Wednesday, August 16, 2017

It was Charlottesville, it could be Bloomsburg, it could be anywhere: standing up to NAZIS

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

The following is a letter to the editor of the Press Enterprise, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. it's also one citizen's attempt to speak truth to power, and demonstrate that the local truly is the global.


To the editor:

Taking a page from the Trump playbook of false equivalencies, PE editor Sachetti’s “Can we talk?” column (8.16) repeats the absurd idea that the fascist/racist AltRight is met with equal moral depravity from the Left. He equates the legitimate struggles of African American, LGBTQ, Jews, and other “non-white” people for justice with the demands of self-avowed NAZIS to advance their quest for racial and religious “purity.” He thinks we can all just simmer down, chat over coffee, and work out our differences—as if bigotry, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and homophobia were simply misunderstandings. 

They’re not. 

Fact is, bigotry runs through the bone marrow of the America that privileges him, and it’s the preservation of that “blood and soil” that racists like WHLM’s Dave Reilly personify in their claim to “unite the right.” “Can we talk?” couldn’t be more insipid for a newspaper whose existence is premised on fanning the flames of hatred.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
Sachetti insists we’ve “separated into tribes” willfully oblivious to the fact that his “tribe” remains the entitled class of his country. The white supremacist claim to “take the country back” has no analogue on the Left. 

None on the Left committed a hate- motivated murder in the broad daylight of Charlottesville. 

No Black Lives Matter member demands a “homeland” for a single color/religion. 

None on the Left subscribe to the insane idea that there are other races of homo Sapien besides the human race. 

Sachetti’s claim that our system of government was designed to prevent inequality “with the exception of the slavery question” is false; it was designed first and foremost to protect property and property owners. While he acknowledges that the “slavery question” was settled only after “much butchery,” he fails (much like Trump) to name the butchers—white propertied slave-owners. 

Slavery, moreover, isn’t a “question.” It’s an abomination, and “takin’ to the streets” to protest its contemporary Tiki-Torch-wielding, car-crashing, murderous Trumpster thugs is the least of our responsibilities as citizens. Fact is, those who chastise the protester as “loud” simply want to shame us into the silence of a rotting status quo that makes the work of the AltRight unnecessary for sheer acquiesence.

We must decisively reject its vision of a unity borne of exclusion, subjugation, and the violent enforcement of its warped white-world; we must do it with our voices, our votes, and our feet.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
Sachetti claims “debate has devolved into a shouting match.” What is there is to debate about the equality and humanity of black, LGBTQ, Jewish, or Muslim people? Of women? Answer: nothing. The call to debate is a tactic to stall and defeat the demand for justice; more telling, Sachetti quotes Ben Shapiro, editor at large at Breitbart through 2016—voice of the Alt-Right—to support the claim that there exists an AltLeft.

Such vapid pronouncements lack not only imagination, but supporting evidence. “AltLeft” is the creation of a racist logic bent on shutting down the legitimate demand for social and economic justice. It must be met by speaking truth to power—what Mr. Sachetti saw at WHLM, 8.15. The 13 local businesses who’ve pulled advertising must expand to every other; schools who utilize WHLM must find another host for their sports broadcasts, including BU. 

While it’s no surprise that Sachetti parrots the distorted rhetoric of a Trump administration that sells his blighted newspaper, we can do better. We can take a stand. Dave Reilly’s a public figure. He has the right to free speech. But when that speech damages his community, his employer must decide whose voice he’ll heed: the white supremacist or the people whom he claims to serve.

Wendy Lynne Lee

599 words

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ella-Mae, Happy-Face Luv-Puppy

Ella Mae. Photo Wendy Lynne Lee

Ella-Mae spent her first several weeks cowering in the corner of my living room couch. She was dirty, malnourished, and terrified. A Beagle-Chihuahua-god-knows-what-else mix, she was something like a bratwurst sausage teetering on toothpick legs.

In other words, beautiful in her own very special way.

And indeed she was beautiful.

Gorgeous, in fact.

One day she decided to get off the couch and wag her tail.

She never stopped.

She wagged her tail pretty much every minute she wasn’t sleeping or eating until last Saturday.
She was nearly 17.

Ella-Mae was that kind of dog, that kind of Doggy Mc’Dog-dog that didn’t ask for very much—but gave in such profusion waggy-tail radiance, and kisses, and happy-face that even as she lay quietly dying in my arms I could still feel that love.

I could see it sparkling through every word of "You are my Sunshine" as I sang her softly to endless sleep.

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
 Ella-Mae was the dog that none who value absurd conventions like “breeding” or “pedigree” or “papers” would want.   

She was the kind of dog I see suffering and struggling for life on the streets of Kolkata and Athens, New York and Hanoi.

She was the kind of person we ought all to aspire to be more like.

Ella-Mae personified gentleness—that kind of sanguine self-possession reserved for Buddha.

You wanted to protect her. She wanted to love you.

You wanted to rub her belly. She liked that.

Ella-Mae loved cookies and cheese; she loved being a Beagle. She’d deliver the tiny bodies of birds to the back porch with that sort of shiny-eyed jubilance reserved to innocence and to animals.

She’d bound through the yard chasing squirrels, following her leader, Disney.
Never caught a one.
Never seemed to matter.

Disney dies, and Ella snuggles and comforts in silent communion her younger more rambunctious playmate, Mr. Luv-Lyte, who in his anxiety and confusion can't quite put down his dolly.

Ella climbs into his doggy bed, and makes it all better.

Ella-Mae was good about taking her meds. Every day at 6:15AM, like a grand old lady who gets Kleenex out of her purse while she offers you gum.

Ella-Mae’s snaggly-tooth smile could radiate light into the grimmest day. Her graying muzzle and floppy ears cradled you right into her eyes. Big Brown Wise Happy Old Lady Love-Eyes.

The reflections of ourselves in the eyes of dogs offers a kind of deliverance. They don't look away, and they ask us not to either. 

Goodnight my precious-gentle Ella-Mae, my charming Cheagle, my happy-face, waggy-tail luv-puppy. 

Were there gods, there'd be heavens for beauties just like you.

Love will have to suffice. 

But no matter. Where life ends, love persists.

Wendy Lynne Lee

Friday, June 30, 2017

Were Donald Trump a Patriot, He’d Resign. Right now: Response to the "Morning Joe" Tweets

Here are Donald Trump’s original Tweets aimed at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski:

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came.. Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

And here’s the Washington Post Op-Ed responding to the Trump-Tweets by Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, where among other well-made points, the authors make clear that Trump is lying. 

Through his teeth.

As per usual.

However, while I agree with Mika and Joe that the president "is not well," I think they don't go remotely far enough.

Trump has absolutely no excuse whatever for being "not well."

His behavior is not merely boorish and crude--it is misogynist, and we have copious examples of his view of women as discardables. The claim made by far too many Republicans that "he's new to the job," is beyond absurd. 

The defense-through-silence of his daughter Ivanka is worthy of public condemnation, especially given her claim to speak for working women, to be a feminist.

That is laughable.

As for Trump, you don't get to be new to this job.

Your grotesque behavior isn't about being new to any job. 

This is about an entire worldview that accords privilege, wealth, and authority to a tiny handful of men--just like those of his cabinet, just like those of his family, just like himself.

This worldview structures precisely the "reality" that supports

Domestic violence

Police brutality


White Supremacism


Nonhuman animal abuse

Child molestation

Gun violence

This worldview supports precisely the multinational industries, themselves nearly entirely controlled by white and/or Western(ized) men, poised to make bank:

The hydrocarbon extractive industries

Animal agriculture

Seed piracy

Agricultural colonialism

The multinational banking industry

“Health” insurance companies

Pharmaceutical companies

Weapons manufacture

The gun lobby

The military/industrial complex

The private prison industry

The militarization of cities

The surveillance industry

I am about to become a grandmother for the first time to a grandson. I know that my son and daughter-in-law will raise this child to understand in his bone marrow the equality and essential humanity of women.

I know that they will raise him to see every human being as unquestionably equally deserving of love, affection, tolerance, patience, charity, compassion, honesty, decency, and above all--respect.

But I also know that it's no longer sufficient to simply grouse that Trump's is not typical behavior.

It is.

This isn't complicated.

Trump was elected. President. Of the United States.

He must resign.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Response to "Cynical Libertarian Society": Stating the Obviouis

The following includes an unsolicited tirade from anonymous "Cynical Libertarian Society" (CLS) ostensibly in response to my recently published book, Eco-Nihilism: The Philosophical Geopolitics of the Climate Change Apocalypse. But, honestly, it's hard to tell. 

You can find the complete CLS post here:

I have quoted the opening segment in total--but warning, it is graphic:

Wendy Lynne Lee is opposed to free speech zones. Who the fuck is Wendy Lynne Lee? She’s an unattractive cookie-cutter femistatist cunt.
I am a writer. I chose philosophy as the best possible tool with which to wrench into being what I saw to be true, beautiful, and knowable–often uncomfortable compatriots.
I have been intimately involved in the feminist movement, the queer identity movement, animal rescue, and the movement for an ecologically desirable future for many years.
I am a mother, a daughter, and an ally.
I’m a union member. I tattoo my experience and my commitments on my arms. I am a vegetarian. I have worked very hard for the movement to end industrialized fossil fuel extraction.
If I must sum up some semblance of my commitments and values, I might say this:
Beauty–over mere survival.
Wisdom–over willful ignorance.
Compassion–over smarmy indolence.
Wit–over mendacity.
Laughter–over every fucking evil thing.
She has published three books. No surprises here.
Eco-Nihilism: The Philosophical Geopolitics of the Climate Change Apocalypse
On Marx
Contemporary Feminist Theory and Activism: Six Global Issues
She is very confused about what violence is.
The denial of healthcare is an act of violence.
Bombing Yemeni children is an act of violence.
Vomiting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is an act of violence.
When Hussein Obama murders Muslims with missiles launched from flying robots that is not violence. That is enlightenment for Hussein Obama is The Messiah, The Lightbringer, The Source Of The Cum Wendy Swallowed For Eight Years. All Hail The Messiah!
I tried to post a response to CLS at the website--but while he/she solicits comments, there's actually no mechanism for posting.

So I'll post my comment here, and then say a bit why I think it's important--sometimes--to confront folks like this.

Dear Cynical Libertarian Society:

It is most unfortunate that you're neither cynical nor a libertarian. First, mere name-calling isn't cynical; it's cowardly. It's the first indication that you have no argument to make. And you certainly don't disappoint!

Second, libertarians are among the most vocal opponents of free speech zones. They argue that cordoning off speech into safety zones is a violation of the first amendment--and they're right.

What's just laughable here, however, is that you call me a cunt, but then go on to make abundantly clear that you have absolutely no idea at all what I write about or why. In fact, you jump ship to another indecipherable topic altogether.

I do have to thank you. Posting your incoherent rant has generated even more interest in my new book, Eco:Nihilism: The Philosophical Geopolitics of the Climate Change Apocalypse.

It will also make an excellent example of the fallacy "ad hominem" for my students this Fall term.

If I'm irritating self-proclaimed Nazis like yourself, I must be doing something right.

But, hey, that's stating the obvious.


Wendy Lynne Lee

I think it's tempting to hold the view that the best response to self-avowed misogynist bigots like this (presumably) gentleman is to just ignore them. Sometimes that's the case. But since the election of Donald Trump as president, I think we have a responsibility to get much braver than we've been in the past. I think, in fact, that we must confront bigots like this one for the following reasons:

1. They're in charge. Anyone who thinks that these plainly hate-filled rants are not mirrored--however much more gentile the language--in the worldview of people like Steve Bannon, or in ideologies like "economic nationalism" and "Make America Great, Again!" just isn't paying attention.

2. When we don't take a stand we allow for this kind of rhetoric to become normalized. Perhaps we think these are "just words." Absolutely not. Words like "I think the Muslims hate us," "grab them by the pussy,"  and "I don't want poor people in my cabinet" helped to get the willfully ignorant in chief elected to the presidency.

3. Our silence makes us complicit. You don't have to be a member of the Progressive Left to see what's wrong in this fellow's characterization of women, of Obama. And even a cursory scan of his website makes clear that the only people he thinks should get to speak, to act, and to rule are white men who share his dark worldview. We let that go at the peril of far more than mere hypocrisy.

4. Screeds like this are opportunities. CLS is neither unusual nor particularly more obscene than many of the blogs that litter the alt-right blogosphere. They offer us the chance to show thinking people just how violent and tyrannical is the far right--and how close it is. It is a pristine opportunity to exercise the right to free speech by showing through reason and evidence just how malignant and dangerous is the worldview at least some of those who support the Trump regime.

There is no cordoned off "free speech zone" in cyberspace--at least not here, not yet.

So my hope is that CLS will see this and respond. To him I say: bring it on

My greater hope is that my readers will take that opportunity as well. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gullible is Gullible: Why Science and Religion Cannot be "Besties," Especially Now

 Religion and Science Cannot be Besties

Photo Wendy Lynne Lee
In a recent "Eco-Preacher" blog post, "Religion and Science Can be Besties," (, pastor, professor, and activist Dr. Leah Schade claims that "the narrative of Christianity opposing science is neither helpful nor true." She argues that "[i]nsights from science inform Christian ethics, and Christian ethics can help us understand the implications of science." She then proposes to utilize Dynamic Systems or "Chaos" Theory as a lens through which to examine and thereby support these claims--leading the reader to believe she understands both the science of dynamic systems and the moral substance and motives of Christianity.  

Unfortunately, however, Rev. Schade makes it clear she understands neither science nor ethics. If she did, she'd see that science no more needs Christian ethics to show us the mechanics of physics, chemistry, or biology than being a moral person requires having faith, as Bertrand Russell put it, in an "ally in the sky." Indeed, if we're going to mount a successful campaign against the "starvation" budgets proposed by the Trump regime for the National Institute of Health (cuts of 20%), the Department of Energy's Office of Science (20%), the Environmental Protection Agency (50%), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($250 million dollar budget cut), and the $100 million from NASA, there could be no better time to make an uncompromising defense of reason unmuddied by the efforts of religion to imprison us in the very fear and uncertainly autocratic charlatans like Trump and his mercenary cronies are all too eager to exploit.

It's time, in other words, to not be suckers. 

While Rev. Schade's is, of course, one of countless members of the faithful to try to lend a veneer of scientific credibility to faith--all the while demanding as an "ethic" that science bend its knee to religion's moral authority--such endeavors are as wrong-headed now as ever. They're as much about fear now as they've ever been. There's a reason President Trump gave his first commencement address at Liberty University--the home of father and son Falwell's Christian Right, and it's not simply that a large crowd was guaranteed by mandatory attendance. It's not even because he could be relatively sure he'd get better than the booing his Department of Education Secretary, Betsy Devos, received at Bethune Cookman. Trump chose Liberty University because it personifies smug Christian righteousness, because it allowed him to baptize himself in the adulation of young Christian soldiers ready take up the sword against infidel Muslims, undocumented immigrants, poor people, feminists, Native Americans, black and brown people--and the inconvenient claims of scientists about things like climate change and evolution. Trump chose Liberty University because claiming to be a Christian helps to expedite his political ambitions.  

No doubt, preachers like Rev. Schade would protest that Trump is not the Christian they have in mind. But it makes no difference. The denial of science is as easy as the denial of climate change, and there's no Christian ethic that can tell us what science is "good" and what's not. Indeed, As Russell pointed out long ago in "Why I'm not a Christian," it's the job of science to get us clear of this muddled and profoundly dangerous thinking:

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing—fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion has gone hand-in-hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the Churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look round for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.

Put simply: religion is rooted in fear, and whether you're a liberal, civil rights embracing preacher like Schade or a far-right proponent of religious bigotry like Jerry Falwell, Jr., not only are your central beliefs rooted in the same basic terror, so too is your propensity to cherry-pick all your other beliefs to make sure they fit your God--scientific beliefs included.  You've still got sin to worry about, and where the implications of science can't be made to cohere with scripture (some way, somehow), you're going with your Bible--whether it's fear and brimstone or hippy Jesus. At the end of the day, you're not out looking to recruit people to chemistry, biology, or physics; you're a Christian--you're out for that fuzzy thing called salvation and the eternity of that even fuzzier thing called your soul.

Science could not be a more radically different kind of project. It's rooted not in fear, but in wonder--in the fearless willingness to go wherever the facts lead. Science demands the willingness to be mistaken, to review findings, to test theories. It cleaves to Occam's razor: do not include anything in your theory that fails the test of explanatory value; and that includes the supernatural. Science insists, above all, that conclusions not be given in advance, a premise not only foreign to religion, but without which religion would be bereft of purpose--and leverage

Christian Arrogance vs Commitment to Explanation

Let's return to Schade's specific claims: science can inform Christian ethics, and Christian ethics can help us understand science. Even if we set aside Russell's crucial insight about fear, Schade's claims rest on a fundamentally insupportable view of science--and of ethics. First, the only way in which science can inform Christian ethics is by debunking its premises and thereby relieving us of the idea that we need a god to be a morally decent person. Any ethic whose premises are fear of eternal damnation is no ethic at all, and moral decency knows no religious litmus test. Any other interpretation of how science might inform Christian ethics is destined to:

1. promote a fundamental distortion of what science is and does. Indeed, if science pursued only what the Christian determined to be morally permissable, we might still be appealing to demonic possession to explain things like Ebola and cancer.

2. rely on highly selective and contorted readings of scientific theories.
Schade's reading of Chaos Theory is a case in point. She claims that it offers a new way to see the resurrection of Jesus, arguing that changes at the "micro-level" can generate massive changes at the macro-level--the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings that can set in motion a tsunami. She then goes on to compare, for example, a protest at a townhall that can set off a social justice movement. She describes Jesus as a "trickster" as a way of delivering a preemptive strike against the objection that there's nothing at all in the causal chain linking micro to macro that lends those macro events moral significance. indeed, Schade claims that,

it may be that Jesus’ surprising conception is meant as a trick played on patriarchy that tries to control and dictate the activity of procreation, often victimizing the women in the process.  In the case of Jesus’ conception – surprise! – men are taken completely out of the procreative picture.   Which opens up new possibilities for women’s liberation, agency, and power. 

Treating Jesus' alleged miraculous conception as a "micro" event, Schade seeks to thwart an obvious question: if we're to interpret the life of Jesus, from birth to death, as the epitome of moral rectitude--as the fulfillment of the ("macro") word of God--how should we understand the suffering of Mary? Schade claims that immaculate conception is a "trick" played by God that takes men out of the procreative process. But this truly bizarre use of Chaos Theory both makes of God as unreliable a deity as any of the Greek or Roman pantheon, thus raising the problem of evil--why does God allow Mary to suffer?  And it ignores the assumption that God is himself the ultimate male, that Mary had no say whatever over the conception--and that God is just as sensibly cast (if not more so) as a sexual assailant. Schade's is not merely a distorted reading of science that fits the birth of Jesus to a dynamic system leading to his crucifixion and resurrection; it's a warped reading of ethics that reads as liberation a myth that forecloses women's agency and power by subjugating women to a god that exploits them as incubators. Calling Jesus a "trickster" sounds endearing, but it in no way converts the "micro" story of his birth into the "macro" opportunity for women's emancipation from the cruelty of Christian hetero-patriarchy. Suggesting God might have used Mary to teach men a lesson about women's agency does not make Mary any less the victim of God's abuse.

This then brings us to (3)

3. magical thinking.
Schade treats Chaos Theory as if causal connections whose trajectory may be difficult to predict are actually teleological, that is, wholly predictable equipped with the right view, aimed at a preordained conclusion, offering us balm in the face of difficulty. She offers Jesus the "trickster" in order to motivate the claim that while we may not be able to predict the outcome of his life, death, and resurrection, it's all in God's plan. Our duty is to have faith in that God and that plan. The larger claim is that while we may not be able to predict the outcome of lots of "micro" events--like a diagnosis of cancer, or a terrorist attack, or Trump handing over classified information to the Russians--the "macro" remains in God's hands, and it's all reliably for the good. Just have faith.

It's hard to know where to start, but suffice this much: first, "just have faith" is anathema to reason, and it offers no criteria for deciding when to use reason or when to "just have faith." So, the default position is likely to be faith--making it easy-peasy to ignore science altogether.

Second, Chaos Theory in no way requires faith, especially blind faith. Just because we may not have access to all of the causal factors that affect the outcome ("macro") of some event ("micro") does not imply that our lack of access is endemic--that more knowledge and better technology won't equip us with better prediction of outcome in the future. It will. That's the story of science.

Third, the reason more knowledge and better technology will improve predictability is because the phenomena Chaos Theory explains are entirely physical. No gods, no miraculous conception, no reversal of necrosis, no life after death. Schade might reply that she only meant to use Chaos Theory as a metaphor--but that's silly. She doesn't need science to tell theological stories except that she's trying to make these stories look more credible. And for that project, she could use any scientific theory. What governs the choice of Chaos Theory seems therefore only to be that it can be made to fit her favored view of Jesus the trickster--but that is arbitrary, and thus neither about science nor ethics. It's about making magical thinking look like reason.

So, lastly,  Christianity--indeed any worldview grounded in the existence of the magical--and science cannot be "besties," as Schade insists, and this isn't merely because their foci are different domains of phenomena. It's because science is by its very nature an open-ended pursuit of the facts wherever the facts lead, including away from the magical, whereas the givens of religious belief are regarded by the true believer as incontestable. Confronted with a conflict between science and faith, the true believer chooses faith--even though this may well require self-deception. Or, well, until she or he gets cancer. Then they go to the oncologist because they still want to live. That chemo saves the true believer's life all the while they insist it was prayer is called hypocrisy.

The hypocritical self, in fact, may be the real "trickster" in this story. It is, moreover, precisely that penchant for choosing what we want to believe over what the science supports informs the  industries that depend on vomiting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that they've got absolutely nothing to angst about. Why should they worry? If the true believer can be bamboozled by a "Trickster" god, he or she can be bamboozled by Exxon-Mobil or Smithfield Farms. Even better, if a true believer can convince themselves that it was prayer that cured their cancer and not the chemotherapy, all they need to deny climate change is some good prime-time advertising about energy independence.

Gullible is gullible.

Let me put the point a different way: just because you can jury-rig a religious narrative to make it "fit" a scientific theory, or bastardize a scientific theory to make it cohere with a religious narrative, neither implies that science has any need to get religion. What such an exercise shows is that the true believer has little interest in knowing where the facts lead, but lots for shoring up a worldview that science has rendered obsolete. The fella who actually rejects the offer of chemotherapy because he's convinced prayer will cure his cancer will find all sorts of ways to rationalize why he's getting sicker, but he'll die just the same for having ignored the science that could have saved his life. 

Anything Goes

Creationists have tried the marry-up science and religion strategy to fantastically ridiculous effect--stretching the Biblical account of the six day creation to somehow make it work out to billions of years, or, more often, making proclamations that billions really means 6000. Fact is, the theory of evolution is about the blind and dumb physical forces of nature working mechanically over staggeringly long hauls. Fact is--it could have all been radically different, or not at all. But neither of these possibilities can be made to square with Christian teleology--the idea that it's all for something. It's not. We'd like to think so because it's comforting. But the truth is that the existence of gods provides not one whit of explanatory substance to the theory of evolution by natural selection. Occam's razor tells us to leave out of our theories any and everything we don't need: no explanatory value; no inclusion; no need for magical sky fathers.

Let me troubleshoot, however, for one more thing: to the true believer who insists that it's the burden of the atheist to show that god does not exist--no no no. This claim is the product of the same illogic that makes out science and religion to be "besties." It is manifestly the burden of the believer to show that such entities do exist--not the non-believer. Claims to the contrary commit the fallacy of ignorance: "you can't show god does not exist, so he must." No. To see why, simply substitute your favorite fictional character: "you can't show the Jolly Green Giant doesn't exist, so he must." The atheist hasn't asserted that a god doesn't exist; the atheist has made no claim at all.

Here's the great danger: once you open the door to the distortion of fact for the sake of making it cohere with some religious preoccupation, anything goes. If Shade can jury-rig Chaos Theory to Jesus-the-Trickster, Mike Pence can appeal to some bogus piece of pseudoscience about depression to deny women access to abortion, Ken Ham can argue for denying federal funding to public schools that don't teach creationism, and Richard Spencer can continue to insist that "Whites" are genetically superior human "stock." That Schade's positive "Jesus-the Trickster" message is more morally palatable is beside the point. Once the door to cherry-picking your science is open to fitting-it-up to your preconceived worldview there's no closing it off to bigots. That, in fact, is just one example of the rationalizing of violence and cruelty Russell points to as the reason he's not a Christian.

Consider: many Christians either deny or accept the fact of anthropogenic climate change on grounds that require a profound distortion of the facts:

Some Christians reject climate change because it doesn't cohere with their view of an earth that, as God's gift and the center of creation, it cannot be affected by human-made causes.

Some Christians accept climate change arguing that it's a sign of end times and a harbinger of revelation.

Both claims are premised on the claim that there is a God, that he (sic!) has some awesome plan, and that human beings are at the center of it all. Neither makes any supported defense of premises that are either flatly false, say, denying that climate change is anthropogenic or true--that its being anthropogenic reveals some step on the way to the apocalypse. What, after all, can't be  sign of end times? That climate change can be made to fit whatever religious narrative is indeed a gift--to the fossil fuel industry. Fact is, the unmistakable message to the Chevrons, the DuPonts, and the Monsantos of the world is that lots of folks are scientifically illiterate--that if we're willing to believe that certain sorts of stones have magical healing properties, or that Rieki communicates "energy" through the hands, or that prayer can cure illness, we can be convinced that global warming is a hoax of the Chinese. 

Uneducated doubt is always on the side of the charlatan. 

Moreover, that some--Christian or not--folks can be persuaded to the facts about global warming has nothing to do with whether they're believers--only that they're persons with some respect for fact. After all, just because you can make a scientific theory into one palatable to a religious faith does not mean it is consistent with any version of religious mumbo jumbo.

Evolution here too is instructive. Accounts of dinosaurs inserted into the Old Testament or claims that Noah's Ark could accommodate baby-dinos demonstrates only the extent to which some true-believers will go to make their Biblical worldview cohere--sort of--with otherwise inconvenient truths. But what creationism cannot offer are any reasons whatever to hold that the earth is only 6000 years old, that people walked with Triceratops, or that fossils are deceptions created by Satan to lure us from our faith. Yet these are all claims Christians have proffered in support of an anti-science worldview held by many of the graduates at Liberty University--claims implicitly reinforced by our president in his choice of location for a commencement address.  

The immeasurably sad thing is that if we need a God to convince us to care about the ancient history of the planet or the future of life on it--it's already too late.

Schade's argument with respect to Chaos theory is really just a sophisticated version of all of the above. She claims that

[w]hat’s so refreshing about chaos theory when applied to hegemonic human structures is its ability to break open any hubristic idea that we can control (benevolently or otherwise) nature and, by extension, our fellow humans. Personified in mythology by the “trickster” figure, chaos theory shows up in characters like Br’er Rabbit in African folklore, the Coyote figure in Native American mythology, and even Bugs Bunny from Saturday morning cartoons.  They are the court jesters – the “holy fools” – who tell the truth through humor, wit and cunning.  “It is not simply that fools change our perspective, though they do that.  Rather, fools create a liminal space where new perception becomes possible, but where discernment is both invited and required,” (Campbell and Cilliers, 87).
 No, Reverend Schade. The fools are the ones who don't get it that the space "where new perception becomes possible" opens when we put away our fear of the possibility that the only purposes we human beings have are the ones we make ourselves.  

That new space is called science, and it's not some god looking to teach us valuable moral lessons by jerking us around and making us guess--or allowing us to suffer. We can no longer afford this game, and it isn't really very funny.
What honesty demands is not the certainty of having the right god in our pockets, but the epistemic humility that accompanies recognizing that we've one life, one planet.

What truth requires is listening to the "fool" that entirely too many of our "men of God" guilt us into ignoring, namely, the physicist, the evolutionist, the biologist, the climatologist, the geologist, the chemist, the geneticist, the epidemiologist, the oncologist. Indeed, we can continue to pretend that religion should inform science, as Schade recommends, or we can decide to care about facts. But if we chose religion the trick will be on us.