Skeptics are often asked: What’s the Harm? What harm does it do to believe in weird things especially when it comes to religion. The answer is that plenty of harm can come from the innocent belief of lies. There is now a web site where you can track the harm done. The web site is called What’s The Harm and lists the harm cause by “innocent” belief in topics as broad as Medicine, Religion, Supernatural and Pseudo-Science.

As of this writing the harm has amounted to 3,247 people killed, 224,674 injured and over $277,416,000 in economic damages!

I highly recommend checking out the site.

Recently John Piper made a telling statement on his blog. He was responding to an article by Joseph Bottum lamenting “The Death of Protestant America: A Political Theory of the Protestant Mainline“. John Piper wrote:

“I pray that the younger evangelicals who are pondering where to put their energies will learn from history that doctrinal accommodation brings larger audiences in the short run but death and irrelevance in the long run. And God forbid that any should say with Hezekiah: Who cares if the death comes in 80 years as long as I have crowds and influence in my day (2 Kings 20:19) (http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1357_dying_protestantism/)”

What caught my eye in this quote was the term “doctrinal accommodation“. What this term means is the willingness of churches to sacrifice key doctrinal points in order to accommodate other churches or the society at large. Doing so often increases church numbers and maybe secular respect, but; it also has a dilution effect in that the resultant members are less “dedicated” (e.g. less dogmatic) than those in doctrinally rigid churches. In fact, a 1993 poll quoted by both Piper and Bottum stated: “the single best predictor of church participation turned out to be belief—orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ…”. Duh! A firm doctrinal stand, e.g. black and white doctrine in a grey world, causes people go to church more and probably makes them more committed.

Doctrinal accommodation is both the bane and boon of Christianity. Without it seminaries won’t get academic respect and churches won’t get their mega-churches. With it, churches can gain the entertainment crowd and grow to several thousand but most of those people will be marginal at best. For those dedicated Christians sold out to their doctrinal purity, doctrinal accommodation is a horrible sin because, in their view, such accommodation compromises the very word of God for societal acceptance. Of course, doctrinal “purity” has caused countless church splits since you can’t compromise on what God’s word “clearly” states.

For atheists doctrinal accommodation is a great thing. It dilutes the zealous Christians. It dilutes their scriptures into a mere guidebook rather than the very word of God. And it dilutes their will to fight for their beliefs. For those Christian churches or denominations that refuse doctrinal accommodation, it can also be a boon for atheists and freethinkers. It isolates those churches from the more liberal Christian world and makes them seem dogmatic and unreasonable. It causes church splits and strife. And in many cases causes such churches look foolish in the eyes of the world and are therefore less effective in prostylizing. However, there is a danger here. In bad times, a black and white take on the world, which so many doctrinally rigid churches have, is very appealing to many who don’t want to think through the issues themselves.

One can only hope that continued doctrinal accommodation and a bit of reason and logic will begin to bring people out of the darkness of religion. Evangelical-Lite or Religion-Lite is a start. Here’s to the Millstone of Doctrinal Accommodation.

“Brother Richard” of Atheist Nexus and Life Without Faith has posted an open letter to “Pastor” Rick Warren of Saddleback Church regarding the Presidental “debate” held there a few days ago. It is well worth reading (http://lifewithoutfaith.com/index.php?/archives/69-An-Open-Letter-To-Pastor-Rick-Warren.html).

For those that don’t know, Rick Warren is an extremely influential evangelical leader who was made famous by the publication of his book “The Purpose Driven Life“. The book’s goal is to teach Christians how to live the Christian (purpose driven) life. Basically, there are no accidents, God is control of everything, and you have a divinely appointed plan made just for you. While it’s popularity is unmistakable, it’s full of drivel, cherry-picked scriptures, out of context biblical quotes, and really bad psychology. For a devastating critique of the book, see Robert Price’s “The Reason Driven Life“.

It’s sad that both presidential candidates felt the need to cater to this man and his church.


I really like the naturalist David Attenborough. Having purchased two amazing DVD collections called “The Blue Planet” and “Planet Earth” which Attenborough narrates, I developed a curiosity about this interesting character and decided to Google him. I wasn’t surprised to find that he, a devoted student of our earth, is not a believer. I find it hard to believe that anyone so close to nature could be.

I liked his response to an interview he had in 2005 with Simon Mayo of BBC Radio. Stating he considers himself agnostic, he had the following to say about faith in a creator:

“My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a river in West Africa, [a worm] that’s going to make him blind. And [I ask them], ‘Are you telling me that the God you believe in, who you also say is an all-merciful God, who cares for each one of us individually, are you saying that God created this worm that can live in no other way than in an innocent child’s eyeball? Because that doesn’t seem to me to coincide with a God who’s full of mercy'”.

Considering the horrors we see in the world everyday, I couldn’t have put it any better. Thank you, David Attenborough.

I was looking through the church ads in the newspaper last Saturday when one of them caught my eye. The motto of this church was “For Those Who Want More”. What exactly does that mean? More of what? Does it mean more Jesus or more emotion or more sermons or more people or more coffee and pastries (yup they have a shop on site) or what? Now I happen to know that this is a Charismatic/Pentecostal type church so they are very emotionally centered so do I assume a more emotionally charged service? How about more Christian love and kindness? If so, they have a funny way to show it. A few years back my dad and I were taking a rental car back to the airport when it stopped running right outside the church. No one helped us and they looked at us like lepers when we asked to use a phone to call the rental company. Not exactly friendly to a stranger in need, so maybe it’s not about Christian love. So maybe it is all about more Jesus? If so, how do you get more of Him? Maybe it’s all about lengthy sermons? Then again, maybe it is all about more coffee and pastries. Their web site says “We carry a variety of different pastries including bagels, scones, cookies, and more, an assortment of cold and hot beverages such as smoothies, lattes, cappuccinos, chillers, and more”. At least that would be practical.

One thing we can know for certain is that “MORE” certainly doesn’t mean more logic, more reason, or more reality.

I have always been a great lover of song. Some songs are for enjoyment, excitement, and relaxing and even good for working. Some songs, however, are for meditation and contemplation. Yes, there is even such a thing for us atheists. Many of us having left our hymnals and praise books behind can find amazing depth in various talented artists who often seem to hit things right on the head. Several of my favorites for this are Joni Mitchell, Dar Williams, and Cosy Sheridan. These have written many songs filled with depth of thought – filled with amazing meaning.

That said, I turn to the topic of suffering and a song that seems to sum up to me a enigma that Christians must face in having to rationalize the tragedies of their lives with their god. The song I am speaking of is called “The Sire of Sorrow: Job’s Sad Song” by Joni Mitchell. Those of you who are familiar with the book of Job will see how well Joni has summarized the book. You can hear a recording of this song on YouTube under “Sire of Sorrow“.

Let me speak, let me spit out my bitterness-
Born of grief and nights without sleep and festering flesh
Do you have eyes?
Can you see like mankind sees?
Why have you soured and curdled me?
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

Once I was blessed; I was awaited like the rain
Like eyes for the blind, like feet for the lame
Kings heard my words, and they sought out my company
But now the janitors of Shadowland flick their brooms at me
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
that you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow)
I’ve lost all taste for life
I’m all complaints
Tell me why do you starve the faithful?
Why do you crucify the saints?
And you let the wicked prosper
You let their children frisk like deer
And my loves are dead or dying, or they don’t come near
([Antagonists:] We don’t despise your chastening
God is correcting you)

Oh and look who comes to counsel my deep distress
Oh, these pompous physicians
What carelessness!
([Antagonists:] Oh all this ranting all this wind
Filling our ears with trash)
Breathtaking ignorance adding insult to injury!
They come blaming and shaming
([Antagonists:] Evil doer)
And shattering me
([Antagonists:] This vain man wishes to seem wise
A man born of asses)
Oh you tireless watcher! What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?

([Antagonists:] We don’t despise your chastening)
Already on a bed of sighs and screams,
And still you torture me with visions
You give me terrifying dreams!
Better I was carried from the womb straight to the grave.
I see the diggers waiting, they’re leaning on their spades.

([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow
Sure as the sparks ascend)
Where is hope while you’re wondering what went wrong?
Why give me light and then this dark without a dawn?
([Antagonists:] Evil is sweet in your mouth
Hiding under your tongue)
Show your face!
([Antagonists:] What a long fall from grace)
Help me understand!
What is the reason for your heavy hand?
([Antagonists:] You’re stumbling in shadows
You have no name now)
Was it the sins of my youth?
What have I done to you?
That you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true?
([Antagonists:] Oh your guilt must weigh so greatly)
Everything I dread and everything I fear come true
([Antagonists:] Man is the sire of sorrow)
Oh you make everything I dread and everything I fear come true

“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.” Luke 17: 1-2

As you can see, we’ve renamed our blog as we’ve been inspired by the Holy Bible. We realize that any and all thought provoking information we write about and share with you is putting not only you in peril, but ourselves as well. When I read the above verses from the book of Luke I am reminded of old gangster movies where somebody is provided with cement shoes and thrown in the river. I guess they caused little ones to sin as well. Anyway, we might as well own up to our sin causing, eye opening, articles and accept the consequences. See you at the bottom and watch yourselves!


Father Damien was a Roman Catholic priest who worked with lepers in Hawaii during the 1800s. He eventually contracted the disease and died in 1889. The Vatican recently “confirmed” a 2nd miracle opening the way to proclaim Father Damien a Saint. This miracle was the full cure of cancer from Audrey Toguchi, who decided against chemotherapy and flew to Molokai to pray to Father Damien:

“Dear Lord, you’re the one who created my body, so I know you can fix it,” Toguchi prayed. “I put my whole faith in you. … Father Damien, please pray for me, too, because I need your help.”

The full story can be found here http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,400984,00.html.

To the faithful, there is nothing that can be said to sway them from believing in the miracle working Father Damien, but to the skeptic there are a host of questions the call into doubt the miracles recorded.

  1. If you are trying to use the God of the Bible to support such a miracle, you will be hard pressed to do so. 1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. There is no room for saints as a mediator between God and man, so many Protestants reject the notion of saints. Of course the Catholic Church doesn’t agree, but their support comes from their tradition not the Bible.
  2. While Father Damien might have been a good Humanitarian in his love and treatment of lepers, and this is disputed by some (http://web.archive.org/web/20050207115024/http://praiseofglory.com/rlsdamien.htm), he obviously was not able to cure anyone in his time. He even succumbed to leprosy. But then, maybe he is able to perform miracles now that he is dead.
  3. Why did he only cure 2 people? How many thousands of have prayed to Father Damien without a cure? Why these 2 people? Why Toguchi? If this dead priest can intercede on the behalf of those who pray to him, you can only say that he is capricious in that he heals a few and ignores most of his petitioners. What kind of saint is that?
  4. While there is no doubt that Toguchi had cancer, there is some doubt as to the extent of it in her lungs as only 1 “spot” was biopsied. She was also subjected to chemotherapy for the tumor she had removed. Dr. Schilsky, who reviewed her case, said “The point here is that the primary tumor was treated, and that could have helped her immune system control any remaining cancer in her body”.
  5. While it isn’t common, spontaneous remission of cancer does occur. Estimates vary, but between 1 and 60,000 and 1 in 140,000 cases of cancer do undergo spontaneous remission. Some mechanisms have even been proposed, although it is hard to study such a rare event. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez)

Until all rational avenues are eliminated a supernatural one should not be evoked. What would it take for me to believe that Father Damien or any saint or God can do a healing miracle? Any one of the following would be sufficient:

  1. All people who prayed to such an individual or deity are cured.
  2. A limb is actually grown back after prayer.
  3. A leper offers up a prayer and is instantaneously cured.

After all, the Bible records such miracles.

On July 23 Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) and Prof. Peter Enns issued a statement announcing his departure from the Seminary (http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=187). The announcement was a nice politically correct statement as to the mutual affection and gratitude shared by each and so ended the tenure of Prof. Enns. On the surface there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual here, right? Not quite. In May a board was setup to investigate “certain matters” relating to Prof. Enns (http://www.wts.edu/stayinformed/view.html?id=159) and he was scheduled for an August 25th dismissal hearing. Obviously this was a serious matter and the resignation obviates the need for such a “trial”. What were those “certain matters” and what was Prof. Enns’ great crime? He dared to think. In 2005 he published Inspiration and Incarnation (http://www.amazon.com/Inspiration-Incarnation-Evangelicals-Problem-Testament/dp/0801027306/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1217823031&sr=8-1).

In looking at the Old Testament scriptures, he sees it as a mixture of divine and human, much as Christ was supposedly divine and human, hence the incarnation analogy. In trying to come to grips with the problems and contradictions in the Old Testament, he sees a role of the human instead of the traditional, conservative “god-breathed” inerrant scriptures. For instance, the early chapters of Genesis are grounded in ancient myths and that the historical descriptions in the Old Testament are biased. Furthermore, the New Testament writers read into the Old Testament (eisegesis) what they wanted to find in support of Christian “Theology”. To be fair, I believe Prof. Enns still believes himself to be an evangelical Christian and the scriptures to be inerrant, but then he has to play a game with what inerrant means. However, to come to the place where he doesn’t brush aside the contradictions in the Old Testament using standard “should have”, “could have”, and “might have” methods is a major step in the right direction. One can only hope that he takes the next big step and realize the book has no divine authorship at all. It is wholly man-breathed.

What this controversy shows is that true scholarship and exploration of ideas is rarely possible in a conservative seminary. I guess “teach the controversy” has no place in conservative bible “scholarship” if it comes from one of their “own”.

(For those who would like more information about this controversy, see the following reviews of Prof. Enns book, one in which he replies point by point to the reviewer: http://peterennsonline.com/ii/a-response-to-paul-helms-review-of-inspiration-and-incarnation/ , http://www.reformation21.org/featured/some-reflections-by-a-christian-college-professor.php )