Praos Theory


Some of those nasty state Props were close to passing (although the couple of what I thought were good ones also failed to pass).

Politics is a funny business, where often one is called to speak other than they think (and dare to call that “diplomacy”!). And these days, add to that that one is called to speak and proselytize other than what they believe (when I was growing up as a good Catholic boy, we were taught that that was called “lying”, though today it’s just called “doing God’s work”).

And what is God’s work these days? Well, that depends on who you ask. There are plenty of absolutists about, daring to claim theirs the One True _____, daring to insult, desultorily or otherwise, the beliefs of others as inferior. Their Truth is Everyone’s Truth, and to challenge that Notion, well, makes you a moral relativist and Not To Be Trusted!

The strange thing is, when it comes to the domain of opinion, or belief, or supposition, observable fact has very little to do with anything. Which means that Science has no entry point, nowhere to gain traction. So it goes where it will, it does what it does and leaves the opining-believing-supposing to those who need someone else to define their own places in the world for them.

You’d think religion would do the decent thing and return the favor: leave observation, analysis, empiricism, theory and fact to the scientists. But then again, many of these are people who so desperately need to believe in something that they’ll go to great lengths to attach their cosmologies to things which cannot and must not ever be proven-observed-experimented! Certainty is the enemy of Faith. Those who talk to God are prayerful. Those to whom God talks back are crazy.

Crises of Faith come from within. Crises in science come from without. That is to say, the only “crisis” science can honestly admit to is the onslaught of outsiders who feel threatened by findings, or by prima donna individuals who place their own ascendancy before the ethic (and hell, the god-ridden have those, too!).

Being wrong, or being not-entirely-correct is not a bad thing in science. Often it’s a good thing. Often it’s the pudding which supplies the proof that the Scientific Method, the ethic of reproduceability, the mechanism of peer review and the rigors of scientific publication actually work. It makes for better scientists and that makes for better science.

The crises that faith suffers are from those who question openly, and from those who question in their own minds and hearts the veracity of what parents and other people of religious authority have asserted. And get it right, these are assertions. Not fact. Not Truth. They’re not even evidentiary, much less proof.

When Science meets the Unknown, there is elation: more to discover!

When the Faithful meet the Unknown, there is one-note: God did it.

Thus armed with the weaponry of Christ go they into the world, a seed crystal of regimented (at least publicly) thought and behavior attempting to fix the world into a conformity that is nothing but replicative of themselves. More of the same, larger crystal. Pretty! Smooth facets and hard vertices. The only self-organization in the world they’re willing to admit to.

Never mind the Brownian motion outside their own keeps. The ‘theory’ goes like this: give up your freedom of thought and belief and think how we do and believe how we do—or die. They’ll clench so tight as to force an entire world down the long narrow path of their own neediness-based religion, and to hell with what horrors it creates along the way, to hell with the strife and the difficulty. To hell with fact and observation and rationalization.

Chaos and disorganization and rioting and mobs are useful tools when they happen to someone else. In fact, it’s what the faithful have prayed for: praos.

It’s the 11th Commandment, the “Godenfreude Amendment” if you will: though shalt delight in the misfortune of the profane and the heretical.

It’s the only commandment they enjoy keeping.

Proposition 73, which sought to moralize young women through heavy-handed use of the government (remember when Republicans wanted the government to stay out of people’s lives?) machinery, is a terrific illustration of Praos Theory. Make their bodies not their own and let the state have them: yes, dear, we know it’s your uterus, but we’re going to make our own use of it because we know better.

Praos Theory is the tactic of the Religious Right. Suborn human nature by praying. And show the godless that you mean it by hoisting whatever weaponry you can find as your praying to god makes a big spectacle of it. Offer them a choice: brandish the weapon or be at the business end of it.

Kansas school board fired that weapon because the heretics just wouldn’t listen. Science is in crisis there because it’s being silenced, or at least being led away from unobstructed search for the truths of our reality.

I hope some Kansas teachers who will be forced to teach the utterly debunked (from a science perspective) “theory” of Intelligent Design, who have been utterly reassured that it’s NOT Creationism and it’s NOT about God “per se” will remember that the world was created by Zeus and the other Olympians, and that the Hebrew god, like the platypus, was created by Apollo much by accident when he burnt his ass on the Sun as he pulled it across the sky and exclaimed “God Dammit! Jesus Christ on a Cross!”

I know I’ll be praying they do.

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