Guest post: The same wellspring of desire for order and for answers

Originally a comment by Seth on 13 bible verses.

I just watched an interview wherein Neil deGrasse Tyson sat in Stephen Colbert’s chair and interviewed Stephen as a guest on his own show (I suspect, since they’ve been such good friends over the last fourteen years, they thought it was a welcome change of pace to have the conversation go somewhat the other way). The slice of conversation relevant to my point here begins at the 6:15 mark, though there is more context and banter that can also work to frame it from the preceding minute or two.

In summary, Tyson, who is publicly agnostic in the most milquetoast way but obviously an atheist in every way that matters, asks Colbert, who is perhaps the most famous progressive Catholic in the world, how he resolved his desire to know and his respect for the evidence with the tensions of his faith; Colbert rejected this as a false dichotomy, in a friendly but nevertheless tension-inducing way, and he went on to describe his faith as the answer to ‘why is there something rather than nothing’. It was founded upon his deep and utter gratitude at existing, his inability to explain why, and his personal tradition of channeling that majestic awe through the framework of Catholicism and, more specifically, his ‘…gratitude for Christ, through Him all things were made’.

Which, naturally, got uproarious applause from the progressive audience, who doubtless felt their heartstrings pulled by such piety; and it got an indulgent non-response from Tyson, who doubtless judged his comradeship the better part of valour. And, arguably to his credit but I think ultimately to his shame, Colbert defused the tension by saying he was ‘…taught by intellectual Catholics who believed you could be a Catholic and still question your Church’, and followed up with a joke about how the proper term for such a belief was being a Protestant.

And, of course, Stephen Colbert is not personally responsible for this sort of tragedy. The members of his church are likewise blameless. But the high-minded personal faith he espouses in that banter, the guiding light and reassuring answer to the mystery of his existence, is inextricably bound up in the same base urges and failed pattern-seeking that led this little band of psychopaths to feel righteous for torturing a child to death. They come from the same taproot, the same wellspring of desire for order and for answers.

This sort of thing is what inevitably happens when one group of apes holds itself as beyond any critique or inquiry, and the very same faith that Colbert espouses is the most reliable source of such constructions. And the Colberts of the world are somehow never held to account for this.

They are, disgustingly, applauded.

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