Thursday, January 20, 2011 Login

Is Desmond Tutu Insane?

I suppose you remember who Desmond Tutu is.

If not, here’s a brief excerpt from his Wikipedia bio that will bring you up to speed:


The Most Rev. Dr. Desmond Mpilo Tutu (born 7 October 1931) is a South African activist and Christian cleric who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He was the first black South African Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, and primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa). Archbishop Tutu has been active in the defence of human rights and uses his high profile to campaign for the oppressed. He has campaigned to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, homophobia, poverty and racism. Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism in 1986, the Gandhi Peace Prize in 2005, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Tutu has also compiled several books of his speeches and sayings.

One might classify Rev. Tutu as an activist liberal Christian whose good works would readily meet with the approval of virtually all the humanists I know.

That doesn’t mean that his core beliefs are any more logical or empirically defensible than the core beliefs of activist racist Christians or other, even more reprehensible theists.

While most people might be inclined to applaud Tutu’s good works and overlook the bizarre worldview that apparently resides within his head, I cannot. Crazy people remain crazy whether their craziness inspires world war or world peace. Choosing to completely overlook the craziness of anyone as famous as Tutu seems to me to increase the odds of craziness in general becoming more prevalent in the world. It also seems to me to reduce us to the level of those who judge their friends and family members by one standard and everyone else by another. I’m sorry, but… 2 + 2 = 4 regardless of whether you’re sending dollars to UNICEF or sending army divisions into Poland. If you think 2 + 2 actually equals 3 or 5 or 17, you need to be told so by your math instructor rather than allowed to pass the course just because you have a good heart.

What sparked these thoughts now is the fact that Tutu turned 79 on October 7 and, at the urging of his wife, retired. Time magazine noted the event in a story entitled The Laughing Bishop. Here are a few of the passages from that story that set off my Crazy detector:

On Sept. 25, 1977, 16 years before apartheid’s end, Desmond Tutu stood before a crowd of 15,000 at the funeral of murdered black-consciousness leader Steve Biko in King William’s Town, South Africa, and declared that white rule was finished. “The powers of injustice, of oppression, of exploitation, have done their worst, and they have lost,” thundered the then 45-year-old bishop of St. Mary and St. James, Lesotho. “They have lost because they are immoral and wrong, and our God … is a God of justice and liberation and goodness. Our cause … must triumph because it is moral and just and right.”…”That’s the chief lesson I have learned,” he told Time recently. “The texture of our universe is one where there is no question at all but that good and laughter and justice will prevail.”…

“God is not evenhanded,” he summarizes it today. “God is biased, horribly in favor of the weak. The minute an injustice is perpetrated, God is going to be on the side of the one who is being clobbered.”

As a student of history and of life I found these comments to be a slap in the face, not only to me but to all the innocent and good people who have lived and died on this planet without good or laughter or justice raising a finger to help them, let alone prevailing. One need only visit a children’s hospital or a cancer ward or a nursing home – or open any day’s newspaper – to see good, innocent people being ground up by a million different kinds of hurt while Tutu’s gOd remains nowhere to be found.

And while some horrendous, historical injustices such as slavery and the Holocaust and apartheid eventually did come to an end, that end came far too late for millions upon millions of people – and it came not because any gOd acted but because other people did.

If Tutu’s gOd exists, he doesn’t deserve our thanks for the relatively rare happy outcomes that history serves up but our condemnation for creating and perpetuating the conditions that allowed evil to exist in the first place for a single minute.


“In the end,” says Tutu, “the perpetrators of injustice or oppression, the ones who strut the stage of the world often seemingly unbeatable — there is no doubt at all that they will bite the dust.” The thought still delights him. “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!” he roars. “Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!”

There is something positively chilling about not just his acceptance of a logically flawed philosophy that’s contradicted by the evidence but by the glee he expresses over the inherent vindictiveness and meanness of that philosophy.

It is the same mindset we find in the Hebrew scriptures that Christians insist on calling the Old Testament: A jealous deity first creates the conditions that make evil people inevitable and then delights in striking those people down. It’s a mindset that sees nothing wrong with Yahweh drowning virtually all life on earth because one man allegedly ate a piece of fruit or hardening Pharaoh’s heart and then smiting him for having a hard heart – indeed, it’s a mindset that dares to call such insane behavior Absolute Morality.

As I said long ago, Absolutely Moral deities would not have made a world such as this one to begin with.

Having somehow found itself presented with such a world, Absolute Morality would not seek to destroy evil people but mercifully convert them to good.

And Omnipotent Absolute Morality would go further and rewind or otherwise erase evil actions and histories so that they never would have happened in the first place.

Tardy remedial actions are intrinsically inferior, after all, to rapid pre-emptive actions.

Preventing rape or war or genocide is morally superior to comforting the next of kin after the rapes and wars and genocides have occurred.

It is stunning that even those theists as prominent and as highly respected as Tutu seem to utterly fail to grasp these points.

And it is extremely troubling that so many actually embrace this allegedly divinely-orchestrated system of “morality” earlier theists have foisted off on them as holy when they ought to be screaming their outrage from the mountaintops or converting to a sane, gOd-free system of morality such as that expounded by humanists.

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Originally posted at: Atheist Under Ur Bed

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