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Go to: A Fault Is Not a Sin

Teratornis's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Teratornis

It was widely asserted in earlier times that earthquakes were caused by sodomy, yet San Francisco still stands, and when it was last hit in 1906, it was rather more heterosexual than it is now.


Slight quibble: Hitchens seems to have forgotten the Loma Prieta quake from 1989. Sodomy was in full swing at the time. However, there is nothing to suggest God had anything to do with either quake.

The real question about natural disasters is not why God allows or causes them, but why God fails to warn humans about them in advance. This matters because religious people claim divine revelation as their source of knowledge about God. They assert that God tells us everything we know about God, and about all the things God wants us to do, or refrain from doing.

This raises the important question: if people have a reliable communication channel with God, and if God is their friend, why doesn't this friend tell them to step outside the building a few seconds before it collapses in an earthquake?

What kind of a friend doesn't warn you about an impending threat to your life?

This "friend" doesn't tell people the simple message that would let them easily avoid getting killed by an earthquake. If God is not capable or willing to do that, why would we believe anything people claim God tells them about sodomy?

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 07:47:00 UTC | #432956

Go to: Correspondence regarding the Templeton Foundation

Teratornis's Avatar Jump to comment 89 by Teratornis

Comment #391469 by sethosayher:

As an atheist who plans to major in theology,


Is that like being a eunuch who plans to pursue a career in porn?

Either one would make for a wonderfully inspirational movie plot.

Sat, 04 Jul 2009 23:38:00 UTC | #376082

Go to: Correspondence regarding the Templeton Foundation

Teratornis's Avatar Jump to comment 88 by Teratornis

For Grayling and Dennett to compare this rich, expansive discussion to a dialogue with astrologers is silly.


From all indications, astrologers take themselves quite seriously. As have some governments. I recall a Cold War story of the CIA looking into parapsychology and "remote viewing" (the fancy pseudo-technological label for gypsy fortune-telling) because they learned that their counterparts at the KGB were doing so, and no competent spook wants to be caught out by the other side. Or maybe they were trying to confuse the KGB about their sources of intelligence, convince them that we didn't have a mole in their ranks.

Perhaps the Templeton Foundation should allocate some resources to properly investigate the question of whether it can dismiss astrologers as inferior to theologians so reflexively. Neither astrologers nor theologians seem particularly limited by the prosaic mental tools of reason and evidence, so who is to say astrologers are any less likely than theologians to stumble upon deep insights?

Surely if the questions are truly big, it can't hurt to have as many people as possible pursuing them by every imaginable method? And as astrology and theology are both products of the imagination, how is one better than the other? Being harder to read, and less interesting to readers of fashion magazines, should not necessarily lend more credence to theologians. Let's try to keep our minds open here. Maybe Jesus meant it when he spoke about humbling oneself and becoming like a little child. I haven't seen many little children making much headway on the learned tomes of theology. They'd have better luck making sense of their horoscopes.

Sat, 04 Jul 2009 23:33:00 UTC | #376080

Go to: Waking up in America

Teratornis's Avatar Jump to comment 211 by Teratornis

Comment #382398 by CaptainMandate:


Human life has purpose, a very important pre-ordained purpose which is decided by the concious entity that lives inside our heads

It's only the human race itself that has no specific purpose. I think that's the bit they can't handle


We have every reason to expect that eventually the human race will go extinct. Thus we can suppose that at some point, there will be only one human left alive.

If that human has time to contemplate his or her existence, when all other humans are dead, what will his or her purpose be?

Fri, 05 Jun 2009 00:39:00 UTC | #367902

Go to: Waking up in America

Teratornis's Avatar Jump to comment 172 by Teratornis

Comment #382792 by capetownian:

What an incredible story!


Which part seemed incredible to you? It all seemed perfectly normal to me, except that he left out the part about speaking in tongues and handling snakes (just kidding about the snakes).

It is up to us to spread the message and plant the seeds that bring light into the darkness of ignorance and superstition


To me, the take-home message is that a lot of how we think seems to be innate. If you send 100 kids to Jesus Camp, a small percentage of them will just decide on their own that they like science anyway. They will read some books, learn some facts, and realize everything they were raised to believe is pretty much a big mess of errors and circular logic.

It will be interesting when science figures out exactly what makes the "Marshall Evans" minority resistant to the acquired brain damage of religion, while the majority just mindlessly absorb what they were told and carry it even to old age.

I won't be surprised if the difference turns out to be genetic.

Fri, 29 May 2009 01:18:00 UTC | #365684

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