David - Part 3
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woohooligan Aug 15, 2016
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If at first you don't succeed, do the exact opposite. That's a thing, right?

Albert Einstein once replied to a question about uncertainty in quantum mechanics allowing the possibility of miracles with a semantic explanation of the word "miracle". According to Einstein, a miracle occurs when a physical law is broken. Therefore as there are no "laws" in quantum mechanics (just probabilities), you can have no miracles on that scale. Gilbert Fowler White later paraphrased this as "there are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is." This later expression became a meme, taking off in our culture and ingraining itself firmly in our psyche. We ooh and ahh at the zen of this apocryphal Einsteinism.

Certainly the later expression is a lot catchier. It's much more memorable than the semantic explanation, but being memorable doesn't mean it's not complete bullshit. Just think about it for a moment. On the one hand you've got the guy who sees an airplane hit the ground and explode and someone walk out of it without a scratch and says "meh, yeah, been there, done that." On the other hand you've got the guy who takes a spoonful of breakfast cereal and says, "HOLY SHIT! I'M ALIVE! This breakfast cereal didn't kill me! It's a MIRACLE!" If those constitute the ONLY two ways to live, then I must be hallucinating all these people around me who would never do either of those things. So yeah, it's actually just another fallacy of the excluded middle.

It's also fairly similar to another fallacy that a lot of people take for granted. There are a number of religious people who insist that their own religion must be the one and only true religion and that their particular book, whether it's the Christian Bible, the Torah or the Quran, has been preserved exactly as it is by god in order to instruct us in how to live. And these people insist that said holy book is the ONLY way that we can know how to live. On the other side of course, you have certain atheists insisting that all holy books are complete fabrications written by manipulative, greedy ass-hats who's only desire was to gain power over others and therefore nothing good can ever come from these books. This is also a false dilemma. There are a near infinite number of interpretations of holy writ in which the authors are motivated by a combination of both altruistic and selfish motivations, and in which deity or deities influenced some but not all of the text.

The story of Saul is a good example. Jews say the story of Saul is "embarrasingly confusing", a description that's of course anathema to a certain kind of Christian who insists that the Bible contains no contradictions. (Wow, somebody still on Angelfire.) But you know, it cuts straight through the bullshit to admit that many alternatives exist between "absolutely perfect in every way" and "complete and utter, evil shite!" I say this not just to point out that "not all Christians or atheists are like that", but rather to point out that MOST OF US, Christian, atheist, Jewish, Muslim, neo-pagan, aren't at all like this. Most people live somewhere in the middle-ground. Most atheists agree that "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a good guidelines to live by. And most religious people are willing to admit that certain passages in their holy books are pretty horrifying when examined. In fact, recent research suggests that the fastest growing religious demographic in the US are people who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious."

According to biblical text however, Saul didn't live in the middle ground. Remember that according to the Old Testament or the Torah, god and his prophet Samuel (ugh!) chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. This whole section just seems really weird. The early Jews were tribal people and they got a lot of shit from other nations with bigger, stronger armies. But it's hard to build a big army when you're busy playing Game of Thrones among yourselves. So the Israelites pleaded with Yaweh to give them a King so they could build a big army to defend themselves against the Ammonites, the Philistines or whoever. Again, according to biblical text, the always perfect every time god reluctantly agreed to give the Israelites a King... then the same always perfect every time god later decided was a total dickhead! But then Yaweh gives them David, who was supposedly a really good guy, so what was up with Saul then? Did Yaweh choose Saul first because he was being passive agressive? Or maybe he was trolling them. You mad, bro?

So Saul, after seeing David defeat Goliath and making him the general of their army, hears the women in the capital city singing the "happy fun-time murder song". In his jealousy that they think David is a better killer, he decides to murder the general of his army. D'oh! So he throws two spears at David and misses both times... and I guess it's an issue of pride maybe that he can't see this as a bad day or maybe that he's bad at spear-throwing, he thinks two missed spears means David must be protected by god. (He happens to be right, but what an assumption! I missed a throw, therefore, must be god!) But it's even weirder on David's part, because the bible makes no mention of David thinking anything of spears whizzing by his head... and then Saul decides to offer David one of his daughters, to make David his heir to the throne of Israel. D'oh! I guess the excluded middle here is "if you can't beat them, join them", but really? If I can't murder this guy, I'll have to marry him into my family! Yep! Those are the only two options: murder or marriage! (To be fair, his third option would have been fuck, so...)

I think this fallacy of the excluded middle is particularly relevant right now. If you're paying any attention at all to the 2016 US presidential election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, you've likely noticed a lot of screaming on both sides. Our elections frequently screamy, but still, this year seems louder. (As Tiff and I look forward to our first election in a swing state. Wooho! The survey calls have already started.) People on both sides are trying to convince us that our choice is between a pathological liar and a murderous criminal to lead our country... But this turd-sandwich of options has record numbers of Americans also calling out the bullshit of the excluded middle fallacy in US politics that we call a "two party system", because really, there have to be more ways to live than Democrat or Republican.

So long story short, if the foundation of our belief is a table and that belief collapses, perhaps it's because we've only given the table two legs... perhaps we need a middle leg.

My dick jokes aren't just a moral, they're supermoral! :P

Thanks to my thee new patrons, Alejandro Lee, Ricky Fang and Mellissa Redman!

On a more personal note, my kids go back to school later this week. This page is delayed a bit in part because of my brother-in-law being in town earlier this month. Now that the kids are back in school, I'll be playing catch-up and getting more comics and more laughs out the door. My ads are still down for financial reasons, so I appreciate all your help in sharing the laughs with your friends! :D For more, check out my July progress report.

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