Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a peculiar Pollyanna

I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion.  It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend.  For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.

Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion.  This is the most recent.  The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.

He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”

Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”.   It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms.   It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it.  It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.

It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans.  It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.

Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a momentary creator and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.”   Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”

Really?  Goodness, kindness, compassion and love.  In this world, shown by this god.  Hmmm.  I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa?  I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children.   I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.

We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it.  I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete.  “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”.  and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination.   In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural.   Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you.  They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.

Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him.  What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants.  He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”.  Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes?   And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines?  He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea.  The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet.  He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes.   It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything.  It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way.  Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous.  As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.

Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.”  So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas?  How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head?  Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound?  How about a good part of a family?  How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire? Continue reading


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – who you are is where you were when, and that can get you damned

(Today is March 8 and the Miltary Religious Freedom Foundation has called upon people to protest the United StatesAirForceAcademy’s action of using a malicious homophobic amateur website as a source for information on Jewish holidays.  They had no problem in using a neutral website like to use as a link for Christian holidays.  It is a shame that the US Air Force Academy must continue in its religious intolerance and that its leadership still thinks that no one is noticing. General Welsh, homosexuals are allowed in the military now. Time you and your staff got over it.)    

Since Mr. Rogers has apparently been unable to continue to educate me on how “wrong” I supposedly am or to rebut my demonstration of his errors, I thought I’d take one last look at his blog to see if I could mine it for a blog post.  Getting my attention, telling me I’m wrong and then evidently running away when shown wrong just whets this leopard’s appetite for more. 

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets.  Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

yes, there are indeed cruxifix chocolate molds and plague finger puppets. Yay, dead people! Yeesh.

I found a doozyWhat about those who have never heard the gospel?”  It’s a good lead into talking about heaven and hell and free will in this season where myths about people being nailed to crosses as blood sacrifices and first born being murdered by imaginary deities are so popular.  

As a bit of an aside, I don’t believe in complete free will.  I think we are beings limited to the physical and chemical laws of this universe, including the chemicals that we’ve been exposed to that form emotions in our brains.  However, within that, I think we can make mostly free choices if we are educated enough about how emotions, trauma, heredity and upbringing mark our brains and thought processes.  We still can’t decide to fly without mechanical help though, sigh.  The title of this blog entry is a paraphrase of a very good sociology textbook I had way back when.

A lot of Christians and theists in general, have a problem with their god damning anyone who doesn’t believe in it. I’m glad they do since it shows that they are decent and humane people despite their religion. This is also the question a lot of kids ask when they realize that people aren’t all just like them.  They have friends who don’t believe like they do and they care about them. 

This issue gets even more problematic since belief is entirely dependent on where you were born and when. For example, someone born in Alabama, USA isn’t likely to have a Zoroastrian family or be taught Shinto philosophy.  To deal with the problem of divine punishment, we have different claims by different sects. Some sects of Christianity go for universalism, where everyone eventually gets to heaven, even if they have a short stay in hell to correct them.  We have the Roman Catholics who say “well, other religions have at least part of the truth” so maybe they won’t go to hell, but they certainly won’t get *our* afterlife presents.”  Some think that God knows better than humans, and is only concerned if you are a decent, humane person and worship doesn’t matter. Some think that there is no hell, but non-believers are simply annihilated. As you can see, so much for one supposed “truth”. 

In the blog post, Mr. Rogers talks about a book called “Letters from a Skeptic” where a Christian theologian exchanges letter with his father who is a skeptic and who asks the question above (supposedly the father converts).  What’s amusing is that Greg Boyd doesn’t agree with much of what Mr. Rogers claims as the truth.  It’s always a problem with Christians, they find something they like and then have to realize that the book they find really great is by someone who they are sure is going to hell. Again, I would guess that Mr. Rogers would decide that he agrees a little with Mr. Boyd, just like he thinks Mother Teresa was good too, though by his own sects words, she’s going to hell.  She’s probably there anyway, considering that one, she was a hypocrite (link to the paper mentioned, in French only at the moment) and two, she admitted to not feeling any god at all.  I do wonder how they can find the parts that are true and ignore the parts that aren’t.  That ol’ magic decoder ring again, I know. It’s used on the bible so why not use it on heretic writings if you find it convenient? 

Mr. Rogers, to his credit, acknowledges the problems that most Christians have with the idea of being damned for a very silly reason.  He also mentions the usual problem with missionary work, that if you believe that people who haven’t heard of God will go to heaven since they never had a chance to reject God, then the worst thing you can ever do is tell them about God since now they can reject the idea.  However, Mr. Rogers is sure that they’re damned anyway.  Continue reading