Posts Tagged “catastrophes”

Jesus weptBelieving in their supposedly omnipotent, infinite, omniscient, yet benevolent creator-deity has tied followers of the Abrahamic religious tradition in logical knots for centuries. It’s difficult to look out at a world full of needless suffering and wanton evil and decide it was all designed, built, and is currently presided over by an almighty being who also disapproves of evil.

It’s a conundrum that led to any number of theodicies, or rationales intended to reconcile this logical conflict. All of them, however, fail the test of logic — even the vaunted and oft-spoken-of “free will” theodicy. Despite the utter failure of all known theodicies, Abrahamic believers nonetheless doggedly continue trying to justify believing in the illogic of a supposedly benevolent, omnipotent deity whose creation is rife with needless suffering and tons of unnecessary evil.

I just heard about a sterling example of the laughable extremes they’ll go to in order to rationalize this brazenly illogical concept. As Mediaite reports, Houston megapastor Joel Osteen recently came up with something so ridiculous, that it defies description, and is as sadly pathetic as it is hilarious (Archive.Is cached article):

During his televised sermon today, Osteen seemed to reference the storm that devastated huge swaths of Texas and Louisiana. And the way the preacher told it, hurricanes like Harvey are just God’s way of saying you can take a great and life-altering tragedy.

Bringing up a biblical story involving Jesus and his apostles sailing across a lake during a hurricane-like storm, Osteen said that Jesus didn’t wake up during the squall because he knew they could handle it. “If they were all going to die, he would have gotten up without them having to wake him up,” he exclaimed.…

“The reason it may seem like God is not waking up is not because he’s ignoring you, not because he’s uninterested, it’s because he knows you can handle it,” he stated.

Osteen added, “Take it as a compliment.”

The people of Houston, and other places, should “take it as a compliment” that a hurricane flooded their homes and businesses, and even killed some people — the death toll is up to about 60 as I type this (cached)? Seriously!? How the fuck did Osteen even say something that ludicrous with a straight face?

The irony here is that what Osteen said makes perfect sense, given the premises posed by the Abrahamic religious tradition. It follows naturally from the position that there is a creator-deity who’s all-powerful, all-knowing, yet who chooses (for unknown reasons) to allow horrific things to happen to people. It’s an unavoidable conclusion … given all of that. If the idiocy of such a statement doesn’t wake Abrahamic believers up to the obvious absurdity of their beliefs, then I guess nothing will.

P.S. That’s the second time in just a few days that a Texan dealing with Hurricane Harvey has said something so asinine as to force me to tag a post “you’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” What in hell is wrong with the Lone Star State, anyway (aside from the tragedy of the hurricane)?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Veracicat has checked your facts and is not impressed with your lies.As a rule, people love to think they live in unusual times, and more often than not, they think the unusual things going on, are bad. Really bad. Historically-unprecedented bad. If you could ask anyone — at any point in history — if there are more catastrophes going on in his/her lifetime than ever before, s/he would most likely say, “Yes, of course!” It’s a kind of selective thinking, often backed up by confirmation bias, because the things we’re aware of and know about as they occur outweigh — in our minds — those we only find out about after-the-fact or hear about having happened historically. A natural ramification of this is that we tend to think that any kind of disaster is now more frequent than it ever was before.

This tendency — which is basic human nature and applies to almost everyone — is one that apocalypticists love to prey on, and they intentionally feed it. Thus we have something of a cottage industry of so-called “experts” on the putative “Maya apocalypse” who happily propagate the lie that the ancient Maya predicted the end of the universe on December 21, 2012. That we’re experiencing more catastrophes and wars, you see — according to them — is a “sign” that the End Of The Universe, which the Maya predicted, is coming.

As I’ve blogged before, this is all bullshit. Pure, unadulterated, unfiltered, stinking-to-high-heaven bull-fucking-shit. The Maya never predicted any such thing! Their ability to have predicted the future accurately is debunked absolutely, by their failure to predict the collapse of their own civilization, which happened around the turn of the 10th century CE. So no, the universe is not going to roll to a sudden, screeching halt in 2012.

But batshit crazy New Agers who claim to know what the Maya said without even knowing the Mayan language — thus, having zero knowledge of what the Maya truly thought — are certainly not the only folks who use this tendency. Christian “End Timers” play it up, too. To claim there are more earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, droughts, famines, wildfires, etc. and then claim these are harbingers of the Second Coming is a classic “End Time” proselytizing trick. “The Bible predicted this would happen!” they claim, and they can quickly spit out chapter and verse to show it.

The problem is, all of this is predicated on a lie. And it’s a lie that’s remarkably easy to debunk. Unfortunately, it’s not often debunked. Which is why I’m so glad to notice that FactCheck decided to look into the claims of one “End Time” apocalypticist, evangelical nutcase Franklin Graham, and their takedown isn’t pretty (WebCite cached article):

On ABC’s “This Week,” the Rev. Franklin Graham was wrong when he said that earthquakes, wars and famines are occurring “with more frequency and more intensity.”

The preacher, who is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham and president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, discussed [cached] the prophecy of Armageddon with host Christiane Amanpour during a special Easter edition of the Sunday talk show.

Graham, April 24: I believe we are in the latter days of this age. When I say “latter days,” could it be the last hundred years or the last thousand years or the last six months? I don’t know.

But the Bible, the things that the Bible predicts, earthquakes and famines, nation rising against nation, we see this happening with more frequency and more intensity.

On all three counts, the preacher is wrong. Today’s famines and armed conflicts are fewer and relatively smaller than those in the last century, and the frequency of major earthquakes has remained about the same.

The rest of the article shows how Graham is flat-out wrong on those three counts.

Given that FactCheck is dedicated mostly to checking politicians’ claims about their opponents, that makes this particular article out of character for them, and that will, no doubt, be used by Graham-like “End Timers” as a rationale to dismiss what it says. “FactCheck should stick with politics, and leave religion alone!” they will say. (Notwithstanding that they never listen to FactCheck’s political fact-corrections … fucking hypocrites!) That dismissal, of course, would be a kind of argumentum ad hominem, but fallacy is the favorite game of the vehement religionist, so it’s expected.

FactCheck’s demonstration that Franklin Graham is a liar, places him — again! — in my “lying liars for Jesus” club. Congratulations, Frankie, on your achievement. By all means, keep lying to everyone.

Photo credit: PsiCop, based on original from quitor.com.

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