I am a HUGE fan of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”. I watch these two shows, back to back, every night, without fail. I have a ritual, so to speak, that begins around fifteen minutes prior in preparation for an hour of witty snippets, hilarious hi jinks and tasteless tenacity that makes these two shows required viewing for me. These are probably the only two programs I watch from the comfort of my bed, so getting comfy is paramount. So, last night I set up my nightstand with my favorite elixir, a snack, a freshly emptied ashtray and a lighter that I know works. Yes, I smoke in bed. Sue me…
Anyhow, last night I have to say that for the first time my confidence in my two favorite shows to give me fodder for future forays into the fight for freedom had been shaken.
On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart’s guest was Morgan Freeman, and in spite of his previous roles as the “almighty”, I was fairly certain that he was not a religious man. What I have read about him and the recent interview he gave with CNN, where he schooled Kiran Chetry about him being a “man of god”.
Chetry stated to Freeman, “You are a man of God”, whereas Freeman laughingly replied, “And when did I ever say that?” Obviously flustered, Chetry restated, “you are a man of faith.” Freeman returned fire with, “If faith is what you believe, then yes,” which I took as an allusion to belief in science.
So you can imagine my surprise when Jon Stewart asked Freeman about the stuff that science has not yet figured out to hear Freeman state, rather emphatically, that it was “The God Factor”, and that we really don’t know where we come from. This, of course, got my attention, and not in a good way.
What Freeman was referring to was a point of view that is commonly used by the religious in their unscientific and usually ridiculous attempts to prove the existence of God. It is known as the “God of the Gaps” and it’s basic premise is that if we cannot currently explain something, then it must be the <insert appendage here> of god. What was so disturbing to me is that a conversation ensued about the “God of the Gaps” as though it were uncontroversial. As if it were a commonly held belief amongst cosmologists worldwide as the default position.
According to Wikipedia, the God of the Gaps refers to a view of God as existing in the “gaps” or aspects of reality that are currently unexplained by scientific knowledge and was coined by a man named Henry Drummond, a 19th century evangelist. Simply stated, it postulates acts of God to explain phenomena for which science has yet to give a satisfactory account. This, of course, is utter stupidity. Science makes new and exciting discoveries on a regular basis and, frankly, those “gaps” are getting smaller and smaller.
For the first time that I could remember, I got out of bed during the show and wandered into the kitchen to prepare to coffee pot for the next morning, making use of the time until The Colbert Report starts. I returned to by boudoir, refreshed and ready, only to be sucker-punched again.
Stephen’s guest was Lisa Miller, the author of “Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With The Afterlife”. Now, I realize that Colbert is Catholic, but it has always been my assumption that he was about as Catholic as Stewart is Jewish. Of course, Stephen is genius when it comes to sarcasm and those who are not familiar with his wit sometimes cannot tell when he is being serious, which is part of his comic genius and one of the reasons I enjoy his program so much.
However, when he stated to Miller “There’s already a book that tells me all I need to know about heaven. It’s called the bible”, I stopped smiling. Miller, the religion editor for Newsweek, obviously believes in heaven and she makes no bones about knowing what heaven “really is”. She points out that most Americans believe in heaven even though they don’t know what heaven means. In the interview, Miller addresses what and where heaven is, which is as disturbing as “knowing” what “god thinks”.
Miller states that most people have “a very silly, child-like, new yorker cartoon” understanding of heaven. Colbert asked her about what the bible says about heaven, and Miller continued by re-clarifying his question with, “What does the bible actually say rather than our theories?” As if…
The use of the vernacular “theory” in a religious setting being disturbing in of itself aside, her comments imply that while people have their own ideas about what or where heaven is, we can turn to the bible for the “truth”, and this truth can be found in the book of Revelation, complete with streets of gold, pearly gates and jeweled walls. The interview ended with Miller stating that heaven was like a playroom and but god isn’t actually IN the playroom, but we will still be happy and content there because we know he’s watching over us, kinda like mom and dad being upstairs.
My brain was starting to bleed pretty badly at this point. My snacks were uneaten but my ashtray was full and my bottle of rum was half empty. I sat there, staring blankly at the screen trying to figure out how two of my favorite television personalities managed to disappoint me so thoroughly in one night. I know that I laughed out loud during these episodes, but the topics at hand had overshadowed those moments so much that I still cannot recall any of the truly funny parts.
Will I stop watching their shows? No, I am still a fan, but I will be watching with a different eye for a while. This is unfortunate, because what was once an escape for me has been changed. It is probably just my inherent paranoia, but the glint of agenda has snuck in and all I can say is I hope it is only temporary.