Monday, March 7, 2011

What's So Funny Indeed

Just read this blog article on the Adventist Today site, home of a "progressive Adventist" publication, talking about some funny stuff in the Bible. The author states that his favorite "funny" Bible stories is the story of Job. I quite agree with him. The story of Job is quite hilarious:

And we agree on which part's the funniest:

After questioning God's decisions, Job is asked by God where he was while God conducted His Creative activities. It was as if God was saying, "You've got a lot of nerve, young man, questioning my wisdom and sovereignty. Do you know who you're talking to? But, tell you what...I'll answer your questions, if you will answer mine." You gotta love a God like that, don't you?

He kills Job's kids, destroys his possessions and gives him herpes all over and still has the fortitude to waggle his finger at Job. Yeah, really great guy, this God dude.

But there's another point to be had here:

Another favorite of course would have to be the story of Elijah actually taunting and teasing the prophets of Baal and their god(s). This taunting was hilarious; remember... "maybe your god is sleeping"? How funny is that?! Elijah was totally confident that the prophets of Baal were praying to... absolutely nobody, and that he, on the other hand, was praying to the true and living God--who would reward his cockiness, no less. I mean, he wanted water everywhere. He was actually "showing off" (as my mother would say); and then God Himself showed off, rewarding Elijah's faith while simultaneously shaming the heathens. What a sense of humor!

So in this story, Elijah was an atheist - an a-baal-ist - and challenged the prophets of Baal with providing evidence for the presence of their god. So, if this fellow asked for evidence from the prophets of Baal, is it unreasonable for us atheists who do not believe not only in Baal but all other gods, Yahweh/Jehovah included, to ask for evidence of them?

It's also a valid question to wonder why Yahweh used to perform such signs and wonders as this but no longer does. Thousands of miracles are written about in the bible and each is depicted as flamboyant and unambiguously a supernatural act. Why is it that such displays no longer occur? Why is it that the "miracles" of today are either unverifiable or can just as easily (and more credibly) be explained as placebo effects or natural occurrences that are not well understood, or even simply as chance occurrences that when viewed through the blinkers of faith seem miraculous?

The gauntlet has been thrown down on many occasions, not least of which is James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge, which covers any supernatural occurrence. No one has yet produced conclusive proof and successfully claimed the prize. Whenever people place their health "in the hands of God", it tends to end badly and most Christians submit themselves to proper medical treatment. Is this a sign that they are not fully convinced of their god's healing powers?

We could organise a challenge like this. We could have, maybe, two cancer patients in the early stages of illness, one receiving medical treatment and the other the fervent prayers of his family, friends, church community, hell, even the whole world and see who gets better. But such a challenge would be unethical in much the same way as those who deny their children medical treatment behave unethically. And their track record is evidence enough to dispel any supernatural notions.

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