The Dangers of the Divine

by Justin Robbins

He who can be made to believe absurdities, can be made to commit atrocities – Voltaire

Ever since our species (Homo sapiens) crossed whatever the threshold was between an instinctual level of consciousness and being cognitively self-aware, we have invented mythologies to explain the things we otherwise cannot. This seems true of every culture or societal construct we now know, or have ever known.

From our oldest apparent spiritual icons, like the 38,000 year old Lion Man, to the oldest still-practiced faith of Hinduism, to newer models like Mormonism and Scientology, we seem to have no shortage of imagined explanations to fill the gaps in our actual knowledge. Most of the gods we’ve created, with estimates ranging from 4,000 to 33,000 (depending on things like whether Zeus and Jupiter count as one), gracefully retired to the celestial version of Miami when the natural explanation was discovered for whatever they had once controlled. When it was proven that the gravitational pull of the moon controlled earth’s tides, for example, Poseidon (Neptune, if you must) found himself with a lot of free time; ostensibly to snicker at Bill O’Reilly.

The slow but continuous creep of evidence-based, replicable, natural explanations and descriptions of our world, has retired many a divine office holder. Yet, there are holdouts. The literally countless gods of Hinduism still have sway over approximately 9 million people worldwide, and there’s Jehovah (aka Yahweh, Allah) the father of the Abrahamic faiths. Within his various imaginings, he is alleged to have ordained kings, facilitated genocides, and inspired morally indefensible applications of commercial aircraft. He is also apparently quite concerned about how humans behave in their bedrooms.

If I did this right, readers of faith who have come this far may have already experienced a twinge of offense at having their chosen faith lumped in with other, patently false faith claims. Perhaps there is a certain comfort in realizing that those who don’t share your faith may yet share your offense.

Which brings me to Greg Gianforte and Kristin Juras. Both are candidates for public office in Montana; Gianforte for governor and Juras for supreme court. Both have also made fairly selective, dog whistley non-secrets of their preferred mythologies, and of how those would inform their approach to public service.

Gianforte’s support of a creationist museum in Glendive has been largely ignored by the main-stream media. Most notably, the mediators of the first gubernatorial debate felt our time was better spent hearing the candidates attest to marital fidelity, than hearing about Mr. Gianforte’s biblical retirement plan. Fortunately, a world renown paleontologist Jack Horner harbors genuine concern for Montana’s educational system.

Meanwhile, Juras is throwing ironic ethics allegations with her left hand while sketching out a religious freedom agenda with her right; eager to impose her favored mythology with a gavel. “Religious freedom”, of course, being short hand in the current Christian lexicon for freedom to discriminate…a sentiment also favored by Gianforte. Working in concert, these two could have a corrosive impact on Montana’s children, communities and businesses that would be felt for generations.

If you would critique this essay as smacking of intolerance, or of casting vague aspersions, that may be fair. Perhaps one of the thousands of gods currently at offer is actually real, and perhaps one of these candidates has his/her home number. I honestly don’t know. Then again, neither do you. The takeaway here is that it is very wise to be very wary of anyone who tells you not only that they know the mind of God, but that they look forward to imposing their version of His will on you.


12 Comments on "The Dangers of the Divine"

  1. “The first Greek god was actually a goddess. She is Gaia, or Mother Earth, who created herself out of primordial chaos. … Gaia, as Mother Nature, personifies the entire ecosystem of Planet Earth. Mother Nature is always working to achieve and maintain harmony, wholeness and balance within the environment.”-Wiki

    When it comes to imposing His/Her will on us Gaia always is the winner.

  2. One of my many problems with the Double G is that for one that claims to have Montana values and has lived here for x number of years, with one of his latest television ads, he is being seen with a new shovel in hand in a horse corral shoveling what appears to be horseshit all the while insinuating that our current elected governmental leaders are full of the stuff he is shoveling. Any Montanan that has been here awhile knows the difference between the horseshit that he is shoveling and the bullshit that is coming from his mouth.

    • One of my problems with Gov. Bullock is the ads with his happy family and smiling wife while he’s taking trips on our dime with another woman.

  3. Anyone can throw out allegations and start rumors, Big Swede, but if you want to sit at the adults table you’ll have include verified, non-partisan facts.

    • I read it on a partisan political blog. It must be true, right guys?

      • No, it’s not right. I read the piece. The post is fallacious on its own terms.

        The fallacy manifests basically in that the author claims to know the facts and that the news professionals in Montana also know the facts; but, that the news media will not report what the author does not report, either.

        To believe any of this, we need to know the Who?, What?, When?, and Where? of it all. Gossip is not fact. Anyone can make an allegation.

        This is Trumpnosity at its best (worst). Donald Trump charges the coming presidential election is rigged. He charges the news media are complicit in it. Trump presents nothing to support his claims other than his own trumped up allegations.

        Whoever you are, Big Swede: If you know the governor of Montana has been flying here-and-there with a lover from his own administration, and doing it with my tax money, lay out what you know, backed by facts I can verify, and I will be the first in line to sign a petition to impeach this governor.

  4. Gianforte and Juras remind me of another failed candidate for political office, Michele Bachmann. In 2011, shortly after she won the “Red Neck-Bible Thumper Straw Poll”, there was a deadly, horrific storm and tornado in Joplin, Missouri that destroyed almost the whole town. Shortly after the storm, GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was at a GOP campaign event in Florida where she stated the disaster was a sign from GOD that federal spending was out of control. Talk about idiotic, mythological faith claims! According to Michele, tornados are the creation of GOD and he specifically aims them at towns and cities full of overspenders. If that was true, it seems reasonable that the tornado would have hit Washington, DC, not Joplin, Missouri. And if you really believe GOD punishes the sinful with natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes; why do most of these storms hit the Bible Belt? Isn’t that where all the “good people” are? Not according to Michele Bachmann. In her imaginary world, GOD creates these storms to punish the sinful, so is Michele Bachmann saying the Bible Belt is the modern day equivalent of Sodom and Gomorrah in the United States. I so wished there had been a reporter present at that GOP campaign event with the guts to ask Bachmann the very same questions I just stated. I would have enjoyed seeing her try to stutter her way out of the trap she set for herself! Now we come to Gianforte, claiming he literally believes that humans used to live to be over 600 years old, thousands of years ago before the advent of modern medicine and science, and they didn’t need Social Security so why do we? I shudder to think of someone with beliefs like his in any political office that would effect the lives and welfare of thousands of Montanans. We started Social Security and Medicare because most of the elderly who weren’t rich or had a family to take care of them; used to die in abject misery and poverty. Not everyone ages well and can keep working up to the day they drop dead, GREG! There is a difference between having faith in GOD and using it as an excuse to get rid of social programs that have saved the lives of millions of aging Americans! People like Gianforte can’t be allowed anywhere near seats of power that affect the welfare and health of citizens, PERIOD!

  5. Squarehead Norseman | October 27, 2016 8:59 AM at 8:59 AM |

    I don’t have the exact quote in front of me, but here’s a reasonable representation:
    Religions fear the advance of science as witches fear the advance of dawn. Thos. Jefferson.

  6. Squarehead Norseman may have been referring in part to some of the rumors generated out of the trip to China with Commerce officials, as Montanans were hosted by Ambassador Baucus. If folks want to know more, info from rumor mills requires a lot of sifting. In fact, a great deal of sifting. Someone who knows someone who thinks they heard something. Or another. Not saying it could not have happened, but I appreciate a “publish and be damned” sort of attitude this far into an election cycle, whether the rumors are built on any foundation, or not. We need to focus our attention on what’s going on with public policies and their implementation, and much less with private lives, and the foibles possible within each of those. Otherwise, we might as well type “Item” before we flog the public’s capacity for hoping someone’s about to fall from whatever slightly or significantly more elevated position than the ones in which we find ourselves.

    • Pardon, I meant to write about the earlier comment by Big Swede. I was just reading the other piece on Gianforte’s trumped up headlines before reading this one, and Squarehead Norseman had a couple of comments. I am Scots and German heritage, so I have unfortunately grouped a Swede and a Norseman together in my head. Had no intent to offend anyone.

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