Month: May 2015

Did the Devil create earthquakes?

nepalOne of the things evangelical Christians do that completely baffles me is ignore the earth under their feet and instead live in a never-never land of theology. They want to imagine science and religion coexisting but they do it by completely discounting the laws of physics.

If there are god(s), it seems to me they would create the mechanisms of the universe (gravity, mass, energy) and let it run. Whatever you think the starting point of the universe is, it’s pretty clear to anyone looking that it’s still creating stars and planets. The universe is a star and planet making machine even now.

Except according to Christians, the earth and sun and moon were created completely separately from this universal process.

So to imagine that the earth was some kind of heavenly place before Adam and Eve “ate the apple” seems utterly ridiculous – beyond the normal ridiculousness of talking snakes and Adam and Eve playing hide-and-go-seek with God. Even if you think Adam and Eve were actual people in the Garden of Eden, why would the earth be made of something then other than what it’s made of now?

Case in point, creationist Ken Ham. He made the case after the recent Nepal earthquake that natural disasters are a result of “The Fall.”

“You see, God’s original creation did not contain earthquakes or any other natural disasters.”

You might accuse me of using Ken Ham as a straw man but I’ve heard other seemingly intelligent Christians like Justin Brierly of the “Unbelievable” podcast talk about a “fallen world” when discussing the problem of evil and death in the world.

As we have seen in the past, Christians think natural disasters have a cause and it’s not tidal forces, or weather patterns, or plate tectonics. No, it’s either homosexuality or in this case “Original Sin“.

The argument against this nutty thinking is to just look at the rest of the universe. Stars are exploding, there are storms on Jupiter, there are ice volcanoes on Titan. I want to ask if Adam hadn’t sinned, would Jupiter still have the red spot (storm)?

When someone steps off a building and falls to the ground and dies, the cause of the fall is gravity, not sin. Same thing with earthquakes. We are on a cooling planet with a hot center and a cool crust of tectonic plates banging into each other causing earthquakes and mountain ranges. It has nothing at all to do with original sin, even if you think original sin is real.

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My God, you believers are so greedy!

greedSometimes I feel like I have a special gift. The best articulation of my way of thinking is contained in the paragraph in “Unweaving the Rainbow” by Richard Dawkins. Here is the clip on Youtube beautifully read by the author. It starts out, “We are going to die and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they’re never going to be born.” And it continues from there in one of the most eloquent descriptions of how lucky we are to exist at all.

Each one of us is the result of an unbroken chain of reproduction. For billions of years not one of our ancestors was unable to procreate. The chances of you being alive and being you are absolutely staggering.

Those numbers don’t even show the chances of you being born now in the age of wonder and technology – with modern medicine and a high standard of living. Where your meals are purchased in a grocery store instead of hunted down.

I can’t help but feel deeply offended when I hear a believer talk about all their worth being tied up in living for eternity. That a short life is worthless. It is a greedy jerk who can’t feel the wonder of existing now and being given knowledge and wonder and food and modernity (I realize not all in the world have this). I feel so privileged to be able to understand the wonders of the universe (not all of them of course). But I know that Thor didn’t throw a thunderbolt, I know how big the visible universe is, and I know where we came from. These are things previous people never dreamed of knowing.

When I hear about a child dying an early death of cancer, I think about how horrible that must be for them and their families to have their life shortened and how lucky I am to have lived as long as I have. And yet for most of the planet that’s not enough. I want to live a long time too! But eternity? To me the fact that believers even posit an eternity for themselves shows me the limit of man’s greed. And of course it shows there is no limit. To wish for eternity when you’ve already won the greatest prize we know of in our slice of the universe is the ultimate selfishness.

There are so many signs that religions are completely man-made. The holy books although eloquent have all the signs of humanity in their barbarism, anachronisms, and absurdities clearly show their gods to be all too human. But what distinguishes man from beast is his ultimate greed. And there is nothing greedier than thinking we are entitled to and destined for immortality. It’s the ultimate sign of humanity’s greatest invention – unmitigated gall.