Friday, February 22, 2013

Close Call

People and their worldviews are fascinating.

A now former Facebook friend posted something along these lines a while back: "FML! We totalled our car today after just getting it paid off last month and letting the insurance lapse.  Thank God we're OK."

I commented what seemed like a natural response: "I'm so glad y'all are OK.  Why do you suppose God caused the accident in the first place?".  She unfriended and blocked me.  This made be wonder a series of things...
  • Why would my asking that question upset her so much that she would unfriend and block me?
  • What about her faith makes her so sensitive to questions about it?
  • More broadly, why would this god total her newly paid-off and uninsured car in the first place?  Doesn't this god love her?  If this god of hers really is in control and we're living out his perfect plan, why not spare her from the accident to begin with? 
  • Or is it that this god can't stop accidents but can stop people from getting hurt in them?  If he can stop people from dying in accidents, why doesn't he help the tens of thousands of good people who die in accidents every year?  This is called "the arrogance of the spared" and it makes no sense at all.
  • And if your response is "God is mysterious and unknowable," what's all this $#!+ about you having a personal relationship with him?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Long Distance Love

A dear friend and I were discussing religion recently.  She said "I can't imagine living in a world without Christ."  I replied "You realize you're talking about a Middle-Eastern carpenter and faith-healer who lived in Palestine 2,000 years ago, right?"

The idea that Jesus of Nazareth is alive and well in our hearts is astonishingly crazy.  As Sam Harris is fond of saying, it would be difficult to believe people actually believed such a thing if so many people did not actually believe it.  In the Bible itself, Jesus tells his followers the equivalent of "I'll be right back!" over and over again.  That was 2,000 years ago, and he has not been seen or heard from since.

I hope my friend likes long-distance relationships.

A Father's Love / Good Friday

Mardi Gras was last week, which is always a fun time of year.  The next day was Ash Wednesday, which signals the beginning of Lent, when good Catholics are supposed to give up things they enjoy for 40 days.  Funny how religions generally and Christianity in particular seem to view things we enjoy as terrible for us... while viewing things that would otherwise seem despicable - like eating Jesus of Nazareth's flesh and drinking his blood - as divine.  No human flesh or blood for me thanks, even if you call it symbolic.  Make mine a cold beer and some Tex-Mex: that's divine in my book.

The end of Lent is Easter Sunday.  Two days before Easter is so-called Good Friday, when Jesus was allegedly crucified.  If I understand things correctly, God's perfect plan - in an effort for us to glorify God - was to send his son to be tortured and murdered, and for this we are supposed to love and worship God?  Doesn't sound very "good" to me, even if it was a Friday.

The Ovarian Lottery

"He won the lottery when he was born
took his mother's white breast to his tongue
Trained like dogs, color and smell
walks by me to get to him
police man
police man
He won the lottery by being born
big hand slapped a white male american
Do no wrong, so clean cut
dirty his hands, it comes right off
police man
police man..."

- from "WMA (White Male American)" by Pearl Jam, as featured on their album Vs.

Warren Buffett is often quoted as saying he won the Ovarian Lottery before he was born.  He's right, and if you're anything like me, you did too.  The chances of being born in the USA are roughly 50-to-1.  The chances of being born "white" and in the USA: roughly 100-to-1.  I have amazing parents, who are smart, generous and loving.  They provided me with great genes, a solid though imperfect childhood, and 2 college degrees from American universities, widely regarded as some of the best in the world.  I drive a German sports car and sleep in a king-sized bed in a heated home with unlimited fresh water available from taps inside the house anytime I want it.  I eat better than I could ask for.  My job consists of reading and talking on the telephone while sitting in a big leather chair.  I won the lottery by being born.