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Posts Tagged ‘god’

It can be tough being a Christian. You have to believe all sorts of unbelievable things. You have to go to church every Sunday and listen to some preachy dude beg for money. You have to put up with brilliantly-written, riotously-funny, expertly-argued books patiently debunking your faith. (I suppose this one doesn’t really distinguish you from believers in any other religion.) And you have to tie yourself into knots trying to explain why the latest scientific discoveries explaining how the world works don’t actually contradict your millennia-old, rooted-in-superstition, alternative “explanations” of how the world works.

But you’re not alone in your struggle. The BioLogos foundation is there with you every step of the way (and when you see one set of footprints, that’s where they were carrying you).

Today, for instance, they’re offering “Three Ways to View the Fossil Record [that aren’t incompatible with your religious faith, even though (if you want to get technical) the fossil record isn’t compatible with your religious faith].”

  1. God created each species “individually from nothing” as time proceeded. (Note: not actually compatible with fossil record.)
  2. God created species in “bursts” over time. (Note: not actually compatible with fossil record.)
  3. Evolutionary biology is the proper explanation for the history and diversity of species, but god has been continually doing the work behind the scenes. So, for instance, he’s always choosing which genetic material crosses over during meiosis, and he helps ducks decide which other ducks to rape, and he helps misdirect mooses he doesn’t want reproducing into having sex with horses instead.

Although the third theory is (vacuously) compatible with the fossil record, it presumes a level of perversity on the part of god that’s really more compatible with the jealous, kinky Old Testament god, not the effeminate, hippie New Testament god.

Accordingly, New-Testament-believing Christians might be better served by a fourth way of viewing the fossil record:

  1. Your religion is false.

This explanation does have the drawback of not being exactly “compatible” with the Christian faith. But this is almost surely outweighed by its virtue of being the correct explanation.

Make sure to come back next time, when we discuss “Five (Incorrect) Ways To Explain The Existence of Suffering”!

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Over at HuffPo, “after-hours rabbi” Alan Lurie describes four “impediments” to “experiencing god” that he wishes he’d lectured a skeptical job applicant about.

4. The worry that “spiritual experiences” are just feel-good self-indulgence.

Why would someone worry that something is a “feel-good self-indulgence”? Here are some other feel-good self-indulgences:

  • eating cookie dough straight from the tube
  • “borrowing” a single-engine plane for a joyride
  • the Fleshlight

Each of these is popular precisely because it’s a “feel-good self-indulgence”! If people thought god was a feel-good self-indulgence, he’d be bigger than Jesus! His problem is that he’s (imaginary and) a joy-kill.

3. The fear that god-worship makes people “arrogant and/or sheepish.”

I also have trouble imagining this as an impediment. God-disbelievers do plenty of things that make them “arrogant and/or sheepish”:

  • Science Olympiad
  • Stage productions of “Little Bo Peep
  • Obama-worship

In fact, I have never heard this used as an excuse not to do something, although I confess that I tend to avoid people who seem overly concerned with sheep.

2. There’s not a two-column proof that god exists.

This is another doubtful impediment. Except for the handful of us who think we’re mathematicians, most people hate two column proofs. I can’t even remember the last time someone demanded that I two-column prove something before he would start believing in it, although it’s likely it was that weirdo on the street corner with the huge “I don’t believe in Pythagoras’s Theorem!” sign.

1. There’s no evidence god exists.

Finally, an objection that makes sense! It is indeed quite tough to “experience” something when there’s no evidence it exists. That’s the reason so few people are able to “experience” the luminiferous aether, N-rays, the Odic force, or phlogiston.

In lieu of, you know, evidence, Lurie suggests that we look for “little miracles” in things like trees and bodily functions and employment.

Now, admittedly I am not a rabbi, but I am pretty sure that “miracles” need to involve happenings of things generally considered unpossible, like the invention of an inexpensive, tasty-when-spread-on-fruit mayonnaise-like “whip,” or a World Series victory over the unstoppable 1969 Orioles, or a synthetic plant fertilizer made of petroleum by-products.

If the fact that I occasionally experience indigestion is a “miracle” that counts as “evidence” for the existence of “the Divine,” then pretty much anything counts as evidence for the existence of anything else.

What about the “little miracle” of my alarm clock going off this morning at precisely the time I set it to go off! Or the “little miracle” that when I turned on the hot water faucet in my sink, hot water came out! Or if that’s not plausible enough, how about the “little miracle” that this morning my shoes were in the exact same place I left them last night. If that’s not evidence for “the Divine,” then nothing is!

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Nothing, if you believe the RIAA-scripted talking points regurgitated by our friends at Everyday Christian:

Under current copyright legislation, downloading music for free is definitely theft under letter of the law.

Although I really shouldn’t expect someone writing on a site called “Everyday Christian” to be able to accurately describe the world, I can’t resist pointing out that his post would be truer if he’d said “Under current copyright legislation, downloading copyrighted music for free is possibly theft under letter of the law.

However, accuracy is not really on the agenda:

One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers’ earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes.

I think he means this analysis, which is credible on the subject in much the same way that the Discovery Institute is credible on evolution and science.

Now where on earth would a Christian learn to be so trusting of leaders making self-serving, apocalyptic predictions? Where would he get the idea that regurgitating their press releases was an intelligent form of discourse? I have no idea.

Piracy is never going to end. Although our kids rarely listen, we must continue to teach them that digital theft is indeed theft, in our law and in God’s law.

Really? In god’s law? Because I’m pretty familiar with the Bible, and I think I’d remember if god ever mentioned copyright. I remember him mentioning genocide and widow impregnation and genital mutilation. But not copyright or downloading or digital music.

Or perhaps he justs mean that because “current copyright legislation” supports it, that the “Render unto Caesar” principle makes it god’s law. That would be kind of awesome, as it would imply that god’s law also prohibits

It is tough to understand why god would care about all these things. Then again, it’s tough to understand why he would care about whether your clothing is made of mixed fibers either.

Anyway, most likely god just wants strong copyright laws to promote the “progress of useful arts” like Carman music videos:

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Some god-believers (especially those named Jotham) insist that their god is “perfect.” In fact, there are entire (specious) arguments for god’s existence premised on this belief.

Other god-believers, however, allow that their god might not be perfect, and might sometimes need (for example) refueling, new tires, radiator-debris removal, windshield-washing, tire-pressure adjustments, and brake pad replacements.

The people in this second group, quite obviously, are the ones who formed the God’s Pit Crew (or maybe God Spit Crew — their URL and YouTube account can really be parsed either way).

Whenever god puts a little too much wear and tear on the world, maybe with tornadoes or floods or hurricanes, the Spit Crew swoops right and tries to clean up the mess he made:

Now, I have no beef with wanting to help people after they’ve been ravaged by a natural disaster. I myself was struck by lightning shortly after I came up with the idea for my book, again when I set up this blog, and a third time when I came up with The Greatest Religious Joke of All Time. And so I have lots of sympathy for the victims of nature (or of god, depending on whether you believe in science or not).

Nonetheless, the message that “Jesus loves you, and that’s why he destroyed your trailer park” seems a little incongruous to me. The idea that “The tree that fell through your living room is all part of god’s plan” is not particularly reassuring. Which is why if the Spit Crew showed up after my natural disaster, I’d probably crawl out from under my collapsed wall, accept their gift of a trailer full of bag ice, and start making fun of them.

Pepsi apparently has the same idea. After lots of contributions, they somehow figured out that the word “god” in the organization’s name implied a religious aspect to the Spit Crew. (Perhaps they watched the part of the video that sums up their charitable activities as “All this with the message of the love of Jesus Christ.”)

Nonetheless the Spit Crew is pushing back:

“We make absolutely no excuses for being a faith based, a religious based organization – we don’t discriminate we talk about Jesus to those in need whether they’re believers or non believers,” Johnson said.

Of course, a real God Spit Crew would have turned down donations from the homosexual-agenda-supporting Pepsi anyway.

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Randal Rauser is an associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton. One day he bought a Bible for his seven-year-old daughter, and was shocked — SHOCKED — to discover that it was full of god-mandated genocides:

The page with Deuteronomy 20 features a factoid bubble with a green parrot which informs me that Israelite men could be exempted from having to fight if they had been newly married, had recently built a home, or were just plain scared. That’s sort of interesting. But I know that my daughter will ask not about who didn’t have to fight, but rather why those who did fight killed babies and children. After looking through the slickly produced “Adventure Bible” I’m still waiting for an answer.

If only Randal knew some sort of “professor of theology” he could ask. I’m no theologian, but I can take a shot.

There are in fact several theories designed to explain how a “loving” god could countenance genocide. Here are a handful of the most popular:

  • At that point in time was still getting a feel for the job
  • Tired of getting shot down as “too benevolent” by women in bars
  • Developed insatiable blood-lust after drowning most of humanity
  • Insisted that mass-killings be done as “lovingly” as possible
  • “Wow, it took you until you were an adult force-feeding this garbage to your child for you to start asking questions like this?”
  • Influenced by popularity of movie All Genocidees Go To Heaven
  • Bible mistranslated; actually tried to stop genocide
  • Genocide was actually OK until Jesus came and changed the rules
  • Original version of commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” contained “just kidding!”
  • “Don’t ask so many questions, or we’ll genocide you too!”
  • Bible fiction; god imaginary; religion false

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You are probably familiar with “megachurch pastor” T.D. Jakes, whose stepson recently exposed himself to undercover police officers. (The kid’s attorney is apparently called “Faith Johnson”, which is pretty much the best name possible for someone involved with a religious exposure case.)

The news story is unfortunately vague on what this “exposure” entailed, forcing me to use my abnormally vivid imagination; nonetheless, I am more interested in the pastor’s reaction:

Jakes told his congregation Sunday that he would provide “help, support and restorative grace” to his stepson

“Help” I understand, as I can easily envision a dad pitching in to help buy his kid some pants.

“Support” I understand as well. Maybe the kid had good reasons for exposing himself, and if so a dad might want to encourage him.

Where I get hung up is “restorative grace”, because — although my seminary days are long behind me — I am pretty sure that “restorative grace” can only be parceled out by god. (Ignoring, of course, the fact that “restorative grace” doesn’t mean anything.) Thus, unless he was misquoted, Jakes is claiming himself to be god.

Now there are certainly similarities. Both are large Black men. Both like to wear fancy clothes and drive expensive cars. And now both have sons who have publicly exposed themselves (although “in a park” is a smidge less impressive than “on a cross, surrounded by spear-poking Romans”). Nonetheless, godliness is a pretty astonishing claim to make, and one (i.e. me) wishes that the mainstream media had given it as much scrutiny as they did when President Nixon claimed he could provide the Fruit of the Holy Spirit to his contributors.

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