Wednesday, April 20, 2005

virgin is slumming in Chicago

The following is from CNN. I think I'll just post it here and say that it verifys much of what I've been saying and, let me say, it makes me afraid...very afraid.

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A steady stream of the faithful and the curious, many carrying flowers and candles, have flocked to an expressway underpass for a view of a yellow and white stain on a concrete wall that some believe is an image of the Virgin Mary.

Police have patrolled the emergency turnoff area under the Kennedy Expressway since Monday as hundreds of people have walked down to see the image and the growing memorial of flowers and candles that surround it. Beside the image is an artist's rendering of the Virgin Mary embracing Pope John Paul II in a pose some see echoed in the stain.

"We believe it's a miracle," said Elbia Tello, 42. "We have faith, and we can see her face."

Tuesday morning, women knelt with rosary beads behind a police barricade while men in work shirts stood solemnly before the image, praying. A police officer kept the crowd of about three dozen from getting too close to the traffic but didn't stop them gathering around the stain.

The stain is likely the result of salt run-off, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The agency does not plan to scrub it off the wall.

"We're treating this just like we treat any type of roadside memorial," said IDOT spokesman Mike Claffey. "We have no plans to clean this site."

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago had not received any requests to authenticate the image as of Monday, spokesman Jim Dwyer said.

"These things don't happen every day," Dwyer said. "Sometimes people ask us to look into it. Most of the time they don't. (The meaning) depends on the individual who sees it. To them, it's real. To them, it reaffirms their faith."

But onlooker Victor Robles, 36, said he was skeptical about the stain's Virgin Mary resemblance.

"I see just a concrete wall and an image that could happen anywhere," Robles said. "If that image helps more people feel closer to God then maybe that is a good sign."

Worldwide, people have been drawn to images believed to resemble the Virgin Mary seen on windows, fence posts and walls.

Among the best-known in the United States was an image seen in office windows in Clearwater, Florida. Within weeks, a half million people had been to the site. Glass experts believe the image was created by a chemical reaction and corrosion of the metallic elements in the glass coating, but they could not explain why it took the shape it did. The windows were broken last year.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Hey, I got your big bang right here!

In researching some web sites on the Big Bang for a lecture I have to give on Wednesday I ran into a theist posing religious questions connected to the Big Bang. I don't know why theists feel so threatened by scientific inquiry. Maybe it because in their hearts they know they are just passing along old stories made up by long dead shepards while the world has gone right along and invented things like moveable type and pizza delivery.

Anyway, this guy lists the 5 basic premises for the existence of god. I list them here followed by my comments.

  1. The cosmological argument: the effect of the universe's existence must have a suitable cause.
Why? Isn't it just as possible that we can ask questions that don't have good answers yet. Some among us are egotistical enough to stamp our feet and demand that the universe be explained and then posit the existence of a super being and call that an explanation.
  1. The teleological argument: the design of the universe implies a purpose or direction behind it.
The design of the universe only implies a purpose if you already believe in a super being. Then, you use this argument to back up your previous beliefs. No fair. The universe cannot imply anything. It's just the's big but still....
  1. The rational argument: the operation of the universe, according to order and natural law, implies a mind behind it.
See above argument. The universe only "implies" things to the theist. I just like to look at the stars!
  1. The ontological argument: man's ideas of God (his God-consciousness) implies a God who imprinted such a consciousness..
Can you say circular argument? Because I got the idea of a god, god must have given it to me. Give me a break. This guy would fail plane geometry! And, by the way, exactly how does the imprinting work? I'm guesing 'in mysterious ways'.
  1. The moral argument: man's built-in sense of right and wrong can be accounted for only by an innate awareness of a code of law--an awareness implanted by a higher being.
Ocam's razor implores us to always go for the simplest explanation. Which is easier to believe: People managing to evolve via cooperation in a hostile environment or the existence of a super being that knows what we are doing even though there is no evidence for his/her existence? Discuss.

I know these are all numbered 1. I hate word!