Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why the Bible can't predict tornados in 2011

If you do web searches, you will find people wondering if the bible predicted that there will be tornados in Missouri in the month of May, 2011 AD. Of course, common sense would tell you people in the Ancient Near East, writing three thousand years ago had no clue that was a land half way around the globe called Missouri, much less having blow-by-blow details on how many people might be killed by a particular storm on a particular day, or the dollar amount of the property damage, etc. It should be obvious that there are billions of people today and therefore billions of large and small events happen to them every single day, month, and year all over the globe. The bible cannot possibly predict them all, and it's not much of a "prediction" anyway when it doesn't actually tell you any specifics and you can only fill in the details after the event has happened.

Other Harold Camping style religious nutters take the view these storms were send as a "message" from the Almighty, expressing his displeasure with this or that, for there is always something to claim that God is displeased about. Strangely, it seems that god is always displeased around the same time each year in these same states where tornados are known to be frequent, as opposed to Vermont or Washington state, where they seldom ever occur.

It's a curious way for god to "send a message". It's about like god trying to "tell us something" by making it hot and dry in the desert, or rainy in the tropics. More importantly, it makes god culpable for the deaths, rather than being able to blame it on "nature" or "randomness" or the "free will" of people who happened to be in its path. People who believe that god steered the exact course of the storm, destroy this building and sparing that one, or killing this person and only maiming that person must really think the God they worship is a monster.

Indeed, if anyone else decided that he was just going to start randomly killing people to "send a message" and "express displeasure", we would judge this person a psychopath. The case in point today is Jared Loughner. He killed people in his qust to send his insane, nonsensical message to the rest of the world. Even many right-wingers (who are overwhelmingly religious fanatics) had to grudgingly admit that Loughner was without any kind of justification for his actions. Yet when something even more destructive, like a tornado strikes, and there is nobody to arrest, they attribute it to God and say that it was good?

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