religious connotations such a presumption is fine for a catholic Supreme Court Justice, no matter how nutty, how batty, how foolish, how flipping crazy exactly the same thinking is without the religious connotation. For many, it’s peachy that we waive the requirement for rationality in and respect for the here and now in the name of respecting religious gullibility and delusion about the hereafter.

It seems to come as a shock to some people that making allowance for the religiously deluded might actually carry some small cost when it comes to following and implementing scripture. But is it really such a small price to pay?

Surely that insanity, that irrationality, stops when it comes to practicing and implementing actual individual legal equality, doesn’t it? Well…

Scalia again:

“Our educational establishment these days, while so tolerant of and even insistent upon diversity in all other aspects of life, seems bent on eliminating diversity of moral judgment – particularly moral judgment based on religious views. I hope this place will not yield – as some Catholic institutions have – to this politically correct insistence upon suppression of moral judgment, to this distorted view of what diversity in America means.”

What is he talking about? He’s bitching about the requirement that student clubs that receive university support and backing must be open to all students, even gays. Exercising this legal equality on behalf of all students who pay the same tuition and fees, who attend the same classes as everyone else, who meet the same academic expectations as all, suddenly becomes – in the confused mind of Supreme Court Justice Scalia – the distorted suppression of a religiously acceptable yet bigoted moral judgement.

This catholic moral judgement is not understood to be just another example of religiously inspired bigotry; after all, it comes from scripture, which is presumed to be true. That means that correct moral behaviour is considered by the religiously minded like Scalia to be bigotry in action. And that causes him not the slightest intellectual discomfort. In his mind befuddled and addled by catholicism all other considerations – like legal equality – must first fit this faith-based model on what is moral under scriptural authority, and if that means abusing the language to do so – by presuming that a bigoted moral judgement is sanctioned by god through the authority of scripture – then legal equality must be an imposition indeed.

The blame for this imposition – this insistence on legal equality by the secular state – is flung back at reality, claiming that legal equality of diverse people is actually a distorted view under catholicism, clashing as it does with the presumption of scriptural authority that allows a special exemption for religious bigotry under the intentional misnomer of moral judgement. It’s as if to say it isn’t up to me as a Supreme Court Justice to judge legal inequality when it is upheld by the religiously deluded; my hands are tied by the religious view that god has judged this inequality to be right and proper on moral grounds. Bigotry becomes moral and is then brought forth from the wastelands of scripture into the confusing world of real people in real time where what should be a cut and dry legal issue of equality  becomes a confused religious issue about permissive legal bigotry sanctioned on theological moral grounds.

And Scalia is okay with this contorted pretzel of rationalizations in the service of maintaining the supremacy his religious presumptions even in his high public office. The fact that such a dimwit and badly confused idiot as Scalia could be selected and then promoted to the highest secular court in the land is damning evidence of just how in need of repair and support is the wall of separation between church and state… if you care about legal equality, of course.

And on that issue I shouldn’t presume…


  1. Starting this article with the sentence “presuming it’s true” makes the article title dopey. The entire point of anything regarding the supernatural and religions if they are true or not. To presume they are remind me of the old joke about a chemist, physicist, and economist in a raft with beer bottles and no opener on a camping trip. They all come up with some way to get the beer bottles open, and the chemist and physicist have very in depth method ideas. The economist’s is simply “Let’s assume we have a bottle opener”. That’s why the story is a joke. Get rid of your first sentence, or change it to “putting aside for the moment of their accuracy” or something.


    Comment by Rich Griese (@RichGriese) — September 29, 2011 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  2. “Presuming it’s true.” Is the rhetorical answer to the rhetorical question in the title.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — September 29, 2011 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  3. Scalia was in Toronto as the “keynote speaker following the 87th annual Red Mass on Sept. 22 at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto.”

    “In his talk entitled ‘Note to the Wise: The Christian as Cretin,’ Scalia noted the disdain and disbelief of the ‘worldly wise’ who look down upon faithful Catholics as ‘simple-minded’ and unsophisticated.’

    He also said

    ‘Thomas More’s life is an example of courage. To his contemporaries and friends, the reason for More’s death was “silly.”

    “More went to his death to support the proposition that only the Pope could unbind Henry VIII’s divorce,” he said.

    Although the papacy at that time was corrupt, Scalia argued that More did not waver in his belief of the papal succession originating from Peter, the first pope. He was “seeing with the eyes of faith. He believed Peter was the rock of the Church.”

    “As low as the papacy got, the Vicar of Christ alone, not the bishops of England have the power to unbind marriage,” he said.’

    There is so much in the passage above to support the idea of the Christian as cretin if Tomas More believed that a “corrupt papacy” should still have the power to make decisions that bind both the faithful and the unbelievers.

    Comment by Veronica Abbass — September 29, 2011 @ 8:28 pm | Reply

    • Good catch, Veronica.

      You are absolutely right: Scalia’s speech highlights why there is great merit to the idea of christian as cretin, as if to say, “I’m right because I agree with the infallible pope,” rather than judge on merit if the pope is actually right in fact first. But such subtlety of testing presumption against reality rather than faith-based belief is no doubt beyond the intellectual capacities of this judge. And to also presume righteousness for the criminal Pope Palpatine and his brothers in crime to have such affect over all – believers and unbelievers alike – is the worst kind of legal folly… paving the way for his beliefs to have more legal sway than our individual rights. This is an important and necessary step on the path to totalitarianism (pious or not).

      Comment by tildeb — September 29, 2011 @ 10:26 pm | Reply

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