Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Herman Cain and the voice of god

Why is politics the only field in which you can admit to hearing voices and people don't immediately assume you've lost your mind?

Thus far, we've had Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann who've told cheering crowds that god wanted them to pursue the presidency.  The latest presumptive Joan of Arc is Herman Cain, who told a meeting of Young Republicans in Atlanta yesterday that god had told him personally to run for president, and in fact had compared him to Moses.

"That's when I prayed and prayed and prayed," Cain told the assembled crowd.  "I'm a man of faith — I had to do a lot of praying for this one, more praying than I've ever done before in my life.  And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses.  'You've got the wrong man, Lord.  Are you sure?'"

And instead of backing away slowly, keeping their eyes on Cain the entire time, which is what I would have done, the Young Republicans ate it up.  Apparently the comment got a wild round of applause.

Myself, I think that whether or not you believe in god, you should always be suspicious of people who claim that god is speaking to them.  For one thing, I'm hard pressed to see how you'd figure out if it was really god, or if you were just having a psychotic break.  For another, don't you find it a little curious that god has given his personal stamp of approval to Perry, Bachmann, and Cain?  Is god having a hard time making up his mind?  Or does he just like tight races?

And, of course, you have the broader problem that the cheering Christians who are thrilled to find out that god is involved in the 2012 presidential election are the same ones who are shocked and horrified to hear that many Muslim terrorists do what they do because they claim that "Allah told them to."  Ridiculous, they say.  There is no Allah, you people are loons.  On the other hand, when Oral Roberts said in 1987 that god had told him that if he didn't raise eight million dollars in three months, god would "call him home," the money poured in.

He raised nine million dollars in three months.  And didn't die.  Hallelujah!

I find the whole thing baffling and not a little troubling.  Being an atheist, I would, of course.  But even if you're religious, isn't it a little worrisome?  I would think that the long, nasty history of people doing horrible things while claiming that god had directed their actions would scare even the most devout.  Then, how do you know which, if any, of the three current candidates are telling the truth, so you know which one god wants you to vote for?  In the end, most people probably will do their own version of asking what god wants them to do, and cast their votes for the one whose politics most closely align with their own -- resulting in the rather amusing conjecture that god has an opinion on whether we should dismantle the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, and one other department that will come to me in a minute.

So, anyway, that's the news from the American political scene, which once again is providing ample fodder for eye-rolling.  But I think I'll wrap this up, because I think god is telling me that the coffee is ready.


  1. "They won't catch us; we're on a mission from God." ~ Elwood Blues

  2. I can't read Mr. Herman's name without thinking of the real Herman Kahn, worked for RAND, wrote the spell-binding 'Thinking the Unthinkable', etc.
    And although it pales by contrast to Kahn's nuclear 'exchanges', the nightmare of US elections with some many modestly-endowed intellectual featherweights, each of whom, like Churchill said, "have a great deal to be modest about", makes me sick unto despair even to read about third-hand.
    More to the point, I'd be sadly wrong to claim that Jews never announce G-d's personal stamp on their actions; they do, and most often the actions so blessed are ones better left undone.

    What was that black&white TV show where three men claimed, each week, to be Mr {Name here}? Truth or Consequences?