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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.”
http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/138957812/evangelicals-question-the-existence-of-adam-and-eve

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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Sorry to get this out to everyone so late, but better late than never. I have to warn you about the dangers of Halloween and Halloween candy. I recently read an article by Kimberly Daniels titled “The Danger of Celebrating Halloween”, and needed to share it with everyone. She writes:

The word “holiday” means “holy day.” But there is nothing holy about Halloween. The root word of Halloween is “hallow,” which means “holy, consecrated and set apart for service.” If this holiday is hallowed, whose service is it set apart for? The answer to that question is very easy—Lucifer’s!

Note: Beware of other holidays – such as the Fourth of July (set aside for the worship of the United States) and Labor Day (set aside for worshiping the worker).

During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed.

Wow, the devil sure is getting high-tech. I thought only pharmaceutical drugs could be time-released. Move over Eli-Lilly.

You may ask, “Doesn’t God have more power than the devil?” Yes, but He has given that power to us.

God’s infinite power has been given to us! Speaking of which, I meant to blame you for not healing grandma. Dick.

During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.

Yeah, I could totally see Hershey Foods and Mars Co. doing that. I mean, hiring witches to pray over food in a when a majority of Americans and a majority of workers are Christians. I mean, that wouldn’t be a public relations nightmare. Nor would any of the thousands of workers ever find out. And Hershey’s has so much to gain from it.

I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.

Demons: they promote tooth decay, too!

While the lukewarm and ignorant think of these customs as “just harmless fun,” the vortexes of hell are releasing new assignments against souls. Witches take pride in laughing at the ignorance of natural men (those who ignore the spirit realm).

Decorating buildings with Halloween scenes, dressing up for parties, going door-to-door for candy, standing around bonfires and highlighting pumpkin patches are all acts rooted in entertaining familiar spirits. All these activities are demonic and have occult roots.

Yup. Pagan roots. I wonder if she knows the origins of Christmas Trees and Easter Bunnies. I guess All-Saints Day and Reformation Day just weren’t quite popular enough to overshadow the pagan origins of Halloween. I mean Reformation Day – what could be more fun than remembering the Reformation?

The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes.

Wait, now danger is not in the scary things we see — like “dressing up for parties, going door-to-door for candy, standing around bonfires and highlighting pumpkin patches”? What about “demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities” and “vortexes of hell”?

These activities include:
* Sex with demons
* Orgies between animals and humans
* Animal and human sacrifices
* Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
* Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
* Revel nights
* Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
* Release of “time-released” curses against the innocent and the ignorant.

Yeash. I’m an atheist, and I don’t even get invited to those parties. Then again, maybe it’s because I don’t have any spare babies to sacrifice. You know us atheists, always short on babies because we kill ’em all-year-round.

If you or your family members have opened the door to any curses that are released during the demonic fall festivals, renounce them and repent. I already have.

Sorry, neighborhood kids: no candy for you. Worship the devil at someone else’s house.

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Another email forward from the family. This one has been on the internet for a few years.

The short version is this: an atheist professor tells a classroom that he’s going to prove that a good god doesn’t exist. He challenges a Christian student to prove him wrong. In the first half of the story, the professor launches an attack, and the student stays silent, apparently being unable to combat the arguments. In the second half of the story, another student stands up and argues back. He shoots down evolution, compares the professor to a preacher and forces the professor to admit his lectures have to be “taken on faith”.

The email seems to follow a familiar pattern of ‘learned professor with years of experience getting out-argued by a young Christian who puts his faith in Jesus’. The story let’s Christians indulge in a little fictional smack-down against atheist academics, and helps reinforce their idea that they’ve got truth on their side. It reminds me of some other similar stories (Worst. Satire. Ever. – Friendly Atheist) and another one in Chick Tracts:


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There are even some Muslim versions (1, 2), and versions where Einstein is the student.

I especially liked this comment after someone posted the story on their blog:

Amazing! Don’t you love it when science is proven wrong by God? It just reminds me of His power and supremacy!

I hope that’s satire.

The question is: how many errors and problems can you find in the story?

GOD vs. Science

A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, ‘Let me explain the problem science has with religion.’ The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

Professor: ‘You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?’
‘Yes sir,’ the student says.

Professor: ‘So you believe in God?’
‘Absolutely.’

Professor: ‘Is God good?’
‘Sure! God’s good.’

Professor: ‘Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?’
‘Yes.’

Professor: ‘Are you good or evil?’
‘The Bible says I’m evil.’

The professor grins knowingly. ‘Aha! The Bible!’ He considers for a
moment. ‘Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?’

Student: ‘Yes sir, I would.’

Professor: ‘So you’re good….!’
‘I wouldn’t say that.’

Professor: ‘But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.’

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. ‘He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?’

The student remains silent.
‘No, you can’t, can you?’ the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

Professor: ‘Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?’
‘Er…yes,’ the student says.

Professor: ‘Is Satan good?’
The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. ‘No.’

Professor: ‘Then where does Satan come from?’
The student falters.. ‘From God’

Professor: ‘That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son.. Is there evil in this world?’
‘Yes, sir.’

Professor: ‘Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?’
‘Yes.’

‘So who created evil?’ The professor continued, ‘If God created
everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.’

Again, the student has no answer.
Professor: ‘Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?’

The student squirms on his feet. ‘Yes.’

Professor: ‘So who created them?’

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. ‘Who created them?’ There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. ‘Tell me,’ he continues onto another student. ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?’

The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. ‘Yes, professor, I do.’

The old man stops pacing. ‘Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?’
‘No sir. I’ve never seen Him.’

Professor: ‘Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?’
‘No, sir, I have not.’

Professor: ‘Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had ! any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?’
‘No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.’

Professor: ‘Yet you still believe in him?’
‘Yes.’

Professor: ‘According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?’

‘Nothing,’ the student replies. ‘I only have my faith.’
‘Yes, faith,’ the professor repeats. ‘And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.’

At the back of the room another student stands quietly for a moment before asking a question of His own. ‘Professor, is there such thing as heat?’

‘Yes,’ the professor replies. ‘There’s heat.’
Student: ‘And is there such a thing as cold?’
Professor: ‘Yes, son, there’s cold too.’
Student: ‘No sir, there isn’t.’

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. ‘You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.’

‘Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.’

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

‘What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?’

‘Yes,’ the professor replies without hesitation. ‘What is night if it isn’t darkness?’

‘You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word..’

‘In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?’

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. ‘So what point are you making, young man?’

‘Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.’

The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. ‘Flawed? Can you explain how?’

‘You are working on the premise of duality,’ the student explains. ‘You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.’

‘It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it..’

‘Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?’

‘If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.’

‘Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?’

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

‘Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?’

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

‘To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.’

The student looks around the room. ‘Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?’ The class breaks out into laughter.

‘Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.’

‘So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?’

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. ‘I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.’

‘Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with
life,’ the student continues. ‘Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?’

Now uncertain, the professor responds, ‘Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.’

To this the student replied, ‘Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.’

The professor sat down.

If you read it all the way through and had a smile on your face when you finished, mail to your friends and family with the title: God vs Science.

… and that professor’s name was PZ Myers.

How many problems did you find? I’m sure I didn’t find all the problems. Here’s some of the issues that occurred to me as I read it:

Minor Issues:
– The story seems to be confused about whether he is a science professor (first sentence) or philosophy professor (third sentence). The argument is clearly more suited to a philosophy professor. But, making him a philosophy professor deprives Christians of the satisfaction of having a science professor be completely unable to defend evolution.
– The professor comes across as a smug know-it-all atheist who picks out a random Christian student from the class, makes him stand up and embarrasses him in front of the class. I guess they just want to make atheist academics as unlikeable as possible, but it seems like a pretty big stretch since any teacher should know better than to abuse a student in front of the class.

Major Issues:
– No decent science professor would argue that science is about things you detect with your five senses. For example, no one has seen a radio wave, or an electron. Ernest Rutherford determined the structure of an atom without ever seeing protons or electrons. No one has seen the tectonic plates, and even our detection of extra-solar planets involves not seeing the planet directly, but detecting its gravitational effects on its star. “We detect its effects” is a good way to know something exists — and that includes the existence of a professor’s brain. Theoretically, we could even detect the existence of psychic powers (without seeing psychic energy floating through the air) – if psychics could actually do better than chance at things like reading people’s minds or knowing future events. By using this narrow definition of science, much of science (including the structure of the atom) is deemed to be “unscientific”, and therefore on the same level as faith in God. It’s fallacious to put them on the same level.

Now, some Christians might try to argue that God’s effects can be detected – they feel His love, etc – but psychological effects are difficult to distinguish from placebo effects. Even worse, other people from other religions and cults might feel the same things. If they actually had more empirical effects (legitimate faith healing, knowing things when they shouldn’t, prophecy, etc) then they might have a point. The professor’s point about God not healing the sick is one example of an indirect effect of God’s existence that could be detected.

– Evolution – The student tries to argue that no one has seen evolution with their five senses, therefore, it’s “faith”, just like faith in God. (Actually, this is a pretty good description of what creationists think about evolution. They think that the idea of evolution was created when scientists weaved together conjecture with a need for an non-theistic explanation for life.) Apparently, in order for evolution to be elevated to science, you’d need to watch evolution happen over a period of tens or hundreds of millions of years AND prove that God didn’t interfere when you weren’t looking. And, if you pointed out observations of evolution in fruit flies and bacteria, they’d call that “micro-evolution”, which is “totally different” than primate to human “macro-evolution”. But, as I said earlier, science does not need to rely on direct observation. Ultimately, the argument fails because there’s so much information from paleontology, genetics, etc.

– The student makes the argument that good and evil are like hot and cold. The problems with the “evil is the absence of good” arguments are this:

First, I don’t think “good” can be can be compared to heat. The student talks about infinite heat, but is there such a thing as “infinite good”? I don’t think so. Sure, Christians might say God is infinitely good, but I’m not sure how that’s anything but words. I think it’s entirely valid to say “on a scale of 0 to 1, zero means maximum evil and one means maximum good”. The problem is that there is no ‘right’ answer because good and evil are mental concepts, not physical, measurable characteristics, like heat. Further, we could imagine a cold, lifeless planet. Is there good or evil there? If evil is simply the absence of good, then it must be somewhere on the continuum between absolute good and absolute evil. But, that doesn’t work because a cold, lifeless planet cannot be described as good or evil – it simply is. You could say that it is absent of both, but you could never say that it is absent of heat and cold, absent of light and darkness.

Second, he says evil is the absence of God. If “evil is the absence of God”, then the cure for evil is God. This suggests that more prayer, more Bible study, and more moral living is the cure for sickness, famine, predators, and natural disasters. Yet, none of those things seem to have any effect on the natural evil in the world. This gets even more confusing with the Biblical teaching that ‘wherever two or three are gathered, God will be there’. Why, then, are sick Christians still sick if they meet and pray with a few other Christians? Why does God withhold his healing power? Is it possible to be “infinitely good” if you aren’t doing things to save people? For example, if you avoid throwing a life-preserver to a drowning man or ignore a man trapped inside a well, can you still call yourself perfectly good?

Third, sickness, predators, and death existed long before humans existed. Are we supposed to believe that snakes have venom and fangs because God wasn’t visiting earth frequently enough millions of years ago? At the same time, they deny evolution, so a complex system like fangs and venom (which paralyzes muscle) must’ve been “intelligently designed”. Apparently, God is designing the evil – and he’s perfectly good, too. He’s such a mystery.

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I Get Email

Being from a rather religious family (both my immediate and extended family), I often get email forwards about various political or religious issues. I usually just roll my eyes and don’t respond. Here’s one of the latest email-forward from my aunt. I’ll spare you the full text – you can read it over at Snopes. (Snopes agrees that Darrell Scott made this speech, but points out the overblown language used to frame the piece and says the speech was never given to Congress.)

Subject: PLEASE READ THOUGHT PROVOKING

Guess our national leaders didn’t expect this, hmm? On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful..

They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal.. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:

* Actually Darrell Scott wasn’t speaking to Congress, he was “one of eight people who presented statements to a small House Subcommittee meeting in an office building; … and didn’t prompt outrage from an unreceptive audience”.

Religious people really love to cast themselves as the role of wise martyr speaking truth to power. I’m surprised they didn’t use this photograph to accompany the email:

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.

Point #1: No to gun control. Conservatives are going to love this email, and so will the NRA. Of course, this was just a brief detour to talk about the real cause of this tragedy.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

The blame for Columbine lies in this government room? The blame lies with people pointing fingers at those who accuse the NRA?

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

Point #2: We must pay tax dollars for (Christian) religious education, or else these kinds of shootings will happen again.

So, the blame for Columbine lies with those who “outlawed” prayer in schools, preventing children from finding what they need — God.

Of course, the government never outlawed prayer in schools. The government outlawed the practice of teachers (authority figures paid by the general public’s tax dollars) leading students (a captive audience of other people’s children) in prayers to a religion they may or may not believe in. The solution to Columbine is in using tax dollars for religious education — but only as long as it promotes their particular religious view.

I like some of those lines:

“Your laws ignore our deepest needs,”. Our deepest need is to indoctrinate other people’s children? And why do public schools have to allow the teaching of religion? Aren’t there other places to do that, or must “all our deepest needs” be met in schools?

“You’ve stripped away our heritage”. “Heritage” meaning “Christianity”, and “stripped away” meaning “you won’t let us make other people’s children pray to Jesus”.

“You’ve outlawed simple prayer.” Prayer isn’t outlawed in schools.

One of my former neighbors believes in all kinds of new age / wicca moon-goddess beliefs. She’s also a public school teacher. I think we all know what would happen if she started leading other people’s children in prayers. Christians would protest and complain, but it’s totally different if it’s their religion that’s getting taught. Admittedly, those are different situations: my neighbor would lead innocent, impressionable children in prayer to a false idol – the demonic moon-goddess, rather than showing them the way to the One True God.

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence… The real villain lies within our own hearts.

Hmm, I think most of this speech could be repeated by devout Muslims in any historically Islamic territory. A good way to entrench the dominant religion.

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him.

This totally plays into the Christian-conservative myth that prayer was outlawed in schools. By perpetuating this myth, they try to turn “teachers can’t lead students in prayer” into some kind of burden on Christians and the one true God. I especially like how he tries to pretend that politicians were trying to deny students the right to pray in school.

Do what the media did not – – let the nation hear this man’s speech..

Yes, the media did not let the nation hear this man’s speech. The media is against Christians, and are working to suppress the truth. Or, maybe they just didn’t think it was newsworthy. Interesting spin, though. I think I’ll try it with this blog-post: “Do what the media did not — let the nation read my blog post!”

Today, I got an email from another relative where she says that it’s obvious that we needed to overturn the ban on prayer in school. Ugh.

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