Saturday, April 30, 2005

Proof of God?

A dumbass Protestant preacher in the Georgia home of a missing bride-to-be says that he and his congregation prayed to Jesus to grant their collective wish that the woman was only missing because of premarital jitters, and God "answered our prayers." Seems that Jennifer Wilbanks, the missing woman, just couldn't cope with the thought of a big wedding, where 1,200 eyes would be checking her out, so she took off via bus and ended up in Albuquerque before relenting and informing authorities of a ruse she had concocted about her "kidnapping." Peace officers and search parties "turned over probably every leaf in the city" of Duluth. Imagine how silly they felt when Ms. Wilbanks turned up unharmed, announcing that she's mislead everyone and that she was OK.

I would like to be the first to suggest that Jennifer immediately dye her hair blonde and take all of her blouses and coats to a tailor, requesting that inflatable shoulder pads be sewn into the clothing so that she would not hurt herself when bobbing her head from side to side in answer to the simplest questions, saying, "I don't know!" The only person more clueless than Jennifer is the man who was to preside over her wedding, the aforementioned Protestant pastor. Apparently, he obtained his D.D. without studying logical fallacies since, in his pronouncement about prayer for Jennifer's survival, he resorted to one of the most common, and the one most often exposing weaknesses in the arguments for the existence of God.

It's called post hoc ergo propter hoc, which means "after this, therefore because of this." It's the error of assuming that just because Event B follows Event A, then Event B was caused by Event A. A wonderful illustration that comes to mind is that of the aboriginal tribe whose Emperor died following an eclipse of the sun. From then on, the tribe believed that when a solar eclipse occurred, their king would die, and when this prophecy failed to come through, the tribe decided to kill their king with each eclipse the better to please the gods. Same principle at work in the Duluth minister's thinking. That Jennifer turned up unharmed in Albuquerque explaining that she concocted her own kidnapping because she had cold feet over the impending wedding proves nothing so much as the gullibility of the preacher and his flock.

Interestingly, although she did not kill anyone and lie about how the victims met their unjust deserts, Ms. Wilbanks succumbed to a variation of the implied racist claims of a predecessor in stupidity, Susan Smith, who drove her two small sons into a lake, then claimed that the children were kidnapped by "a black man." Jennifer Wilbanks told authorities that one of her kidnappers was "a Hispanic male." If she wanted to invent a kidnapping, why did the perp have to be a Mexican-American? (Or Cuban-American, or Puerto Rican-American -- you get the idea.) Stupidity, blind faith, and racism have much in common.

You have to forgive me, I am reading Thomas Henry Huxley's essays on agnosticism and agreeing with them wholeheartedly. Huxley thought that religion is bunk. As the late Anton Szandor LaVey (or someone) said, "The only god there is is the one between your ears." Of course, in Jennifer's case, it could be argued that there is no god because there is obviously nothing between her ears.

No comments: