Tag Archives: god

Prayers don’t work even if you are Governor Rick Perry

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Texas Governor Rick Perry praying he can winTexas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, announced his intention to run for President of the United States. His overt religious views are a big concern. He recently hosted a prayer event in Houston’s Reliant Stadium that included major religious right groups like the American Family Association, people like Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and others. He has called on prayer to solve Texas’ drought and also for our current nationwide economic problems. It hasn’t worked yet.
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Obama’s solution to oil spill – Prayer

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President Obama gave a speech on the BP Oil spill tonight. While I heard some good things, the end of the speech however didn’t thrill me. How many times do we need to say that praying won’t stop the leak or clean up the Gulf?

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.
The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.

Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill 6/15/2010

I would like my elected officials to stick with facts and reason to deal with troubling issues. Praying doesn’t do anything to solve problems.

A new survey says 21% of atheists believe in God?

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While reading the Washington Post online last night I came across this little headline:

Atheists Who Pray?
On Faith Panel | New Pew survey says 21% of atheists believe in God, 10% pray. What gives?

Indeed – what gives?

It seems that according to a new Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, 21% of American atheists believe in God or a universal spirit, 12% believe in heaven and 10% pray at least once a week. I followed the link to the report and sure enough that is what their survey says. Being that atheists make up approximately 10% of the population – the survey results are pretty troublesome.

The Post posed the question to their “On Faith” panel for an explanation.

While most of the panel reveled in the contradiction of the results, with most saying basically “we told you so”, Susan Jacoby had the best response:

That one out of five Americans who identify themselves as atheists also say that they believe in God or a “universal spirit” and that one out of ten pray at least once a week can lead to only one conclusion. These people don’t know that an atheist is, by definition, someone who does not believe in God or in the supernatural. To say that you’re an atheist who believes in God and prays is the equivalent of saying that you’re a vegetarian who loves to scarf down barbecued ribs and T-bone steak. Or a Christian who rejects the teachings of the New Testament. Or a religiously observant Jew who also believes that Jesus was the Messiah. Or a Muslim who believes that Jesus was God.

I think that the explanation for these seemingly contradictory findings lies in a phenomenon I discuss at length in my recent book, The Age of American Unreason . Americans as a people have become supremely ignorant about and indifferent to the specific meanings of words, and they are equally confused about important historical distinctions.This is a serious cultural disease throughout our nation. A majority of Americans, in what is supposedly the most religious nation in the developed world, cannot name the four Gospels or identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible. Why shouldn’t some American atheists be as ignorant about the meaning of atheism as many religious Americans are about religion?

Don’t Know Much About Theology, Don’t Know Much Philosophy…

I agree.

People of faith are crazy… except when they aren’t… What?

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On Thursday January 5th, the news was filled with the comments made by evangelist Pat Robertson on his TV show the 700 Club. On the program Pat says that the stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was “divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.” He went on:

“He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'” Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, “The 700 Club.”

“God says, ‘This land belongs to me, and you’d better leave it alone,'” he said.

Robertson suggests God smote Sharon

This isn’t the first time that Robertson has shot his mouth off. And like the other times, others were quick to criticize his remarks.

Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, compared Robertson’s remarks to the overheated rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (He had claimed the Holocaust was a myth back in December)

He called the comments “outrageous” and said they were not something to expect “from any of our friends.”

“He is a great friend of Israel and a great friend of Prime Minister Sharon himself, so I am very surprised,” Ayalon told CNN.

Robertson spokeswoman Angell Watts said of people who criticized the comments: “What they’re basically saying is, ‘How dare Pat Robertson quote the Bible?'”

“This is what the word of God says,” Watts told the AP. “This is nothing new to the Christian community.”

West Virginia Mine Tragedy

The day before Robertson made his remarks – sorry – quoting the Bible, 12 miners were found dead after an explosion on Monday the 3rd.

During the period of the search, friends, family, and the media appealed to God to help save the men and help the rescuers to find them.

“We still pray for miracles . . ,” Governor Joe Manchin said (01/03/06). “There is still a chance.”

Then when initial reports claimed that the12 miners had been found alive late on Tuesday night, church bells rang and people thanked God for a “miracle.” Then hours later it was learned that in fact all but one of the miners had been found dead.

John Casto was at a church where families had gathered when the false report arrived, and later when the terrible news was announced. After the first report, “they were praising God,” he said. After the second, “they were cursing.”

‘Sound of moans’ led rescuers to surviving miner

At least one family was quoted as saying they had a “miracle” taken away by the mine owners. Whatever that means?

Oklahoma Wildfires

Also happening recently in the news is the problem with wildfires in Oklahoma and nearby plains state. The weather continues to help fuel and spread the fires and fire fighters are struggling. What needs to be done to help?

A Day of Prayer.

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry on Friday called for a day of prayer in Oklahoma.

“Our hearts go out to those whose lives have been affected by the wildfires,” Gov. Henry said. “Oklahomans are strong and resilient, but as people of deep faith in God who have always found solace and comfort in prayer, we understand our limits.”

The governor asked for Sunday to be set aside for special prayers aimed at fire victims and their loved ones, for exhausted firefighters and first responders and for rain.

Pray for rain first

Observations

One could read these observations about God and prayer and think, “Gee, God seems so inconsistent.”

Or….

“Gee, God is a nasty deity.”

Or…..

“Man just can’t know God’s will. It all happens for a reason.”

Well I reject all those explanations because none of them are logical or rational. Are we really to believe that the all knowing all powerful God either shows preference for specific members of the flocks in which case He is a nut job or this omnipresent deity can’t answer all the billions of prayers received at Prayer central.

If some people who pray still have a negative result for them then what does that say about one’s God?

I think most people “pray” or attribute results to God to make themselves feel better. Some may not be able to deal or think they can’t deal with negative results unless they think they had nothing to do with it or had no control.

Since I am not a believer, I subscribe to a simple philosophy – shit happens.

You can live your life perfectly – eat right, don’t drink or smoke, have a great job, and a perfect family and one day step off a curb downtown and get hit by a bus.

I’m not saying that since you could die tomorrow you should party like its your last day, but because something could happen anytime, praying isn’t going to help either way. No one can say that those 12 miners in West Virginia deserved to die or the one survivor deserves to live because of their religious beliefs or they went to church all the time. Or that we should “pray” for rain in Oklahoma. That would be crazy talk.

Like Pat Robertson’s claim God gave Sharon a stroke because he wanted peace in Israel. (Now some could make a case that peace is the last thing Sharon has wanted since the day he announced his intention to run for office, but that is a different story)

The ironic thing is that while many would indeed say, and have said, Robertson is crazy, no one seems to question the God talk when it is done at times of trouble even though it is not rational either.

Wonder believes Lennon’s atheism led to his murder in 1980?

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I have wanted to avoid debunking Internet rumors and myths because it is a hard job to do but one I came across this past weekend hit close to home. I felt I needed to say something.

What happens is someone states something and part of the quote is then posted across the Internet without attribution and the average reader might think it is true without reading the complete context.

It’s different than what I do here. I try to get the context and I give the links to the full articles when I can.

Here is the “news” item I read this weekend that came from an interview with R&B singer Stevie Wonder:

“*As Thursday’s anniversary of John Lennon’s death approaches, Stevie Wonder says he was particularly emotional when the former Beatle was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980 by Mark David Chapman, but was not entirely surprised that it happened. Wonder had a bad feeling after hearing Lennon’s opening words in his anthem “Imagine,” which states, “Imagine there’s no heaven.” Contact Music quotes Wonder as saying: “After he died I couldn’t stop crying whenever I heard “Imagine” but I wasn’t surprised that he’d been shot. [Chapman] said he shot him because he said he didn’t believe in Jesus, and I remember when I heard ‘Imagine,’ I thought, ‘Somebody is not going to like that.'”

MUSIC BITS: Miles boxed set; Wonder on Lennon; Ying Yang remix/DVD set

The bit I quoted above is all that appeared in the various headline tools I use to gather info for this blog. There was no attribution and I tried to find where this quote came from if possible. When my first search failed to turn up the source I dismissed the whole bit. That and it wasn’t printed on any mainstream news site led me to dismiss it.

Then tonight I did find the source of the quote. The text appeared in an article on Stevie Wonder published on the Guardian newspaper website, in the UK, on 11/26/05. Here is the quote in context:

And then there is the misappropriation of religion. While Bush talks about having God on his side and Islamicists talk about jihad, Wonder says both take God’s name in vain. “People can’t say this is a holy war. The people suffered, while their leaders made the money from deals. We’re living in a mad world where people do mad crazy things. The God that I believe in doesn’t believe in bombing, and the Allah that I respect for Muslims doesn’t believe in terrorising innocent people.”

He says he was distraught when John Lennon was killed 25 years ago, but not shocked. Imagine, with its plea for a world without religion, always seemed a dangerous song to him. “After he died I couldn’t stop crying whenever I heard Imagine, but I wasn’t surprised that he’d been shot. The guy said he shot him because he said he didn’t believe in Jesus, and I remember when I heard Imagine, I thought, ‘Somebody’s not going to like that.’ ” Which of the great dead pop artists does he miss most? “My God!” He doesn’t know where to begin. “There’s John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Luther Vandross …” He considers Gaye’s despairing What’s Going On one of the greatest albums.

A sense of Wonder

Now that the quote is sourced and Wonder did make the comments, now I can debunk them.

First, John Lennon was not an Atheist. He may not have been a member of a mainstream church or religion but he did have Buddhist leanings and expressed some pantheist ideas about “God”.

“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock and roll or Christianity.”

“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”

John Lennon

The song “Imagine” is a favorite song of mine and while the lyrics do talk about having no religion, no heaven, and no hell, the song is more a secular humanist hope for peace. Lennon felt and experienced the divisiveness of religion – the practice and although the song talks about no heaven or hell, it never once says there is no “God”.

As I said Lennon experienced first hand the divisiveness of religion. In 1966 he was quoted in a newspaper article that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus to the youth of the time.

In its original context, the remark was part of a rather harmless lifestyle piece by Evening Standard reporter Maureen Cleave. She had spent the day Lennon, whom she described as “imperious, … unpredictable, indolent, disorganised, childish, vague, charming and quick-witted.” He took her on a tour of his mansion, talking about books and fame, and the gorilla suit he bought so he could drive around wearing it. When they reached the subject of religion, Lennon said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. … We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first-rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

John Lennon Proclaims Beatles “More Popular than Jesus” (March 4, 1966)

In context, his remarks follow his later beliefs including the song “Imagine”. Jesus and God are ok but religion is warped. In the States when his 1966 remarks were printed here, religious conservatives lost their minds. Beatles records were burned, concerts in the South canceled, radio stations in the South and Midwest stopped playing their records, and death threats were made against the band. Lennon and the band had to issue a “clarification” to try and lessen the damage. It was almost the exact same thing we witnessed that happened to the band The Dixie Chicks a couple years ago when the lead singer complained about President Bush being from their home state of Texas.

Some Beatles historians believe the incident was another reason the band stopped touring and stuck to studio albums for the rest of their career.

“Imagine”, while having provocative lyrics, didn’t cause the same storm of controversy when released in 1971. In fact it was the most successful single of Lennon’s solo work and is now a tribute to the man after his untimely murder in 1980. Some music critics believe it is because it is a soft and mellow song and not “in your face”. It could also be because when it was released the power of religious conservatives had waned.

Wonder’s contention that Lennon’s killer killed him because Lennon didn’t believe in Jesus just isn’t supported by the facts. In an interview given to reporter James R. Gaines for People Magazine in 1987, Mark David Chapman said:

“I remember I was praying to God [to keep me from killing Lennon] and I was also praying to the devil to give me the opportunity. ‘Cause I knew I would not have the strength on my own.”

Demons in his head “made” him shoot Lennon on December 8, 1980 outside Lennon’s home in New York. Chapman didn’t even consider killing Lennon until 1980.

He brought home books from the library on one subject after another. One of them was John Lennon: One Day at a Time by Anthony Fawcett. In it he read about Lennon’s life in New York. He was furious.

“He was angry that Lennon would preach love and peace but yet have millions,” Gloria told Gaines. He began to talk of going to New York.

And he began, he would tell Gaines in prison, to pray to Satan. “There were no candles, no incantations,” Gaines writes. “Just Mark, sitting naked, rocking back and forth at the controls of his stereo and tape recorder, splicing together his reasons for killing John Lennon from the lyrics of Beatles songs, the soundtrack of “The Wizard of Oz”, and quotations from The Catcher in the Rye.

Mark David Chapman: The Man Who Killed John Lennon

The song “Imagine” played no part in the reason for the murder.

Stevie Wonder is a great singer and I am a fan of most of his music, but sometimes even great people can say irrational things. John Lennon was murdered by a crazed person for no other reason than the killer happened to read a news story about him.

The lyrics to “Imagine” even seem more beyond reality since Lennon’s been gone and that’s too bad. The final words live with me everyday:

You may say I’m a dreamer,
but I’m not the only one,
I hope some day you’ll join us,
And the world will live as one.

There is No God

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Penn Jillette, of the magic duo Penn & Teller, is an Atheist and has been for some time. The duo has been hosting a show called “Bullshit” on Showtime for several years that exposes myths people can’t seem to drop. This morning an essay he wrote appeared on the NPR website that sums up how we non-believers find a purpose in life especially when this life is all we have. Here is a clip of the essay and I encourage you read the full the piece:

There is No God

by Penn Jillette

Morning Edition, November 21, 2005 · I believe that there is no God. I’m beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do.

I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it’s everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I’m raising now is enough that I don’t need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

There is No God