Dad on the sticky tentacles of government.

This interaction took place between me and my dad this morning:

He linked me to a piece in my hometown newspaper down in Bumblefuck, Arkansas and boy, was he ever not kidding.  Here’s the article.

And here’s the comment my dad left:

This is the dumbest pile of drivel I have read in a long time.

“While Slikker acknowledged his research leaves room for debate….” As well he should, since correlation and causation are entirely different things. When he shows some sort of causative links between growth of Christian population and a number of positive economic indicators instead of just one, then all he has is coincidental correlation, which doesn’t amount to diddly squat.

“So, pray tell, how do liberals come up with a definition for “ethical” without acknowledgement of a Higher Power?” Silly Susan confuses “liberals” with “atheists and agnostics”. Tens of millions of liberals believe in a higher power. However, any brief survey of ethical philosophy would give her a large number of ethical systems that don’t involve a higher power. “Greatest good of the greatest number” is one. Another is the Confucious theory of ethics: Li, Ri, and Yen….equating to all actions committed by a person to build the ideal society, righteousness, and empathy and understanding others, rather than divinely ordained rules. This question, far from being the “Gotcha!” she believes, only displays her ignorance of ethical systems and her inability to think.

She says, “It’s sad, ironic and completely maddening that the same people who scream about mass shootings at schools won’t tolerate that same school displaying the words “Thou Shalt Not Kill” in plain view.” The schools, however, have no problem with displaying “Don’t kill people” in plain view. Posting the ten commandments in schools (with no other equal religion stuff) is a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state and 200 years of established jurisprudence on that subject. The purpose of posting “Thou shalt not kill” isn’t to stop mass shootings, it is to proselytize her preferred religion. If signs stopped mass shootings, “Don’t kill people” signs would be everywhere. They don’t,and they aren’t.

“Liberalism isn’t just bad social policy; it’s bad economics.” Actually, less religious countries have the best standards of living.

“They believe government, by way of forced charity, should do for us what we should be doing for ourselves and each other.” This is so very interesting because she uses “what we SHOULD be doing for ourselves” to mean “what we ARE or HAVE BEEN doing for ourselves. This, of course, is ridiculous. Government has stepped in because there was a need.

“The helping hands of individuals, not the sticky tentacles of government, are the vessels God intended to be his hands and feet to a hurting world.” If that is what god intended, then he did a sorry job on carrying it out. Again, government stepped in to address existing needs.

“Truth is, things work out better for everyone when we do our best to help ourselves and help each other.” However, when our best isn’t enough, that program doesn’t cut the mustard. Her claim assumes we will in fact do our best, which is a totally unfounded and demonstrably untrue assumption.

“I can’t help but wonder if that is why so many people at the Democrat Party’s national convention booed God last year.” They didn’t “Boo God”. They did boo including religion into a platform for a constitutionally secular government. They did boo special privilege for the majority religion, as they should.

“After all, acknowledgment of a Higher Power leads to accountability and the idea that maybe we exist for some other reason than self-service.” It also leads to inhuman actions based on interpretations of bronze age myths and legends instead of what helps real human beings right now.Can you spell r-e-l-i-g-i-o-u-s w-a-r-s? How about the Inquisition? How about praying while children die from treatable maladies instead of taking them to doctors? How about marginalizing an entire demographic such as homosexuals?

“After all, acknowledgment of a Higher Power leads to accountability and the idea that maybe we exist for some other reason than self-service.” This demonstrates what an evil person Silly Susan Stamper is. If belief in a higher power is the only thing that keeps her from “self service only”, then she is vile and has no empathy. Empathy is all that anyone needs to exist for more than self service, and it speaks horribly of those who don’t understand that….such as Ms. Brown.

Finally, “To clarify, for years now, liberals have sought to expunge all references to God and Judeo-Christian values from American daily life.” This is a bald-faced lie. Liberals have sought to respect the constitutional separation of church and state. You can Hosanna your head off in your home, church, private life, automobile, etc. However, we have a secular government, unlike Iran and what theocrats such as Ms. Brown want us to become. Keep ALL religions out of it, not just the ones of which Ms. Brown is not a member.

Normally the locals are swift to pile on in support of stuff like this.  None of them seem to want to step up to dad though.

The part that really stuck out to me of Stamper-Brown’s article was:

The helping hands of individuals, not the sticky tentacles of government, are the vessels God intended to be his hands and feet to a hurting world.

God created suffering (not for him, just for us) and then gave us the means to assuage it?  Why create suffering in the first place if he didn’t want us to suffer?  Also, why do we hear this from Susan and not from god directly?

Liberalism isn’t just bad social policy; it’s bad economics. Consider a recent study of 100 countries completed by Dutch researcher Dick Slikker. The study, “Correlations between Christian Population Changes and in Sovereign Ratings in Countries for the Period Between 2000 to 2012,” found that in every case studied, God is good for the economy.

While Slikker acknowledged his research leaves room for debate, he concluded: “It cannot be denied that, in every case where there was an increased Christian population, an improved Fitch (long-term credit rating) rating corresponded.”

I tried to look up that study but, funny thing, it wasn’t in any of the academic databases to which I have access.  In fact, the study is so obscure that a google search for “Dick Slikker study” has Susan Stamper-Brown’s article on page 1.  It is obscure because it isn’t a scientific study, it is an excuse for people like Susan Stamper-Brown to tout her preferred religion to people who are gullible enough and scientifically ignorant enough to buy what she is selling simply because they want to hear it.

So I dug around on google and found “the study“.  Here’s the first sentence in the introduction:

A fundamental challenge in this effort was the selection of a measure of the influence of God at a practical level on the conduct of personal and national life within a given country.

This would never fly in academics.  Not because of the inclusion of god, but because he failed to isolate god as a variable.  Even if this study were legit (which it’s not), how do we know it’s not merely the influence of religion, which my yet be false, that produces economic growth?  This is an elementary mistake that no competent researcher would make.  I am but a layman on these matters (though, I think, a moderately well-informed laymen), and even I caught that immediately.  This tells me that no expert eye touched this before it was disseminated to eagerly uncritical people like Susan Stamper-Brown.

Slikker’s “work” contradicts the most reliable polling and studies we have on the issues which are realized in the United Nations Human Development Index.  On the whole, as a nation becomes more religious it does far less well economically.  Just take a look at the extremes.  Of the top 20 nations, two could be considered highly religious (the United States and Israel).  The rest are extremely secular.  Meanwhile the bottom 50 are unwaveringly religious.

Sure, correlation does not equal causation, but this does mean that you cannot point to religion as a sign that a nation will be economically well-to-do.

What’s more, Stamper-Brown talks about how religion (her religion) motivates us to help others.  In my estimation it often inhibits help.  Take Living Hope Ministries, for example, which I did a piece on way back in the day:

I started by clicking the ‘giving to others‘ tab to find a running total of the global population along with a total of people who haven’t heard the gospel.  You can sign up for mission trips to help spread Christianity to impoverished regions.  Under gift for Christ week, you can see where almost all of their social ministry money goes (hint: it rhymes with broselytizing).  There’s also a focus group to reach out to West African countries like Mali and Niger.

The Songhai live across West African countries like Mali and Niger.  Living Hope partners with IMB missionaries in Niger to reach out to the Songhai.  Less than 2% of the country are believers in Jesus Christ.

Niger consistently has one of the lowest ranks of the United Nations’ Human Development Index.  Presently it is 167th of 169 countries.  Mali is 160 out of 169 and has a life expectancy of 49.2 years, largely due to starvation.  Yet, thanks to the influence of religious thinking, here’s a well-funded, large group of people that thinks the main problem with these areas is that less than 2% of the population thinks a dude walked on water 2,000 years ago.

No matter how inept you think government charity might be, it cannot possibly be this bad.

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