Sunday, August 29, 2010

Science saves volcano virgins

The Sunday funnies

Sunday mornings are a good time for enjoying the funnies. I am not, however, limiting myself to what I discover in the comics section of the daily newspaper. Some of the most entertainingly amusing stuff is on television, where religious broadcasters present surreal comedy routines that they deliver with astonishing earnestness. (I marvel at how they manage to keep a straight face.)

This morning's entertainment was provided in part by Shawn Boonstra, an earnest and soft-spoken television preacher who styles himself as the “speaker/director” of his It Is Written ministry. He had set himself the task of discussing Einstein's brain and using it as an example of the insufficiency of natural processes to explain the existence or intelligence of humanity.
You know, on paper, sometimes the theory of evolution makes pretty good sense, but don't you find there's this nagging doubt in your heart that tells you this place couldn't possibly have come into existence by accident? How in the world does a cosmic accident develop to the point where we can generate nuclear power? What can we learn from a literal chunk of Einstein's brain?
Ah, yes, the “cosmic accident.” Time to pull God out of the hat as a convenient explanation.

If that were all, Boonstra's presentation would have passed by, unremarked and unremarkable. Fortunately, however, for the sake of my morning entertainment, he had a compelling argument for God's existence based on morality. Without a divine lawgiver, you see, anything goes! While I had heard that before, too, I hadn't heard his precise example before:
If we accept the atheist view of our origins then we have to admit that ideas like good and evil or right and wrong are nothing but human concoctions, the products of our culture. And if you accept that morality is something invented by human beings, you run into a pretty big problem. If one culture says that it's okay to throw young virgins into an active volcano in order to appease the gods of the underworld, then who's allowed to say that's wrong? By what authority can they possibly critique that behavior?
By the authority of science, of course! Science amply demonstrates that volcanoes are not propitiated by virgin sacrifice. The virgins thus spared can then be employed in more productive ways.

Yay, science! Boo, volcano gods!

But Boonstra had worked up a head of steam, so he kept rolling along:
Not only do I believe in a creator God, I also believe in a moral God, a great lawgiver who gave us a perfect moral code. And far from being a outdated set of do's and dont's from some ancient outmoded religion, the Ten Commandments still remain God's standard for right and wrong today. They're laws that just make sense.
A perfect moral code? I'll bet that Boonstra can't define it. Or, at least, he'll have a hell of a time explaining why it's important to avoid eating shellfish while stoning one's recalcitrant children. Or raping virgins that belong to enemy tribes (assuming you don't need them for the volcanoes).

And the Ten Commandments make sense? Excuse me, but I think George Carlin has persuasively demonstrated that they are terribly overwritten and fraught with the insecurities of a compulsively jealous deity.



kai said...

And indeed, by what authority can we critique the burning of witches?

CortxVortx said...

(wades through mabuslobber)

Is that the same "It Is Written" formerly hosted by Jack Van Impe? He was a hoot. I recall one sermon about all the demons floating around in the atmosphere, intercepting prayers ("principalities of the air"), and Jack whining, "I fear for the astronauts!"

Comedy gold.

DM said...

hawking is WRONG

DM said...

hawking is WRONG

science cannot explain NOTHING!

LSquared32 said...

When my religious friends bring up the "cosmic accident" argument, I wince, but at least their point of view hangs together in a consistent way (I'm also religious, but the cosmic accident argument just shows a fantastic amount of lack of knowledge of science... and probability). When my kid's friend claims vociferously that there can't be a god, and then goes on to cite the cosmic accident argument (just about human evolution, though) as clear evidence that we were genetically engineered by aliens, I just want to cry.

Jeff Eyges said...

Is that the same "It Is Written" formerly hosted by Jack Van Impe?

The people behind It Is Written are Seventh Day Adventists - a slightly more tolerable brand of crazies, as they believe in conditional immortality (i.e., that non-believers will simply cease to exist).

Van Impe is independent, I believe - but he still thinks we're all going to hell.