Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Earth and all stars

Wow. Look at this photo from the Hubble telescope. It looks back 13.2 billion years into the past, and gives us a glimpse into an almost unimaginably vast universe. And yet, as someone points out in the comments, some people still manage to cling to the belief that the Earth and all stars are less than 10,000 years old...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's a miracle!

The first line of this article calls a heart that spontaneously heals itself "miraculous." And indeed, it sounds that way. But further down in the article we get the real explanation:

Um said doctors seem to be seeing more cases similar to this, in which a failing heart heals itself. 

"The interesting thing is that if he had gotten a transplant right away, we would have never known if he could have recovered on his own," Um said. "Now that we have technology that allows people to remain on external heart machines longer, we could see this more." 

In the simplest terms, Dr. Um explained, the heart got sick, triggering an immune response that shut the heart down to fight the infection, and eventually healed itself. Technology kept Crowe's body alive while his heart healed.

So it's not a "miracle," it's yet another benefit of modern medical technology. Not quite the same thing, is it?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of hell and paddling

I didn't intend to go back to blogging here, but I keep finding news items I want to send in to Friendly Atheist, so I might as well comment on them myself. First news item: Paddling kids is still legal in Texas (and indeed in nineteen other states). Parents can opt out, but still. This girl was spanked by a male vice principal, and so hard that "her bottom was fire-engine red and looked as if it had been 'burned and blistered.'" That's pretty horrifying.

Second item: CNN debates whether hell is real. I found this interesting because the first argument is the one I tried to hang onto as a Lutheran, but eventually realized it didn't work. I wanted to believe that if "God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son," then he'd save everyone. But Jesus talks quite clearly about hell, and says that the road to "life" is narrow. It's clear that he expects most people to walk the broad road and wind up in hell. So as much as it pains me to agree with Mark Driscoll, I'm forced to concur-- that's what Jesus said, and if you believe in Jesus, you have no choice but to believe in hell. Look around you, and imagine your nice neighbor with the pretty rose bushes, or that sweet guy in the cubicle next to yours whose worst sin is playing "Angry Birds" when he thinks the boss isn't watching, screaming in agony for all eternity. Nice thought, isn't it?

Happily, I no longer think that's the "truth," or that most of us are doomed to be sent to a horrific flaming hell by a vicious, mean-spirited deity who makes Q look like a pussycat by comparison. Which is good, because "for God so loved the world" and "small is the gate and narrow the road" can't be logically reconciled. Life makes much more sense from an atheistic viewpoint, doesn't it?