Early Earthquake Warnings

It wasn’t all that long ago that the only system for early earthquake detection just didn’t exist. The best you could do was pray that if you were in an earthquake-prone area, God would look over you and help you survive.

Times have changed. We call that science.

So now we can actually do this.

The California Legislature has sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill that would require development of an earthquake early warning system…

Scientists are already testing a demonstration system.

Can you image the story a hundred years ago?

By Associated Press, Updated: Friday, September 13, 10:39 AM

Hiram Johnson was governor of California and a...LOS ANGELES — The California Legislature has sent Gov. Hiram Johnson a bill that would require everyone to pray for an earthquake early warning system.
The bill moved forward in Thursday’s last hours of the legislative session and the governor has until Oct. 13 to act on it.
Pastors and religious leaders have been calling for such a system ever since the Great Earthquake in San Francisco in 1906. If God had simply alerted the City, the greatest loss of life from a natural disaster in California history could have been averted.


Hmmm. I wonder why that never happened? Perhaps because science and the technology it engenders had not reached this state, where we can now detect with precise instrumentation the first evidence of an earthquake, before the rolling waves hit populated areas, giving people time to protect themselves, stop medical procedures and allow transportation systems to slow down and/or stop.

God’s had a long time to provide something similar, but apparently he doesn’t think it’s very important.

And prayer only works after the fact.

Oh, wait…prayer doesn’t work at all.


Theodicy and Bob Dylan

Most people who know me well know that I’m a life long fan of Bob Dylan. I may have even mentioned it here once or twice. A friend recently pointed out an interesting piece about, as she said “Dylan and God”, that I might enjoy. I found it interesting, food for thought, and as you might expect, grist for this blog mill.

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Sheer Devastation

At the end of my last post, a post that attempted to share facts, as opposed to beliefs, about the science of earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural catastrophes, I concluded with the exclamation “Enjoy!”. I’ve been reading about the after-effects of this horrible catastrophe, and realize that asking someone to enjoy even that kind of intellectual scrutiny was severely inappropriate, so I take it back.

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This is Getting Old

Maybe this is just another example of confirmation bias at work, only as viewed through this atheist’s rose colored glasses, but why does it seem that whenever something particularly horrible, or pathetically sad happens, somehow religion or religious sensibilities seems to be lurking in the background, or coloring the fringe? Vjack has an ongoing series over at Atheist Revolution on the topic, continually pointing out the sordid news that occurs when religious people take their beliefs to extremes, something along the lines of “Know Them By Their Deeds”. He rightly points out Christian hypocrisy with real life stories of religious extremists who rationalize their bad deeds with their religion. It looks like another one looming on the horizon.

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The Bible Is Full Of…

…stuff. I’m being nice here. Actually, it’s full of shit. Bullshit.

I’ve been listening to Bart Ehrman’s lecture on the the History of the Bible, produced by the Teaching Company, and a few things struck me. Professor Ehrman is clearly a good historian, because he analyzes the Bible from a historian’s point of view, discounting as irrelevant the theological point of view. He’s also a skeptic (although anyone familiar with his books would already know that), which is a quality necessary to good historical research.

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The Christian Response

I want to thank everybody who responded to my last post, The Christian Double Standard, and to Gabe for his contribution. I asked Christians to give me their take on the scenario, and query, set up my my correspondent (and Gabe, if you’re reading, I’d love to hear your take on it too). I actually received quite a few responses, primarily from the WordPress Tag system, and I think it was a good set of responses. It didn’t change my mind at all, and probably didn’t change too many Christians either, as this particular dialog goes on daily, with little change in the demographic positions, but is intellectually stimulating nonetheless.

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The Christian Double Standard

Last week I posted my thoughts on the Question of Suffering or, as it’s also commonly referred to in philosophical/theological circles, the Problem of Evil. Prior to that I had left some comments in another post about my recent enjoyment of Bart Ehrman’s latest book, God’s Problem, a nice analysis of how the Bible, rather than address and resolve the issue, actually confuses it by contradicting itself all over the map.

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The Question Of Suffering, Redux

The Question of Suffering, or another way it’s referred to, the Problem of Evil, is the biggest thorn in the side of religion. It’s out there, constantly asking for an explanation. Religion dances around it, bending and twisting itself, pretzel-like, to rationalize suffering in the context of a purported omnipotent, omnipresent, omni-benevolent god. It does, to it’s credit, arrive at somewhat quiescent conclusions regarding that suffering caused by other humans, like crime, abuse, neglect, and other forms of suffering heaped on fellow humans for the benefit of the heaper, but ultimately, they are unsatisfying, because they depend of the existence of god for their truthfulness, and in posing the question of suffering, it is the existence of god that cannot, and should not, be presumed. The point of asking the question is to determine whether god exists. Continue reading