Uncommon Sense

August 27, 2020

Assembling God

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:54 am
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The god of Christianity, Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost didn’t show up in scripture fully formed. His powers kind of grew like Topsy, created on the fly by ordinary human beings.

Some of these are logical consequences and some are hidden presumptions. For example, claiming that this god is all-knowing means that in order to “recall” any fact from his memory, he only needs to recall the past or future action. This requires this god to have one hell of a memory, but is not unthinkable. But there are inherent problems associated with claiming this power for this god. Here is a typical question on Quora asking about this consequence. “If God knows my whole life from beginning to end, did he imagine me before he created me? If he imagined all the things I will say and do, is it him being me doing these things? I imagine people doing whatever but it’s not them doing what they do.” Basically this question is asking that if this god knows everything I am going to do, do I have free will? The straightforward answer is an obvious “no” and the consequence is we should not be held accountable for our actions because we were programmed by god to do those things. I will leave it to you to unpack these arguments because they have been around for almost all of human history.

Other consequences are somewhat loaded with creator responsibility. (Not Creator responsibility, but creator responsibility.) We claim that this god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within “line of sight” to see what you do. Is this necessary of this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions. He doesn’t even need to show up to perform the miracle you are praying for. He can do anything remotely, plus the fact that he has tens of thousands of angels on the payroll, most of the time sitting around eating his food and drinking his wine, the lazy bastards can be sent to do some work for once. And, since the all-knowing god already knows, he can schedule this angel to do that task, months, years, or millennia ahead of time to avoid any time pressure.

So, being omnipresent is a useless power for such a god. It is only there because of human assumptions about how humans behave, not gods. And this is not the only example of a god’s powers being woven out of thin air, cut from whole cloth, etc.

Consider why Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost has “messengers” or “helpers.” So, why?

Basically this is because they were created in the previous tradition, by the creators ofYahweh, and Jesus was “the Son,” so they had to be kept in Christianity. The baggage, of course, involves devils, demons, and a whole zoo of other supernatural beings in attendance on this god.

But are they needed? You’ve probably heard this argument before. This god has demonstrated the ability to think things into existence (whole galaxies, etc.) and communicate across vast distances. So, does he need “helpers” of any kind? The answer is “no.” In fact assigning a task to an angel (or cherubim, or . . .) takes as much effort or more that doing it himself, just by thinking whatever he wants into existence.

Some claim that these beings are there for purposes of companionship. Companionship is something people need, by does this god? The answer is no. This god is claimed to be perfect, whole, and needing of nothing.

But then . . . this is the god who punished Lucifer for the sin of pride and who created an entire species of sentient beings … to worship him. Remember the speck in your brother’s eye and the beam in yours story. Yeah, like that.


August 25, 2020

The Cancel Culture—Real or Imagined?

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:43 am
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On the Vridar web site, Neil Godfrey was reviewing a compilation of essays in honor of biblical scholar Thomas L. Thompson.

He began with “Why a volume of essays in honour of Thomas L. Thompson? The opening paragraph of the Introduction explains (with my highlighting):

Thomas L. Thompson has been, for the past five decades, behind some of the – if not all – major changes in Old Testament historiography, if we consider that his criticism of the patriarchal narratives, the exodus and settlement and the United Monarchy were each at their own time forerunners of what later on would become accepted in the field (Thompson 1974, 1987, 1992, 1999).

See below for those four titles. The first, 1974, was met at the time with such opposition that it left him “unemployed and unemployable for ten years”. The 1992 work precipitated his expulsion from Marquette University.”

Thomas Thompson’s Significant Books (I have read the fourth.)

Historically, the largest exponent of the cancel culture has been organized religion. If your beliefs contradicted theirs, you lost your job, in Thompson’s case multiple times, or had a hard time finding a job, or you lost your freedom by being locked up, or even your life. (Burn, Heretic, burn!)

The telling feature in this case was that Thompson was being punished . . . for being right. His heretical opinions have become “accepted in the field.”

August 23, 2020

Quoting the Amazing Barry Goldberg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm

I find the inestimable Barry Goldberg most often on the Quora website. Here is yet another question he has answered (in part):

Q: Have you ever considered that atheism is as certain-minded as theism is and that the more reasonable logical and scientifically minded outlook is agnosticism?

As the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And it really doesn’t get much more extraordinary than the claim that there exists some sort of intelligent being composed of “pure spirit” (whatever the heck that means) which exists “outside of time and space” (whatever the heck that means) while somehow still being capable of interacting with the material world and which purportedly cares deeply about every individual member of one particular species living on one particular world orbiting one particular star among billions in one particular galaxy among countless trillions of similar galaxies in this entire vast universe.

I mean, this claim is so extraordinary that it’s hard to imagine what sort of evidence could ever possibly back it up. Even if a 100-foot tall glowing figure appeared in the middle of Times Square and caused the entire city to disappear and reappear with the blink of an eye, that would just be evidence that there existed a very powerful being who can do amazing things. It still wouldn’t be evidence that this being created the universe or that it somehow exists “outside of time and space” or is completely omnipotent and omniscient, etc. In fact, given just how extraordinary the claim is regarding any sort of god actually worshiped by anybody, the only logical and science minded approach is to reject it outright as completely ridiculous and obviously just one more in a very long line of supernatural creatures that humans have invented over the years.

Barry Goldberg is author of Common Sense Atheism, which is a collection of his writings and well worth the read, if for nothing else, his incredible Maude and Eugene posters (examples below).

Are Chicagoans Normal People?

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 12:00 pm

Today was a balmy Sunday in Chicago, and living right on the beach (on Lake Michigan) we took our dog out for a walk on the beach and Lincoln Park which is nearby.

When we arrived at the beach, there were approximately 100 people out swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, wading, sunbathing and otherwise having a good time. There were dozens more in the park (including us).

At quarter to twelve, however, a peek out our window (from the 22nd floor) showed an empty beach . . . completely empty and an empty park, as far as I could see. So, what happened?

Now, do realize that the park and the beaches are all closed due to the pandemic. We were not supposed to be out on the beach or walking through the park at all. So, are all Chicagoans, including us, scofflaws?

The missing piece of information is that at 11 AM, the lifeguards and the police show up.

So, my best guess it is “while the cats away, the mice will play.” Is this the same in your community? (I have seen everywhere in the U.S. that people drive over the speed limit, except when there are patrol cars within sight, then everyone drives rather sedately. So, at least that manifestation of this behavior seems universal.) Are we all trying to exercise a little control over our own lives this way?

Have You Been Listening/Reading/Hearing?

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:46 am
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One of the core messages of this site is that civilization was built upon the backs of the masses. The elites coerced the labor of the masses and confiscated their “excess labor” (what they could produce minus the bare minium to keep the “slave” alive). The confiscated/taxed labor allowed the religious and secular elites the liberty to do what they did.

Now some claim that all of art, music, and high architecture, even science are the products of the leisure time bought through “civilization.” My point is that people were not asked whether they wanted to contribute to that effort and are still not asked (Has Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos asked you what you would like them to do with all of your money confiscated in excess of what they needed to live bloody well on?). One of the products the elites have created, possibly more than any other, is war. Do we ignore that and just thank the massahs for all of the art in the museums, and the grand buildings (pyramids, etc.), and science and such?

Here are some quotes I think you we see now slightly differently from before:

From “The Mud-sill Theory” speech by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond, given before the Senate in 1858:
In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. . . a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. . . . Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our purpose, and call them slaves.

This is the “better them than us” attitude later fostered by the elites to get southern whites to put on a uniform and fight those damned Yankees. I generally refer to this as the Law of the Totem Pole: “You can’t be sure you are not on the bottom unless you are standing upon someone else.”

* * *

And there was William Wilberforce, as sincere a philanthropist as Anglicanism ever produced, an ardent supporter of Bible societies and foreign missions, a champion of the anti-slavery movement, and also of the ruthless “Combination Laws,” which denied to British wage-slaves all chance of bettering their lot. Wilberforce published a “Practical View of the System of Christianity,” (published 1897?) in which he told unblushingly what the Anglican establishment is for. In a chapter which he described as “the basis of all politics,” he explained that the purpose of religion is to remind the poor:

That their more lowly path has been allotted to them by the hand of God; that it is their part faithfully to discharge its duties, and contentedly to bear its inconveniences; that the objects about which worldly men conflict so eagerly are not worth the contest; that the peace of mind, which Religion offers indiscriminately to all ranks, affords more true satisfaction than all the expensive pleasures which are beyond the poor man’s reach; that in this view the poor have the advantage; that if their superiors enjoy more abundant comforts, they are also exposed to many temptations from which the inferior classes are happily exempted; that, “having food and raiment, they should be therewith content,” since their situation in life, with all its evils, is better than they have deserved at the hand of God; and finally, that all human distinctions will soon be done away, and the true followers of Christ will all, as children of the same Father, be alike admitted to the possession of the same heavenly inheritance. Such are the blessed effects of Christianity on the temporal well-being of political communities.)

Source: Sinclair, Upton. The Profits of Religion: An Essay in Economic Interpretation (p. 33).

In this same source we hear from another pious person:

Hannah More bade them be happy because God had sent them her pious self. “In suffering by the scarcity, you have but shared in the common lot, with the pleasure of knowing the advantage you have had over many villages in your having suffered no scarcity of religious instruction.” And in another place she explained that the famine was caused by God to teach the poor to be grateful to the rich! “Let me remind you that probably that very scarcity has been permitted by an all-wise and gracious Providence to unite all ranks of people together, to show the poor how immediately they are dependent upon the rich, and to show both rich and poor that they are all dependent upon Himself. It has also enabled you to see more clearly the advantages you derive from the government and constitution of this country—to observe the benefits flowing from the distinction of rank and fortune, which has enabled the high to so liberally assist the low.

And if you do not think the religious elites were acting hand in hand with the secular elites yet, how about (from the same source):

In the year 1819 an act of Parliament was proposed limiting the labor of children nine years of age to fourteen hours a day. This would seem to have been a reasonable provision, likely to have won the approval of Christ; yet the bill was violently opposed by Christian employers, backed by Christian clergymen. It was interfering with freedom of contract, and therefore with the will of Providence; it was anathema to an established Church, whose function was in 1819, as it is in 1918, and was in 1918 B.C., to teach the divine origin and sanction of the prevailing economic order.

And as to labor unions! From the same source:

Let me quote another member of the English ruling classes, Mr. Conrad Noel, who gives “an instance, of the procedure of Church and State about this period (late 19th century)”:

In 1832 six agricultural labourers in South Dorsetshire, led by one of their class, George Loveless, in receipt of 9s. a week each, demanded the 10s. rate of wages usual in the neighbourhood. The result was a reduction to 8s. An appeal was made to the chairman of the local bench, who decided that they must work for whatever their masters chose to pay them. The parson, who had at first promised his help, now turned against them, and the masters promptly reduced the wage to 7s., with a threat of further reduction. Loveless then formed an agricultural union, for which all seven were arrested, treated as convicts, and committed to the assizes. The prison chaplain tried to bully them into submission. The judge determined to convict them, and directed that they should be tried for mutiny under an act of George III, specially passed to deal with the naval mutiny at the Nore. The grand jury were landowners, and the petty jury were farmers; both judge and jury were churchmen of the prevailing type. The judge summed up as follows: “Not for anything that you have done, or that I can prove that you intend to do, but for an example to others I consider it my duty to pass the sentence of seven years’ penal transportation across His Majesty’s high seas upon each and every one of you.”

You want evidence? I got evidence.

August 21, 2020

Is the Strong Nuclear Force Label Akin to the Names Given to Dark Energy and Dark Matter?

Filed under: Science — Steve Ruis @ 9:48 pm
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In physics it is standard operating procedure to give things a name before they are characterized, discovered, or found. So, when it was discovered that the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating, the cause for this acceleration was given the name “Dark Energy.” Dark” because we cannot see it and “Energy” because it requires energy to accelerate bodies away from one another that attract one another (due to gravity). So, what is this dark energy? We don’t know. How does it work? We don’t know. How can we find it? We don’t know. The label “dark energy” is a placeholder. Whether this becomes the name of what is finally discovered remains to be seen.

In 1919 when Rutherford “discovered” the proton, something seemed amiss because the masses of the atoms were too high to consist of just protons and electrons. Something else needed to be there and in 1932, Chadwick, in Rutherford’s research group, discovered the neutron and all of the mass problems were solved. This was a monumental set of discoveries that made sense of all of chemistry and the periodic table, along with myriad other things.

The remaining fundamental question was what held these neutrons and protons together in an atomic nucleus (Rutherford had shown that almost all of the mass of an atom was concentrated in a tiny central location he called a “nucleus.”). The problem was that the protons were positively charged and at the distances apart they were, should have flown apart at high velocity. And they do, except when they get as close as they do when “fused” together to make atomic nuclei. So what caused this massive repulsion to become a massive attraction at very, very short distances. Well, the physicists did what they always did, they invented a new force called the “Strong Nuclear Force.” “Strong” because it overcame a massive electric repulsion, “Nuclear” because it only occurred in nuclei (apparently), and “Force” because it had to be an attractive force to overcome the repulsive force.

This is an illustration of what an atom looks like. You can see that at this level of magnification, the nucleus is still too small to see and, well, the electrons are even smaller.

So, what is this strong nuclear force? We don’t know. How does it work? We don’t know. How can we find it? We don’t know, except that it only operates in atomic nuclei or similar situations. We call it a “fundamental” force of nature because we cannot figure out what it is in terms of other things already understood. (There are quite a few things like this. For example, what is electric charge?)

If there is such a thing as a strong nuclear force, I should suspect that we should find small numbers of neutrons linked together like the protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei are. In fact, it should be easier to make clumps of neutrons because there is no positive-positive charge repulsion to deal with as there is in ordinary atomic nuclei.

So, I went looking for such things and found this reference on Wikipedia. (I know it is not necessarily the best source, but it is better than nothing.)

Here are the references to small numbers of neutrons being bonded like atomic nuclei:

  • Mononeutron: An isolated neutron undergoes beta decay with a mean lifetime of approximately 15 minutes (half-life of approximately 10 minutes), becoming a proton (the nucleus of hydrogen), an electron and an antineutrino.
  • Dineutron: The dineutron, containing two neutrons, was unambiguously observed in 2012 in the decay of beryllium-16. It is not a bound particle, but had been proposed as an extremely short-lived resonance state produced by nuclear reactions involving tritium. It has been suggested to have a transitory existence in nuclear reactions produced by helions (helium-3 nuclei, completely ionized) that result in the formation of a proton and a nucleus having the same atomic number as the target nucleus but a mass number two units greater. The dineutron hypothesis had been used in nuclear reactions with exotic nuclei for a long time. Several applications of the dineutron in nuclear reactions can be found in review papers. Its existence has been proven to be relevant for nuclear structure of exotic nuclei. A system made up of only two neutrons is not bound, though the attraction between them is very nearly enough to make them so. This has some consequences on nucleosynthesis and the abundance of the chemical elements.
  • Trineutron: A trineutron state consisting of three bound neutrons has not been detected, and is not expected to exist[citation needed] even for a short time.
  • Tetraneutron: A tetraneutron is a hypothetical particle consisting of four bound neutrons. Reports of its existence have not been replicated.

So what can we learn from this? Well neutrons are not like protons as neutrons are unstable when isolated whereas protons are very stable when isolated. And while neutrons and protons can be fused together in great profusion, neutrons and neutrons cannot be so fused. So, why does the “strong nuclear force” work in ordinary nuclei but not when just neutrons are involved, which should be easier to bond together?

I am not well educated in this area, but I am suspicious of the strong nuclear force. It sounds like a placeholder concept, to be used until we figure out what is going on.

I favor, right now—as I said I am not very knowledgeable in this field—this view: we do not know why the energies of electrons are quantized in atoms. We know that they are, but not why or how. I think that atomic nuclei are held together by another quantum effect. Simply, when they are fused together, some of the mass of the particles is converted into energy and radiated away (fusion energy). Without that mass, there is not enough mass for the nucleus to exist as separate particles anymore and so there is a quantum restriction on those particles existing. If they don’t exist, where are they? Well, that nucleus is a new single particle made from neutrons and protons, not of neutrons and protons.

I have asked a number of times, if some “mass” is turned into energy when nuclei are fused together, where does this mass come from? Are there lighter neutrons in the nuclei? Lighter protons? Are their other exotic subatomic particles that are involved and they are converted into energy entire? No answer has been forthcoming.

Recently I read that researchers have finally figured out what the constituent substances in a proton are. There are three quarks, but they make up less than 10% of the mass of the proton. The largest fraction of the stuff of protons is “mass energy.” What confines it from getting away I do not know. But think about this. If the protons and neutrons are fused together, maybe they make up a new single particle, containing all of the quarks and other denizens in various energy levels, but some of the mass energy leaves to make the “fusion energy.” There is no mysterious short-range force holding the neutrons and protons together because there are no neutrons or protons there. Just as a proton doesn’t fly apart because of its charge, this single particle doesn’t fly apart because of its charge. There is only one particle, so there is nothing to fly apart.

When energy is added to some nuclei, there is enough mass to make other stable sets of particles, allowing pieces to fly apart (nuclear fission). This additional mass that is added is often in the form of neutrons or even electrons.

Now I am not saying that this is all there is to it. There are many, many details. But quantum restrictions keep electrons from flying apart in atoms and even restricts their energies inside of the atom. (These restrictions are not totally fixed. Under extreme conditions, the energies are different, but they are still restrictions and of the same type.)

This model doesn’t require an amazing force that only operates under very, very short distances and is very, very strong. If there were such a thing, every time two neutrons bumped together, they should stick together until there were whole planets of neutronium, and it is fairly clear that they do not do this.

Yeah, I am probably wrong, but it sure is fun speculating.

August 19, 2020

Preparing Students for the Jobs of Tomorrow and Other Bogus Marketing Claims

Filed under: Education — Steve Ruis @ 9:27 am
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On Quora I got the following question directed my way and I thought to share it and my answer with you to see if you agree. Here’s the question:

Some people say: “Schools are not teaching students the skills they need for their future.” Do you agree?

Schools have never taught what students needed for the future. They have always been designed to teach what was needed for the recent past.

The reason for this is not some conspiracy of teachers’ unions or other nonsense. The reason for this is we are absolutely and pathetically awful at anticipating the skills needed for “the future.”

Think about the impact that personal computers have made upon our lives, everything from desktop computers to smartphones. Who predicted that happening? Who knew with any certainty that that would happen? The answer is “nobody.”

So, an education is designed to do just a few things. To transfer a few practical skills (although we do less and less of this, high schools used to teach woodworking, metal working, automotive mechanics, typing/keyboarding, etc.; some community colleges still do), teach people how to think (not what how), and teach people how to work together.

From that skill set, people are prepared to adapt to the future as it unrolls.

Anyone who claims to “prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow” is delivering a marketing message that has nothing to do with reality, as no one actually knows how to do this … no one!



August 14, 2020

It’s a Shame

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 12:24 pm
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A new post on Ben’s blog “Life After Religion” began this way:

“There is a growing trend in the world, specifically in the US, of attacking anything and everything different than ourselves and our beliefs. If someone says something that we disagree with, instead of saying, “well, that’s just their opinion”, we try to destroy and discredit them. Celebrities and powerful business people are the usual (and easiest) targets. The media calls it Cancel Culture when people use online vehicles for public shaming. I just call it wrong. But it isn’t only the rich and powerful who get shamed for their beliefs. It can, and does, happen to people from all walks of life.”

Unfortunately comments weren’t available for this post so I am doing it here.

My point is this: shaming is a control mechanism of a social species, a vital control mechanism. For example, shaming, or the threat of being shamed in public, had almost removed racist comments from the public sphere . . . until along came the Internet.

By communicating via the Internet, often anonymously, people could go back to making statements they had stopped making in public from fear of shaming. It took a while but the practice of first, flaming, and now shaming has caught up with the breakers of social norms.

But there is a problem. The problem is that the immense communication network which is the Internet created the problem (by allowing trash talking that was anonymous) is now exacerbating the problem by insulating the shamers from feedback. In an openly public forum, if someone undertook to shame another person, and were out of line in that effort, well they would be shamed themselves. (This is a common trope in movies in which some busybody tries to shame our hero and her posse turns against her and she tramps off in high dudgeon, shamed herself.) This close feedback was a control mechanism for the whole system and now it is broken.

Shaming people used to be a useful, possibly necessary, tool for our social species. Now it is broken and possibly cannot be healed.

We will rue its loss.

August 13, 2020

I’ll See Your White Privilege and Raise You One White Catholic Privilege

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:25 pm

Oh dear, if one ever needed to argue why the religions needed to stay out of politics, I give you Providence Rhode Island Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin who lamented on Twitter recently “Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.”

The not-so-good bishop got roasted with words, pictures of Biden meeting the Pope, etc. and even one “I suppose when your definition of Catholic is enabling child abuse then yeah, Joe doesn’t qualify like you do.” This was an allusion to Bishop Thomas Tobin being the auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, one of six Pennsylvania dioceses covered in a scathing grand jury report on the cover-up by Catholic Church officials in Pennsylvania of decades of child abuse by more than 300 priests. He has said the abuses suffered during his time in that position were outside of his purview. (Purview as a Christian?)

But let’s walk back his political statement here and unpack it, shall we? (Oh, we shall.) In the U.S. about 20% of Americans are Catholic. I will just use that as a rough figure as I don’t know whether that number includes children, etc.

Statistically then, in five presidential elections, of the ten Democratic candidates, two would be expected to be Catholics. If they were in different cycles, then that would make two of the cycles with a Catholic candidate and three without. (If they were both in the same cycle, then it would be one with and four without.)

So, where does our bishop get the expectation that there would be many in a row? (I wonder if he was told there would be no math on Twitter?) Hmm. Does he think the presidential elections should be like the Supreme Court, packed with Catholics? (Currently, six of the nine justices are Catholic, if you count Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic and has attended an Episcopal Church. The other three are Jewish. Oh, Jews account for under 2% of the U.S. population, so they should account for 2% of the Supreme Court if it were truly representative, yet they account for 33% of the Supreme Court.)

Another instance of Christian persecution, I gather.

August 12, 2020

Hulk Smash Politics

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:52 am
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President Trump said of his opponent Joe Biden the other day “No religion. No anything. Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God.”

As an Incredible Hulk aficionado in my youth I learned to translate Hulk speak into English. Why the President chose to use Hulk speak is beyond my ken, possibly he was dog whistling iconclasts.

In English, the President said, “Joe Biden is not a True Christian™, he’s no better than an atheist.” The evangelicals he was messaging believe that Catholics, and Joe Biden is a rosary-carrying Catholic who actually goes to church, are not real Christians, that they worship the anti-christ, etc., etc.

Mr. Trump is using a typical political tactic of accusing his opponent of being all of the things he is. Mr. Trump is definitely “not a True Christian™, he’s no better than an atheist.” But Mr. Trump has the support of evangelicals because he said, back in the last election, that if he were elected, then Christianity, e.g. evangelicals, would get true power and that is the basis of their relationship. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with power.

As to Mr. Trump’s tactics, if Mr. Biden falls for them, he will respond to those accusations. If he is smart, he will not. The claim will only resonate with evangelicals who get “the message,” people already voting for Mr. Trump. Other people will see Mr. Biden going to church, fingering his rosary, and being endorsed by many of the religious elites. They will think Mr. Trump’s attacks are, therefore, yet another example of him being bat-shit crazy.

If he did respond, Mr. Biden would be wasting time he could be using to address people who will actually vote for him. He will exhaust people’s attention span for the topic as defined by Mr. Trump, which is what Mr. Trump wants, as this effectively blunts any attack Mr. Biden might make on the fact that Mr. Trump is an atheist pandering to evangelicals. The only thing Mr. Trump worships is . . . Mr. Trump.

So, Mr. Biden’s response should be <cricket, cricket, . . .> This includes his surrogates.

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