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April 14, 2008

Bad Science (Getting It Backwards) « Spiritual/Theology »

Check this out.

In retrospect, I don't know for sure if it's bad science, or bad reporting. But the flaw should be clear enough for anyone to notice:

The article says that going to church regularly can help you remain faithful. But isn't it more likely that the people who can act consistently in line with an ideal (going to church consistently even when there are more fun things to do, like watch The Game or sleep in) are going to be more likely to not cheat on a spouse where there is a chance (which requires one to act consistently in line with an ideal)?

It may be a skill, or it may be a developed character trait, or it may be an inherent personality trait. But remaining faithful requires someone to reject an imminent, tangible pleasure in favor of a potential, intangible pleasure. That's what church is about, and that's what remaining faithful is about.

[insert appropriate latin phrase that indicates I know I'm right beyond argument]

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posted by Nathan on 08:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 25, 2005

Morality Works « Spiritual/Theology »

Well, who'da thunk?


Boys at private Anglican and Catholic schools are more likely to oppose sex before marriage and be less tolerant of pornography.

They are also less likely to feel depressed or consider suicide, according to a survey of 13,000 teenagers by Professor Leslie J Francis from the University of Wales, Bangor.

So what's the opposing views argument? "Kids are going to have sex anyway, so who cares if they kill themselves at a greater rate because of it"...?

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posted by Nathan on 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Testimony « Spiritual/Theology »
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.


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posted by Nathan on 11:06 PM | Comments (1)
» The Roost links with: Quotes from The Man

February 10, 2005

January 23, 2005

Death, and Evil « Spiritual/Theology »

I used to be scared to death of horror movies (I didn't really intend that play on words, but I'll go with it).

The first horror movie I could watch without nightmares was the first Nightmare on Elm Street. I was a senior in High School and 17, if I remember correctly...

So I watched a few others, like one of the Friday the 13th sequels, and the first one, and Aliens*. Then the next Elm Street movie. I was reading a number of Stephen King movies during that time, as well.

...and it started to occur to me: what's the big deal about getting killed? What makes a horror movie so bad?

Think of it: a moment of terror, maybe a little pain, and then it's over. The one girl who survives in the movies is supposedly the lucky one. But she's the one who has to live with the aftermath, the fear, the post-traumatic stress disorder, the holes in her life that her friends used to fill.

The third Nightmare on Elm Street attempted to answer that question a little bit, in that at one point Freddy pulled up his sweater to show the faces of his victims screaming in agony on his stomach. But all that did was raise more questions for me. Questions echoed in the Stephen King novels:

True evil is the act of fully embracing selfishness. The thing I thought that made Stephen King so chilling in his earlier writings was that the novel would always start out so normal. And then he would set up a clear turning point (sometimes he even told you it was the turning point) in which the whole mess could have been avoided. One word of kindness, one better choice, one act of selflessness, and all the pain and suffering could be avoided.

That's what makes "evil" truly evil, isn't it? The willing and knowing choice to harm others for your own needs or desires. The tsunami in South-East Asia killed hundreds of thousands of people, maybe 500,000 after all the after-effects of disease and starvation are factored in. But evil? Nope. As opposed to the clear evil of a serial killer who kills five homeless people...

And that leads right back into horror flicks, particularly vampire movies. The evil and horror of a vampire is its seduction. Not its ability to force you to become evil. An American Werewolf in London wisely spent little time dealing with the threat of the werewolf attack, and most of its time dealing with the aftermath: when he's a mindless killing machine, he's not evil...but is it evil for him to not kill himself to prevent more mindless killing rages? Having the victims come to try to convince him to commit suicide was a nice touch, it emphasized that once they were dead, their problems were over...they just wanted to prevent him from providing such a solution to problems to anyone else.

And that's one of the blessings of being a Christian. Christianity provides context to death. It puts it in a perspective. I'd say a "proper" perspective, but I admit that's my bias. At the very least, it is a context.

Compare that to an atheist. What context does he have for death? Nothing at all. Death is a wall, and none have returned to tell what happens. If it is destruction, then whither life? If it is some unknown other existence, what connection does it have with this life? What can we do in this life to affect the next? The atheist does not know, and cannot know, and does not want to know.

The Christian is handed a paradox: what happens to us in this life is unimportant, but retaining our faith in this life is paramount. The happiest moments of this life cannot compare to the next life, but we are told that to end this life early would mean giving up joy in the next. It is our effort to endure the pain of this life that refines our spirit for bliss in the next.

And with that context, what fear have we of death at all? O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

Horror movies by those who lack Faith for those who lack Faith are boring and dull for me. Or perhaps even worse: they have stopped being a thrill-inducing fear and fully embraced the exploration of creative ways to kill people. Yay.

The only thing that can scare me now is overpowering temptation to embrace evil. And yet, if it were "overpowering", it wouldn't be "temptation" any more, would it?

The Devil is in the details, they say. I say: the Devil is in the choice.

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posted by Nathan on 03:18 PM | Comments (4)