Defending Your Beliefs

I took a little break, both from blogging and from writing. After months of pushing and pushing, I reached a point where I needed to stop, play some computer games, and just let things rest for a few days. I’m not participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, but I am still planning on finishing a first draft of a novel I started last year.

Today, I want to talk about what it means to defend one’s beliefs. This is about faith, integrity, facts, and stubbornness. It’s about religion, politics, science, and fiction. This is a topic that is at the heart of many of my stories, and in light of recent events, I want to get into it.

In other words, I want to finish my novel, but I’m not going to be able to write any fiction today until I get this off my chest.

Facts are Facts

Let’s start with the most important point: facts are not subject to interpretation. You can make an argument that the truths we cling to are dependent on our point of view, but statements of fact are immutable. This is the information that is measurable. You can see, taste, feel, hear, or smell a fact. My cup holds 12oz of sugary coffee. My keyboard is a bluetooth device. I’m sitting at Starbucks off of Florin road on a Saturday. These are facts.

Opinions are not facts. Opinions can be informed by facts, but they are not interchangeable. “Starbucks has the best coffee” is an opinion. You can try to support the opinion by comparing it to other coffee chains, the amount of money they make and how many stores they manage to keep open, but there are people that will prefer Peet’s or McDonald’s or whatever they brew at home.

Faith is Fine Until it is Not

You might have thought I was about to go into politics, but instead I’m going to pivot and speak directly to my Christian readers. Let’s talk about faith and The Bible.

I learned in church that faith is knowing something without the need of evidence. Different words were used, but the definition I’ve laid out holds true. God wants us to trust in Him, give our problems over to Him, and have faith. We are instructed to walk in faith. Have faith that Jesus was the son of God, died for our sins, was raised after three days, seen by his disciples, then ascended to heaven. Faith.

In Acts, we are shown a situation where God demands us to adjust our faith when a set of facts contradicts it. Peter is on a roof, and God lays before Peter a banquet full of food Peter ordinarily would not eat. To paraphrase a little…

“Eat the BLT, Pete!” God says.

“I can’t! You put me on a diet!”

“If I’m the boss of you, and I tell you a bacon lettuce tomato sandwich is yummy, put that food in your lowest face hole!”

“Are… are you sure?”

“Bitch, eat your sandwich and be happy!”

Peter entered that scenario with his faith and his dedication to his Jewish heritage. Then God presented a new set of facts which contradicted Peter’s faith. And Peter, after having already failed Jesus three times, was taught the same lesson I’m trying to present in this essay: incontrovertible facts outweigh faith.

If we are presented with undeniable, provable facts which contradict our beliefs, it is not the facts which are at fault. It is our beliefs.

Statements of Fact Should Not Be Political

Now let’s get political. I’m going to start listing a number of facts. These all sound like political statements.

  • The 2016 election was over 3 years ago and Donald Trump continues to bring it up.
  • In the 2016 election, Donald Trump lost the popular vote by more than 3 million votes.
  • Donald Trump was elected as the Republican candidate.
  • Republicans usually support conservative values, including Christianity, anti-abortion, fiscally conservative, pro-gun/2nd amendment legislation.
  • Donald Trump has been married multiple times, mostly to models from other countries.
  • Donald Trump had an affair with a porn star and paid her off with $130,000 to stay quiet during the run-up to his election.
  • I do not believe Donald Trump is a good representation of Christian family values or conservative principles.
  • Donald Trump said running up into the election that he would release his taxes.
  • Donald Trump is the first president in decades to not release his taxes.
  • Donald Trump is fighting the release of his taxes in the court system, a battle which appears to be going to The Supreme Court.
  • Donald Trump repeatedly berated President Obama for spending time at the gold course.
  • Donald Trump has spent more time at the gold course than any other president in history.
  • The Emoluments clause in the Constitution is meant to shield federal officeholders (including the office of President) from “corrupting influences.” In other words, a person holding a position such as President is not supposed to supposed to be open to bribes through the use of their property.
  • President Jimmy Carter put his peanut farm in a trust when he became president, in order to adhere to the principles of The Emoluments clause.
  • Donald Trump has made millions of dollars through his hotels while in office, as dignitaries and security details are charged to stay at his properties.
  • A sum of money was approved by congress to support Ukraine against Russia.
  • By order of Donald Trump, that money was held up.
  • Donald Trump had a conversation with the newly elected president of Ukraine, in which Donald Trump asked the new president to do him a favor, work with his personal attorney, and investigate a potential political rival and their son.
  • At no point in that conversation did Donald Trump use the word “corruption” or refer to corruption within Ukraine.
  • Someone listening to the conversation became concerned that the president was abusing his office for political gain and went through legal channels to raise a whistle-blower complaint.
  • Two days after news broke of the whistle-blower complaint, the money was released to Ukraine.

These are all statements of fact. They are all verifiable. There is video evidence for most of these. Many of these have been verified from Trump himself in the form of transcripts released by the White House.

If I’m wrong about any of these, if I have the facts wrong, please let me know, and provide credible evidence that refutes what I’ve stated. I’m open to having my opinions and beliefs changed by the presentation of more, irrefutable facts. I learned the lesson of Peter.

Parting Thoughts

I can see people disputing some of the things I’ve stated, saying “you only watch the liberal news!”

There is a smidgen of truth to that. Most of the news sources I listen to are branded liberal. CNN, Washington Post, sometimes NY Times.

Every once in a while, I’ll glance at Fox news or The Hill or Politico or MSNBC. As I’m reading, I watch for opinions disguised as facts. If the ratio leans too far into opinion, I abandon ship.

Mostly I watch for the direct evidence. I download the White House transcripts and read them myself. I watch videos of Trump speaking, and I read his tweets. He does himself no favors.

It’s painful, because I can list a series of facts which are damning when all taken together. I didn’t even list them all. Those were just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. I didn’t go into The Mueller report, or Manafort, or Cohen. There’s so much more.

I see all these things and it makes me sad and angry and frustrated, because there’s so many people that still support Trump. When presented with provable facts, they’d rather close their eyes or look away. Lindsay Graham is a good example of this.

Anyway, that’s enough of that for the day. I think I’ll focus on something more positive, like the post-apocalyptic setting in the novel I’m trying to finish.