Last weekend Hurricane Ike crashed into Texas causing a lot of destruction and mayhem. Many residents were urged to evacuate the area; however, between 90,000 and 140,000 individuals decided to be stupid and “tough” it out. Why? At least one reason given was a religious one. Several newspapers recorded the reason for one man:

“I believe in the man up there, God,” said William Steally, a 75-year-old retiree who planned to ride out the storm in Galveston without his wife or sister-in-law. “I believe he will take care of me.”

Let’s look at this statement in detail.

First the statement is extremely selfish and self-serving. Mr. Steally has shown:

– A complete disregard for his own life.
– An uncaring attitude toward his family who presumably cares for him and would prefer to see him alive rather than dead.
– A disregard for his neighbors who may be influenced by his decision to stay.
– An “in your face” attitude those first responders who have to put their life in danger to rescue him.

Second, does Mr. Steally really believe what he said? If he really trusted God to take care of him, why did he have his wife and sister-in-law evacuate the area? Why didn’t he evacuate and trust his God to protect his house and possessions? How come God can protect him but not his house?

Personally, I think Mr. Steally is using religion as a “rational” means to do what he wants – to protect his stuff. I find this interesting for someone who is supposed to be non-materialistic and building reward in heaven. This man values his stuff more than his life, his family, his neighbors and the men and women who have to put their lives in jeopardy because of his foolishness. Then again, maybe he really believes what he said and doesn’t look at the inconsistencies between his words and his actions. Religion, after all, makes people do some very stupid things.

I often hear that science is just my religion or that science is a religion that requires just as much faith as any other religion. Sigh.

There is a VAST difference between science and religion. This cartoon from www.wellingtongrey.net is a humorous representation. I urge you to look at it before proceeding.

Science CHANGES! Believe it or not, this is the strong point of science. A hypothesis is made and then TESTED. As methodology and technology and understanding advances a hypothesis is discarded, modified or confirmed. Science is reality based. It is subjected to testing. It is subjected to Peer review. It is subjected to change. Sure, some scientists, being human, will hold on to their pet theories or fight against the new BUT the EVIDENCE WILL win. That is how science works.

– Hypothesis
– Experimentation, ideally with a design formulated to falsify the hypothesis
– Interpretation of results
– Publication in PEER reviewed journals
– Confirmation (or not) of the hypothesis and experimental details by other scientists
– repeat

When a large body of information over a long period of time continually confirms a set of hypotheses they are grouped and elevated to a Theory. A theory in science is NOT what most people consider a theory (common use of the word). A theory in science explains a large number of facts and is essentially a fact:

Many scientific theories are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially

Details of a theory can be modified as more evidence is gained without changing the truth of the Theory. For example, Newtonian mechanics still works although it has been modified for very fast and very small particles. The Theory of Evolution is a fact. It explains a large body of evidence and has held up to repeated attempts at falsification. Once again, science deals with facts and reality. It deals with what can be proved and/or falsified. It deals with reality.

Religion is the direct opposite. It deals with Faith. Its major doctrines can NOT be proved. They can NOT be scientifically analyzed and they can NOT be subjected to falsification. It is, essentially, a body of information that is all made up. Not that there isn’t support. Every religion has its sacred texts and religious leaders who “know” the truth but it is not (generally) subjected to experimentation and falsification. There is no person alive that can prove the existence of God or that God exists in 3 persons or that Christ’s death saves or that there is a heaven or that there is a hell or that an invisible Zeus lives on Mt Olympus, etc. There may be things in a religion that can be checked (e.g. Did Christ exist? Did Paul exist?) but the substance of theology cannot be checked. Oh, it can be argued: The text really says this. You don’t really understand this verse. My vision said this. However, a religious system can NOT be proved. You may believe there is enough evidence to make a leap of faith but if there was PROOF there would be no need for faith. Theology is just “grown-ups” arguing for and against made up doctrines.

I also maintain that religion can’t change but it can evolve. This is why there are 38,000+ Christian denominations. In order for religion to “progress” or change, it has to split and a new group has to be formed OR if a church changes too much others split from it to keep the “old” ways. Either way the old is preserved. Eventually a religious group will either survive or die. Religion deals with absolute truth (or they like to think so) so change isn’t possible without damaging that claim. Now it may look like change because those less fit will die and those that are more fit will survive, so over time the religion landscape may change. Often times all that is really accomplished is that another denomination is added to the ever growing list. Anyone can get involved in this fray because no proof is needed. All that is needed is a claim and followers willing to believe that claim based on faith and/or trust. Evidence need not apply.

If someone wants to believe in a mythical, invisible, sky god that loves them and will send believers to heaven and sinners to hell – have at it. I draw the line when that fantasy starts trying to influence education, science and politics. But then, it has too doesn’t it? Religion believes it has the truth of “god” and that truth MUST be imposed on the world. This is what makes religion dangerous.

William Tyndale was a 16th century Protestant reformer who is mainly credited with translating the Bible into English for the masses. He was charged with heresy for daring to put the Bible into the hands of the common person. In hindsight, this wasn’t an unfounded charge. Once people could read the Bible for themselves it was only a matter of time for divisions and factions and eventual disbelief to follow, because the Bible is about as clear as mud. Since this is the “very word of God”, it becomes of utmost importance to be true to your interpretation. Being true to your interpretation often means a break from those heretics that refused to obey the “clear” word of God. Preaching that word, or rather your interpretation of that word, becomes of prime importance. Tyndale believed that preaching meant to:

“Expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses, to condemn all flesh, and prove all men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, to be sin, and damnable; and then as a faithful minister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of the water of him. And then shall your preaching be with power, and not as the hypocrites. And the Spirit of God shall work with you; and all consciences shall bear record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doctrine that casteth a mist on these two, to shadow and hide them, I mean the law of God, and mercy of Christ, that resist you with all your power.” (In a letter to John Frith)

In typical Puritan fashion, preaching meant to condemn men as evil sinners, worms to be crushed under the mighty hand and justice of God. Crush a man’s spirit. Destroy a man’s hope. Let him grovel in the dirt of his own worthlessness. Make him feel totally helpless and loss. Then tell him God loves Him and offers a rescue through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Wow, talk about depressing. God’s highest creation is just a worthless hunk of meat unless God, through powerful magic, saves him by a human/god sacrifice. A very strange state of affairs for a being that is acting exactly as this God has created him and has no ability to change, apart from God. And he can’t change unless God lets him but this “merciful” God will blame him for not changing (John 3:3, 6:44). A gruesome fairy tale if there ever was one. Talk about being stuck in the Twilight zone!

Last week John McCain made a surprising choice for Vice President, the relatively unknown and inexperienced Sarah Palin. I don’t think it’s too skeptical to say this choice was directed by McCain’s desire to capitalize on disgruntled Hillary supporters and to pander to the conservative evangelical vote, which have had a problem with his candidacy. This blog isn’t about the problems and issues surrounding Palin as a Vice President choice, but rather it’s a look at those loving Christian communities that tell us that Christianity is THE moral basis which shows us how to live – God’s way. Lest you think it is only Islam that downgrades women, conservative fundamental Christianity doesn’t do women any favors either. Unfortunately, some women want it this way. Look at this quote on the B. B. Warfield group on Yahoo written by a woman:

“I was going to vote – however unwillingly – for McCain but now will not. First and foremost, overriding all other reasons, is that I do not believe the LORD approves of or intends for women to occupy high office, and yes, I’m including Queen Victoria and Margaret Thatcher in that. ;^) Isaiah 3:12, with its “O My people! Their oppressors are children, and women rule over them” language, combined with Genesis 3, 1 Corinthians 14, and a fair number of other verses makes clear (IMO, and that of at least John Knox) that ruling is meant to be the role of men. So. Having a female in the VP slot is not anything I could ever, in conscience, vote for. Second, even if I weren’t implacably opposed to a woman as president, I couldn’t be in favor of one with five small children, whose credentials are two terms on the city council of a town of about 7,000, two terms as its mayor, and serving as governor since 2006. And while her fiercely pro-life convictions are admirable, I’m not crazy about her membership in “Feminists for Life”, and how she referred to those who had asked her (when she was running for governor) whether a mother of four small children could perform both as governor and carry out her maternal duties as Neanderthals.”

And

“ISTM if the woman were truly putting her children first she wouldn’t be eager to place them in a position to BE assaulted by the left. What her husband’s thinking of, to allow her to do this, beats me.
Oh wait. That’s right. This is a wholly egalitarian, feminist family so he probably doesn’t have a lot to say about it.”

Sad, isn’t it?

With Palin’s choice McCain might have alienated some of those very conservative Christians he is trying to court! While I don’t think Palin is qualified for the office, it has nothing to do with her gender. It has to do with her inexperience and views. To disqualify someone because of her gender or the number of children she has is draconian in the extreme, but for some Christian groups gender does disqualify a person from any type of leadership role. Now, do you really want the “law” of the Bible to be the law of the land? Maybe you need the Millstone of gender equality.