29 November 2008

Alpha Course Day 8: How Can We Resist Evil?

Dinner: A little better this week. The salad was wilted, but the beef stirfry with onions and mushrooms was nice and tender; a little watery but with good flavour. Non-asians almost always overcook bok-choy, turning it to mush. Dessert was little store-bought ice cream cups with the little wooden scoops again, but also a few mini cupcakes.

Part 1: Sermon

It’s about THE DEVIL!!! Scary!

Wow, most of this sermon uses the Garden of Eden snake and the apple as its basis. I just can’t take this at all seriously.

It started with warning us of the "reality of spiritual warfare" with the forces of Satan, who is in active rebellion against God and leads a multitude of demons who will attempt to turn us away from God.

Gumbel explained that the existence of Satan is reasonable because it makes sense of the evil in the world. And it's also supported by Christian tradition and scripture. And we shouldn't underestimate his power. And that many of us have mistaken views about Satan, either an unhealthy interest like the occult, horoscopes, palm reading, etc, or total disbelief. Wooo. I'm so impressed. (yawn)

His tactics are to blind people to God, tempt people to do wrong, and, most importantly, to cause people to doubt God.

As for doubt, Gumbel claims it's always the starting point, and that Satan's favourite thing to do is to undermine faith in either God's existence or God's power and benevolence.

As for temptation, Gumbel talked about Adam and Eve in the garden. Seriously, what the fuck is that forbidden tree doing there in the first place? And why allow a rebellious angel who wants to ruin your creation into the garden to tempt humans in the first place? Is God a retard?

One more thing: Gumbel pointed out here that temptation is not sin. But what of what Jesus said, ie. whoever is angry with his brother commits murder, and whoever lusts after another woman has committed adultery? I have no strong opinion here, not being a theologian or biblical scholar, but it seems odd to me.

Gumbel then explains that our position is that Christians are on God's side, that Jesus has defeated Satan via the resurrection, and that Christ's disciples have authority over demons. Likewise, Christians are called to fight on God's side against Satan, to "wear the armor of God."

Part 2: Small Groups

I have a confession: I’m starting to have a really hard time participating in the small group discussions, to the point where I haven’t actually asked anything during the past two weeks. The first few weeks I dominated the discussions, introducing topics, challenging the group members, and complaining about the failures in their thought processes. Recently, I really don’t want to talk anymore. Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to appreciate just how “out there” the rest of the group members are wrt religion. There is nothing I can say that can get them to change their minds, or even engage in meaningful discussion. That one non-Christian person in the group, who I was promised existed, has yet to make an appearance (I have a hunch who it is, but he has yet to say anything substantial to substantiate that hunch). It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t care about these people; sure, they’re nice, and I’d be happy to call most of them friends, but in this environment, they are lost causes.

Then again, maybe I still DO care, but I’m worried that if I start to talk, my sense of overwhelming frustration with them will manifest itself in a never-ending barrage of screaming insults related to their incredible mental denseness.


This is especially likely given that I’ve already flown off the handle at one of these halfwits before (retreat fight with elder link).

Anyway, back to the discussion. You know, for a discussion about a sermon focused mainly on Satan, nobody really mentioned Satan during the discussion. When they felt they must refer to supernatural evil, they said “evil forces,” but usually, they talked about human failings as evil. This implies to me that most of them really don’t view the devil as theologically necessary; they view evil as a problem of humanity’s failings, not of necessarily an external, supernatural tempter. The exception is that, while they view most evil as purely human, they were all convinced that the occult, evil, satanic powers, existed. Oooooh, fortune tellers are bad, horoscopes are bad, voodoo is bad. And they’re all true, powered by the Devil! Scary.

Bunch of retards. (See the all-caps rant above, which I almost blurted out in the session save for an effort of superhuman will.)

We’ve got space telescopes and Mars rovers and they’re still worried about the demonic forces involved in freakin’ horoscopes. Hell, I even heard one priest count Magic 8-Balls among the tools of demonic evil. I see at least one tool, but it sure as hell ain’t the 8-Ball.

I have become convinced that a comprehensive course about understanding science and how it impacts modern life must be taught in our highschools. Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World should be required reading for everybody, lest we get stuck with a large percentage of our population still living in the dark ages.

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At November 29, 2008 6:06 p.m., Blogger Eamon Knight said...

Tag: http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com/2008/11/like-you-all-care.html

At November 29, 2008 6:43 p.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Actually, none of this makes sense in the context of Christian Theology. If God is omnipotent, why does he tolerate the existence of Satan? Furthermore, if we assume that Satan is a logical consequence of 'free will' (e.g., what's the point of having free will if you're forced to do good no matter what), then why do natural disasters happen? Are they caused by Satan? What do humans learn about the nature of evil when they die of no fault of their own, etc.?

See Bart Ehrman's newest book, God's Problem, wherein he addresses all of these points (and comes to the conclusion that the Bible's a load o' crap, as a factual guide that is).

At December 03, 2008 9:44 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Eamon, I'll get right on that when I can. Too busy right now though.

Carlo, it doesn't make much sense at all. If they started the Alpha Course with this sermon, no one would come back due to the craziness of it all.

At December 08, 2008 9:22 p.m., Anonymous anne said...

I mostly feel sad for these people. We had one wander into our humanist meeting a few weeks ago. She was firmly convinced of the existence of the devil. I give her credit for bravery in coming to our meetings (she showed up for our screening of "The God Who Wasn't There" if you can believe it) but I feel sorry for someone who goes through life saddled with these primitive superstitions. And yet they generally don't want to look at the evidence to see whether they're right or not...(sigh)

At December 08, 2008 11:00 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

They can't fact check on their superstitions. According to the faith that they've already accepted, doubt, which is how you fact check, is the work of the devil. The devil being smarter and trickier than you. So if you give in to doubt, you aren't actually being intellectually honest; instead you are just screwing yourself supernaturally.

I can certainly see why some religious people have such a hard time leaving, no matter what evidence is presented to them


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