Monday, February 05, 2007

Faith in Florida

A handful of tornados ripped through central Florida recently, killing at least 20 people and causing untold amounts of property damage. Over 1,500 homes were damaged or destroyed, and the Church of God in the town of Lady Lake was completely leveled. Larry Lynn, pastor of the church, had this to say:

I'd like everybody to take a deep breath, and let everybody who has breath today praise God.

While I could make all kinds of jokes in response to pastor Lynn's statement, I think this time it will suffice merely to point out that Lynn is counting the hits and ignoring the misses, also known as selective observation. In his eyes, God didn't cause the tornadoes but He did save those who didn't die from said tornados. Either that, or he wants everyone alive in his congregation to thank God for not killing them yet (which is very doubtful but much more honest).

The Governor of Florida even paid them a visit:

"Pastor Larry, you told me yesterday that the building may be down, but the church lives on, and I can see that now," the governor said to shouts and applause from the congregation.

Congregants were worshipping in the actual church wreckage on Sunday. Now that's devotion!

Theists never really expect their faith to actually do anything other than make them feel better emotionally. The object of their faith didn't create those tornados, nor will it actually rebuild their church and their town. Appropriately, these faithful will not blame the devastation on their God. Yet strangely, once these flesh and blood people finish rebuilding their community, they will scramble to be the first to thank their God for fixing everything!

At the very least, these people will claim that God gave them the hope and/or emotional strength needed to rebuild their town. They will do anything to make their imaginary friend appear necessary. Who are they trying to convince, anyway? Perhaps themselves?

And what about a faithless town that is ravaged by a natural disaster? Can an atheist town not rebuild because it doesn't have enough spiritual or emotional strength? I've never ever heard of a community not being able to rebuild or carry on due to a lack of faith. But I have heard of a community that could not carry on or rebuild due to a lack of money or resources.

These people never question their faith regardless of what reality throws at them, because it's untestable and unfalsifiable. To paraphrase Stephen Colbert, these people will believe on Sunday the same thing that they believed on Friday no matter what happens on Saturday. Fucking brilliant.


BlackSun said...

Good one, Aaron. I was going to post about this. The image of that guy out there with his suit and tie preaching among the wreckage was priceless.

There's so much one could say. But thanking god in the middle of a church destroyed by an "act of god" pretty much defines the stupidity of theism.

The pastor is pretty smart, though. He needs to be johnny-on-the-spot. After all, if they don't rebuild the church, he has no job.

If I was a member of that congregation, I'd be asking god for my time, money, and unanswered prayers back about now.

Aaron Kinney said...

If I was a member of that congregation, I'd be asking god for my time, money, and unanswered prayers back about now.

I hope you kept the receipt!!! ;)

Jeff said...

Very nice entry. I've been annoyed by that quote from the governor ever since I first read the story on It's so irritating - as if we all thought the church would disband and disappear (although if they really thought about it, they might just do that). They still had a service, big freaking deal.

Who are they trying to convince, anyway? Perhaps themselves?

That was one of my big insights, many years ago, when I first started to have doubts. If you listen to pretty much any sermon with that perspective, you'll hear how often they say things like, "...And that is how we know god is real...", etc. When you listen for it, you'll hear the constant stream of subconscious denial, and once I noticed that I could never ignore it again.

The Exterminator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Exterminator said...


I agree with everything you say.

You might be interested in clicking on my name and seeing a somewhat angrier commentary on the performances of Lynn and Crist.

angelsdepart said...

Maybe they could talk to God for us and ask him not to send any more natural disasters. Thanks God for killing a bunch of people. You never seem to fail at that!

Krystalline Apostate said...

& so I wonder: did the 20 people that died go to heaven or hell?
Don't the Snopes folks call that a glurge story? The ones that survive are blessed, but what about the ones that don't?
How much proof do people need, to realize the universe doesn't give a rat's fart in a hurricane about us?

breakerslion said...

"The pastor is pretty smart, though. He needs to be johnny-on-the-spot. After all, if they don't rebuild the church, he has no job."

Yep. Drag 'em out to see the wreckage, so that, while they rebuild their broken homes, they remember to dig deep for Mother Church. Do you suppose it's a sin to be under-insured? Do you suppose he'll pass the hat for the "rebuiling fund", then cash the insurance check?

The warped mentality required to thank Jehovamagod for not killing one in the wake of a tornado never ceases to amaze me.

Rose Ghost said...

So who does this guy think caused the tornadoes? Satan? Organised religion has no logic.

In this instance, thanking God is a bit like thanking someone for slitting your wrists, but getting you to the hospital before you bleed to death.

vjack said...