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Friday, October 17, 2003

Onward Christian Soldiers

Has anyone heard about Deputy Secretary of Defense (Intelligence Matters) Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, an evangelical Christian who has been speaking in uniform to church audiences over the past two years? According to a Washington Times article yesterday:
He spoke of Islamic extremists hating the United States because "we're a Christian nation" and added that our "spiritual enemy will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." He said [apparently acknowledging freely Bush's electoral defeat] that President Bush "is in the White House because God put him there," and that "we in the army of God . . . have been raised for such a time as this."
I searched around for a picture of him and found one that looks right out of central casting on this page accompanying these gems:
"Anyone who puts on the armor of God becomes a target for Satan," Boykin said. "Be ready. He will be coming. He'll try to stop you from doing what God wants you to do. But you knew that already."

He said, "When you stepped into the FAITH arena, you said, 'Here am I. Send me.' Not every Christian is a soul winner, but you said, 'Here am I. Send me.' You volunteered to be a part of this battle."

Speaking about a journey of faith, Boykin said it's easy to recognize God's plan in hindsight. "When you took that step into the FAITH ministry and made that commitment, God had a plan for you. He has the plan and your job is to stay faithful and to get up everyday and put on that armor. Endure and wait to see what God has for you in this life. Endure!"

. . . in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural fluids.

Talk about being a warrior for God always reminds me of a remark of Richard Dawkins's from i can't for the life of me remember where (he expresses a similar sentiment at length here) to the effect that the chief utility of religion historically has been to motivate people to sacrifice their lives irrationally to advance their rulers' political goals. The idea that Boykins is in charge of intelligence operations for the DoD is pretty fucking scary.

I'm sorry, but anyone who (after the American League championship series) still thinks he or she has a solid argument for the existence of a personal god should read this story:
Sleeping Fla. Boy Has 4 Fingers Gnawed Off By Family Dog: Fingers Found In Dog's Stomach

The reason the six-year-old didn't wake up while the dog was chewing his fingers off is that his left side had been paralyzed a few months earlier by a hit-and-run driver, never identified. The dog, a puppy his aunt had presented him and his brothers a few weeks ago, was immediately, as they say, "destroyed" (as though when describing animals that's somehow more polite than "executed"? The state of Texas today set a hard record to beat when it destroyed its 4000th death-row inmate this month . . . .) The conclusion of the story:
"I'll be OK. I can still play video games with one hand," he said.

Why am I posting this? I can't get it out of my mind.

A longtime fan of Gould, I used to mock Dawkins (and Dennett's defenses of him, like the famous NYR "Confusion Over Evolution" exchange). Then, just to make sure I understood the arguments I was deriding, I started reading him. Now I'm fairly convinced that Dawkins's arguments are stronger than Gould's. Next in the works: I'm going to read Ann Coulter and become a Republican.

Well, for wasting a lot of time trying to excavate the original Dawkins quote I had in mind and the Dennett-Gould exchange, at least I found a nice line of Dawkins's I hadn't read before: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

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