Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

NPR: Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve

Let’s go back to the beginning — all the way to Adam and Eve, and to the question: Did they exist, and did all of humanity descend from that single pair? … Polls by Gallup and the Pew Research Center find that four out of 10 Americans believe this account. It’s a central tenet for much of conservative Christianity, from evangelicals to confessional churches such as the Christian Reformed Church.

But now some conservative scholars are saying publicly that they can no longer believe the Genesis account. Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.”

Follow the link to hear the segment or read the article.

Of course, I don’t see this as a wider questioning of Adam and Eve in the evangelical community. There’s a lot of people who are happy not questioning their preexisting Adam and Eve beliefs, and they can always go to Answers in Genesis to calm their fears. I don’t envy the professors who are caught between the scientific evidence against Adam and Eve versus the parents who don’t know better, but are happy to complain about the ‘liberal unbiblical’ teachings of professors who don’t accept the literal reading of Genesis.

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Rick Perry, the current governor of Texas, is going to run for president in 2012. No doubt, a lot of evangelicals will flock to him because he seems to be a “man of God” and “we need men of God in the White House”. (See also: FOX News “Five Reasons Why I Believe Texas Governor Rick Perry Will Be Our President In 2013”)

Rick Perry’s Prayer Rally and Fast [via Cynical-C]

On a related note, here’s a clip from the “Way of the Master Radio” (which is the show with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, but a third guy named Todd Friel seems to be the one in this clip) doing a relatively good piece on the psychology of faith healings, speaking in tongues, etc. I really didn’t know that their show would be coming down against the faith healers. I grew up in the ‘faith healing, speaking in tongues, slain in the spirit’ type of churches, and I eventually started to recognize that nobody ever seemed to ever get truly healed, despite the big show at church.

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Giving Credit

Recently, we’ve had a number of sudden downpours that filled roadways with so much water that they were temporarily un-drivable. A certain super-Republican, super-Christian girl I know made the mistake of driving her truck into one of these large puddles and had to abandon her vehicle. It sounds (so far) like there wasn’t any major damage to the car, but she has to get it professionally cleaned. What annoyed me was all her facebook posts giving credit to God. The general thinking seems to be: something bad happened, but something worse could’ve happened – therefore, praise God for intervening to stop the worse thing from happening. Example:

“thank Jesus, [my truck] is alive!!! After being submerged in water for 45min, we let her dry out and eventually she started up!!! Thank God for miracles! guessing i just need some interior detailing, but that’s it. an amazing end to a horrifying day!! God is good!!! … God is good and i’m thankful he looks out for me”

(Roll eyes) It’s amazing that bad things can happen to someone, and it somehow it gets turned around into a confirmation of God’s existence and God’s intervention because the *worst* possible outcome didn’t happen. As if the worst possible outcome always happens without God’s special intervention. I also couldn’t help but imagine that other people in other religions also credit their gods when the worst outcome doesn’t happen. “Praise Allah! The worst outcome didn’t happen, God if great!” – as if their imaginary gods played any role.

I was tempted to post a snarky comment like “My car wasn’t damaged at all, I guess God likes atheists best.” or “99% of the people in this city had no problems, I credit Neptune, god of the seas.” or “I saved your car with my psychic powers. What? You have just as much reason to believe that as you do that God saved your car.” or “I knew a Christian guy in college who got pancreatic cancer and died several years later. He and his family prayed like crazy, and he spent a lot of time studying the Bible before his demise, but God didn’t intervene. Glad he’s looking out for your automobile.”

For the sake of diplomacy, I didn’t retort.

Even as a Christian kid, I questioned giving God credit for these kinds of things. It seemed to me, that mathematically, it was unlikely that the worst possible outcome would happen by chance, so some percentage of “bad, but not the worst outcome” situations had nothing to do with divine intervention. Even as a Christian, the lens that Christians used to view the world just seemed out of touch with reality. It seemed to be:
– If a good thing happened: Praise God!
– If nothing happened: Praise God for his protection!
– If something bad happened, but it wasn’t the worst thing that could happen: Praise God for intervening to prevent the worst!
– If the absolute worst thing happened: Either silence, “God works in mysterious ways”, “He’s in heaven with Jesus now.”, etc.

Of course, it was considered impolite to question someone’s opinion of God’s role, so nobody challenged anything. As far as I could tell, bad things happened as frequently as you’d expect if God never intervened in the world at all.

I guess my rationality was the crack in the dam.

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[Via Unreasonable Faith] I fully approve of pointing out the schizophrenia of the Republicans regarding Ayn Rand and Christianity. This will, no doubt, make a few Tea Party activists’ heads explode.

Admittedly, one way around this is for a conservative simply say that Ayn Rand was right on economics, not religion, but Jesus was right on religion. It would be harder to wiggle out of the issue, though, if they pointed out Jesus and Ayn Rand’s diametrically opposed positions on wealth and charity. Jesus said things like:

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Whereas, Ayn Rand makes personal greed the highest virtue, and has a dismal view of altruism.

(See, my childhood knowledge of Christianity is still useful.)

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Life and Death

The pastor of the church I grew up in died over the weekend. It’s sad. I really liked the guy. He was sincere and personable. He had been battling cancer for over a year. I would sometimes see their family’s updates on Facebook. Sometimes they would describe how he was getting some of the latest medical devices to shoot radiation into his brain, targeting the tumors. There was a string of bad news – they kept finding more tumors. The family would talk about how they needed to “fight the enemy”, by which they mean that this was a “spiritual war” against the devil who was attacking them. They had to keep praying for healing from God. The juxtaposition of modern medicine on one hand and the devil, prayer, and God on the other, seemed particularly bizarre. It was like the finest medicine of the 21st century meets a stone-age understanding of the world.

The notion of a “spiritual war” always seemed like an odd notion to me, since they believed in an all-powerful deity. How can you have a “war” when you have the ultimate trump card? At that point, it’s really just a “war” to convince God to arrive and do something.

Anyway, he died over the weekend. I listened to the eulogy that they posted online. The new pastor (who used to be the assistant pastor) said his last few days were painful – involving seizures and vomiting. When he died, they prayed over his body for God to bring him back to life. They called the new pastor on the phone, who had them put the phone the deceased pastor’s ear and prayed for God to revive him. It made me angry. I was angry that they are so deluded that they believed God would raise him from the dead. It made me angry that, despite praying for God to heal his cancer, despite praying for God to rescue him from his pain, seizures, and vomiting — none of which accomplished anything (which should’ve told them something about their God’s unwillingness to perform a miracle), they wanted to “bring him back” into this pain. I was shocked at their incredible level of self-delusion.

Then they said that he was in heaven now, happy and with God. Not only do I think that’s just another self-delusion, but I couldn’t help but think “if you really believe he’s in paradise right now, then why the hell did you pray over his body to try to bring him back into his painful life on earth?”

I’m still shaking my head over how delusional all of it is.

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Random thought of the day: was the American Revolution contrary to the teachings of Christianity? What prompted me to ask such a question? Here’s what Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-7:

Submission to the Authorities
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Link to Romans 13

The section of the Bible pretty much outlines the divine right of kings and other rulers. Further, if God instituted the British authority over the American colonies, then not only was the American Revolution contrary to the teachings of the New Testament, but raises yet another problem for activists who want to convince us that the American government was founded on Christianity.

Of course, the whole thing is self-contradictory nonsense anyway. Afterall, according to this passage, Americans were supposed to submit to the British while they were in power and not start a revolution because the British were “established by God”. But, the moment the revolution was successful (despite the Biblical teaching against revolution), then suddenly the new American government is supposedly “established by God”.

The king is dead. Long live the king!

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The Rapture

I recently saw a blog comment talking about the importance of Christian Evangelism because the end of the world was near.

Ugh. I remember growing up thinking that Jesus was going to return any day now. When I was growing up, there was a period of time when rapture movies were popular in the local churches. You’d go and watch these movies at church with names like “A Thief in the Night”. Funny the things you can find on YouTube:

I remember being around second or third grade, coming home from school, and noticing that my parents weren’t home. I was genuinely afraid that the rapture happened, and I was left behind. My Christian school-teacher had a bumper sticker on her car that read “In case of rapture, this car will be left unoccupied”. Now, it all seems so cult-like. It reminds me of fears the Heavens Gate followers had of missing the UFO behind Hale-Bop, or the fears the Branch Davidians had of leaving the compound, for fear that they wouldn’t be raptured up to heaven with David Koresh. But, it was a part of my Christian fundamentalist worldview.

Oddly enough, American Dad had a recent episode revolving around Stan and Francine missing the rapture. (The creator, Seth MacFarlane is an atheist, by the way.) Enjoy.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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