Like many others, I too have been entertained by Newt Gingrich’s defeat in the Florida Republican primary elections; and further pleased to see that it had not slowed the old buzzard down as he continues to pursue his party’s nomination. I have previously discussed some of Newt’s past escapades and how they strangely contradict, yet intersect, with his proclaimed religious views. But since then, I have discovered a very interesting clip where Gingrich expresses his views about atheists. In it, he effectively proclaims that he would not trust anyone who claims that they, by themselves and without supernatural assistance, were strong enough to be the president of the United States. He then effectively doubles down by stating that he would be terrified of any person who claims that they do not need the help of a supernatural deity in order to make presidential decisions.
This is not the first time Gingrich reveals more about himself than he bargained for, and foolishly exposes his own apparent weaknesses. Never mind for a moment that Gingrich is willing to proclaim a belief in an iron aged tribal middle eastern deity called Yahweh, Gingrich seems to think that people that don’t believe in a supernatural deity (never mind which specific one for now) are somehow handicapped.
It is interesting and, once again, more self revealing than he intended, to see Newt start his little rant with the story about Alcoholics Anonymous, and how he thinks that belief in deities make it effective. This, once again, ignores all the individuals that successfully cure their addictions without having to depend on the consolations of the supernatural. If some people need to believe in supernatural deities while others do not, then belief in a deity – not being a common denominator – cannot be used to explain the phenomenon. Failure to understand this simple Non Sequitur fallacy is a failure to grasp fundamental logic – which, I would argue, disqualifies a person from becoming president.
The late great Christopher Hitchens used to issue a challenge to believers in countless debates, articles and lectures, in which he would ask his audience to think of an ethical action taken, or ethical statement made, by a believer that could not have been taken or made by a nonbeliever. Needless to say, no serious reply has ever been given to this challenge. Provisionally, I think we are entitled to extend this challenge to Newt’s claim about limited human powers and how they affect the US presidency: ‘Can you, Mr. Gingrich, give us a single example of a presidential action taken, or decision made, by a believer in Yahweh that could not be taken or made by a democratically elected president who does not believe in supernatural deities?’
The eternal question, every time I discuss the ravings of a politician or the rantings of some religious demagogue, is – does this person actually believe the nonsense he is spewing, or is he just attempting to pay lip service to those who are stupid enough to not only accept the claims of a liar, but to believe in supernatural deities to begin with? The answer in either case will lead us to conclude that the aforementioned person is either insane or dishonest, and should therefore not be allowed to be president.