Because religion should not matter (too much)

Books

The world is ending yet again

A Blood MoonOh no! It’s a blood moon, the first of four in 18 months. We’re all gonna die. Yes, last night the moon slid into the shadow of the earth casting a reddish hue on the moon. Unusually, there will be four of these occurrences in the next 18 months. Astronomers call it a tetrad, doomsayers call it a sign signalling the imminent destruction of the earth. We haven’t had too many doomsday predictions lately. The ISON comet predicted by many to bring forth our destruction, spectacularly failed after its million year journey ended on Thanksgiving day last year, when it simply disintegrated after getting too close to the sun. The Viking prediction of Ragnarok (Armageddon) also failed to materialise on February 22nd. The new movie Thor 3: Ragnarok (End of Days) still hasn’t been released, so I guess the director was not too anxious about the date being accurate. Religious people, quick to capitalise on the series of Blood Moons, have released a number of books explaining the significance as they perceive it: “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs”, by mark Biltz; “Blood Moons Rising: Bible Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons”, by pastor Mark Hitchcock; and “Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change” by pastor John Hagee. The last book is number 80 on USA Today’s best seller list! Good grief people, save yourself some time and money. Here is my prophecy for the Blood Moons and the next 18 months. Everything will be pretty normal. There will be no rapture, Armageddon or End of Days. The bible says “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord.”, Joel 2:31. In my opinion a more reliable and accurate predictor of future events, NASA, issued a statement saying there will be eight sets of tetrads before the year 2100. Expect a lot more doomsday predictions over the next hundred years. Unless they are right of course.

Attack promotes Jesus to Number One

Zealot Book CoverFollowing an embarrassing interview on Fox News with Reza Aslan, author of “Zealot: The Life and Time of Jesus of Nazareth”, his book has shot to number one in the Amazon Book charts. The book describes Jesus as a zealot Jewish preacher who started a revolutionary movement that was so threatening that he was captured, tortured and executed as a state criminal. Looking beyond the myths and examining historical documents he describes Jesus as a man of conviction rife with contradiction. He preaches peace, but tells his followers to carry swords. He urges his disciples to keep his identity secret and promises to liberate them from Roman rule. The book also examines why the early Christian church portrayed Jesus as a peaceful teacher rather than a revolutionary.

In the interview, Ms Green asks “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?”

Surprised Mr Aslan answers “I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim. It’s not that I’m just some Muslim writing about Jesus, I am an expert with a PhD in the history of religions.”

Buzzfeed posted the interview under the title “Is this the most embarrassing interview for Fox News ever?” and it went viral with about 4.5 million views.

Later a delighted Mr Aslan told the New York Times, “I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview, you can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

God Publishes The Last Testament

The Last Testament‘Tis the season to be offended. It seems God decided to publish another testament and choose the unlikely route of getting a comedy writer to transcribe it. David Javerbaum, former writer and producer of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has written the book “The Last Testament, A Memoir by God” as a message from God, transcribed by himself. Other books by the same author are listed as the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran. In the book, God describes Himself as “Maker of Little Green Apples; Rester of Merry Gentlemen; and Sole Knower of the Beach Boys.” The book is likely to offend people of all faiths by taking a light-hearted look at religion.  Included is a message to those who are too noisy in the bedroom, “Stop shouting my name.”  Verily, thou must checketh it out.

Is there a hell? Is bin Laden there?

bin Laden in FlamesA recent poll by CNN found that 61% of Americans believe that Osama bin Laden is burning in hell. Only 5% said that they do not believe in hell. It always amazes me that so many Christians, who follow the message of love from Jesus, believe in a God that would have a soul tormented for all eternity rather than offering oblivion. Yes, there is a loving God who wants me to love him, but if I choose not to believe he will roast me forever. A recent book  “Love Wins”, by Rob Bell a pastor of Mars Hill bible church in Michigan, addressed this very issue.  Another pastor, Chad Holtz, of a Methodist Church in North Carolina wrote a note in Facebook, backing this book.  Two days later following complaints from members of the church, Chad was dismissed from his position. Get the full story in the Times Free Press.

Personally, I believe that hell was invented by the church to help control people. If there is a God who torments souls forever, He doesn’t sound like the kind of being I could love. If I’m wrong, I’ll see you in hell.

Atheists and Agnostics know most about Religion

It is not surprising that Atheists and Agnostics scored the highest, in a recent survey of religious knowledge, carried out by the Pew Forum in the United States. Atheists and Agnostics usually adopt these titles after a thorough examination of various religions. It is not easy to reject ideas that, in most cases, have been instilled since an early age. I was a little surprised that 53% of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the inspiration for the Protestant Reformation. He even featured in an episode of the Simpsons. 43% of Jews did not recognise that Maimonides was Jewish and 45% of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ during a mass (transubstantiation), rather than being a symbolic representation. It’s good to know that Apathism is alive and well in the major organised religions.

Some other scary findings revealed that 40% of those asked believe that people and animals have existed in their present form since the start of time and 4% believe that Stephen King wrote Moby Dick.

For more detail see the Pew Forum website http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx

God made redundant in The Grand Design

Some excerpts from a new book, “The Grand Design” by Stephens Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow claim that it is not necessary to believe in a God to explain creation.

“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. 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.”

These statements do not appear revolutionary. Before we discovered that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate, the theory that gravity would force everything to collapse and cause cyclical big bangs was quite popular. More interesting than the explanation of M Theory in the book perhaps, is the reaction the excerpts have ignited in the religious community, spurred on by the media.

“Has Stephen Hawking ended the God Debate?” telegraph.co.uk
“Stephen Hawking is wrong, you can’t explain the universe without God” dailymail.co.uk
“Hawking Spurns God” news.cnet.com
“Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe” Archbishop of Canterbury

Richard Dawkins and similar thinkers would argue that a belief in God evolved precisely for the reason of plugging gaps in our knowledge. The book cannot answer the philosophical questions, but it does claim that the need for philosophers is diminishing as we learn more about physics. Hawking believes the way the universe began, was determined by a law of science.

“If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions.” Hawking.

The reviews on Amazon are encouraging and all the hype should guarantee good sales for the book.

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