Science

Questions: Bruce, Did Your High School Teach Evolution?

questions

I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.

ObstacleChick asked, “was evolution taught in the high school you attended?”

I actually attended four high schools in the 1970s:

I took biology in tenth grade. All that I remember about biology class at Rincon High was the labs; specifically dissecting a frog. Biology class at Findlay High dealt with the basics of biology, including evolution.

I was quite the Fundamentalist Baptist during my years at Findlay High School. I remember writing an English paper on the subject, Why I’m a Baptist. I received an A on the paper. My teacher’s only comment was the word interesting, written in red and underlined. In biology class, I was a royal pain in the ass, frequently injecting Biblical young-earth creationism into class discussions. When it came time to take tests, I would give the correct answers to the questions and then write what the Bible had to say on the matter. Here I was, sixteen years old, and my mind had already been ruined by Fundamentalism. As a result, the science I learned in public school didn’t stick. I was an unabashed, full-fledged, Bible-thumping, young-earth creationist. In my mind, every question could be answered with, the BIBLE says ______________.

As a pastor, on several occasions, I went after public school science teachers for teaching Darwinian evolution. When I got wind of church teens being taught evolution, I would march down to the local school and demand their religious beliefs be accommodated and respected. Usually, it was church parents, not students themselves, asking me to do something about evolution being taught. Teachers, not wanting conflict with a local preacher, accommodated my demands, often giving Christian students alternative work to do. In retrospect, I am sure the teens who attended my church were thoroughly embarrassed by being singled out.

In 1989, I started a private school for the children of the families who attended Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Creation science was taught in every grade. Evolution was only mentioned in passing, more of warning that its teachings were Satanic and contrary to the Word of God.

It was not until my post-Jesus days that I began to seriously study science. While I know a lot more than I did a decade ago, I am still, in every way, an ill-educated novice when it comes to the various scientific disciplines. I must, then, rely on experts to give me answers about this or that matter of science.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Your Questions, Please

 

i-have-a-question

Greetings, Earthlings.

It’s been three or so years since I asked readers to submit questions for me to answer, so I thought I would open the call lines and ask you to submit your questions, along with $100 donations to help me reach Evangelicals throughout the world. Reason — praise be to Reason — has called me to evangelize Evangelicals, and your donations will help me take the gospel of critical thinking to the ends of the earth. Just kidding. While donations are always appreciated, what I really want is questions; your pithy, erudite questions.

If you have a question you would like me to answer, please ask it in the comment section. I will answer questions in the order they are received. You can also email your questions to me via the contact form.

This post will remain pinned to the top of the front page until August 15th, after which time it will disappear into the bowels of this blog never to be seen again

Let the games begin.

Bruce

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Matthew 25: Will There Be Any Evangelicals in Heaven?

evangelicals-heaven

Warning: I paint with a broad brush in this post. If you are not the type of Evangelical mentioned in this post, no need to whine, complain, moan, and object to my unfair characterization of your tribe. Perhaps you should ponder why you are still an Evangelical instead of feeling butt-hurt over being unfairly characterized. When Donald Trump was elected, that was your cue to run, run, run. Unless you have no legs or wheelchair, I can’t think of one reason for thoughtful, decent, socially aware Christians to remain Evangelical.

Many critics believe that Evangelicalism is imploding; that the baby birthed by the Moral Majority decades ago has now turned into a full-grown, power-hungry monster. Drunk with political success, many Evangelicals have abandoned all pretense of being followers of Jesus. Eighty-two percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, arguably the most unqualified, most vile man to ever sit in the Oval Office. Trump made and continues to make a mockery of virtually everything Evangelicals supposedly hold dear, yet the president continues to have widespread support in the Evangelical community. Trump is a pathological liar, capable of repeatedly contradicting himself in a matter of minutes. Showing all the marks of being a sociopath, the president has no regard for women, children, the disabled, or, quite frankly, the human race. Trump is a one-man band, and all that matters to him is the fawning love he receives at campaign rallies and from positive news coverage. Trump continues to attack the very foundation of our democracy. He daily lashes out at the media — except for Fox News — calling them fake, threatening them with punitive action. It is clear to all who are paying attention that the president’s election campaign was in bed with people out to destroy our country. Winning at all costs is what matters to Trump, and one has to wonder if this approach will one day lead to another depression or world war. Recent news reports reveal that President Trump, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — all of whom are professing Christians — think it is moral, decent, and right to separate children from their parents in their zero-tolerance pursuit of shutting off the flow of undocumented people coming into the United States. Despite all these things, Evangelicals still overwhelmingly support porn-star-loving, pussy-grabber-in-chief, Donald Trump. It seems the president was right when he said that he could murder someone and people would still vote for him. It leaves me to wonder if there’s anything the president could do that would cause Evangelicals to turn on him and demand his removal from office. I have come to the conclusion that, for the most part, the pathological desire for a return to the mythical days when America was white, Christian, and great precludes most Evangelicals from ever seriously asking themselves the question, what would Jesus do?

The current state of affairs has me wondering if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven? I have my doubts. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

According to this passage of Scripture — and yes, I am well aware of all the ways Evangelicals use to get around the clear intent and implication of this passage — there is coming a day when Jesus will return to earth with his angels and sit upon the throne of his glory. At that time, he will gather humanity together and judge them, dividing them into two categories: sheep and goats. The sheep will be rewarded with eternal life, whereas the goats will receive everlasting punishment as their reward. How will Jesus determine who is in what category? Will it be, as Evangelicals contend, right beliefs that put them in the sheep pen, and wrong beliefs that land most of the human race — past and present — in the goat pen? Is right belief the true gospel Evangelicals preach? Or is there some other standard by which Jesus will judge the dead and the living on judgment day? The aforementioned passage of Scripture is clear; it is good works and not right beliefs that determine our eternal destiny. I have long argued that one must ignore much of the Gospels to conclude that good works have nothing to do with salvation. Note carefully what Jesus said would be his standard of judgment:

  • Feeding the hungry
  • Giving drink to the thirsty
  • Taking in strangers and caring for them
  • Clothing the naked
  • Caring for the sick
  • Caring for those in prison

Considering the current state of affairs and Evangelicals’ continued support of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, it’s fair to ask if there will be any Evangelicals in Heaven. In fact, I wonder if the largest section in Hell will be reserved for American Evangelicals. Using Jesus’ standard of judgment, there will be few Evangelicals in God’s eternal sheep pen. And it’s just not their support of Republican policy and President Trump that will land them in Hell. For decades now, Evangelicals have increasingly found themselves on the opposite side of the teachings of Christ. While Evangelicals revel in their love for zygotes, many of them show little interest in life after birth. Once born, children are left to the wolves, expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps before they even own a pair of boots. Evangelicals overwhelmingly support government-sponsored violence. Ever the flag wavers, Evangelicals continue to support the murderous actions of the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and countless other countries. Drones rain violence and death from the sky, and Evangelicals say nothing, believing that part of making America great again is fighting them [Muslims] over there [Middle East] so we don’t have to fight them here. Evangelicals seem indifferent towards the maiming and killing of hundreds of thousands of children, women, unborn babies, and innocent bystanders. I wonder what Jesus, the Prince of Peace, would say about Evangelical support of these things? Something tells me that, much like asylum-seekers on our southern border, Evangelicals will be turned away at St. Peter’s gate. You see, it’s behavior that matters, not beliefs. Don’t tell me what you believe, show me!

Evangelicals not only support the American war machine, but they are staunch supporters of unbridled capitalism and its immoral destruction of our planet. Jesus had a lot to say about money, and something tells me that if Jesus were alive today, he and Bernie Sanders might be best friends. Greed rules virtually every aspect of American life, yet most Evangelical preachers never say a word. How can they, with their fancy churches, stained-glass windows, and million-dollar church budgets. Something tells me that these modern moneychangers would find themselves at the end of Jesus’ whip as he overturned their media tables and soundboards. Think of all the good that could be done with the money Evangelicals spend on buildings, staff, and incestuous programs that do little more than entertain fat sheep — or fat goats. Evangelicals support the rich getting richer at the expense of working-class people. I wonder who Jesus would hang out with if he came back to earth today? The ruling class? The rich? The powerful? Big name preachers? I suspect, as the Joshua series of books — written by Catholic priest Joseph Girzone — so aptly showed, that Jesus would be found hanging out at the local pub and caring for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned — the very people Evangelicals have no time for. But Jesus, some Evangelical might say, we are having a worship service in your name tonight. Surely you will want to spend your time with us. Why, we even pray for the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the imprisoned. And you know Lord, once a year our church has what we call Serve Day (a local church does just that). For five hours, we do good stuff for people. Don’t you want to join us, Lord, as we take five hours out of our busy masturbatory Jesus-worship schedule to give back to our community? I suspect that Jesus might inquire as to where all their money went; the money he gave them to do good works; the money he gave them to, you know, care for the weak, the poor, the disadvantaged, and marginalized.

Thanks to widespread ignorance concerning matters of science, many Evangelicals are also global climate-change deniers. Believing that the earth is six thousand twenty-two years old, created in six literal twenty-four-hour days, will ruin the best of minds. Besides, why worry about increasing sea levels, increasing temperatures, and wildlife habitat loss when the return of Jesus is eminent? To heck with the world, Evangelicals say, God is in charge of the weather, and if he wants increasing sea levels and increased temperatures, who are we to object?

Everything that I’ve written above will likely just piss off Evangelicals. I’m an atheist, humanist, pacifist, and a socialist, so Evangelicals will likely ignore what I have to say. I’m just a guy with an axe to grind. I hate God, so it’s no wonder that I have it out for God’s chosen ones. However, Evangelicals might consider that perhaps I am right, and that their continued support of Republican politics, Donald Trump, capitalism, and a host of other anti-Christian behaviors might earn them a bunk in Hell. Perhaps Evangelicals need consider Pascal’s Wager — you know, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, caring for strangers, and all the other things that Jesus said are the markers of a man or woman who follows after him, just in case Jesus really meant what he said. Yes, I am an atheist. The miracle working Jesus of the Bible is a myth, but the human Jesus who walked the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of Galilee said some good things that Evangelicals might want to put into practice if they expect to be singing with the Angels in the sweet by-and-by. And even if there is no Heaven or Hell, no afterlife, no judgment — don’t you want to kind, thoughtful, and helpful to others? I know I do.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Life After Jesus: Moving from a God-Shaped Hole to a Knowledge-Shaped Hole

god shaped hole

Snark and R-rated humor ahead. You have been warned!

Those of us raised in Evangelical churches often heard our pastors speak of unsaved people having a God-shaped hole in their lives. Where this hole was exactly never was explained. It couldn’t have been in the heart. Surgeons can repair holes in hearts — no God needed. Perhaps, this hole was in the soul — another thing pastors never could explain. Where, exactly, does the soul reside? How can any of us know we have a soul, or a spirit, for that matter?  And I have to ask at this point, if unsaved people have a God-shaped hole, does that make them HOLY?

Regardless of wherever said hole is located, Evangelical pastors assure sinners that it exists, and that God, on purpose, created this hole in every human being. In other words, all of us were born with a birth defect. Supposedly, God created this hole so all of us would one day want and need him. Well, except for the non-elect — according to Calvinists. They go through life with holes that can never be filled by God because God put a steel plate over their holes. (I am restraining myself here. All this hole talk makes me want to talk about sex.) Arminians, on the other hand, believe all humans are born into this world with a God-shaped hole in their lives. But, even for Jacob Arminus’ clan, if sinners repeatedly reject God’s plan for hole-filling, God will pour cement into their hole — giving them a hardened heart. Having committed the unpardonable sin, sinners with cement-filled holes can never, ever be saved.

The Bible, of course, mentions nothing about unsaved people having a God-shaped hole in their lives. That unbelievers have one is based on inference; a common way that Evangelicals use to construct new doctrines. Take a verse here, a verse there, and another verse over here, and BOOM! there it is. Surely you see it, right? Evangelicals often use inference to prove various points of their eschatological beliefs. For example, the Bible does not mention the rapture — the moment when Jesus will come again (no sex joke here either) in the clouds and gather up all the Evangelicals to take them home to Heaven. You will search in vain for a verse, any verse, that says Jesus will soon return to earth’s atmosphere to catch away the saved. If you start pressing Evangelicals on some their beliefs you will find that their interpretations are based on presuppositions. We believe that the rapture of the church is imminent, says Pastor I.M. Fullashit, and this and that verse — twisted, contorted, and pressed — proves it! So it is with God-shaped holes.

The implication of the God-shaped hole is this: unsaved people live empty, hopeless, desperate, unfilled lives lacking in meaning, purpose, and direction. Without God filling the pothole he created in your life, you are vile sinner who hates God. My wife and I went to the hospital today to visit grandchild number twelve. Ezra was born seven weeks early so he is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Here was this precious, wonderful little boy. I shed a tear as I looked at him sleeping, wondering what he would one day become. I wondered about what kind of world he is being born into now that Donald Trump is trying to burn the United States to the ground. So many questions Grandpa has about his future, but for today, he’s my grandson, my daughter’s first child, and I love him.

If I were still an Evangelical, perhaps I would have uttered a prayer, asking God to quickly fill my wicked, vile grandson’s life with the presence of the Holy Spirit. You see, Evangelicals believe that infants, too, have a God-shaped hole. King David, a murderous, adulterous man who supposedly had a heart for God, had this to say about himself: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5) Evangelicals extrapolate from this verse the belief that ALL children are conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity (the doctrine of original sin). Of course, this is a conclusion without evidence. All that can be said here is that David thought he was wicked from birth. Press Evangelicals on the notion of original sin and you will quickly find that this doctrine is built upon a rotting foundation; that this doctrine requires playing Bible gymnastics to affirm its teaching. If you want a good illustration of how this game is played, please read John Piper’s post titled, What is the Biblical Evidence for Original Sin? Now, without the doctrine of original sin, there’s no need for human redemption and salvation. Evangelicals need the human herd divided into two groups — saved and lost — for their salvation scheme to work. Without this division, why, we would all just be humans, each capable of good and bad behavior. If there’s no sin, there’s no need for Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

Piper sums up his nonsensical defense of infants being born hellions with these two points:

  • Infants die, therefore they are not innocent.
  • If humanity is not born in sin, wouldn’t we expect there to be some people who have “beaten the odds” and never sinned?

Makes perfect sense to Evangelicals. But, to those of us outside of the bubble, we know that infants are fine just as they are; that what they need is LOVE, and not salvation. What, exactly, has my grandson done to need redemption? So far, in the first week of life, all he has done is sleep, eat, occasionally cry, poop, and pee. Fortunately, his parents will not be taking him to a Christian indoctrination center any time soon. I had to stop attending religious rituals for my newly-born grandchildren after almost having a stroke when a priest said my granddaughter was possessed by the Devil and must be exorcised — which he promptly proceeded to do. Quite frankly, I wanted to hold that priest’s head in the baptismal font water for about five minutes. There, another demon exorcised!

The only hole Christians have is in their minds; a hole made in their intellect by religion. I am not saying that Evangelicals are stupid or ignorant, though more than a few comments left on this blog over the years might lead me to conclude otherwise. What I am saying is that Evangelical beliefs cripple the minds of believers; that their minds are shut off from certain paths of inquiry. Instead of following the path wherever it leads, Evangelicals, much like the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years, intellectually wander within what they believe is a God-approved box. Their pastors warn them if they dare to peek over the top of the box or wander from its confines that they risk falling into heresy or sin; that only within the box will their soul and life be safe and secure.

Evangelicals have what I call the Christian Ghetto®, a world where Evangelical versions of everything exist. Evangelical congregants are encouraged to only read Christian books, attend Christian movies, and watch Christian TV. I remember one congregant whom I tried my darnedest to convince to read the Calvinistic books I was recommending to members, She would take the books home, but never read them. One day, I stopped by to visit her. Usually, congregants would hide anything that would lead me to conclude that they were not following the commands, edicts, rules, laws, and regulations of Pastor Bruce, uh I mean God. On this particular day, this dear woman forgot to hide the reason she wasn’t interested in reading the latest, greatest eighteenth-century book by a dried prune of a Puritan preacher. On her living room table sat a large stack of true-crime books. I looked at the books, picked up one of them, briefly leafed through it, and said nothing. Back then, I could do passive-aggressive quite well. Point made, preacher, point made. You see, she wanted to roam outside of the box. This woman found theology books boring, whereas true-crime books were filled with all sorts of exciting stories.

As an Evangelical pastor, part of my duty was to make sure people stayed within the confines of the box. People who dared to leave the box often did not return, putting their eternal destinies at risk. The Bible says in 1 John 2:19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Let me translate this from the original Hungarian:

Those people who left our church were not True Christians®. Had they been True Christians® they would have kept their asses in the pew and continued to listen to Pastor Bruce’s Holy Spirit-filled sermons, obeying his every word. But, they left, and this is proof that they never were really True Christians®.

Evangelicalism is all about obedience and conformity. Independent thinking is discouraged, and is often taken as a sign of a person who is not right with God. Congregants are expected to believe, by faith, that whatever the Bible says is true (inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility). While doubts and questions are tolerated to a small degree, True Christians® are expected to eventually, after being properly schooled and corrected, toe the line. And if they can’t or won’t, these rebellious church members are expected to leave the church. Of course, by leaving they prove they weren’t True Christians®, or at the very least prove that the pastor was right to have serious doubts about their salvation.

Fortunately, an increasing number of Evangelicals (and Christians of all stripes) are propping up a ladder on the inside wall of the box and escaping into the night. Once free, these escapees wander the wild, woolly, dangerous streets of the world. (See What I Found When I Left the Box.) No longer bound by church doctrine, orthodoxy, and the like, these people are free to follow the path of life wherever it leads. Few ever return to the box. Most of them find homes in progressive/liberal Christian churches, Unitarian Universalist churches, or embrace non-Christian beliefs. Some of them say they are spiritual and have no interest in organized religion. An increasing number of these runners become agnostics or atheists. You see, once you are truly free, life becomes all about the journey and not the destination. Evangelicals fixate on right beliefs and practice because where they spend eternity depends on them believing and practicing the right things. Believe the wrong things and Hell awaits. Believe the right things — by faith — and put those beliefs into practice (good works), and a room in God’s Trump Hotel awaits you after death. Life, then, is just preparation for eternity (Amos 3:3). Life is all about getting ready to meet God and move in to the room Jesus has spent thousands of years preparing for you.

god shaped hole 2

Cartoon by Dresden Codak

 

Once free from the pernicious, intellect-killing, mind-rotting grip of Evangelical dogma, people feel a great sense of freedom, yet, at the same time, they, once again, sense a hole in their lives. This hole, however, is real. It is a knowledge-filled hole, a hole located in the mind that only can be filled with intellectual inquiry. Most former Evangelicals lament the fact that they had so many bat-shit crazy beliefs. Who among us hasn’t said, I can’t believe that believed THAT! I see all those hands! For those of us who were Evangelicals for years, we realize that we burned a lot of brain cells (and daylight) searching after “truths” that were mirages; “truths” that were passed down from generation to generation by the tribal elders of our blood cult; “truths” that have no grounding in facts and evidence. Once we reach this point, there’s often a mind-flushing of sorts that takes place. For some of us, we had to push the handle numerous times before our minds were free of a lifetime of detritus. Once cleansed of Biblical “truth,” former Evangelicals realize that there’s a lot they don’t know about the world. Spend your life having truth defined by the Bible and God-ordained men alone, and you are going to miss out on a lot of important stuff.

Most Evangelicals are creationists. No need to study science, right? The Bible says, in the Beginning GOD CREATED the heavens and earth. What else is there to know? Come to find out, a hell of a lot of stuff. I have spent the last decade trying to educate myself in matters of biology, archeology, geology, and astronomy, to name a few. The same could be said about history and the social sciences. So much to learn, but here’s the problem: I am sixty-one years old and in failing health. I do what I can, but I am so grateful for the fact that my children and grandchildren are free from the cult; that they value intellectual inquiry; that they are skeptical — and often humored — of claims made by Christians. It thrills me down to the deeps of my painful feet that my grandchildren are voracious readers; that they are not held captive by the Bible or Christian books. Freedom, for them, yea, for all of us comes one book at a time.

The impetus for this post came from an email I received from a friend of mine. She told me of a discussion she was having with a sibling over the plurality of Gods in the Old Testament — specifically the Hebrew words Yahweh and Elohim. Evangelicals, of course, believe that these words are the same name for their God. There is ONE God, Evangelicals say, yet they worship a triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Well, God is three in one, Christians say. Three, yet one. Makes perfect sense, right? Anyhow, my friend, as I do, thinks that the Old Testament Gods were plural in number. A natural reading of the text, without pushing it through a Trinitarian sieve, reveals that Christianity rests on a polytheistic foundation. My friend’s sibling would have none of her “worldly” thoughts, reminding her that pride was man’s first sin and that pridefully attaining “worldly” knowledge is futile. Her sibling told her that he was focused on his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is his all-in-all; the only person who can fill the God-shaped hole in his heart.

My friend said to me, “His God-shaped hole is filled with God, but I don’t have a God-shaped hole; I have a knowledge-shaped hole and I am having fun filling it.” She sure hit the proverbial nail on the head! With no thoughts or worries about God or eternity, we are free to read and study that which interests us. The goal is to be a more informed person today than I was yesterday. I will never become as competent in matters of science as younger skeptics will, but I can, by the grace of my almighty intellect, know more about how the world works today than I knew as a card-carrying member of the Ken Ham Were You There? Club®. Much like my friend, I intend to fill the hole in my life with knowledge. I invite Evangelicals to dare to scale the walls of the box. Freedom awaits, as does a library card.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Fear, Paranoia, and Superstition: Friday the 13th

friday the thirteenth

Last week, Janice Williams, a writer for Newsweek, churned out a bit of irrational nonsense about Friday the 13th. This nonsense made it into the newsletter sent out weekly by a local school near where I live. In this short post, I plan to dismantle Williams’ notion that the superstition surrounding the day stems from certain Christian beliefs; beliefs that I had never heard of until I read Williams’ article:

However, reasons why and how Friday the 13th got its unlucky association remain a mystery. But some do believe the superstitions and fear surrounding the date stem from religious beliefs and Christianity specifically.

It was the 13th guest at the Last Supper, Judas, who betrayed Jesus Christ, which led to Christ’s crucifixion, held on a Friday. Some biblical scholars also believe it was a Friday when Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and it was Friday the 13th when Cain committed the first murder, killing his brother Abel.

“Because Friday was the day of the crucifixion, Fridays were always regarded as a day of penance and abstinence,” Steve Roud, author of The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland, told BBC news Friday. “This religious belief spilled over into a general dislike of starting anything or doing anything important on a Friday.”

….

First, Williams suggests that the one of the reasons Friday the 13th being is an unlucky day is that Judas, the betrayer of Jesus, was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper. This one is easy to debunk. Judas was numbered among the twelve disciples. Thus, it was Jesus, and not Judas, who was the thirteenth guest. And even if people can’t bear the thought of Jesus being associated with the unlucky number thirteen, why was Judas the thirteenth guest, and not Peter, James, John, or any of the other eight disciples? Second, I wonder if Williams is aware of the fact that some Biblical scholars believe that Jesus was crucified on Thursday, and not Friday? I doubt it. Had she done even the slightest bit of research for this filler article, she would have learned that more than a few scholars dispute the Friday-crucifixion-to-Sunday-resurrection timeline because the Bible says Jesus was in the grave for three days. It’s hard to get three days and nights out of Friday to Sunday, especially when you consider that Jesus, according to the Bible, had already risen from the dead by the time the women arrived to his tomb early Sunday morning.

Third, Williams says that some Biblical scholars believe that “it was a Friday when Eve convinced Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and it was Friday the 13th when Cain committed the first murder, killing his brother Abel.”  Really? I spent fifty years in the Christian church and twenty-five of those years were spent pastoring churches. I spent tens of thousands of hours studying the Bible and reading theological tomes, yet I never read one word about Cain killing Abel on Friday the 13th, nor did I read anything about Adam eating the forbidden fruit on a Friday. I searched the Internet in vain for SOURCE materials — you know ancients texts — that made this claim. All I found were unsupported mentions similar to those “revealed” in Williams’ article.

My first response is this: who makes this shit up? Really? What historical or textual evidence do they have for such claims? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is little to none. I can’t wait for Bart Ehrman’s newest blockbuster book to come out — Numerology, The Hidden Secrets of the Bible Revealed! This thirteen-chapter, six-hundred-sixty-six-page book of blank pages is sure to blow the minds of superstitious Christians and unbelievers alike. Ehrman reveals that Lucifer had thirteen toes, along with other astounding, almost unbelievable, truths. Order it today from Amazon! Price? $13.00.

My second response is that I was unaware that Adam and Eve, along with every other fictional person in the Old Testament used Rolex watches and the Gregorian — or Julian for that matter — calendar to keep track of time and dates. The Julian calendar took effect on January 1, 45 BCE, and the Gregorian calendar replaced the Julian in the sixteenth century, well after the mythical events records in Genesis. Now before a “smart” Christian suggests that Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel used the Jewish Calendar, I should let readers know that the Hebrew calendar was not widely used until the Christian era. If you want to kill a bunch of brain cells, spend time reading about how religion can screw up something as simple as a calendar.

I have no doubt that there are Christians who believe this nonsense about Friday the 13th. One of the books that collected dust in my study during my preaching days was E.W. Bullinger’s book, Number in Scripture: Its Supernatural Design and Spiritual Significance. I tried numerous times to read this book — a preacher friend recommended I purchase this eye-opening, life-changing book — but alas! I found it to be hundreds of pages of delusional nonsense. For example, Bullinger spends twenty-seven pages detailing the importance of the number thirteen (and its connection to the number eight) in the Bible. Here’s a small faux-gold nugget of what he said:

EIGHT AND THIRTEEN TOGETHER, that we may afterwards compare and contrast the two. For this purpose we must consider the number thirteen here, and out of its otherwise proper order.

As to the significance of thirteen, all are aware that it has come down to us as a number of ill-omen. Many superstitions cluster around it, and various explanations are current concerning them.

Unfortunately, those who go backwards to find a reason seldom go back far enough. The popular explanations do not, so far as we are aware, go further back than the Apostles. But we must go back to the first occurrence of the number thirteen in order to discover the key to its significance. It occurs first in Gen 14:4, where we read “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they REBELLED.”

Hence every occurrence of the number thirteen, and likewise of every multiple of it, stamps that with which it stands in connection with rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, disintegration, revolution, or some kindred idea.

The second mention of thirteen is in connection with Ishmael, Gen 17:25. He was thirteen years old when Abraham circumcised him and admitted him into the covenant to which he was a stranger in heart, and which ended in his rebellion and rejection.

We see it stamped upon the very fore-front of Revelation. For while the opening statement of Gen 1:1 is composed of seven words and twenty-eight letters (4×7), the second verse consists of fourteen words, but fifty-two letters; fifty-two being 4×13 tells of some apostasy or rebellion which caused the ruin of which that verse speaks.

….

The Scriptures concerning Judas Iscariot

  • Luke 22:3: “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve” = 8359 (13×643)
  • Luke 22:47, “And he that was called Judas, one of the twelve” = 3458 (13×266)
  • John 12:4: “Judas Iscariot, he that should betray Him” = 4511 (13×347)
  • John 13:26: “Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon” = 19435 (13×1495) The last clause (“when,” etc.) = 7371 (13×567)
  • Matt 26:48: “Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He; hold Him fast” = 9867 (13×759)
    So with Acts 1:16; Mark 14:44,45, and all the corresponding passages.

….

It is surely impossible to explain all this evidence on the doctrine of chances. There must be design. And design so perfect, so uniform, so significant can only be Divine. And being Divine is an unanswerable argument in favour of the verbal and even literal inspiration of the Scriptures of Truth.

Got all that? Don’t you feel “enlightened” now?

Bullinger was a nineteenth century Anglican clergyman. This numeral-obsessed preacher was also a dispensationalist — people who believe that history is divided into seven periods of time (dispensations), with each period except the last one ending in sin/failure/defeat. In some Evangelical circles, Bullinger is considered an ultra- or hyperdispensationalist due to his belief that the beginning of the Christian church traces back to Paul, and not the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 as “normal” dispensationalists believe.

For you who are not familiar with dispensationalism, here’s a chart detailing Bullinger’s seven dispensations:

According to Wikipedia, Bullinger had several other “interesting” beliefs:

Bullinger was a supporter of the theory of the Gospel in the Stars, according to which the constellations are pre-Christian expressions of Christian doctrine. He strongly opposed the theory of evolution [24] and held that Adam was created in 4004 B.C.[25] He was also a member of the Universal Zetetic Society, a group dedicated to believing and promoting the idea that the earth is flat.

Certainly, nonsensical beliefs about numerals (and the stars) is not the domain of Christian Fundamentalists alone. More than a few non-Christians over the centuries have believed numbers have meaning or significance outside of their use in mathematics. (Please check out the Mystical Numbers website for more information.) Professional sports players are known for believing that certain jersey numbers are lucky, and countless gamblers play their lucky numbers every day in hopes of hitting the jackpot.

We humans, in general, are attracted to patterns, including numerical ones. As someone who is afflicted with Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), I have spent countless hours in waiting rooms counting ceiling and floor tiles as I search for order. While such obsession is often harmless, the numerology nonsense put forth by Bullinger and the school newsletter mentioned above can cause people to behave irrationally. I have no doubt that many Westerners avoided doing certain things or going certain places on the latest Friday the 13th. I sure hope they didn’t see any black cats or walk under any ladders. Doing so would court certain disaster — or so some people believe, anyway.

Did you grow up in a home or attend a church that believed certain numbers had some sort of supernatural significance? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Stephen Hawking is in Hell

stephen hawking is in hell

Warning snark and cursing ahead. You have been warned! Now ignore this warning and read away.

Today, renowned physicist and outspoken atheist Stephen Hawking died at the age of seventy-six. According to Fundamentalist Ken Ham, Stephen Hawking is now in Hell.  While Ham doesn’t explicitly say this, his passive-aggressive statement, “a man passed into eternity without knowledge of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ,” makes it clear that Ham believes Hawking is now being tortured by God in the eternal flames of Hades. Ham mouthpiece Danny Faulkner says pretty much the same thing:

While the world mourns the loss of such a brilliant mind, there is even more to mourn today, as a man passed into eternity without knowledge of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (although we don’t know what he was thinking concerning his mortality and afterlife in the final days of his life). We at Answers in Genesis mourn the fact that Hawking and many others have decided that science supposedly has proven that there is no God. However, we firmly believe that science, when properly understood, is consistent with the God revealed in the Bible.

Ken Ham’s lackeys also believe that Hawking is now bunking with Christopher Hitchens (Please read Christopher Hitchens is in Hell) in Satan’s Trump Hotel®. Here’s what some of them had to say:

comments about stephen hawking

comments about stephen hawking 2

Don’t buy for a moment the idea that maybe Hawking on his deathbed reached out and called on Jesus to save him. Evangelicals who say this feel guilty over saying someone is in Hell. They don’t want to be viewed as the judgmental assholes they are. There’s nothing in Hawking’s behavior or words that remotely suggests that Hawking had a change of heart about the existence of any God, let alone the God worshiped by Ham, Faulkner, and a cast of millions.

For readers who may not be familiar with Hawking’s view of life, death, knowledge, and God, let me give you a few of his quotes:

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

“God is the name people give to the reason we are here. But I think that reason is the laws of physics rather than someone with whom one can have a personal relationship. An impersonal God.”

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special.”

“Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”

Hawking may have been an atheist, but that doesn’t mean he had no sense of wonder about the universe:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”

Hawking was struck with ALS at the age of twenty-five, yet he thought it important to have a sense of humor. My favorite Hawking comedy bit comes from a discussion between him and “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver:

John Oliver: “You’ve stated that there could be an infinite number of parallel universes. Does that mean there’s a universe out there where I am smarter than you?”

Hawking: “Yes. And also a universe where you’re funny.”

Evangelicals will revel in the death of another enemy of God. We who value knowledge and science will lament the loss of one of the greatest minds of our generation. Hawking was not without fault — no human is, including Jesus. His fifty year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was an inspiration to those of us who struggle with chronic illnesses, and his vocal atheism was a source of encouragement to those who continue to push back against those who wish to pull us back into the Dark Ages.

Evangelicals will continue to remind people that Hawking died without repenting of  his sins, and is now Hell. Many will take the tack of Texas lawmaker Briscoe Cain:

briscoe cain stephen hawking

Unlike Ham who will face no outrage about his comment because he deletes all such comments from his Facebook page, Cain faced the wrath of people outraged over his comment. (Read the comments below his tweet.) Evidently, it got too hot in Cain’s kitchen. Several hours after his “I’m an Asshole for Jesus” tweet, Cain issued a clarification:

Losing a loved one is never easy and I am sympathetic for his family’s loss. My prayers are with them. Stephen Hawking was brilliant, many even called him one of the greatest public intellectuals of the last century, but the fact remains that God exists. My tweet was to show the gravity of the Gospel and what happens when we pass, namely, that we all will one day meet our Creator face to face. Though Hawking has long been a vocal atheist who advocated against and openly mocked God, I hope nothing but the best for his family and pray that he came to know faith before he passed.

In other words, I’m not a heartless prick. I have sympathy for Hawking’s family. I even said a ceiling prayer for them. But, let me be clear, the Evangelical God is the one true God, and since Hawking did not acknowledge Jehovah’s existence, he is now being stretched on Jesus’ torture rack, screaming please, please, please I now believe. Took late, buddy. You made your bed, not lie in it. Ain’t Jesus wonderful!

You ran your race well, Mr. Hawking, now rest in peace. You will be missed, but your work and books live on. Thank you.

Postscript

I came across the following information after the original post was filed with my editor.

The oh-so-fine Fundamentalist Calvinists at Pulpit & Pen let it be known that Hawking is in Hell:

When Hawking passed away this morning, he discovered that he was not an advanced breed of monkey. He (re)discovered that his body had contained a soul, and that it was in a place of torment awaiting the final judgment of one who made him. There is no more question, for Hawking. There is no more doubt.

The good news is that Hawking, who suffered from ALS, will one day be raised from the dead in a body that cannot die. The bad news is that his body, reunited with his consciousness, will be cast into the Lake of Fire, the Outer Darkness, and a place where the vast void of the Black Holes he studied will pale in comparison to the dark chasm of his new home in the eternal abyss. And that body will not be paralyzed; it will feel every square inch of the pain to which it will be subjected. It is appointed a man once to die, and then the judgment. And the One judging Hawking now will not be of a peer-reviewed panel or congratulatory science-junkies opining on the cogs and wheels that God put into place when He made creation. It will be the One who has been appointed the judge of the quick and the dead.

Coach Dave Daubenmire gleefully rejoiced over Hawking’s demise. (The video will start at the twenty-one minute mark.)

Video Link

Ben, the Baptist went into great detail to describe what Hawking is now experiencing. I detected a smile at one point in his diatribe.

Video Link

And finally, here’s a screenshot of a discussion thread from the Fighting Fundamental Forums — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) group:

stephen hawking is in hell 3

 

Many Evangelicals Believe the Earth was Given to Humans by God and it is Theirs to Exploit

rick santorum quote dominion earth

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)

Generations of Evangelicals have taken these verses and others to mean that the Christian God has given the earth and everything living upon it to them for their use; that they are to have dominion over the earth; that everything on earth is given to them by God for their use and benefit; that human need, want, and use comes before anything else. Don’t like this human-centric view of the world? Blame God, Evangelicals say.

Want to understand why millions of Evangelicals have zero concern over global climate change/warming, endangered species, or immoral capitalism? You can trace their indifference back to the belief that mankind is the ruler of planet earth and that they are free to use it any way they want. There are Evangelicals who have embraced a more nuanced view, believing that God gave the earth to us to be stewards over, and not to exploit it for our own needs, but for the most part, God’s chosen ones believe that the earth is theirs to use, abuse, and misuse.

Ask Evangelicals what will happen when this world is all used up and they will likely tell you that such a scenario will never happen or that God is planning to make a new Heaven and a New Earth, so there’s no need to worry.  2 Peter 3:10-13 says:

 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

See? Don’t sweat it. Someday, Jesus is going to return to earth and make all things new. Until then, consume, consume, consume! More than a few Evangelicals believe global warming is a myth, burning coal is okay, and there is plenty of oil in the ground to fuel the world’s ravenous crude-oil-driven economy. These same Evangelicals put a man in office who is the epitome of their humans-first, it-all-belongs-to-us, Praise-Jesus, worldview. Donald Trump and his cabinet see the earth as a resource to be raped and pillaged by Wall Street and hedge fund managers. Just look at what Trump and Co. have done to the EPA and other regulatory bodies. Left to their own devices, these cretins will return us to the early days of the Industrial Revolution. The problem, of course, is that the Industrial Revolution unleashed a ravenous monster that envisions earth’s resources as things to be used and exploited. Praise be to the Christian God who gave us these things, right? Where will this God be when wells run dry and the oceans are vast lifeless landfills? Where will this God be when global climate change causes coastal flooding and crop failures? Where will this God be when our air becomes toxic and gas pumps run dry? Look at how the earth is presently ravaged by war, violence, disease, famine, and drought.  Look at how the United States increasingly uses military intervention to maintain the American way of life. Listen to the rumblings of war all across the globe. Does anyone really think that the Christian God is going to take care of things; that as long as we believe in Jesus and the Republican God, all will be well?

Evangelicalism is not a harmless religion. Some of its beliefs have real-life implications. Believing that the earth is theirs to exploit, leads to all sorts of dangerous behaviors and government policies. Most Evangelicals are Republicans and call themselves conservatives. Are Evangelicals really conservatives? What exactly are they conserving besides their peculiar religious beliefs and the so-called American Dream? Mainline Christians, progressives, and other socially conscious Americans are the forces behind conserving our planet, not Evangelicals (with few exceptions). Where are the Evangelicals who think war is a bad idea? Where are the Evangelicals who put the environment and the future of the human race first? Where are the Evangelicals who think that life after birth is just as important as human zygotes? Everywhere I look, I see Evangelicals promoting violent, perverse American capitalism. Their churches are often mini-businesses operated just like corporations. These same Evangelicals, when faced with owning the bloodshed caused by their rabid support of the NRA and the gun lobby, blame everything but the means of violence (guns, ammunition) for the carnage and death played out daily in American schools and communities.

anne coulter quote rape the earth

Contrary to what Evangelicals think the Bible says, the earth is not ours to use, misuse, and exploit. It is a finite resource that must be managed and cared for, lest we cause our own extinction. Frankly, it may be too late. We may have set things into motion that cannot be undone. That said, we don’t know this for certain, so we need to do all we can to combat global warming. We need to stop giving corporations the unrestrained right to exploit our planet. Most importantly, we need to turn out of office politicians who put the needs of their donors and corporations before the needs of the planet. Our future depends on us, in the present, doing the things necessary to ensure our survival. Believing the earth is big playground given to us by God will only hasten our demise. This is why Evangelical zealots must be driven out of office.

Bruce, are you saying Evangelicals should be banned from serving in government? Of course not. What I am saying is that their religious beliefs and theocratic tendencies must be checked at the door. People running for office should be asked about their religious beliefs. A candidate who believes the earth is 6,023 years old and was given to humans to do what they want with it is unfit for office. That such a person is currently the head of the EPA is almost beyond belief. A few days ago, I read a story about a new coal mine opening in Southeast Ohio. I thought, are you fucking kidding me? It’s 2018. No worries, Americans. This dirty coal will be shipped overseas. It won’t pollute our air! Sure, it won’t. Evidently, in the minds of coal lovers, the United States is a self-contained world, not affected by what happens outside of its borders. They are right as long as the wind doesn’t blow. Since the wind does, most assuredly, blow, Asian coal burning will affect the United States. (A good example of the drift effect is raised levels of radiation in the eastern Pacific after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.)

Many Evangelical beliefs are harmless. If they want to believe Jesus is a God who was born of a virgin, died, and came back to life three days later, I don’t care one way or the other. If they want to believe prayer changes things and the Bible is a God’s rule book, who cares? However, other beliefs of theirs cause real, material harm to our planet. We must not continue to let these beliefs infect our government and its agencies. The best way to keep their beliefs from causing harm is to keep them out of office. The only way to do that is to expose harmful beliefs and vote. Evangelicals are in the minority in the United States. Their undue influence on the political process and government policy will come to an end when voters use the ballot box to send them home (regardless of party affiliation). Religious beliefs belong in the church house, not the White House. Again, I am not suggesting that religious people be barred from office. Such thinking is unconstitutional and un-American.  That said, the United States is a secular country, and we expect our leaders to put the people before anything else, including God and church.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Unnamed Youth Evangelist Illustrates Evangelical Ignorance Concerning Evolution

evolution

This is the one hundred and seventieth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of an unnamed Evangelical youth evangelist “explaining” evolution to a group of teenagers. The video also shows the evangelist inappropriately touching a teen girl on the front row of the meeting place.

Video Link

Quote of the Day: Does Religion Answer the Question, Why is There Something, Rather Than Nothing?

sean carroll

Quote from Sean Carroll’s article in the upcoming Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Physics:

It seems natural to ask why the universe exists at all. Modern physics suggests that the universe can exist all by itself as a self-contained system, without anything external to create or sustain it. But there might not be an absolute answer to why it exists. I argue that any attempt to account for the existence of something rather than nothing must ultimately bottom out in a set of brute facts; the universe simply is, without ultimate cause or explanation.

Carroll goes on to say:

As you can see, my basic tack hasn’t changed: this kind of question might be the kind of thing that doesn’t have a sensible answer. In our everyday lives, it makes sense to ask “why” this or that event occurs, but such questions have answers only because they are embedded in a larger explanatory context. In particular, because the world of our everyday experience is an emergent approximation with an extremely strong arrow of time, such that we can safely associate “causes” with subsequent “effects.” The universe, considered as all of reality (i.e. let’s include the multiverse, if any), isn’t like that. The right question to ask isn’t “Why did this happen?”, but “Could this have happened in accordance with the laws of physics?” As far as the universe and our current knowledge of the laws of physics is concerned, the answer is a resounding “Yes.” The demand for something more — a reason why the universe exists at all — is a relic piece of metaphysical baggage we would be better off to discard.

This perspective gets pushback from two different sides. On the one hand we have theists, who believe that they can answer why the universe exists, and the answer is God. As we all know, this raises the question of why God exists; but aha, say the theists, that’s different, because God necessarily exists, unlike the universe which could plausibly have not. The problem with that is that nothing exists necessarily, so the move is pretty obviously a cheat. I didn’t have a lot of room in the paper to discuss this in detail (in what after all was meant as a contribution to a volume on the philosophy of physics, not the philosophy of religion), but the basic idea is there. Whether or not you want to invoke God, you will be left with certain features of reality that have to be explained by “and that’s just the way it is.” (Theism could possibly offer a better account of the nature of reality than naturalism — that’s a different question — but it doesn’t let you wiggle out of positing some brute facts about what exists.)

….

— Sean Carroll, Why is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? February 8, 2018

Sacrilegious Humor: Final Words by Cyanide & Happiness

This is the fifty-third installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s comedy bit is a short video produced by Cyanide & Happiness.

Video Link

Roadside America Reviews Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter

ark encounter christmas

We’ve visited other Creationist attractions — each has its own unique charm — but none match the scale and sophistication of Kentucky’s Ark Encounter. Regardless of your religious beliefs (and in spite of a biblically proportioned admission and parking fee [$40 per ticket plus $10 parking]) the Ark is an attraction that should be visited — if only because it’s unlikely that you’ll ever visit anything else like it.

Built at a reported cost of $91 million, opened to the public in July 2016, the Ark is the brainchild of Answers in Genesis, the same group that opened the Creation Museum in 2007. Billed as “The Largest Timber-Frame Structure in the World” and “a modern engineering marvel,” the Ark contains 3.3 million board-feet of lumber and weighs more than two thousand tons. Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham claims that it was built to scriptural specs, 510 feet long and as tall as a seven-story building — an exact replica of Noah’s enormous wooden boat.

The purpose of the Ark, according to Ham, is to fuel the faith of his fellow Bible literalists and to reach people who would otherwise avoid a Creationist attraction. Co-founder Mike Zovath has stressed the Ark’s broad appeal, saying that he hopes it becomes a bucket-list roadside wonder, “like seeing the biggest ball of twine.”

The Ark itself is dimly lit, a windowless wooden labyrinth whose brown interior is enlivened with over 100 bays of colorful, professionally-designed exhibits. As you walk up a ramp into the Ark’s belly you’re greeted by the recorded sounds of a thunderstorm and caged animals. There are no live animals on this Ark, only lifelike replicas, including a surprising number of juvenile dinosaurs. These creatures are a big part of the appeal of Ark Encounter, especially for children. The attraction could have simplified its narrative by wiping out the dinosaurs in the Flood, but then it wouldn’t have had any dinosaurs for visitors to see. Answers in Genesis speculates that the dinosaurs’ later extinction — after all the trouble taken to save them — was not a miscalculation by God, but because Noah’s descendants ate them.

Ark Encounter features a number of exhibits showcasing the wickedness that made God decide to drown everyone on the planet (The “Help Me Understand” display explains that God created humankind, so He’s within His rights to kill everybody whenever He wants to). These detailed glimpses of the sinful pre-Flood world are the most memorable part of the attraction. One miniature diorama shows people murdered in an arena by a human giant and a toothy dinosaur with gilded horns. Another elaborate tableau depicts babies being delivered into the belly furnace of a golden snake god.

Poster-size illustrations with titles such as “Abuse of Creation” and “Descent into Darkness” show poor, defenseless dinosaurs being senselessly slaughtered by depraved humans, and crowds of smug, shirtless revelers with tattoos and tambourines — time-honored visual shorthand for every parent’s nightmare of party debauchery.

If you’re wondering how you missed the part in the Bible that chronicled the age of dinosaurs as gladiators… you didn’t. A sign explains that Ark Encounter had to invent these details because the Bible doesn’t mention any of them. Nevertheless, visitors are assured, the pre-Flood world “was thoroughly infested with violence, idolatry, and every imaginable form of immorality.”

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An attraction so invested in its own feasibility can tolerate no perceived insults. This is stressed in the “Fairy Tale Ark” exhibit, which attacks children’s books (most of them Christian) for practicing the “7 D’s of Deception,” including “Discrediting the Truth” and “Deceptively Cute.” Ark Encounter makes clear that there’s nothing cuddly about the Earth’s greatest premeditated mass slaughter, although there is one bright spot. Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham has said that his Ark, despite appearances, is not built to float, because God promised He would never flood the Earth again.

Roadside America review of the Ark Encounter