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“Why do you keep writing about religion?” one of my correspondents asked. “Does anyone care anymore?”
Statistics support his point. I’ve written before about plunging membership in churches. In the white western world, that is – Asia and Africa seem to be flourishing. U.S. evangelical churches have been the exception, until now, but surveys suggest their decline simply lags about 40 years behind the mainline churches.
But that doesn’t make religion irrelevant. It just means that more and more people aren’t aware of what’s pushing their buttons.
And their buttons are their belief systems.
Which may or may not be what’s traditionally called “religious.”
Author Ayn Rand called herself an atheist, but she believed passionately in every individual’s right to live without government interference. Her ideas permeate the U.S. Republican party.
David Suzuki professes no religious beliefs. But in interviews, it’s clear he believes passionately in evolution.
Carl Sagan believed in science; Stephen Hawking believes in mathematics; Sigmund Freud believed in sex.
Categories: Sharp Edges
Tags: Hell, judgement, televangelists
Joan and I were sitting in our hot tub last Monday night, staring up at the stars and wondering when -- if ever -- the rains would return to the B.C. interior, that day being our 66th without perceptible rainfall, when a brilliant flash lit up the eastern sky.
“Lightning?” Joan wondered. “The weather isn’t supposed to change until the weekend.”
I started counting for the boom of thunder. Years ago, I learned that sound travels at roughly a thousand feet per second. If the boom follows the flash by five seconds, the centre of action is safely about a mile distant. (For a kilometre, about three seconds – a little closer.)
I quit counting after ten. Joan claims she heard a rumble, about ten minutes later.
Which would be about right. Because the flash, we learned the next morning, had occurred more than 200 km away, directly over Kootenay Lake. A hunk of rock left over from the formation of our solar system had smashed into the earth’s atmosphere over the little town of Boswell at the south end of Kootenay Lake; it blew up over Meadow Creek, slightly beyond the lake’s north end.
Tags: chance, judgement, Meteoroid, meteorite, bolide, fireball, Kootenay Lake, dinosaurs, probability
No doubt you’ve heard that Douglas Garland was convicted of kidnapping, torturing, dismembering, and burning the bodies of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathy Liknes.
Garland, 57 years old, was sentenced to three consecutive 25-year terms of life imprisonment. Seventy-five years might seem sufficient punishment, but Nathan’s father wanted more – eternal punishment.
At the sentencing hearing, Rod O’Brien addressed Garland directly: “For those who choose evil, they will get an eternity of evil. A life sentence on earth is nothing compared to what waits for you.”
Having lost a son myself, many years ago, I can sympathize with the intensity of O’Brien’s grief. I hope his belief in hell – and in heaven for Nathan -- gives him comfort. It wouldn’t, for me.
Because I don’t believe in hell.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: Hell, heaven, judgement