Sunday, 17 May 2009

god Tingles

The ulnar nerve is the nerve that runs from your elbow to your hand. If you hold your arm out so that your thumb is pointing up, it runs from just behind your elbow to your pinkie and ring finger, along the bottom of your arm. If you bruise this nerve, you can cause some very weird sensations. I know, because I recently did just that. It causes your hand to tingle (mostly located in the pinkie and ring finer and the part of the palm just underneath those fingers). Even though the damage has occurred to my elbow, my brain interprets it as if it were coming from my hand. Pushing on the nerve can have the same effect.

This got me to thinking, that if I were a superstitious person, could I be convinced that I'm feeling some sort of presence from god? Could I think that god is somehow touching me? I've done no damage to my hand, yet I feel this tingle that won't subside. What if it happened to a different nerve and I felt the tingle elsewhere?

If I had knowledge of these nerve points, could I induce these feelings in other people and tell them that it is the hand of god touching them? Yes, I bet I could, and I bet that some people already do this, whether they are aware of the biological explanation or not. This is most likely part of the arsenal of some faith healers out there or others who claim to be able to bring god into your body (or whatever else they claim). And, this succeeds because gullible people are too uninformed about the processes of the body and all too willing to believe that god really is touching them. It's rather sad, actually, that with just a little bit of education, we could shield these gullible people from the charlatans that would take advantage of their beliefs for a quick buck or to push their agenda.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Isn't it amazing how god made the planet just so, so that we can exist on it? I mean, look at how well the environment is suited to us. We happen to see colors, breathe air, eat food, etc. How could this not be god at work?

How many times have you seen the above argument? I happen to see it quite often, and the many variations on it. I think my favorite response is what Douglas Adams said. He likened this line of thought to a puddle looking at the hole that it is in and claiming that it so perfectly fit the shape of the hole that the hole must have been made to fit the puddle perfectly.

We know, of course, that due to the properties of water that it fits into the hole, and not the other way around. If we were to take that water and place it into a different hole, it would happen to fit that hole as well, regardless of the differences in shape between the holes.

The same can be said of animals on this planet, including humans. The reason that we can see color, breathe air, gain sustenance from food is not because the environment was crafted for us, but because we evolved to survive in the environment in which we live. When oxygen was in short supply in the atmosphere, lifeforms on this planet did not use it. It was a waste product. As oxygen levels built up, mass extinctions happened because the organisms living were literally choking to death on it. As variation and natural selection lead to organisms that could use this oxygen, a balance was established that has persisted to this day (after quite a few imbalanced mass extinction events). We breathe oxygen because our ancestors evolved the ability to do so. There's no reason to posit a god that came down and put oxygen in the atmosphere in order for us to breathe, and in fact, that's contrary to the evidence that we do have.

Friday, 8 May 2009

How Jesus Works Out

"Lord’s Gym, a 10,000 square foot fitness center . . . meshes prayer and push-ups. The gym offers classes including “Yogod,” its take on yoga. . . . Spaghetti-strap tank tops and short shorts are not allowed. . . . Per Heistad, who travels often for business and is a self-described gym rat, said he did not feel entirely comfortable in other gyms anymore. “I don’t need anything to lead me into temptation,” Mr. Heistad said. “I can get there on my own.” Merri Bush, 42, who is a member with her daughter, Christyna Askey, 21, said [that] . . . the two of them walk on the treadmill each morning while they read and discuss the Bible. Ms. Askey said, “It’s cool to be able to do that and not have people say, ‘What are you doing?’ ” —The Times."

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Grace or Works?

OK, maybe someone can clear this up for me. Some Xians claim that one is saved by grace alone. That god has to come down and decide to impart his grace upon us in order for us to be saved.

So, it seems that no matter what we do, god will simply choose which people are saved, and which aren't. Where is the morality in that, and why would I wish to act in a moral way if it doesn't even matter?

Ah, but Xians have an answer for that, in that we have to repent and ask for forgiveness in order to receive god's grace. But, that's not salvation by grace alone, it's salvation by works and grace - the work being repentance and asking for forgiveness. So, which is it? Is salvation attained by grace alone or through works in conjunction with grace? If by grace alone, how does that make sense? If works are involved, then why claim that they aren't?

(Note: I have problems with the idea of works in conjunction with grace, but I'm not going into that in this particular post.)

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Divine Tyranny

A very common thought amongst Xians is that god blesses those who more closely follow god's wishes. The more you chose to do what god wants, the better he makes your life. Whether it be through making you happier and more content or monetarily, god demands obedience (for our own good of course - or so they say) and rewards those who follow his wishes. Conversely, we can see that those who do not toe the line have calamity befall them until they ultimately meet eternal torture.

So, how is this different from what most tyrants do? Take someone like Saddam Hussein. Did he not reward his loyal friends (key word being loyal) with riches, while those that opposed him were tortured. I don't see how we can separate the actions of god from those of others that have abused power in the past.

This sort of alleged behavior by god really just re-enforces the idea that god is simply a human construct, that god was modeled after the ideas of people. There's no reason for an all-powerful god to resort to such heavy-handed tactics, but it's what we might expect if this god were completely fabricated by people that saw the world work in this way.