January 4, 2007

Pat Robertson Acknowledges Fallibility - But Whose?

Christian extremist Pat Robertson is at it again. This time, he's claiming that his god told him to expect a massive terrorist attack late in 2007. There are many things about this story worth discussing. For example, DefCon focuses on the possibility that this and many other statements by Robertson over the years reflect the pro-rapture stance of many Christian extremists. Essentially, they want the world to end as soon as possible so that their Jesus zombie will return. I'd like to examine a different part of this story which I find even more interesting.

Regarding his regular god-based predictions over the years, Robertson acknowledges, "I have a relatively good track record. Sometimes I miss." Wait just a second! What is going on here? If I understand him correctly, Robertson's god is supposed to be infallible. He does not make mistakes.

This suggests that the one making periodic mistakes is Robertson himself. But if his god is actually speaking to him, what sorts of mistakes are these? Is it that he doesn't accurately recall the details of what his god tells him? How arrogant would one have to be to forget something so important? Perhaps the mistakes involve willful distortion of the information on Robertson's part. But wouldn't his god become angry with him if he were to intentionally distort this information? Why would he risk making that sort of enemy? If Robertson cannot be trusted to accurately express what his god told him, why would anyone take his predictions seriously? They'd have to be even crazier than he is, wouldn't they?

The scary thing is that Robertson's kind of craziness isn't as unusual as one would hope. According to a recent telephone poll, 25% of Americans surveyed believe that Jesus will return sometime during 2007. I realize that approximately this same number of Americans expects this every year, but don't be too quick to dismiss this. As DefCon points out, this means that this same 25% are convinced that the end of the world will occur in 2007. Beliefs of this nature are undeniably pathological.

My wish for 2007 is that we can continue to make progress toward correcting the sort of thinking which leads to these beliefs. Am I optimistic about our success? Guardedly so, but if I didn't think progress was possible, I'd have little reason to continue this blog.

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