Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Remember the Japanese earthquake and U.S. poll that was conducted shortly afterward asking if natural disasters are a punishment from God? (Some even claiming that the earthquake/tsunami were a punishment for Japan’s atheism.)

The poll released today by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was conducted a week after a March 11 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Nearly six in 10 evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages — nearly twice the number of Catholics (31%) or mainline Protestants (34%). Evangelicals (53%) are also more than twice as likely as the one in five Catholics or mainline Protestants to believe God punishes nations for the sins of some citizens.
Source: USA Today

Well, Japan does have high levels of atheism:

And a new article says:

In the five months since the tsunami struck Japan, people have returned $78 million in missing cash and valuables that they found amid the rubble, police said… The National Police Agency says nearly all the valuables found in the three hardest hit prefectures, have been returned to their owners… “Polite” and “disciplined” were words often used to describe the Japanese population in the absence of widespread looting. (Source)

Maybe God hates Japan because atheists because they are just so darn honest, even when nobody’s looking. (And religious people still claim that atheists are supposed to be some kind of wild amoral animals.)

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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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This is an interesting clip about a film-maker who sets himself up as a fake spiritual guru, and gains some followers who come to believe that it’s all real.

Oops. I can’t embed this video directly, so you’ll have to follow the link to the Time website: Kumaré: A True Film About a False Prophet

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The gaming website, Destructoid, posted an article about a new game based on the Bible. I was actually pretty surprised how harsh it was to Christianity. I’d provide a link, but my antivirus complained about the website, so, to protect your computer I’m not providing a link. (But, here’s another article about the game.) The writeup:

The Bible Online is a new strategy MMO game … seriously

If you’ve ever read all the rape, genocide and deep-seated racism in The Bible and thought to yourself, “Man, that sounds like my kind of world,” then this is the game for you! The Bible Online allows players to “slip into the role of Abraham and his descendants and have the opportunity to reenact and witness the incidents of their times.”

The game is going to be split into chapters with The Heroes being the first released. The basic setup is that of an MMO strategy game, where players control their own tribe, build a city, and naturally wage war in the name of God. It won’t be a case of holding onto territory, however, as the ultimate goal is leading one’s band of merry savages into the promised land.

Side quests, roleplaying elements and more have all been promised, making this possibly the best game based on a book that was written by 2,000-year-old cultists from whom many civilized Americans still take their medical advice.

Sounds like fun, and I’m tempted to sign up for the beta. My only problem with Bible games is that the story is always so far-fetched for some reason. They should get Square Enix to write up something a bit more believable.

Ouch. That was pretty merciless.

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Blog the Religions

I’ve been listening to John Hummel’s 52 Weeks, 52 Religions podcast lately. He’s a former Mormon who’s out doing interviews with religious groups around Tampa Florida. About half of his interviews are with various Christian denominations, but he includes Muslims, Jews, Satanists, Pagans, etc in his podcast. It’s interesting stuff if you like hearing people talk about their religious beliefs.

One of the questions that he asks people during the interview is: “do you think the world is getting better, worse, or is it just as it’s always been?” One thing that’s struck me is that virtually every Christian group says that the world is getting worse. Most non-Christian groups seem to pick “better” or “same as always”. It’s remarkably pessimistic of Christians. Afterall, the human condition – in terms of education, health, lifespan, free-time, entertainment, etc – is far better in modern times than it has ever been in history. It seems that the Christian groups don’t really care about those things so much as being completely focused on people following their conservative version of morality and belief in Christianity. I suppose it could also have to do with Christian eschatology – since they believe the world will go to shit before Jesus returns.

His website is available here. The podcast only contains the last 10 episodes, but they’re all available on his blog.

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October 17th 2008:

Hard to believe, but the plane crash that nearly killed DJ AM and Travis Barker may actually have saved AM’s life.

He tells People doctors at the burn center found a blood clot in his leg that could’ve killed him if it hadn’t been treated. AM says the clot “could have traveled to my heart and I could have died” but docs put a filter in his vein and gave him blood thinners.

“I have a great deal of faith that everything happens for a reason,” he says.

Source: DJ AM — Plane Crash Saved Me … For Real

“I have a great deal of faith that everything happens for a reason,” he says. “I put myself in God’s hands.”

Source: DJ AM: How Plane Crash May Have Saved My Life

August 28, 2009:

Adam “DJ A.M.” Goldstein was found dead in his New York City apartment Friday (8/28) by police officers responding to a 911 call.

An initial autopsy was inclusive in determining cause of death. However, unofficial reports claim Goldstein died of an accidental drug overdose. Investigators found crack cocaine, a glass crack pipe and at least seven bottles of prescription drugs on his kitchen counter, including the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, sources told The New York Daily News.

Goldstein had been sober for more than a decade but reportedly began using prescription medication to combat his fear of flying following last September’s plane crash. (The DJ had been scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Friday for a gig at Rain in The Palms Resort and Casino.)

Insiders told TMZ.com that Goldstein’s relapse was “recent” and was likely triggered by medication prescribed for anxiety and the pain associated with the second- and third-degree burns he suffered in the plane crash.

Source: DJ AM dies of apparent drug overdose

I don’t know how religious people don’t feel like they’re just making stuff up.

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