Science Decrees: God’s Wrath Shall Be Limited to Flood Plains, Low-Pressure Zones and the Ring of Fire

They forgot to include God's finger in this diagram--then again, this is 5th grade science.

Our favorite little CoG splinter has just produced another pretentious expulsion of science envy. It is a book with the ambitious title, Why Natural Disasters? Any fifth-grader can answer that question, but the Armstrongists find it necessary to insult our intelligence yet again.

Unable to process the implications of 5th grade science, but coveting the prestige of fact-based assertions, the proponents of Armstrongism as a rule turn to superstitious explanations for natural events. They would like their readers to believe that such myth-weaving is original with them, but weather mythology is nothing new. Nor is it the exclusive domain of Armstrongism. Most fundamentalist sects proclaim their god/s as the source of weather phenomena. It is not surprising at all that worshipers of Yahweh should do so, since he was originally conceived as a storm god of the Canaanites.

The Armstrongist who professes belief in weather and geological mythology is no different in that regard from the bygone proponents of such nonsensical theories as earthquakes being caused by Poseidon striking the ground with his trident, or by Namazu the giant catfish thrashing about in a bath of subterranean mud. But the opportunistic and hypocritical moralizing that accompanies the Armstrongist theory of natural disaster puts it in a subset of nature mythology that is particularly attractive to modern fundamentalists. From Protestant pulpits to mosques to the ostentatious sets of televangelists, the message is the same: “Our god is responsible for natural disasters, and he causes them because he is angry.” But this common fundamentalist nature mythology has a special problem with the science its subscribers wish could be marshaled in its defense. We will now address this particular problem.

The common fundamentalist stands with his feet obstinately planted upon two propositions which are, apparently unbeknownst to him, divided hopelessly by a truth that threatens his manhood (assuming he has any). He would not be so confident in this stance if he had the brains to understand his cringe-worthy predicament. One foot rests soundly on the claim that his god created this planet, designed and crafted it as would a “master builder”—tailor-made for humans to inhabit and thrive upon its surface. Held down by his other foot, though, is the oft-repeated opinion that this same god makes his wrath known to humans through what we now have the sense to refer to as natural disasters. These two propositions enjoyed some logical coherence in a younger, scientifically dimmer age, before we humans had developed such a full understanding of how our planet works. Given that understanding though, it is positively stupid to try and stand upon both propositions simultaneously. It is also self-defeating. For thrust up in between them is the soaring bulwark of the Earth sciences.

Consider. What should we expect the world to look like had some god designed it perfectly as a habitation for us? Money growing on trees perhaps? How about food growing on pigs? No, let us not tax the Creator’s imagination so much: what about a system of thermal energy management that doesn’t necessitate (in a predictable manner) the occasional production of hellishly destructive storms, or something less inhospitable than the volcano- and earthquake-prone tectonic arrangement we currently endure? Wouldn’t our imaginary god be free in such a world to actually intervene in order to specially create “acts of God” for the expression of its displeasure? Of course! As it stands, though, it is perfectly reasonable to assert, á la Laplace: “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.”

Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, droughts—even meteor impacts—none of these have ever occurred in such a way as to invite a supernatural explanation. They always happen when and where and in the manner in which we now expect them to. No one in “Tornado Alley” will ever say, “Well, gee, I never expected a tornado here—someone must be trying to tell me something.” (Okay, a fundamentalist might—but they’re stupid, remember?) The people of the Midwest who were forced to flee their homes in front of a cresting Mississippi, did not have “the Lord” to thank for their advance warning (though some of them pretended they did). But did anyone exclaim, “Floods in flood plains!—what is the world coming to?” No. When the recent tsunami struck Japan, did we hear, “Earthquakes in the Ring of Fire?—totally unexpected! Miraculous! Judgment is upon us!” (Well, yes—but, again, these were fundamentalists—see a pattern developing here?)

It would be reasonable to suspect something amiss if a tornado struck from a clear-blue sky in a high-pressure zone (even then, the most one could say about it is that it is weird—an unexplained phenomenon). But that never happens—even if the locals are all homosekshuls—or, worse, goddamn atheists! Similarly, earthquakes only occur around fault lines, volcanoes don’t spring up overnight, inhabitants of rainforests don’t experience droughts, mountaintops don’t require levees and hurricanes never baffle us in their formation. Entire professions are built up around predicting these events based on our understanding of them as natural occurrences. By contrast, the fundamentalists’ theory of natural disasters has zero predictive power, as was roundly demonstrated by the recent mass experiment known as Boobquake. Gods do not seem to lash out with any consistency to speak of except that which can be explained without reference to any god. That is to say, as we have said before, natural disasters are natural. One may, with blithe assurance of safety, defy any so-called god to strike them down with a bolt from the blue (specifically, a lightning strike when such activity is not predicted by meteorological science). Or even better—a (snicker) global flood. Won’t happen. Never has; never will. How is it that the fundamentalist’s gods are so constrained in their petulant tantrums by the science of mere mortals?

We moderns can look upon Nimrod’s tower with some good-humored disdain. The old boy had the right idea: God wouldn’t flood his own realm, would he? But Nimrod was entirely too lenient with the Creator/Destroyer of his benighted age. Armed with our planetary knowledge, we now truly have the upper hand. We have duly chastened God, in effect commanding him, “This far, O Eternal, but no further may thy wrath extend.” And to date he seems loathe to disobey us by striking outside the decreed boundaries. In actual fact we keep climbing up our own metaphorical version of the apocryphal tower: flood walls, not building in flood plains, flood insurance, forecasts and predictions of various types—not to mention earthquake-resistant architecture, cloud-seeding, enhanced GM crops, pesticides, seismic sensors, tornado warnings, etc. Whole economies turn on these successful efforts at putting the terrible God in his increasingly small place. We’ve even gone so far as to turn God’s wrath into a profitable resource, by harnessing his bratty outbursts and converting them into usable energy. Who would have thought geothermal plants could be so ironic? (Try something similar with your two-year-old son or daughter and let me know how it goes.)

Speaking of hot air, we hope the reader is convinced that a fetish for natural disasters is not exclusive to Armstrongists. Exploiting the misfortune of their fellow humans is a propaganda tactic common to all fundamentalist quacks, and this is especially true in the case of natural disasters, which are to fundamentalists what bombings are to fundamentalists terrorist organizations. It is a selling point for them to be able to claim responsibility for their particular god¹ every time the wind blows or the water rises–but the only buyers of this snake oil are ignorant fools with a debilitating lack of common sense. Don’t be one of them.

¹ Can all these gods of natural disasters be equally responsible–or are they all just equally non-existent? You decide.

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24 thoughts on “Science Decrees: God’s Wrath Shall Be Limited to Flood Plains, Low-Pressure Zones and the Ring of Fire

  1. When it happens to them it’s an attack from Satan, and anything that isn’t lost in the catastrophe is held up as evidence of God’s protection! Of course, this same “logic” can be used to arrive at the exact opposite conclusion: God is cursing them and protecting their philosophical enemies. In other words, what we observe looks exactly as we would expect it to look if neither God nor Satan had any control over the systems that produce natural disasters, or, to put it another way, the beliefs and moral behavior of humans has no influence on the incidence of natural phenomena. The proposed mechanism, God’s wrath (or Satan’s), is a patently stupid and superstitious mythological non-explanation as invalid as the proposition that earthquakes are the result of Atlas shrugging. It’s rank superstition, nothing more.

    This is one of the cult’s cherished teachings that I’m glad to say I never really bought into. It always seemed a bit silly to me, and because of that I avoided giving it the depth of thought that I should have. I trust I have corrected that lapse.

    Looking forward to joining you in eviscerating PCG’s latest effort at making fools of themselves.

    • Fantastic! It’s really a shame we didnt learn about this flyover sooner. Wouldnt it have been great if we could have gotten it canceled?

    • First, their troupe of singers/dancers performed for the new Oklahoma governor at an inaugural reception (http://www.pcog.org/article.php?articleid=113) with SFlurry and WTurgeon congratulating the new governor … this from a group that teaches that democratic gov’t is wrong and discourages members from voting! Yet they have the audacity to pat the electoral victor on the back: “Congrats for winning the election!. Sorry we didn’t vote for you, but rest assured: we didn’t vote for your opponent either. Now, give us a photo-op for our publicity stunt!”

      Next, with their strong denunciation of war and serving in the army, they create another publicity stunt by requesting the air-force for a fly-by of four of its captains. I wonder what was going on in the organizers minds as they watched the jets go by: “Oh, poor, deceived folks, they could be serving the world so much more by joining our rank and files instead of being in the air-force!” Or maybe they are shopping around for pilots for the new jets they dream of acquiring once (and if) they pay off the building debt: why not? HWA was an apostle, had a college and had a jet too and we are just following in his footsteps!

  2. As usual guys, greatly enjoying the writings of you all. It’s been of real value and help to me coming out through the other side of being in a splinter group. It’s been hard to admit to myself that I gave all my power to the ministry, when I should have taken the time to actually think logically and objectively.

    Reading an article like this, I can’t help but wonder sometimes how I ever believed any of the church bullshit to begin with.

    • You’re in good company, Kirrily. Your faithful editors know exactly what you mean. Pulling the wool back from our eyes was a struggle for all of us; but, as you know, doing the hard work required for critical thinking is always worthwhile. We’re happy to be of some small assistance to you in this endeavor. Here’s hoping you have some opportunity to “pay it forward.” To that end, I wonder if you’ve considered this. Just a thought.

  3. I hate to tell you this, but some of the things you describe, like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightening strikes and other “natural disasters” are, for legal purposes, and for limiting liability of insurance companies, known as “Acts of God”.

    Therefore, if Gerald Flurry’s Ambassador Auditorium is struck by lightning during the earthquake from a tornado while the whole place is flooded some how and the whole auditorium sinks into the ground to disappear forever, it is an “Act of God”.

    This is important because the insurance company will not pay one penny toward the $9 Million of debt, so Flurry will have to pay for the whole thing and be left with nothing.

    So you see, sometimes believing in (the legal definition of) Acts of God could be to your advantage, if you don’t take it too far…. Ooooh, let us hope! It’s mighty windy in Oklahoma and they have tornadoes!

    • Unless the sheep also footed the bill for tornado insurance. It would be great to be able to say, officially, that PCG was done in by an “act of God.” Ultimately, though, it’s just a figure of speech, a bit of legalese.

      • But of course… a figure of speech, a bit of legalese, worth billions of dollars.

        Do you really think that Flurry would believe he needs insurance? He’s so arrogant, it’s doubtful he’d get any unless it’s demanded by the lender to who he owes the $9 Million (how’s the payoff coming?).

        Are the sheep nervous enought to demand insurance? Or too nervous to even suggest it?

  4. Yes, it’s funny, with all the violent storms in my area recently, you’d think Yahweh could spare a lightning bolt or twister or something to take out one his cult calls Antichrist. How many pedestrian sinners did he murder in Joplin? And yet just a few weeks ago I drove through a pretty rough spot, one that could have easily been productive of a tornado. In fact, it was so bad the highway became clogged with vehicles whose occupants were too afraid to continue driving. I was stuck there, being buffeted by the most powerful winds I’ve ever experienced–with trees whipping around on both sides of me–peering into the thick, wet darkness for some sign of the churning wall of debris that I felt sure was bearing down on me. The way I see it, Yahweh had several options for destroying me. He could have knocked down a tree. He could have dropped a funnel cloud directly on top of me. He could have pushed my truck right off the road and into a deep ravine I had passed over. He could have fried my ass with lightning. The environment was rich with opportunity for mayhem, it was begging to be used as the instrument of Yahweh’s petty wrath.

    But then it must occur to anyone who’s paying attention that this would not prove anything except the Lord’s pathetic weakness: if he has control over the weather and can work miracles, why is he so constrained by meteorological science? Why couldn’t he strike me down with a meteorological phenomenon that can’t be explained except supernaturally? Why is he hiding behind science? Is he afraid of me? That must be it! He said, “Come reason with me,” but he couldn’t address the arguments. It is a fearful and deceitful god who hides from those who seek him. No wonder his worshipers behave the way they do; they are emulating the spineless nature of their deity. Or it could be said they have chosen/created a god after their own image.

  5. I think we need to find new ways to discredit the PCG cult.

    An article today in the Edmond Sun says F-16 jets are going to fly over the Ambassador Auditorium tomorrow as part of the July 4 celebrations. Flurry told us the Auditorium was being built to “get us out of the cult status” and I’m worried that it might work. Maybe we need to write to the Pentagon!

    Fair is fair; if they get jets, can we get the pentagon to approve this site, fly over our homes, and give us some big media attention?

    What ever happened to separation of church and state?

    Or maybe they should drop some bombs while going over the campus.

  6. Oh yeah, and when you call to complain, don’t forget to mention that HWA and GF are anti-war, that Armstrong said you can’t be a good soldier unless you hate your enemy (booklet on Military Service and War) which is accusing the military of hate, that church members refuse to participate in the military, and that the USA will never win another war.

    I think we have the makings of a newsworthy controversy here. This is an opportunity. I suggest that we contact the Edmond Sun and tell them these things right away, before the flyover is old news. If you have old Trumpets, find anti-war and anti-USA quotes and send them to the Sun (with exact page numbers). I’ll look in the Military Service and War booklet.

    • I just sent this off to the Edmond Sun.

      “I am writing in response to your piece on the flyover of the religious compound of the Philadelphia Church of God. I wonder how you missed the real story here. This PCG is a doomsday cult that preaches the soon-coming destruction of the United States. Its members are not allowed to serve in the military and are taught that waging war is a grave national sin. They have repeatedly warned in telecasts and literature that the U.S. will not win another war, and that our nation is under a curse from God. They are not patriots; they are an insular cult group waging a PR campaign to lure in new followers. This is the real story: how did a religious organization with a strong anti-America, anti-military message cajole the U.S. military into supporting their outreach efforts–and what are the implications of such for the separation of church and state? Doesn’t anybody on your staff do investigative reporting, or do you merely act as the mouthpiece of your subjects?”

      Send your own complaints/suggestions to news@edmondsun.com. Or you can call the news room at (405) 341-2121, ext. 110.

  7. Military Service and War, p.62, says if a man is not taught to hate, he is not likely to be a very good soldier. On p. 64 war is “humanity’s greatest crime”. P. 67 says only God has the right to wage war. P. 70 “war involves learning to hate and kill”.

    On page 54, on the “authority of the living Christ” Herbert prophesied that the Day of the Lord would strike the USA “between 5 and 10 years from now” because of sins like going to war. Well he took the name of Christ in vain, made a false prophecy (which Deut 13, I think it is, says means he must be killed) and said war was a mega sin, for which God would destroy the USA. Then they want military jets to help celebrate the opening of their concert series. What a farce.

    • The sheep in the cults don’t have the balls to really contemplate the disconnect between what they were taught and the official activities they support. One of our jobs is to rub their faces in it until some of them can smell it.

      Anon, this is good material for an article. Want to write it?

  8. Hey dudes, go to the Wikipedia lists of worst ever natural disasters and you will see that the so-called nations of modern Israel are not being hit any worse than other nations. You will also see that disasters are not getting worse (except due to rising populations) as time goes on. I like the ring of fire analysis. To be fair, God will have to bring some other punishment (like disease) on those who don’t live in that area, just to even things out, or else he would be being punishing some people worse for where they live, not for their sins.

    And if the sins of the father are not visited on the son (Ez 18:4, 20) why is he punishing us for our forefathers rejecting him 2500 years ago?

  9. It’s worth noting that in Deut 5:9 the sins of the fathers (but not the mothers) are visited on the children only to the 4th generation, not for 2500 years. We’re not sure about the mothers, I guess they weren’t important enough to curse people for.

    • Interesting point, Chuck. Never thought of hereditary curses in terms of the Patriarchy. But I wonder whether the word for “fathers” here could be translated “parents.” And why four generations? Why not seven? The probable answer: Yahweh is inconsistent and arbitrary, a capricious deity that seems to follow the whims of whoever happens to be representing him.

  10. Gerald Flurry is one of those who was of the WCG with its hypocrisy concerning Conscientious Objectors. The story by Neotherm is at:

    http://dnarefutesbi.com/CultLife.aspx

    under the tab, “A Failed Experiment”.

    When push comes to shove, I’d bet that Gerald Flurry has this double standard of supposedly being against serving in the military, just waiting for the United States to fall, while at the same time pushing the conservative agenda which makes so many Armstrongist ministers no more than a de facto Republican Dog owner (which is OK to be I guess, unless you are an Armstrongist minister).

  11. Hey dudes, let’s not be hard on the media when we write in. I think we all absorbed some of that “attack mode” mentality from GF, who is notorious for his harsh criticisms. After all, we need the media as allies, so let’s not antagonize them or blame them. The enemy is the PCG not the media, they just don’t know much about the PCG, which is why we have to tell them.

    I sent a news tip to a couple of Edmond media outlets (through their web site) and I posted some comments on two or three of their sites. There are several newspapers in the Oklahoma City and Edmond area. Go to google, click on “news” then do a search for “armstrong auditorium” and you will find them. We should keep this up throughout the concert series … every time there is another concert.

    • “I think we all absorbed some of that “attack mode” mentality from GF, who is notorious for his harsh criticisms.”

      I don’t like this at all, Chuck. Harsh criticism has its place, and to associate any harsh criticism with our experience in the cult is not only factually unsupported but, I believe, irresponsible. It is akin to the nonsensical canard that places the “blame” for our atheism on the supposed spiritual abuse we suffered in an unorthodox Christian group. It’s condescending, for one thing, and it invites the common tendency to remove the focus from the falsity of Flurry’s claims to the less important (but more sensational) issue of his alleged belligerence.

      “let’s not be hard on the media when we write in.”

      I can see a utility to both critical and friendly approaches. In defense of the critical approach, the professional media are supposed to be accountable to their consumers. If I wanted an advertisement for PCG PR campaigns I would read their propaganda outlet, The Trumpet. I expect something more like reportage from a secular news source (especially when there is an actual story stirring just beneath the saccharine crust of what they printed). A plug for a local religious compound is not news, it is ad copy.

      And remember, the Flurrys of the world will be sure to whine if any inconvenient truth gets reported, as is clear from your charge (and which we have recently observed). We who wish to have the facts disseminated must work to keep the media honest against the efforts of those who would use them as propaganda machines. Part of that endeavor is to criticize them when they drop the ball (and also to encourage them to run with it).

      “they just don’t know much about the PCG”

      It’s their job to know–and to report what they discover–not just print whatever PCG says. I’m critical because I think journalistic integrity is of paramount importance in a free society, and the Edmond Sun took a big shit on that with this so-called article. The FOX station out there did a much better job when they covered PCG activities.

      So, I say we pursue both approaches; trap them in the pincers of criticism and persuasion.

  12. Pingback: Oooooklahoma! « Armstrong Delusion

  13. Pingback: Rapid Rebuttal–Why “Natural” Disasters? « Armstrong Delusion

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