Pitts’ hypocrisy

March 4, 2011


To the editor:

Detailing his belief in “God,” Leonard Pitts, with his gimlet eye for the bigotry of the religious right, displays the evasive hypocrisy of the religious left. His theology, in brief, is that he “feels” like it’s so, so “deal with it.”

If only that, we could shrug off his faith as a peccadillo, but Pitts has more. Noting the abrasive certainty of some atheists, he makes a facile comparison with overconfident “fundamentalists.” But that isn’t the term needed. To hold firmly to the fundamentals of a world view is not the problem, if those fundamentals are sound and supported by observation. The trouble is dogmatism: stubborn adherence to a prior belief despite contrary argument and evidence. “I believe it, so deal with it” is the voice of the dogmatist.

The trouble with religious fundamentalists is not their focus on fundamentals; it’s that those fundamentals are implausible and ill-supported. Religious liberals commit the same unjustified leap, but with a nicer face.

Pitts mocks those who “know” God’s purposes, always in line with their preferences, but he often does this himself, describing imaginary conversations with his personal deity, reliably a benign, politically liberal, grandfatherly sage, who wouldn’t smite a fly and was framed by the ugly myths of the Bible. Really?

Honest, respectable belief starts with evidence and moves gradually to conviction, regardless of preference and “feeling.” Irrationality begins with emotional intuition, cherry-picking evidence to suit. When Pitts does the latter in public, we’ll call him on it, and he can “deal with” that.


jonas_opines 7 years, 2 months ago

The topic so nice we posted on it twice!

Bill Getz 7 years, 2 months ago

Faith is belief in something you know may not be true.

Linda Endicott 7 years, 2 months ago

I much prefer the line from "Miracle on 34th Street"..."faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to"...

All that aside, however, from what I see of the people around me, a lot of them see to believe in the particular faiths that they do, quite frankly, because their parents did and taught them to as well...

Don't know how much that has to do with evidence and conviction...

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

Quite wrong, Tom. Faith is believin' what you feel inside from study and experience (yours and others'), and tellin' everybody else that you would like for them to experience something akin to it, and, further, helping them in any way they will accept to make a "leap of faith", which is, simply, coming to believe that there might just be a reason for it all. Honesty, in your book, apparently means the irratiopnal debunking of another's beliefs.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

it's entertaining to observe how committed leftists who complain all the time about "intolerance" routinely submit letters like this one that reek with intolerance.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

TomPaine: Did you mean to say, "Reading comprehension like Shewmon's?" Before you attempt to gig someone about alleged lack of reading comprehension, you might first want to learn how to write a proper English sentence.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

Vertie, do you really believe that someone who can't write a proper English sentence is in any position to lecture another person about reading comprehension?

Moreover, what was there to answer on my part other than to respond to someone who himself couldn't respond to the subject of a post and thus chose to fall back on allegations concerning reading comprehension, most certainly a poor attempt at deflection?

By the way, Vertie, are you an atheist?

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

Vertie, nobody's "trying to find " anything. When a poster attempts to criticize another for alleged lack of reading comprehension but can't write a proper sentence, the issue is his own hypocrisy.

Until you indicate otherwise, I'll presume that you're just another lost atheist who hates those who are believers.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 2 months ago

Vertie, if you'd like to disabuse me of the legitimate presumption that your comments have created, be my guest. I'd like to think that you have more common sense than to be an atheist, but you've embarrassed yourself so many times previously on this forum that I won't bet the farm on it.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Springsteen is exactly correct. Believing something in the absence of evidence or even despite evidence against it is the true dogmatic fundamentalism.

The true hubris and narcissism displayed by the religious is that they are certain in their belief that not all things can be explained by natural and objective phenomenon.

They are certain that what we do not understand now will never be understood.

They have the hubris and certainty to prematurely answer the unknown by invoking god.

This is the true hubris of the religious believers.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

Point by point: "True hubris and narcissism displayed by the religious..." Interesting that you equate narcissism with religious faith. You coul not be further from the truth. The narcissist believes truly and wholly in itself. The religious believes in something outside itself. And even you can not believe, truly, really believe that everything can be explained by "natural and objective phenomenan." Try it with the objectivism you value and you'll come up short.

"They have the hubris and certainty to prematurely answer the unknown by invoking god (sic)." I'm not sure what you mean by premarurely invoking a deity, but you've got it wrong again. The religious learn, at different ages and in different ways, that there is something that guides them, something/some being/some entity that makes the "unknown" less distressing and, moreover, something comforting. Hubris has nothing to do with it: a life of meaning and a death experience with continued meaning and promise are the goals of the religious, and if that is hubris, then so be it. Unfortunately, your use of the term apparently means that you believe the religious think of themselves as better than others, and that is simply not the case.

Possibly you have an issue with people who act "in the name of God" or "in the name of faith" or whatever, but who are, in fact acting in the name of themselves. That is not religion, and should be recognizzed for what it is, which is the narcissism of which you speak. But, and this is important, so listen carefully, religious people act for the betterment of their world, with a set of values that make each and every other person in the world important to the religious person. An example: whether you "believe" in the religion of Jesus, a historical figure, you must have an understanding that what he attempted in teaching his understanding of religion, and his ultimate death on the cross or tree or whatever, were the least "hubristic" actions a living human could undertake. Don't believe in his God if you don't want to, but even you have to believe that this man practiced "religion" in that he tried to bring the comfort and hope to others that he felt in his "religion". You see, religion is nothing but a set of beliefs, unproveable but to those who follow it to its logical conclusion.

If there is no afterlife, so what? What is wrong with believing there is and that there is a reward for a "good life, well llived"? If there is, then it's probably a good idea to practice "nice things". After all, why take a chance? You don't have to believe in Heaven or Hell or Purgatory or Paradise, but believing in something is apparently endemic to man and is, in my opinion, a good thing.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

"They are certain that what we do not understand now will never be understood." I'm not sure you understand the tenets of religion, one of which is that all will be revealed to the righteous. I am not here to argue religion with you, but, in your statements, it is clear that you have not been grounded in the beliefs of the religious, as every religion of which I am aware makes the promise that those who "toe the line" will be shown the unknowable at some time, usually post-death of the body.

(This was left out of the above post and is out of order. Sorry.)

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 2 months ago

There was one ring to bind them all, and the evil Lord Sauron wanted to end the age of Mankind with the ring.

But a power rose in the west to unite men in the form of a ranger and a wizard.

A humble hobbit was entrusted to be the ring bearer and carry the ring to Mordor to destroy it.

A battle ensued between the forces of men and the forces of Sauron. The forces of men won, and mankind had its salvation at the sacrifice of a hobbit, a white wizard, and a ranger who became King of Men.

Thus ushered in the salvation of mankind and the rule of the king.

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 2 months ago

There is as much objective evidence to support the truth of Tolkein's little yarn as there is supporting any other religion.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

See, that's my point! Objectivism is great in its place, but a religion steps away from that and allows a person to be comforted and hopeful by providing a stopgap between knowing and not knowing. It's hard to explain to someone who is not a believer, but I don't think I'm any less objective than you in most areas. I do, however, have a a belief system that gives me a reason to strive for something. If you, for example, want to believe in Gandolf and the Ents, then great! The thing about my bellief system, though, is that it gives me reason to strive to be better than I am and to make the measurable, tangible world a better place for all. May be no difference between you and Middle Earth residents, but I live in a real, accountable, measurable world, and my system gives me a reason to make it better. (Although, if I think about it, I guess emulating Bilbo and company is also a way of measuring one's place in society, so you're right in your thinking.)

damnitimpissed 7 years, 2 months ago

"The thing about my bellief system, though, is that it gives me reason to strive to be better than I am and to make the measurable, tangible world a better place for all."

How strange. I feel the same way, without needing a reason.

voevoda 7 years, 2 months ago

You're confusing scientific evidence with faith, Tom Shewmon. Scientists "believe" (or, more correctly, are convinced by) evidence because it presents a logical picture and it can be tested through observation, experimentation, and mathematical calculation. It's not a "belief" rooted in confidence in the unseen, unmeasured, and incalculable, as religious belief is. I know that you know this difference, TomShewmon, but you choose to pretend that you don't in order to make a political point unrelated to the topic of the article.
Lots of people on both the left and the right respect both scientific truth and religious truth. To judge from your statements today, you don't respect either.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

No, Tom, that's not what I mean, and you know it. I have not tried to make in this forum a political statement, nor a table of values. Don't try wringing any points from me on your pet projects, because I'm not biting. I do, however, believe there's hope for even you and your "sky god" if you are truly trying to make a better world rather than simply, as usual, making points for your cynical self.

As always,God---or whatever--bless and keep you. And I mean it.

yankeevet 7 years, 2 months ago

Custer had faith until Sitting Bull showed up..................

verity 7 years, 2 months ago

This letter puts it better than I could why Pitts' article disturbed me. I would add that the abrasive "deal with it" was pot calling kettle.

Jimo 7 years, 2 months ago

I would recommend to a narcissist like Mr. Springsteen to lay off the intellectual masturbation and find real humans to interact with. The only thing worse than a defensive no-brain Palin is a smug half-brained bigot. Likewise, any honest search for belief would quickly discover that not all of it is found in a test tube or mathematical formula. I'd rather try to have a rational discussion with a 'Jesus told me so' type than some quack who has adopted an atheistic faith based on even less evidence than what informs a jungle animist.

I am all in favor of rational thought, science, and reason. But even an willful antagonist such as Mr. Springsteen should recognize the faith derived instruction: first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Kirk Larson 7 years, 2 months ago

no-brain Palin=smug half-brained bigot You're being redundant.

JustNoticed 7 years, 2 months ago

Good grief, Jimo. It's ok to let go of King James.

beatrice 7 years, 2 months ago

Good letter Bruce. Now, put it to music.

tunahelper 7 years, 2 months ago

Pitts is just another leftist arrogant know nothing. He hates everything that America is and what America stands for. He hates freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He knows nothing of American History and tries to rewrite history to fit his liberal ideology.

thebigspoon 7 years, 2 months ago

So, let me think about this. Pitts hates that people can not be judged by their actipns rather than their color. Pitts hates that every citizen should be allowed a vote in his/her destiny. Pitts hates that religious freedom is an inherent right in this country. Pitts hates that the democratic form of government should give each and every human a certain amount of dignity. He hates that you have the right to make blanket, unsubstantiated statements about his belief in freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He knows nothing of American history.

OK, that's enough for now. Would you please, in black and white, cite specifics from his writings that lead you to spout this drivel of yours? If not, then please note that nobody will arrest you for your falsehoods, nobody will visit you in the middle of the night and "disappear" you becausse you espoused an essentially silly opinion, nobody will keep you from voting even though you evince about the savvy of a grpefruit, and nobody will make you a non-person jsut because you either misunderstand or ignore or disagree with another's viewpoint. You, because there are people like Pitts who will forever defend your right to your opinion, will be allowed and encouraged to continue your spouting, with the hope that you will, at some time, take the time to listen in your heart to another's viewpoint.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 2 months ago

Way to go "thebigspoon"!!Lovin' how you're stirring.

Maxwell Butterfield 7 years, 2 months ago

Isn't the left supposed to be the open-minded side? Oh, politics...

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