Thursday, September 30, 2010

Craig Ferguson a prophet against my compromised spritual walk

It's not a great day in America for yours truly. It's the great and terrible Day of the Lord.

I was watching TV's Craig Ferguson last night, as I'm in a regular habit of doing, when I saw him show this clip of Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell:

I've let it go that Ferguson and others want to make fun of O'Donnell for opposing masturbation or for saying that she once dabbled in witchcraft, but Ferguson played only the first part of the clip you see from Rachel Maddow's show above. He essentially burst out laughing only at the thought that masturbation represented "lusting in your heart," which O'Donnell equates to adultery.

She gets that line from Jesus, who says in Matthew 5:28, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (NIV) So if Ferguson wants to laugh at the words of Christ he's free to do so, but I've turned him off.

I should have done it long ago, but I just sat and endured Seth McFarlane's shows and Robot Chicken because of their artistic merit. But if someone artfully made fun of my mother I wouldn't endure it, and I won't endure it any longer when they make fun of my savior.

So thanks, Craig, for being my Nathan the Prophet. I was a man of unclean ears. Now I've quit all of you.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who needs you, God? Not Moses at the Red Sea

"The parting of the Red Sea during the Israelites' exodus from Egypt usually attributed to Moses could have been nothing more than a natural phenomenon, not a miracle, says a team of researchers," reports Newser in a story headlined "Parting of Red Sea Linked to Ma Nature, not Moses."

The actual Colorado researchers who made the findings weren't quite so anti-Moses as the Newser report indicates, but their findings do point to a natural phenomenon that, unlike previous theories, actually allows water to remain stacked up on both sides of a particular spot of water in that biblical area just as Exodus describes.

It should be pointed out that not even the Bible says Moses parted the Red Sea -- God did. And it says he sent a strong east wind to do it, just as the latest theory espouses.

To be fair, some news organizations reported the same story noting that the laws of science back up the biblical account. But Newser's tweet of the story read: "Sorry Moses; Scientist uses fluid dynamics to explain the parting of the Red Sea."

As more spiritual people see a less antagonistic relationship between science and faith, a surprisingly large number of non-spiritual people are moving in the opposite direction.

I've always been awed by science's explanation of God's creation, rather than troubled by it. I've heard it said that theology's role gets smaller as science's role gets larger. I disagree.

In the "all truth is God's truth" vein, scientific explanations inform our understanding not only of the natural world; sometimes it gives us a spiritual truth as well.

If you haven't read my piece on predestination vs. free will, I'll try to summarize quickly: I believe in them both. They are compatible by God being able to consider infinite universes to create, then picking the one that provided free will for his creatures while also working out his plan perfectly.

This being said, God chose to call the universe into being that perfectly timed the Israelites' need to cross the water with the weather pattern that allowed it to happen.

It's rather a simplistic explanation, true, but add that to the googolplex upon googolplex of computations necessary for God to bring about everything from the freeing of ancient Israel to me finding my wife and you've got quite a headthumper.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Merry Christ-less Democrats?

With my previous post mentioning Christopher Hitchens and atheism, it isn't a surprise that Google ads posted this on the side of the article. What was unexpected, however, was that the list of "Great Gifts for a Merry Christ-less!" included not only a Flying Spaghetti Monster and a Darwin Fish, but also a Democratic donkey button and a "Yes We Did" Obama T-shirt. (See the unretouched ad at left.)

Are they saying atheists only vote for Democrats? (Hitchens himself is in the GOP's camp on some issues.) Or are they saying Democrats in general and Obama in particular are "Christ-less"? They obviously didn't get the memo.

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Christopher Hitchens / David Berlinksi debate on atheism like pulling teeth

As I waited by the door to hear Christopher Hitchens and David Berlinski debate atheism last night in Birmingham, Alabama, the quickly increasing crowd for the general admission event made me think that a Who-like stampede for the best seats might actually result in some of us finding which side is correct.

Of course, that's only if the theists are correct.

Which brings up one of the questions submitted to the two men after the formal debate had ended.

"What are the weaknesses of Pascal's Wager," moderator Larry Taunton asked Hitchens, who then went off on several things he believe to be lacking in the philosopher's argument. When Berlinski was then asked the strengths of Pascal's Wager, the mathematician replied, "I don't know."

Perhaps that's because Berlinski isn't the typical apologist for Judeo-Christian influence: He's an agnostic, who says he began taking on atheism because it lacks moral imperatives and he got tired of hearing what he calls the leading atheists' idiotic arguments.

Hitchens, on the other hand, enjoyed displaying his disgust at such filthy ideas as having someone else take on your sins. He failed, however, to explain what he thinks is so vile about it.

He did explain the vileness of religious people who think they have God all figured out. Non-theists such as himself admit they know hardly a drop in the bucket about the universe, he said. It was nice of him to have we believers pigeonholed. Not a one of us has ever admitted to knowing only a minute fraction about God, after all.

On the whole, the evening was a bit disappointing. I expected both men to mount more vigorous arguments, but I came to the conclusion that Berlinski did the best he could not being a believer in any theism himself, therefore having not as much passion for his cause. But Hitchens is quite attached to his beliefs so should have made a better show; sadly, the straw men and emotional theatrics that ought to be beneath him are not.

I left the event thinking how the only two things on my calendar that day had been the debate and a visit with the dentist who told me I have decay that needs worked on. I should fire my scheduler.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Stephen Hawking says God not needed for creation -- maybe

In his new book "The Grand Design," physicist Stephen Hawking says God wasn't necessary for the Big Bang to have happened.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing," Hawking notes.
It's true that the creation of everything from nothing (ex nihilo) doesn't prove the existence of God -- but it also doesn't prove that there isn't a God. That same law of gravity keeps me sitting at my desk as I type rather than floating away. I can't make an argument for or against God's existence -- only an argument for gravity.

Many news reports seem to say that Hawking is at least implying either that there isn't a God, or that he's unnecessary as the primary cause of everything. Not knowing the context yet, I can only say that he's arguing that the the laws of physics as we know them allow the universe to spontaneously create. What isn't addressed is where those laws came from.