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Member since: Sat Jul 3, 2010, 12:24 PM
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Later, heathens!

I'm off to the Conscious Culture Festival in eastern Washington tomorrow. Have fun while I'm away, I know I will.

No, Everything Does Not Happen for a Reason. Thank God for That.

"Everything happens for a reason" is my very least favorite thing for someone to say. It is bad philosophy, bad theology, bad thinking, and bad advice. It manages to combine the maximum of ignorance with the maximum of arrogance. Other forms of this include: "There is no such thing as coincidence," and: "It's all part of the great plan." They are all the intellectual offspring of Leibniz's ludicrous claim that "this is the best of all possible worlds."

Each form betrays the same enormous conceit and the same willful negligence.

I, personally, simply cannot imagine how it might be a good thing to tell myself, if I were to indulge in wish-thinking, that everything happens for a reason. The only conclusion is that whoever or whatever designs and plans those reasons is utterly cold, capricious, heartless and cruel. Leibniz made his famous claim about "the best of all possible worlds" in response to the so-called Problem of Evil.

The Problem of Evil begs an answer to the puzzle of how a world run by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God could contain evil. For: Would a god with those characteristics not, by definition, know about evil, be able to stop it, and want to stop it?

Leibniz's solution to this puzzle, needless to say, is not the most credible one.


Is the belief that the laws of physics were/can be suspended by a supernatural force...

Is the belief that the laws of physics were/can be suspended by a supernatural force the rejection of Science?

God is opposed to food stamps? Let’s try an evidence-based approach to hunger instead.

Recently, I wrote about a Democratic Representative of Congress who used biblical arguments for doing something about global warming to counter a Republican Representative’s biblical arguments for doing nothing about global warming. I advocated for evidence-based decisions rather than faith-based decisions, which put me on the do-something side.

Now we have a Republican who used biblical arguments against food stamps to counter Democrats who used biblical arguments for food stamps. During a meeting of the House Agricultural Committee, Tennessee Rep. Stephen Fincher quoted from Matthew and Thessalonians that the poor will always be with us and that those unwilling to work shall not eat. Fincher acknowledged that caring for the hungry might be something for Christians to do, but not with government money. While I strongly support separation of church and state, I think that’s a rather bizarre framing of the concept. Private support for the least among us can be for religious or secular reasons, but I hope we will never have a government that ignores the least among us.

Unfortunately, biblical arguments have become so commonplace in politics that they are hardly worth noting. This one, however, has an added dimension. Although Fincher complained about Washington stealing taxpayer money from some and giving it to others, he had no problem with Washington giving him $3.48 million of taxpayer dollars since 1999 for farm subsidies. Last year he reportedly received over $70,000, which I assume he needed more than those low-income people he wants to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

It’s easy for powerful members of Congress to help themselves to such largess and justify it biblically with “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not really in the Bible, but no matter. It sounds like it could be, and that’s good enough. If Rep. Fincher were to read his Bible carefully, he might find a word or two about hypocrites.


Creationist Science Fair

Nothing Fails Like Prayer

Why not deal seriously with those of us who see science and religion as equal?

The question was asked in another thread that I think deserves further discussion. The entire question is as follows...

Why not deal seriously with those of us who see science and religion as equal on the search for meaning?

For me, the answer is simple; Science is a search for knowledge, not a search for meaning. Science produces knowledge that is true for everyone. Science is self correcting. Religion does none of that and fails at every attempt to produce knowledge that is true for everyone.

And you?

Billy Graham's Oklahoma 'Rapid Response Team' preys on fears of victims to gain new converts

What could have been an amazing show of unbridled charity by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in their efforts to help the victims of the 20 May 2013 Oklahoma tornado, quickly turned into a disaster of its own. In a show of extremely bad form, the group decided to keep with their tradition of sending chaplains along for the ride. Their job description includes comforting and converting to Christianity those who have fallen victim to natural disasters through the use of fear tactics that are, in a word, deplorable.

Basically, their plan involved telling the unfortunate and already emotionally spent people in Oklahoma that if they don't accept Christ and die the next time a tornado hits, they will burn in hell for ever and ever and ever. According to reports, a couple hundred people gathered for shelter inside the Emmaus Baptist Church, which was also the base of operations for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains, as well as another operation that is affiliated with the ministry called 'Samaritan’s Purse.'

The Billy Graham website posted the following:

“One was a family of four, along with the husband’s best friend. Michael Glassey, an RRT crisis-trained chaplain from Riverside, Calif., talked with them, asking if they knew Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, which they responded “no.” Michael explained how much God loved them and how Jesus came to earth to die for their sins.

“I asked each one separately if they wanted to receive Christ as their personal Savior so that if this ever happened again they would have the assurance of going to Heaven, and that they could also experience a new beginning that very moment,” Michael said.“They all said, ‘yes,’ and each received Christ into their hearts,” he said. “God sheltered them, then He saved them.”

Playing on the fears of those who are already in an extremely vulnerable state as a means for religious conversion is beyond 'bad form.' It's an abusive attack on their compromised ability to make a rational decision. This speaks nothing to the emotional turmoil caused by the cognitive dissonance that invariably comes when one is told that the same God who loves them also controls the situation that caused them such pain, but if they don't worship this God, he will cause them to endure an eternity worse beyond compare.

The Billy Graham organization, as well as any organization who uses the emotional turmoil caused by natural disasters, should be duly ashamed of themselves.


The last sentence stuck out to me.

The Billy Graham organization, as well as any organization who uses the emotional turmoil caused by natural disasters, should be duly ashamed of themselves.

Isn't when a person is having "emotional turmoil" THE time a believer usually offers their beliefs as a coping mechanism? I mean, this is not just BGM and similar religious groups that do this, is it? Don't most believers offer their beliefs as a way to console someone?
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