Daily Archives: July 6, 2011

In Defense of Kim Kardashian

I don’t normally wade into pop culture debates, but this one brings a lesson from the Bible into some focus.

There is a huge huff over a recent tweet from Kim Kardashian.  The controversial tweet:

Per my previous post, I think we need to be very, very careful about what we believe from the news.  The primary goal of the media is to sell more papers, and nothing sells better than a good controversy.  The Casey Anthony case is a fine example of something that will continue to sell papers for weeks to come, even though it’s ostensibly over.

The problem that people have with Kim’s post is that she is the daughter of the late Robert Kardashian, one of the attorneys that helped OJ Simpson.  So what?  Kim was 15 when her father presented the OJ case.  That had nothing to do with her.  She didn’t sit by OJ.

How many of my skeptic readers are siding with the backlash against Kim?  If you are, and you have previously argued that it is ridiculous that God holds us responsible for Adam taking a bite of the wrong fruit, you are being really inconsistent.

On one hand, you think that it is outrageous, unfair, and illogical that you are held responsible for your father Adam’s sin per Ezekiel 18:19-20.  You were not there, you did not pull the fruit off the tree, you did not take a bite.  You shouldn’t be condemned for it!  Yet, you’re now condemning Kim Kardashian for something her father did but she had nothing to do with.  It’s okay for you, but not for God.

Thing is, God doesn’t condemn us for what Adam did, and I’ve repeatedly answered this point (for example: here and here).  We don’t suffer for the sin, we suffer the effects of the sin.

Unfortunately, Kim is not suffering the effects of her father’s actions in this backlash.  People are tying the so-called irony of her statements directly to her father’s actions.  That’s outrageous, unfair, and illogical.

Lay off Kim Kardashian, people.  If she is outraged over this verdict, she has every right to be.  Her father’s actions during the OJ trial have nothing to do with her, so let her be and stop holding her responsible for her father’s actions.  Skeptics make repeated fluff about that being unfair when they perceive it done to them by God, but people seem to have no difficulty doing it to a fellow human being.  That’s terribly inconsistent.

Casey Anthony and the Real Goal of the Media

The entire debacle with the Casey Anthony trial brings something into sharp focus that we all should consider.  The media has two goals:

  1. Increase circulation (i.e. sell more papers)
  2. Report the news

And they go at these goals in that order.  Controversy sells papers, so they tackle stories like a mother allegedly murdering her toddler because they know that that is going to sell like crazy.

Now, Casey Anthony has been found not guilty by a jury of her peers.  But, in the court of public opinion, she had long ago been convicted and sentenced.  But, we have to ask ourselves, did we hear all of the facts?

I’m going to guess not.  We didn’t hear all of the facts of the Rodney King case.  We saw an edited version of the tape, that when played in its entirety, cleared the officers involved of any wrong doing.  I saw the entire tape a long time ago, and believe me those officers acted in self-defense.  They got a bit excessive and should have been disciplined for that, but they didn’t act as disproportionately to the situation as the media had us believe.

I’m not saying that the media deliberately distorts the facts of a case.  They don’t.  But, they give us a minimalist set, the set most convenient to the story they are trying to tell.  They leave out or gloss over other facts.

For those of us that have taken journalism classes, we know that a news story is written in the “inverted pyramid” style.  First comes the lead, which is supposed to grab our attention and pull us into the story.  It’s the most interesting and attention-grabbing part of the story.  Then, the facts of the case are presented, in order of importance.

But, who gets to decide that order?  The reporter.  I may disagree with the reporter ordering of the facts.  But, knowing that news stories contain the substance of the story in the first half or so, I seldom read an entire news story.  I give the reporter the benefit of the doubt, assuming that he is going to get the important facts correct in the first part of the story and use the leftovers at the bottom of the article.  So I seldom read a newspaper article beyond the sixth or seventh paragraph, knowing that is “unimportant facts” after that.

Or is it?

It occurs to me that these “fluff” facts might make all the difference.  It might be facts that the reporter or his editors wish to minimize or conceal.  Print journalism is all about word count, so some facts may have been omitted altogether.

None of this amounts to deliberate distortion, but you do have to wonder if this case, like many others, presented the public with a minimalist set of facts to paint Casey Anthony as guilty when she’s not and we’d know she’s not if we were given the remainder of the facts.  So, let’s remember that we weren’t on the jury and maybe we should trust that the 12 people in possession of facts we weren’t privy to made an informed decision.

Questions Theists Can’t Answer, Election/Predestination

More questions from the Reddit thread that proposes questions theists can’t answer. These are focused on election/predestination.

If god knows everything that is and will ever be, and he knows that you will not accept him before you are even born, why would he send you to hell? You are essentially judged before you can do anything. What kind of “good” god would do that?

So, basically, if you don’t accept God’s free gift of grace, it’s his fault?  No, no, no, no, no, no.  The only way that someone is judged before he has a chance to do anything is if God actually creates the unbelief and decrees the sin leading to, nurturing, and sustaining the unbelief.  God doesn’t do any of that; he knows all of that in advance.

“Knowing” that something is so is a far cry from “making” it so.  The example I gave recently is rather crude, but it works.  Ted gave Bill two choices.  Either Bill could watch Eliza Dushku privately re-enact the scene where she models bikinis in The New Guy just for Bill, or Ted can slap Bill in across the face with a wet codfish.

Ted knows without a doubt that Bill will pick the bikini modeling thing.  There can be no question in anyone’s mind, even if you haven’t seen Eliza model the bikinis in The New Guy, that Bill will pick that option.  Ted didn’t make Bill pick that option.  He only knew that Bill would select it.

In other words, God knowing that a creature will do X is not the same as God forcing a creature to do X.  Or, more appropriately, ordering the universe in such a way that it is inescapable the creature will do X. Read the rest of this entry