Comment roundup 1/18.

In response to my elation at anti-gay pastor Louie Giglio backing out of the inauguration, Patrick swung by with the following comment.

“He’s a dishonest fool who has spread the poison of bigotry to countless other minds.”

Really, JT? This entire post just made you look like a dishonest fool spreading the poison of bigotry. If you had done just slightly more research on this topic you would have realized that:
1. Perceiving a divine mark on something and pointing it out does not make somebody a bigot.
2. The “anti-gay” comments that he was apparently pressured over look like pretty standard (and actually rather polite) Christian repentance language. He didn’t make any political statements. Nor did he say “all gays go to hell.” He simply said that unrepentant homosexuals – like all other unrepentant sinners – will not inherit the kingdom of God. He even presented himself as a sinner in need of repentance. You’ve gotta admit – that is pretty tame stuff.
3. Preferring to step out of a public arena rather than cause a ruckus is exactly the opposite thing that someone “who has spread the poison of bigotry to countless other minds” would be likely to do.
4. He actually does show a picture of what laminin actually looks like during his talks – http://www.gospelinfinity.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/AAA123LamininPhoto1.jpg
so half of this post is bunk right off the bat.
5. He does not offer the image of laminin as a reason for non-Christians to accept Christianity as true. Rather, he shows the picture to encourage those that already believe – using the image to demonstrate God’s control even over the minutia of life. Basically he suggests that if God is holding proteins together at this basic level then he is more than capable of holding a person’s life together as well.

Well I certainly don’t want to look like a dishonest fool in the eyes of Patrick.

Perceiving a divine mark on something and pointing it out does not make somebody a bigot.

Strangest thing, I can’t find anywhere in that post where I said it did.  His anti-gay sentiments certainly make him a bigot.

The “anti-gay” comments that he was apparently pressured over look like pretty standard (and actually rather polite) Christian repentance language. He didn’t make any political statements. Nor did he say “all gays go to hell.” He simply said that unrepentant homosexuals – like all other unrepentant sinners – will not inherit the kingdom of God. He even presented himself as a sinner in need of repentance. You’ve gotta admit – that is pretty tame stuff.

Look what I found: it’s the sermon you were talking about.  He suggests that gay people should try to stop being gay through conversion therapy, which has been panned as psychologically damaging by every credible battery of psychological experts on, well, earth.  He said we need to prevent the “homosexual lifestyle in society”.  Why would we need that unless the “homosexual lifestyle” is somehow malicious to society?  If saying that we need homosexuality out of society is “rather polite Christian repentance language” then Christians need to learn that saying hateful things under the veneer of politeness doesn’t make them any less hateful.

Preferring to step out of a public arena rather than cause a ruckus is exactly the opposite thing that someone “who has spread the poison of bigotry to countless other minds” would be likely to do.

Listen to the above clip.  Stepping away rather than facing criticism for the things Giglio actually said is precisely what someone would do who has said those things.  And do you really think that stepping away from this event suggests that he hasn’t previously said bigoted things?  We have him recorded on fucking audio doing it.

And even if his bigotry wasn’t a good enough reason to deny him a podium in front of all of America, including the gay people, the fact that his laminin argument reveals him to be a mind-boggingly stupid person does.  We should put the best of Americans up on that stage, and Giglio is as close to that standard as Snookie.

He actually does show a picture of what laminin actually looks like during his talks – http://www.gospelinfinity.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/AAA123LamininPhoto1.jpg
so half of this post is bunk right off the bat.

Yeah…

He showed it at a point where it kinda sorta looks like a cross.  This should suggest that kinda sorta is the best he could do to show that laminin is “in the perfect shape of the cross of our lord Jesus Christ.”  I mean, if you take out the wobbliness and the little hook at the bottom that makes it look more like a snow skier in profile.  Personally, I think it looks like Mr. Game and Watch, but that’s because I’m a gamer.  Christians are more likely to see a cross, etc.  If, for some odd reason, there was a religion that worshiped the X-Men, that’s what they’d see.  Humans do this all the time with naturally occurring things: we find similarities to things that are meaningful to us.  It doesn’t mean god put it there, it means there’s a lot of noise in existence and some of it will be similar to others.

What he doesn’t say is that most of the time it looks like this…

Which looks more like a convoluted electric chair (which, had Jesus been told to have died via modern execution, Giglio would have used that image to show god’s control over life’s minutia rather then the former, likely citing that laminin is “in the perfect shape of the chair of our lord Jesus Christ”).  Giglio is the one implying that laminin always looks like a cross and that, even if it did, that it’s distinguishable from a gajillion other religious symbols.  None of that is the case, and wouldn’t mean shit even if it were.

He does not offer the image of laminin as a reason for non-Christians to accept Christianity as true. Rather, he shows the picture to encourage those that already believe – using the image to demonstrate God’s control even over the minutia of life. Basically he suggests that if God is holding proteins together at this basic level then he is more than capable of holding a person’s life together as well.

Very first words of the video: “I’ll tell you tonight how you can know that god will always hold you together.”  Not how you can know that trimeric proteins can hold you together, mind you.  That is an argument for god.  You don’t hear biology teachers say “here’s how we can know how proteins work” as only encouraging those who already believe it.  It’s a statement of truth, and you’re trying to wiggle out of it.

What’s more, pointing to proteins as proof that god holds you together is like pointing to wisdom teeth to show that god wants you to have pain.  You don’t get to point to the natural occurrences that you like and claim supernatural causation, while ignoring all the others.

And even if I grant your position, that he’s showing this to encourage those who already believe, they should feel insulted that the best encouragement he can come up with isn’t something that makes any sense at all.  How can that possibly be encouraging?  It’s an insult to the intelligence of his audience (which ate it up, so it’s a well-placed insult).

I hope none of my friends ever try to encourage me that way.  “Hey JT, you should feel good about yourself because faeries living in your heart will make women like you.”

“But…won’t my compassionate personality, looks, or intellect achieve that?”

“JT, there’s a reason I’m sticking with the faeries.”

The way you’re talking Patrick, this is the gist I should get from Giglio’s sermon:  “Here guys, instead of giving you good, evidence-based reasons to keep believing this, I’m showing you a protein that occasionally looks like a Roman torture device, but also looks like a sword or a caduceus.  I do this because I suspect this will be more encouraging that actual evidence or relevant information.  I want to show you how god prefers to demonstrate his control over the minutia of life in a way that is ambiguous and invisible to almost every human being who ever lived, rather than by, say, removing malaria.  Isn’t god wonderful?”

That’s right.  When considering which minutia of life to modify, god considered the list…

  1. Remove malaria.
  2. Make all proteins in the shape of a cross, and give Bronze Age people microscopes so they can see it.
  3. Make it so that starving, but faithful children, feel no pain.
  4. Make is so that starving, but faithful children also don’t die.  Fuck everybody else who doesn’t buy the story of someone rising from the dead because everybody they’ve ever seen who dies stays that way (because I made them with a brain incapable of believing the seemingly impossible).
  5. Cancer cells, get rid of those.
  6. Change the shape of a single protein so that rarely it arranges itself into the a semblance of the shape of a Roman torture device.  That way people will look at the protein much later and conclude that such a simple shape couldn’t possibly occur in nature, and that I’m holding them together.

So even if Giglio’s intent was only to encourage with a stupid as hell reason rather than make the case with a stupid as hell reason (which I don’t buy for a minute), his reasoning still sucks.

So, let’s review.

1.  He posted a picture of the laminin molecule that only vaguely resembles the technical drawing, and looks nothing like the tightly wadded mass that the laminin protein usually resembles.  But he’s selling it as the shape of the cross.  That’s dishonest.  What’s more, a microbiologist would know this, so I’m also going to call him a liar for saying that a microbiologist turned him onto this.

2.  He’s a fool.  He’s an absolute fool doing what virtually every Christian is doing (including you, Patrick): looking for a better reason to believe something he adopted for other, shittier reasons.  Unfortunately, you tend to look like an idiot (see the laminin sermon) when your conclusion comes first, then you go digging for reasons.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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