L.B.: The Talking Dog

Left Behind, 459-461

“Thank you gentlemen,” Nicolae Carpathia says, after mind-whammying a room full of dignitaries into thinking that the double-homicide they all just saw him commit was actually a suicide/murder committed by one of his victims.

“While Ms. Durham phones security, I will be polling you for your version of what happened here.”

This doesn’t seem like a smart move on Nicolae’s part.

Imagine, for example, that you have gone to see a carnival show just off the Midway at the County Fair. It was billed as a Talking Dog Act, so you went in with a skeptical attitude, expecting some kind of bad ventriloquism. Instead, you find yourself amazed by what you have just seen: a Labrador retriever reciting the Gettysburg Address. You’re ready to jump out of your chair, to go tell everyone you know that they’ve got to come see this dog. It can really freakin’ talk.

But the show isn’t over yet. “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,” the M.C. says, “I will be polling you for your version of what happened here.”

And as you’re sitting there, trying to figure out why anyone might do such a thing, the M.C. begins working his way through the audience, one by one, asking each person to tell him what they just saw. And then you hear each person in turn repeating the same key words, almost reciting the same description of that amazing talking dog. It wouldn’t take too long before you began to suspect, and then to realize and accept, the truth: This wasn’t a Talking Dog Act at all, but rather a Hypnotist Act, and you all fell for it.

Similarly, Nicolae’s one-by-one “polling” here would also have to seem suspiciously odd to everyone in the conference room. They might have fully accepted the false version of events that Nicolae implanted in their minds, but now, watching him scurrying around the room double-checking with everyone, they’d have to start to wonder why he’s so worried that they all get their story straight.

Buck Williams has a unique vantage point for watching this unfold. He’s there in the room, but he’s got divine immunity from the mojo. Watching as Nicolae polls the others, Buck ought to be wondering what this means. Is Nicolae double-checking because he’s not fully certain that his mind-whammy worked? Or is this one-by-one questioning itself the final part of the whammying process, like some kind of sealer-coat? Either way, Buck could be learning something here about the Antichrist’s powers and how they function. Being Buck, of course, he doesn’t wonder about any of that.

Meanwhile Hattie, as instructed, has gone to “phone security.” This also seems odd in that “security” is already there. The security guard, I suppose, can’t phone his colleagues himself because he has to wait for his turn to be “polled” by Nicolae. Hattie, being a weak and impressionable woman, doesn’t need to get polled:

Hattie ran to the phone and could barely make herself understood in her hysteria. “Come quick! There’s been a suicide and two men are dead! It was awful! Hurry!”

And then it’s on with a page and a half of the one-by-one polling. The point of this slowly around the table business is to ratchet up the suspense as Buck worries what to say when Nicolae gets to him:

Buck’s body felt like lead, knowing that Carpathia would eventually get to him and that he was the only one in the room not under Nicolae’s hypnotic power. But what if Buck said so? Would he be killed next? Of course he would! He had to be. Could he lie? Should he?

He prayed desperately as Carpathia moved from man to man, making certain they had all seen what he wanted them to see and that they were sincerely convinced of it.

I can’t imagine that either God or the Devil is pleased with the lack of faith displayed by their respective minions here. Nicolae seemed so confident a moment ago when he was sticking the gun into Stonagal’s ear, but now he has to double- and triple-check, like he doesn’t believe he’s really the supernatural Prince of Lies. For his part, Buck seems to have forgotten that he once stood at ground zero, watching a nuclear war explode harmlessly over his head. Now he’s petrified by the prospect of having to speak to a no-longer-armed Carpathia.

Silence, God seemed to impress upon Buck’s heart. Not a word!

Buck was so grateful to feel the presence of God in the midst of this evil and mayhem that he was moved to tears. When Carpathia got to him Buck’s cheeks were wet and he could not speak. He shook his head and held up a hand. “Awful, was it not, Cameron? The suicide that took Mr. Todd-Cothran with it?”

Buck could not speak and wouldn’t have if he could. “You cared for and respected them both, Cameron, because you were unaware that they tried to have you killed in London.” And Carpathia moved on to the guard.

So Buck is verklempt in the Spirit and thereby saved (pretty much the same thing that happens at some revival meetings). He escapes his dramatic confrontation with the enemy by crying wordlessly.

That dramatic confrontation fizzles in part because the authors weren’t as concerned with Buck’s question, “Would he be killed next?” as they were with the ones that followed it, “Could he lie? Should he?” The real dramatic tension in this scene, as far as the authors were concerned, had to do with the ethical dilemma of whether it’s ever OK to lie, even to the Antichrist, even to save your own life or the lives of others.* The answer, as this scene demonstrates, is No. (A tearful silence that has the effect of deceiving Nicolae, however, is OK, so apparently lies of omission don’t count.)

And then suddenly the cops arrive. I think. It’s hard to say for sure, since Jenkins keeps interchangeably referring to them as “security.” That’s not a word we Americans usually use to refer to police officers, but here’s Jenkins:

… security rushed into the room. Everyone talked at once as Carpathia retreated to a corner, sobbing over the loss of his friends. A plainclothesman asked questions …

That plainclothesman is later confirmed to be a “detective sergeant” in the NYPD.

I’m not really certain how jurisdiction works at U.N. headquarters — a place that’s both part of New York City and yet also international territory. Jenkins doesn’t seem sure how that jurisdiction works either and, unfortunately for him, he’s the one writing this scene. Rather than doing any research into who would actually respond to this situation — U.N. officials? New York’s finest? the FBI? Blackwater? — he just mumbles and fudges his way through, seeming to treat the U.N. as just another routine crime scene in an episode of Law and Order.

Then again, Jenkins didn’t really have to research exactly how such jurisdictional matters are handled at the actual United Nations in the actual world we live in, because his story isn’t set in this world. His story starts with a hastily rendered version of this world, but then he blows this world to smithereens. Twice. First there was The Event — the disappearance of two billion people leaving behind a mystified, traumatized and childless planet. Then — almost as sudden — there was the offhanded creation of a One World Government and the imposition of a single currency, language and religion on all the world’s people.

Maybe that explains the interchangeable use of “police” and “security” here — the U.N./OWG security force has already merged with the NYPD as part of Nicolae Carpathia’s global army. But if that’s the case, why does the god-emperor of all the world need to bother with the fake sobbing, putting on a show to keep the cops off his trail?

Buck departs just as the police arrive, but before he goes, let’s just consider the scenario we’re faced with here on page 461: A shot rings out at U.N. headquarters. Two powerful men are found dead in an apparent, if logistically unlikely, suicide/murder. A New York City detective arrives …

That ought to be a great story. I’d want to read that story. It promises mystery, excitement and international intrigue.

Yet in the hands of LaHaye and Jenkins, this scenario produces none of these. They’ve accomplished something truly remarkable here. By adding the Antichrist and the End of the World into the mix, they’ve made their story less interesting than it otherwise might have been.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* To appreciate the full dynamic here one needs to understand the role that the phrase “situational ethics” plays in the evangelical subculture of L&J’s target audience. Situational ethics is a frequently invoked but vaguely defined bogeyman, entailing roughly the opposite of “moral absolutes” (which is itself a frequently invoked by vaguely defined concept). To believe in situational ethics, in this subculture, entails believing that there isn’t really any such thing as right or wrong, true or false. It means being groundless, godless and “relativistic” (a closely related bogeyman). Having Buck lie to the Antichrist would seem to the authors to be an endorsement of “situational ethics” and therefore the equivalent of saying that there is no God and the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales, etc., etc. L&J are likely remembering the controversy that surrounded The Hiding Place. That movie told the true story of a family of righteous gentiles in occupied Holland who — gasp! — sometimes lied to the Nazis to protect the Jews they were rescuing. OMG! Situational ethics!

  • Some ‘Splainin’ To Do

    I always thought that relativistic ethics were ethics traveling at .99c

  • pepperjackcandy

    Is this the early 20th century male version of what later, in the Narnia books, takes Susan out of the “friends of Narnia” group?
    Ummm . . .
    No.
    She doesn’t make it because she loses her faith.
    I’m pretty sure these (cribbed from Wikipedia) are the exact words she uses in relation to Narnia (per Eustace, at least), “Fancy you still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.”

  • Kendo_Bunny

    Logistically impossible. Two people can not be killed with a single .38 hollow-point bullet, particularly not one shot into a skull. If the gun was found and the bullets examined, then it would tell any person familiar with guns that the impossible occurred. One hollow-point was fired, yet two people lie dead. One has a head wound, one, presumably, has a chest wound. Somehow there is residue from the single bullet in both men- which could not happen.
    That could make for a great opening to a supernatural thriller. One of the wounds is impossible, because there was only one gun and only one hollow-point bullet was fired. And yet both men are obviously dead from bullet wounds- presumably both with the shrapnel from the hollow-point expanded in both of their bodies. Everyone in the room is claiming they saw two shots fired, but the gun clearly shows only one shot has been fired, because there would be more powder on the gun if it was fired, re-loaded, and fired again to create a mystery. Also, while everyone in the room is swearing they saw two shots fired, only one was heard in the rest of the building.

  • Jeff

    From the Saddleback thread:
    Therefore, legally, any government form must be made available to you in a language you speak
    Not so. Here in Los Angeles County, forms must be available if a certain percent of the population speak a specific language. So we have to have forms in Tagalog, Lao, and, most fun, Arabic and Farsi, but not Basque or Urdu.
    ===============================
    With or without cheese?
    Drenched in butter. No cheese for you!
    =================================
    the steam starts rising from the overboiled greens, soggy carrots, and distintegrating onions.
    Yum yum! But no cheese butter!
    =================================
    As I imagine poor little Buck with his tear-stained cheeks staring silently at Nicky I’m picturing Puss in Boots doing his scared little kitty shtick in Shrek 2.
    Well, we’ve known Buck is a pussy for quite some time!
    (Normally, I hate “pussy” and “wussy” as insults, but here it kinda has to be used!)
    =============================
    I also don’t believe in “sin” in the same way Christians do; it’s more about the impact on others and the degree of harm caused rather than God Said Don’t Do That.
    I don’t believe in “sin” at all. People can do “evil”, but it’s not a “sin”. But that’s just me.
    Honesty is incredibly fucking important.
    I dunno. It’s important, but so are other considerations of “not hurting people”. I think that lies tend to come back to hurt the teller and the listener more than the truth, but honesty must be tempered with compassion.

  • lou

    L&J are likely remembering the controversy that surrounded The Hiding Place. That movie told the true story of a family of righteous gentiles in occupied Holland who — gasp! — sometimes lied to the Nazis to protect the Jews they were rescuing. OMG! Situational ethics!
    I remember our Southern Baptist fundamentalist-as-you can-get church sending all of us tweens and teens to go see the Hiding Place and I don’t recall that being a controversy (and our church loved us some Hal Lindsay). Not that it wasn’t, but it wasn’t among all fundy types.
    But I love that there could be a Thou Shalt Not Lie no matter if someone dies ethical stand, but Jerry Falwell can play pitch man to a video tape claiming the Clintons are murderers and my fundie relatives can forward all sorts of emails containing lots of lies and rumors about Obama. They apparently are not up on their Paul admonishments about rumormongering.

  • Jeff

    *typing while lying on left side*
    How is The Sprout doing, anyway?
    ==============================
    She replied by saying “At least you can’t see yourself from the back. Your butt is huge.”
    I can see a good friend saying this with a twinkle in her eye (but I love the snark!). A casual friend, not so much.
    ========================
    Part of the penance would be that the guilty party cannot seek other human aide in bearing the guilt.
    Ugh. The guilty party shouldn’t tell to avoid responsibility, but getting ANY human aide. EPIC FAIL in morality!
    ==========================
    I like songs that are, among other things, a long list of references
    Does REM’s “End of the World” count?
    ==============================
    Actually, I seem to recall at least one Greek tragedy playing heavily with such a theme.
    Oedipus, for certain.
    ==============================
    Now new and improved (with extra awesome)
    Very awesome. Thanks!

  • cjmr

    How is The Sprout doing, anyway?
    Seems to be trying to come out a bit too early, hence the lying on the side for much of the day bit.

  • Jeff

    Seems to be trying to come out a bit too early
    “Hey, I wanna play with the Slacktivists, too!”
    Hope everything continues to go well.

  • Fraser

    Hawker, I remember reading about a guy who took a polygraph test for a security position. One of the test-your-reactions questions was “Have you ever driven drunk?” and he replied, truthfully, that he hadn’t. Since the examiner believed that everyone drives drunk at some point, he classified the subject’s physical responses as “lie”–and so of course, all the guy’s true statements (he doesn’t steal from employers, he doesn’t cheat on his wife, he doesn’t use drunks) were classified as lies too.
    2)On multiple spare antichrists: This seems like a great deal for RTCs. If they can’t prove Obama is the antichrist (or whoever the want to attack) they can brand him as an antichrist in waiting.
    3)McJulie, I have several times convinced people that I was born with a vestigial second head (under my left shoulder blade). I’m always surprised when they believe it.
    4)Once saved, always saved? I wonder if this applies to gays or people who get abortions? I’ve often noticed that “Hell houses” invariably show people damned because of doing stuff like that rather than on whether or not they said the magic words.
    5)Accents: Michael Caine said in his autobiography that they had to redo the voicetrack of ALFIE for American release because his Cockney was so thick it would have been incomprehensible.
    6)Aunursa, so how is omnipotence defined theologically?
    7)On truth hurting more than lies: I was telling someone recently that I’d much sooner have a truthful turndown from a prospective date than a false one–”I don’t find you attractive” rather than “I’m just too busy” (assuming the latter to be false)–but it doesn’t have to be too blunt (“I don’t find you attractive” is also preferable to “You remind me of a leprous horror spawned in the nightdark depths of hell and kissing you would make me vomit” even if the latter is accurate).
    8)Fiction as lying: I’ve read that one of the criticisms John Chrysostom made of theater was that it requires actors to fake stuff they don’t really feel, and so was a form of falsehood.
    9)On Susan: Last Battle says that all she cares about is lipstick, nylon and boys–or something like that–and implies this is what led her to lose faith in Narnia (I notice the two movies play her up as the one least comfortable with their trips, presumably to make this more plausible if they reach seven)

  • chaos_engineer

    As to equivocation vs. lying: There’s some wonderfully subtle stuff going on in this scene.
    I think they’re taking the position that lying is always wrong, even if the question is “Are you hiding any Jews in the basement?”. It’s morally correct to answer yes: If God wants that Jewish family to escape, then somehow they’ll escape. If the Nazis kill them, then that’s a sin that the Nazis committed and they’ll be the ones that pay the price for it. And maybe one of the Nazis will be impressed by your honesty, have an epiphany, and decide to stop being evil.
    Obviously an equivocation with the intent to deceive is just as bad as a lie. But, what if it’s a really stupid equivocation that a child could see through? What if the only way it could work is if God temporarily made the listener stupid enough to fall for it?
    That happens in the fallout from this scene: Nicky is surprised when Buck leaves the room early, and suspects that Buck has resisted his mind-control powers. In order to contain the damage, he makes everyone else forget that Buck was in the room.
    The next time he sees Buck, he tests the mindwipe by asking “Why did you not attend the conference?” and Buck responds with the non-answer “That whole day was a blur”. I think that falls safely into the “really stupid equivocation” category, and only the Hand of God spared Buck’s life at that point.

  • hapax

    Fraser, for the love of all that is holy, please let us not re-start the Susan Wars! I’d rather argue about abortion — just as likely to cause impotent fury and invective hurling, just as unlikely to change any minds, but at least it’s about an issue with impact on real human lives.
    I have several times convinced people that I was born with a vestigial second head (under my left shoulder blade). I’m always surprised when they believe it.
    I used to tell people the interesting etymological history of the month name “February”, which I swiped from someone-or-other. It seems that it was named for a hapless aristocrat of the later Roman Empire, Lucius Feb, who spent an obscene amount of money trying to purchase immortality by getting a month named for himself, like July and August for the distinguished emperors. Alas, the Senate was only willing to sell the short, dreary, and pestilential second month, which forever causes his name to be cursed. You’d be surprised how many people are nodding along with me at this point (some even saying, “yeah, I remember something about that”) until I add the coda that Lucius had offered to double his price to get the lovely month of June instead, but alas the old goats of the Senate had already promised it to his wife, the curvaceous, charming, and generous June Marie Feb…

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    And finally, FWIW, I think a more likely problem within fundy circles is the failure to recognize that fiction isn’t true. — Jon
    In one of the Father Brown mysteries (“Dagger with Wings”, I think), G.K.Chesterton refers to a pathological liar (the bad guy of the piece) as a perversion of a storyteller, “speaking false fact instead of true fiction”.

  • http://www.geocities.com/aunursa aunursa

    Fraser: Aunursa, so how is omnipotence defined theologically?
    These two articles explain it:
    Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot move it?
    Question–aren’t you sorta misusing the term Omnipotence?

  • Caravelle

    3)McJulie, I have several times convinced people that I was born with a vestigial second head (under my left shoulder blade). I’m always surprised when they believe it.
    Why shouldn’t they ? It happens. (if you go on to show them a completely unscarred shoulderblade, then I agree it becomes more surprising. But hey, if they don’t know anything about medicine…).
    This idea that if you don’t assume bad faith every time you’re told something incredible, then you’re a gullible idiot annoys me.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    But that’s precisely a straw man. I don’t know of any absolutionists who define “lie” to include fiction. You are referring to people who, for the most part, do not exist. — Aunursa
    I know of one who definitely existed — the guy who wrote all those schizophrenically-dense marginal notes in the Dake’s Annotated Bible. He claimed that NONE of the Parables of Jesus were fictional; all were actual incidents, cited word-for-word as-happened using Christ’s Divine Omnipotence. His logic ran that if any of them were fictional, then God would be lying. Since God cannot lie, then every parable and metaphor in the Bible were literally true, totally-accurate recounts of actual people and occurrences.
    And my writing partner (a burned-out country pastor) ran into other examples during the Harry Potter Witch Panic. He lost it when some of the anti-Harry Christians gloated about Harry Potter standing before the Great White Throne before burning in Hell for Witchcraft. Ended up posting a LiveJournal rant about how his God was smart enough to distinguish between real people and fictional characters, sorry about yours.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    the offhanded creation of a One World Government and the imposition of a single currency, language and religion on all the world’s people.
    Did they specify the currency, language and religion at any point?
    — Hagsrus
    From previous examples in Slack’s journey through Volume 1 of 22, NO. Jenkins has no idea of how to use description for versimilitude; he only refers to such matters by name (such as “the badge of the Carpathia regime (TM)”, “Global Community HQ”, “Palace of Carpathia”, etc) without any description. Other commenters have mentioned that even after reading through, they have no idea what any of the settings look like; they’re never described, only mentioned in passing as if “Everybody Knows That”. Given those examples, my guess is the currency is called “One World Currency (TM)” and the language “One World Language (TM)”. Totally generic Brand Name Fever.
    The religion, though, DOES have a name: “Enigma Babylon One World Faith”. Now I don’t know about you, but if I was starting a new religion, I wouldn’t name it that. I don’t think I could come up with a name that crappy. That is a name only a PMD-RTC could have come up with, to deliberately fulfill an End Time Prophecy.

  • http://www.geocities.com/aunursa aunursa

    Did they specify the currency, language and religion at any point?
    Global Community Dollar. Bills are informally called “Nicks.” Supposedly each of the ten regions has its own language.

  • http://www.geocities.com/aunursa aunursa

    Enigma Babylon One World Faith
    This new syncretistic, global religion accepts any religion and faith in the world, claiming equality. The “Global Community Faith” is quickly renamed “Enigma Babylon One World Faith” and Cardinal Peter Mathews is named Pontifex Maximus of Enigma Babylon One World Faith by Nicolae Carpathia.
    Enigma Babylon’s slogan is “God is in all. God is all. We are God.” which appears to be reminiscient to pantheistic universalism.
    The faith believes that any way to God is a valid way and that people can follow their “spirit guide”, similar to Universalism. The scholars of Enigma Babylon say that they accept all of the sacred writings (the Bible, the Torah, the Qur’an, etc.), but they truly believe that many things in the holy books are symbolic or allegorical, misinterpretations or metaphors.
    The world eagerly accepts the newly-formed world religion, but after the Global Gala (see Global Community), Enigma Babylon One World Faith is abolished and supplanted with “Carpathianism”, a one-world religion worshipping Nicolae Carpathia himself, with Carpathia’s majordomo Leon Fortunato as its Most High Reverend Father.

  • http://www.geocities.com/aunursa aunursa

    Headless Unicorn Guy: That is a name only a PMD-RTC could have come up with, to deliberately fulfill an End Time Prophecy.
    Kinda like choosing “New Babylon” as the global capital. Or choosing to vacation in Bakersfield. No one would ever do such a thing except as a deliberate means to fulfill prophecy.

  • Caravelle

    From aunursa’s first link :
    To demonstrate my point further and to answer David’s question, I will give various definitions of omnipotence as found in various theologians. First, however, I would like to point out that the Oxford English Dictionary (if not some of the less authoritative available dictionaries) does recognize a specifically Christian and theological use of the term.
    Here are three definitions given in _The Compact Edition Of The Oxford English Dictionary, Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically, Volume I A-O_, Oxford University Press:
    Omnipotent,
    1. Strictly said of God (or of a deity) or His attributes: Almighty or infinite in power.
    2. gen. All-powerful; having full or absolute power or authority; having unlimited or very great power, force, or influence; exceedingly strong or mighty. b. humourously. Capable of anything; unparalleled; utter, arrant; huge, ‘mighty’.
    3. absol. or as sb. An omnipotent being; spec. (with the) the Almighty God.
    The first definition is the one used in Christian theology. It is not the same as “Capable of anything”.

    Yeah, that makes the Christian definition totally not circular at all. (God is omnipotent. Omnipotence : that thing God is)
    Of course this isn’t fair, that quote is taken from the very beginning of the person’s argument, I assume he picks up steam later; I’ll read it tomorrow. Either way it illustrates kind of the problem I have with omnipotence and God : any theological definition of omnipotence is basically an attempt to have God be as powerful as can be achieved while remaining logically consistent. Which means you’re going to end up with lots of different conceptions of what “omnipotence” can mean, and which one to pick will seem a bit arbitrary to those who don’t have a dog in the fight.
    Oh what the hell, let’s go on reading :
    “Can God make two plus two equal six? This is a question which is frequently asked by skeptics and by children. We reply by asking how much power it would take to bring about this result. The absurdity of the question is not too difficult to see. Would the power of a ton of dynamite make two plus two equal six? Or the power of an atom bomb? Or of a hydrogen bomb? When these questions are asked it is readily seen that the truth of the multiplication tables is not in the realm of power. Power has nothing to do with it. When we assert that God is omnipotent, we are talking about power. In the discussion of the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable truth of God we shall show that truth is of the very essence of His character but not in the realm of power; and we shall consider those Scriptures which plainly declare that ‘it is impossible for God to lie’ (Heb. 6:18)”
    Basically, omnipotence is the power to do anything that power can do. Seriously. And no, I haven’t seen “power” defined anywhere other than in the part I quoted and that definition hardly seems serious; he’s obviously talking to children. (I like the concept of God as the ultimate most powerful bomb evah)
    I love this though : “A more satisfactory definition has been provided by A. Kenny: omnipotence is ‘the possession of all logically possible powers which it is logically possible for a being with the attributes of God to possess.”
    Yes, that is indeed a more satisfactory definition; you’ve basically defined God’s “omnipotence” as “omnipotence that’s logically consistent”. Wow, using that definition God is like, omnipotent, and it’s still logically consistent ! Nailed it !
    Good boy, have a cookie.
    Sorry for the snark.

  • SchrodingersDuck

    According to Wikipedia, they never come with one world language as such – instead, each of the 10 regions is given a language (I’m guessing the most common one, although Lord knows what they did in areas like Europe and Asia with oodles of different tongues), while the currency is the Global Community Dollar, which are popularly nicknamed “Nicks”.
    Wikipedia appears to be rather Left Behind crazy – they have articles for just about every obscure character from the series, an article about the Global Community, an article on Engima Babylon etc. etc. and one on Carpathianism, and even an article on The Tribulation Force themselves. I dread to think what a dedicated LB wiki would be like.
    (“The unnamed female cab driver is a cab driver who shows Rayford the car park. Little is known about her except that she is female and drives a cab. This article is a stub. You can help LBPedia by expanding it“)

  • SchrodingersDuck

    I dread to think what a dedicated LB wiki would be like.
    Alas I spoke too soon. The horror is somewhat ameliorated in that most of the articles are just copied across from Wikipedia, only one active user, and their article on Nicolae reads, in its entirety “The Antichrist – later Satan himself”.
    So the scale of Wiki Left Behind coverage goes:
    Conservapedia (though oddly, their coverage of the video game is HUGE) < Left Behind Wikia < Uncyclopedia < good ol' Wikipedia. Which is the exact opposite of the way it should be in any sane world.

  • SchrodingersDuck

    Damn, that should read:
    Alas I spoke too soon. The horror is somewhat ameliorated in that most of the articles are just copied across from Wikipedia, only one active user, and their article on Nicolae reads, in its entirety “The Antichrist – later Satan himself”.

  • http://www.geocities.com/aunursa aunursa

    Caravelle: What do you think of the other article on omnipotence?

  • Amaryllis

    Oh well, Conservapedia:
    As is common with Christian works that become successful, [Left Behind] was given poor reviews by many critics for its Christian-specific themes instead of being more generic and all inclusive, a standard that is seldom applied to non-Christian works.
    Just in case you thought the poor reviews were due to the crappy writing, the implausible plotting, the cardboard characterization, the weird theology…No. It was the double standard.
    But then, that’s Conservapedia. Remember our discussion of the RTC/Prairie Muffin view of Little Women? Here’s Conservapedia’s entire entry on Louisa May Alcott:
    Louisa May Alcott ( November 29, 1832-March 6, 1888) is the famous author of Little Women, the classic two-part tale of 4 little girls growing up to become wives and mothers in 19th century New England, as well as it’s sequels, “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys”.
    She was very active in the Women’s suffrage movement, and was also a Abolitionist.
    She never married.

    And what more could you need to know?

  • Ecks

    Aunursa, thanks for the links, but whole omnipotent God thing is throwing me for a loop. I found them rather frustratingly vague, to be honest. Like, one of the pages says:
    “A more satisfactory definition has been provided by A. Kenny: omnipotence is ‘the possession of all logically possible powers which it is logically possible for a being with the attributes of God to possess.”
    That seems more like a tautological answer than a satisfactory one to me. “God can do everything except the things that God can’t do!” Yeah… Strangely enough, I, too, can do everything except the things that it is impossible with my attributes to do. Does that mean I’m omnipotent as well?
    Breaking it down, there seems to be a consensus that God can’t make 2+2=6, or change the past. But he can create something out of nothing. That seems equally impossible to me! How can you turn nothing at all, no atoms, no molecules, into billions of molecules. How is that different than 0+0=4,000,000? It If he can create an object out of nothing, then why can’t he move an object yesterday? I don’t see how it is particularly more or less logically impossible.
    Or is God conceived of as a being who’s only power is to create and manipulate force and matter? So he can’t change math, he has limited control over time (he can see forwards, backwards, stop time, but not go backwards – because THAT is impossible and the others somehow aren’t), but when it comes to light, heat, matter, he can create it, move it, twist it, warp it, dissipate it, tweak neurons in sophisticated ways, so long as he stays within the bounds of *most* of the laws of physics? Right?
    Is this because we humans are used to seeing force and matter manipulated, and we’re used to running up against limits, so God is just conceived of as one of us, but without the normal limits we’re used to?
    So to use this heuristic, we’d say that God cannot knock a pool ball into all the holes at once, because we can’t imagine a person ever being able to do that. But he presumably could make exact copies of the ball and put one in each pocket, and even do that instantaneously, because this is an action we could imagine a human actually doing, given enough time and resources, and God is basically a human with infinite time and resources?
    I don’t mean to be snide, I just speak atheist-ese as a first language, and so I’m inevitably stuck describing religious concepts in atheist words, which has them coming out sounding rather odd.
    As a last point, one of your articles has an atheist argue that “if I can lie and God can’t, then how come I can do something that God can’t”? The intelligent response is:
    The inability to lie or do cruelty or be treacherous or to will Godself out of existence is generally understood (in the technical literature) NOT as a liability/limitation, but as the ABSENCE of a liability/limitation. Hence it is inaccurate to phrase it in a ‘limitation’ form. [Sorta like "God doesn't have the ability to forget something": this isn't a limitation at all, but the absence of a limitation.]
    Ok, so I get that, I do. But I don’t think the ability to lie is strictly a limitation. We’ve just talked about all the good uses of lying already in this thread. Or you can take what PTerry calls “lies to children,” You tell them a simplified form of the truth because that is all they can handle then, and then fill in the details later. Like you tell them “the earth is round.” We know it’s a lie when we say it, it’s actually a slightly squashed ball shape, but that would just cause confusion, you just tell them the simple lie first, then once they’ve got their head well wrapped around it you build them up. This seems like an ability to lie as a useful and constructive social skill, not a deficiency. If I can tell people what they need to hear, even when it’s a known inaccuracy at the time, and God can’t, then surely I’ve come out ahead on that one.

    No one would ever do such a thing except as a deliberate means to fulfill prophecy.
    To be fair, Jesus seems to spend good stretches of the new testaments doing fairly random things “which fulfilled the prophecy that XYZ”.


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