Religion infects another 2500 with coronavirus, kills 17

April 2, 2020 • 10:30 am

The Sophisticated Theologians® had better get to work on this one, telling us why God would let people assemble to worship Him—and then strike down thousands of them, killing 17. Yep, it’s in the Evening Standard, but also in other places (click on screenshot);

An excerpt:

A pastor whose church service has been blamed for sparking a huge wave of Covid-19 infections in France apologised today as countries across Europe continued to struggle to slow the rising death toll from the disease.

Thiebault Geyer said he wanted to say “sorry to God for my selfishness” after officials confirmed that around 2,500 of his parishioners have contracted coronavirus.

At least 17 of those have died after a mass outbreak of the virus among the thousands who attended a week-long gathering at the pastor’s Christian Open Door church in the eastern city of Mulhouse in February.

Pastor Geyer admitted he had not taken its threat seriously enough. “I would like to apologise,” he said. “Sorry to have taken this crisis lightly. Sorry to have read all the articles which tried to alert us. I couldn’t listen. I’m sorry to God for my selfishness.”

Now I’m not sure how palpable the threat was in February, or when in February the Christian Open Door church meeting took place, but the threat was already palpable in late February when they closed the Louvre. The pastor does, however, say that he was cognizant of a “threat”.  But let’s put this one not at the door of Pastor Geyer, but at the foot of the Pearly Gates: God’s Doorstep. For if there was a powerful and omnipotent God, and a loving one, He would surely not kill those who gathered to praise him. After all, they are praising the correct God—they weren’t a bunch of goatherders prostrating themselves before a golden calf.

Or maybe God has just decided to keep away from this whole mess. In that case, the Sophisticated Theologians® owe us an explanation. It will almost certainly be that this is God’s Way, and we don’t understand it. (They can’t use the free will excuse for moral evil, because this is a physical rather than a moral evil.)  And if that’s what they say, just shake your head in pity and walk away. These people purport to know a lot of stuff about God (if they didn’t, what would they write about?), but they punt when it comes to theodicy.

The pandemic is just more evidence—as if we needed any—that if there is a god, he’s either evil or indifferent. The most parsimonious one, though, is our own view: there aren’t any gods.

It’s curious that this pandemic isn’t weakening faith in America, but seemingly strengthening it. After all, if the Black Death and the Spanish Flu didn’t erode faith, what could?

h/t: Woody

127 thoughts on “Religion infects another 2500 with coronavirus, kills 17

  1. Religiosity correlates with insecurity. In insecure times we’d expect more religiosity. When in doubt grab the security blanket and pull the covers over your head.

    Oh, and don’t expect an answer from god, he’s “mysterious”

    1. Its why I have never taken much solace from the reports of religion waning. I always figured we are always just a calamity away from re-stocking the larder.

      I am not referring to atheists of course – atheism takes intellectual work and is difficult to reverse. I am referring to the greater bulk of people who in good times just don’t claim to be religious at that moment.

  2. Aren’t the southern megachurches doing the same thing in the US? I wonder if they will apologise, and apologise to the people they have hurt.

    1. Their situation is far more unethical. They’re doing it after governors have given self-isolation orders and shut down businesses.

      This guy held his event 17-24 February. Which was after lots of warnings had come out and most of us *should* have changed our behavior, but still 2-3 weeks before most of us *did* change our behavior. Schools were still in session, people were still going in to work, gyms were still open, etc. So, it’s hard to really blame the guy for lacking the foresight and caution that most of us lacked.

      As GPJames points out though, even if we consider his event normal behavior for the time, he could at least apologized directly to the people who were affected, rather than only mentioning God. Sheesh.

      1. At least he did apologize. Maybe this pastor, deep inside, has some rudiment of decency.

      2. As a Christian I immediately thought this (gathering lots pf people) was a foolish thing to do (for putting people at risk, and for uncovering a latent hatred against Christian people…).

        Having said that, I think foolishness is fairly evenly spread in any population.

        Evolution doesn’t seem to efficiently prune off stupidity, not even when it has lethal consequences.

        As for how much God cares about death and suffering in our time, or in history:

        The very apostles who spread Christianity to the entire world were ALL assassinated, in cruel ways (except for John). As was their master.

        Jesus told his followers to expect the same fate as him if they follow him. What a questionable marketing strategy! (but it worked).

        So, nothing new here. And a dedicated day of judgement was said to be dealing with the mess at a later point in time.

        Could this be the reason why some people strongly wish that there is no God and thus there’s no judgement to come?

        1. “some people strongly wish that there is no God and thus there’s no judgement to come?”

          Hoo-boy. Could it be the reason some people strongly wish there were no unicorns and thus there’s no unicorn farts to smell?

    1. You’re right about large scale man-slaughter. But only if hi acted against his congregation in hostile affect.

      He should have understood better though.

      It is also conceivable that he was just as naive as some (secular) winter sport resorts in Italy and until yesterday, (secular) gyms and winter sport resorts in Sweden and thousands and thousands of other (secular) businesses and (secular) gatherings all around the world, which insisted on doing business as usual until they were forced to close, either by law or by pressure from the general public.

  3. “It’s curious that this pandemic isn’t weakening faith in America, but seemingly strengthening it. After all, if the Black Death and the Spanish Flu didn’t erode faith, what could?”

    Problem is that those who prayed and got better convince others that God was the reason. Those who prayed and died, well, they didn’t pray right, didn’t merit God’s grace the way we did, etc.

    1. There are people who argue that faith was lost after the Black Death, although it took some time for the changes to unfold.

    2. On an aside: it not only isn’t weakening the faith (if so), but it is definitely pushing Mr Trump’s approval ratings up. Difficult to understand after his blatant bungling of handling the epidemic.

  4. I’m reminded of two quotes:

    Faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. (Richard Dawkins)

    Most true believers, when faced with evidence that contradicts their beliefs, will hold on to those beliefs even more strongly. (Mark Thomas)

    1. There is this belief that G*d tests ones faith: the worse the catastrophes visiting you, the greater the Faith needed. The greater the Faith, the more virtuous you are.
      There is no way to pierce that armor. A bit like a Catch 22.

        1. You need to ask yourself what the armor is protecting. It’s there to defend bad ideas, not to help the human inside.

      1. > “There is no way to pierce that armor.”

        That’s what a good and reliable armor should do. That’s why true faith can make you strong, even in the face of death.

        So, faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t make you immortal. But i can enable you facing death without fear.

        1. Sorry, LaRo, but that’s simply delusional. Everyone knows that it is the unicorns who enable death without fear.

          1. What anyone really “knows” about fear of death is based on how close to death they have actually been.

  5. Sophisticated Theologians® owe us an explanation.

    They do. I’m guessing a few will say the ones who contracted the virus were not sincerely god-fearing – just there for the free noms.

      1. > “Mysterious ways.”

        “Mystery” in the Bible refers to that which “is not yet revealed in full”.

        In other words, things that are (or was) hidden but will be (was) revealed in due time.

        In the New Testament the “mysteries” (initially hidden, or obscured prophesies of the Old Testament) has been disclosed, which is also what Jesus is saying in his last words:

        “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (Joh 19:30)

        This event is aka as the Easter (or Passover as the Jews call it) which we are approaching.

        The original event which is to be kept in remembrance by celebrating Easter/Passover was the Angel of the Lord who killed off the firstborn in ancient Egypt in the days of Moses. Those who put blood stain (from a slain lamb) on the door posts were spared by this angel.

        The full meaning of this ancient event is the event which you just read about above, when Jesus was “slain” and in that moment uttered “It is fulfilled”. The Lamb of God. The Bible put it this way:

        1 Peter 1:
        18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 
        19  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 
        20  Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 

        At the time when this was written the (religious) Jews laughed at the whole thing.

        1. ” . . . the Angel of the Lord who killed off the firstborn in ancient Egypt in the days of Moses.”

          What did these firstborn (some of whom were surely newborn) themselves do to warrant being slaughtered?

          1. Why do you assume that anyone has to do something to “warrant” facing death?

            You will die and I will surely die. What did you do to warrant death?

            What have we done to warrant the gift of life?

            This is not avoiding the question. It is about how the question is “framed”. In the Bible every event is framed by… the claim that God created everything, including you. He’s the God who gives life and it follows, the only one with the right to take it back.

            Attention: God has this right. I don’t, and you don’t either. And not ISIS either.

            But if “framing” the question otherwise we could imagine that evolution created us from… well, “something” and then you don’t “deserve” your life, and you can’t really complain about your life being taken away from you either (complain to whom?).

            So, why are you asking? (I understand that your life matters to you, but does it really matter to anyone else? I bet evolution doesn’t care)

    1. Here you go:

      “Why doesn’t God stop Coronavirus and mend the world?”

      From Justin Brierley, host of the Christian podcast/radio show “Unbelievable.” It’s actually a very good show usually pitting non-Christians vs Christians in debate, with Brierley, an eveangelical Christian, doing a particularly admirable job as host.

      But he’s written a book “Why After 10 Years Of Talking To Atheists I’m Still A Christian.”

      In the above he synthesizes various theodicies, all which of course fail miserably for anyone not stuck in the Christian Bubble of thinking.

      1. Mr Brierley’s G*d reminds me of Mr Trump.He does the most despicable things, but his followers spin and lie around it.
        No wonder those Christian fundamentalists support him, they will twist and lie. God’s instrument to get Justices that will overturn Roe vs Wade for example.
        [For honesty’s sake, I know a Christian who considers him the AntiChrist].

        1. Well, Trump certainly qualifies as “The Man of Sin” and “The Son of Perdition”, but he fails on a few other attributes of the Anti-Christ, at least at the moment. He has not yet teamed up with a singular religious “False Prophet” but the unholy alliance with the fundamentalist evangelicals might be close enough. He has not yet pulled off the “One World Leader” other than in his dreams. He also does not seem to fit the requirement of being a product of the New Holy Roman Empire. Hopefully we will make it through election day in November and be rid of the beast.

          1. > “One World Leader”

            I thought his agenda was “America First” (I’m a Swede, so that’s none of my business, but anyway)

            Ruling the world is complicated stuff.

        2. From the many shows I’ve seen him host, Justin Brierly seems to be an absolutely stand-up chap – civil, smart, empathetic, kind etc.

          And yet, in the “what religion does to the brain” category, you can see him making the most astoundingly callous comments when he is forced to spin-doctor for his God.

          Things like

          “That means that God won’t simply step in and wave a magic wand to take away the suffering in the world.

          After all, it’s not God’s job to keep us safe, secure and pain-free. “

          Keep in mind he’s using this excuse in the face of the astoundingly terrible suffering and death caused by the COVID virus.

          All you have to do is transport that excuse to a similar case of someone refusing to help stop suffering to see how unthinking it is.

          Imagine a child choking to death during an allergic reaction and anyone…fellow citizen…doctor…standing by with an epi-pen that would save her lets her die, with the excuse “Look, I’m not going to just wave a magic wand and make things better. It’s not my job to keep anyone safe, secure or pain-free!”

          Everyone, Christians included, would be shocked at how callous that would be.

          And yet they apply just this type of excuse for their “Loving God” without blinking an eye or noticing the special-pleading.

          When decent Christians like Justin talk about relations between his fellow human beings, I feel like I’m talking to a normal, decent person. As soon as they set to defend their God, it’s like they’ve put on a monster mask, become another character. I’m like “Uh, can I speak to the human again, please?”

          1. == ATHEIST BLAME GAME ==

            I have respect for smart atheists which base their arguments on the commands and degrees given by the God of the Bible.

            Now, if the God of the Bible (as opposed to the strawman, no, strawgod of (some) atheists) says that he created the earth, the universe, and man to rule the world, to have DOMINION over it, kind of like you may be handed the responsibility over part of a business or whatever, and you are given a set of rules (*you* are responsible to the degree you are given authority), then the (smart atheist) argument for or against someone “defending God” should be rooted in that precondition.

            Simply because that’s the rule of the game.

            God also claimed that man fell from his (initial) glory, with dire consequences in terms of disease and death, and that man no longer will be able to cope with his initial high calling all on his own, but sure, if you still think you can, prove it! Kind of.

            So, how are we (humans) doing? Are we doing good? or perhaps slightly less than optimal?

            You decide.

            But you have to base your argument from the correct starting point, from the preconditions which a Bible believing Christian bases his entire world view (often flawed notions and misunderstandings of the scriptures, yes, but that’s the Christian’s problem, not the atheist trying to create a valid and intelligent argument).

            So, what was your argument again? (I don’t know Justin Brierly is, or what he said, and I don’t have the time to look it up, but his statement can everything from plain wrong (given the Biblical reference for what is correct or not) to a rethorical mishap inviting mockery if lacking the basic context which I give above.

            But regarding the general blame game over the pain and suffering mankind is dealing with, atheists are basically right in blaming God for the whole thing. Sort of anyway.

            Because God really blamed himself. He blamed himself and took all our shit, aka “our sins”, upon himself and died on a cross. Including the sins of the atheist repenting from his sinful ways.

            Which is why we (still) celebrate Easter/Passover in just a few days from now.

            1. “I have respect for smart atheists which base their arguments on the commands and degrees given by the God of the Bible.”

              That would make them non-atheists, not smart atheists.

              1. BURNING STRAW

                I really meant that the same rule apply for Christians and atheists when formulating an argument.

                Which translates to the fact that I don’t have to be an atheist to base an argument against atheistic thought systems on their own thought systems. Likewise smart atheists should base their criticism on the basis for the Christian faith (biblical doctrine) in order to have a valid argument for or against.

                If not so, it’s called “strawman” arguments.

                It’s outright boring to watch atheists trying to burn down the hey stacks they built themselves (instead of actual Christian biblical beliefs, and attacking not our god, instead they attack the fantasy god they invented in their own minds, and so on).

                Is this possibly because they have a problem formulating valid claims against biblical based Christian faith?

              2. I will always know less about religion, God, the Bible, etc. than someone who believes them so your argument plan is just a recipe for me losing the argument in your eyes. I don’t need to know your God or Bible well to know that they are man’s creations, just as I don’t need to know how to swim to recognize when a man is drowning. BTW, what you are suggesting here is an example of the Courtier’s Reply, a well-known fallacy:


              3. “Likewise smart atheists should base their criticism on the basis for the Christian faith (biblical doctrine) in order to have a valid argument for or against.”

                This argument is completely wrong. According to this argument, Cavendish, Lavoisier, and Priestley would have to have used the tenets of the phlogiston theory to explain combustion, and reject the existence of phlogiston!

              4. COSY STANCE

                I said: > “…the same rule apply for Christians and atheists when formulating an argument.”

                I understand that you don’t think that the same rules should apply. I’ve observed that attitude for several decades actually.

                Your position, according to your own wording, is that you can refute something you don’t understand, while I claim that you cannot even formulate an argument if not knowing what you are arguing about.

                Which is exactly what Christians are accused of doing (implying that we really SHOULD know what we are criticizing) while the atheist thinks that he doesn’t.

                Wow. That attitude is almost a little cute…

              5. I don’t have to “understand” your imagination’s creations to refute them. I simply note the lack of objective evidence. If you told me that the earth is held up by a giant turtle, I’d ask for proof. If all you can tell me that I don’t understand about the turtle, I would agree. But there’s still no turtle except in your imagination.

            2. I think the question you need to answer is, what do you believe and why? You seem to believe in the Christian deity and much of the sacred texts. But the why part is totally missing. This makes your belief unbelievable.

              1. The question you need to answer is how the universe came into existence, from what, by which mechanism, and why? All parts are totally missing. Which makes the atheist position utterly … what? Not even empty.

                I’m honest, not trying to offend anyone, but I do question the expanded ideas based on… nothing substantial really, other than a materialistic philosophy. Thought work that is.

                That’s very different from the Judeo-Christian Bible, which is based on revelation (the Biblical claims are just that, not philosphical, but explicit claims about revelation (when God spoke to men) and the rest, which is most of it, eye-witness accounts of historical events regarding the Israelites, in both captivity and in their own (eventually divided and destroyed) nation).

                The point is; A biblical worldview is not a philosophically based one (you”d have to turn to Buddhism or atheism to get yourself a more philosophical one).

                Notice, this is about the **starting point** for extended reasoning about why we’re here, how we got here, and where we’re heading.

              2. We don’t yet understand how or why the universe exists. Although science has explained a lot over the centuries, there are still many things left to investigate. What we have learned is that resorting to magical explanations has never worked. Over those same centuries, many magical explanations have been thrown out as we seek to understand nature and reality. The scientific process makes much more sense to me than inventing creatures we can’t see.

                Short version: Just because we don’t understand how the universe was created doesn’t mean we should invent an explanation without basis in reproducible observation.

              3. Revelation is unverifyable. There are many contradictory revelations, so picking one is arbitrary. Not a very logical choice for a foundational belief.

    2. > I’m guessing a few will say [snip]

      Yes. A few, in any group, will say any “not-so-well-thought-out” thing.

      It’s not illegal to be not-so-wise. Not even for secular people, which I think is a good thing.

      Unwise words and deeds are warned against in the Bible which we Christians are encouraged to learn and practice. So, the textbook being used is more important than the various levels of understanding. However, the short version of the entire textbook is, “love one another”.

      Doesn’t take a degree to get that point.

      But we’re all in different learning stages regarding how to live our daily lives according to some chosen ideals. Children in Kindergarten are one one level and others are on other levels of understanding, experience and judgement.

      1. “But we’re all in different learning stages . . . .”

        Just congenially curious – by what learning stage would you hold that it should occur to one not to curse a fig tree for not producing figs, when figs are not in season?

        1. Not Kindergarten stage, at least not in most cases.

          But let us assume that you are an American, and you and I walk by an American flag a day which is not a special day in which you (normally) would fly the flag (think, “not the season for figs”).

          Then I curse the flag in the passing and we continue walking and a little later we come back the same way and find the flag rotten or burned to ashes (while nobody nearby saw anyone else coming near the flag while we were away).

          Would you then perhaps get a feeling that I was trying to convey a message you as being a citizen of the state represented by the flag?

          The figtree is a well known symbol for the nation of Israel. (Try search on the Internet for “figtree nation Israel”, I used DuckDuckGo to give you this hint, Google mayt give similar results).

          So, this episode was not about the figtree per se, it was about what the figtree represented, namely the nation of Israel, which Jesus again and again accused of not “bearing fruit” (means; “not doing it’s duty”). See other parables by Jesus about “fig trees”, which made many Jews at the time hate him as a traitor to his own country)

          OK, now we raised the topic slightly above the level of Kindergarten but I’m sure you can handle it.

          At least the redneck apostles got the message while many people since the Enlightenment struggles with it.

          1. Pray tell, what was this “duty” Israel was not carrying out – accepting Jesus as the Messiah?

            Why does the Bible even mention in the story that the “figs” are out of season?

            Do I correctly take it that Jesus’s casting demons into the swine is also not to be taken literally?

            How old do you say the Earth and universe are, and on what basis?

            Do you hold that Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter were raised from the dead, and that not a few were raised from the dead and walking about after the crucifixion/ressurection? Or are these also not to be taken literally?

            I stand by to hear whether the Joshua sun story is also not to be taken literally.

            In the spirit of Socrates acknowledging my ignorance and not being much above the Kindergarten level, I wish to be instructed. I can handle it.

            1. SHAME ON YOU!

              > “Pray tell, what was this “duty” Israel was not carrying out – accepting Jesus as the Messiah?”

              I’d love to, in a minute or two. Hold it.


              Did you look up the passages where Jesus uses the figtree in his parables? It hurt the Jewish nationalists very badly to hear him spell it out for them.

              But how would you grasp his message when told in parables of you don’t get it when he speaks it right in the face of the jews who opposed him?

              TAX TO CAESAR

              What Jesus consistently accused the Jews for omitting (their duty) was first of all: Duty? Did they have a duty as a nation? Yes. To be a witness, a SERVANT among the nations to witness about the true living God. Period.

              That’s why the Jews, or Israel (their ancestor Jacob, and his fathers Isac and Abraham) was “set apart”, chosen, to do some heavy lifting. Some work that is. Again to witness to the (other nations, the gentiles) about the living God.

              But stating this I already gave you the answer about “what duty” Jesus had in mind.

              But to make it even clearer, let’s have a look at the tricky question which the Jews asked of Jesus with the intent to have him trapped in treason against the Caesar, or for disobedience against the Law, or for treason of his own country. No matter how he’d answer he’d be smoked. Or?). They asked Jesus:

              – “Is it lawful to give tribute (tax) to Caesar or not?” (The Romans were occupying Israel at the time).

              The background to Jesus’ answer which followed (we’ll get to that in just a second) is missing to us Westerners reading this passage, but NOT the Jews and the bystanders (regular people, including younger lads). Already from the age of six or so they all knew the teachings and the parables taught of their Rabbis, and one of them was about (I no longer remember it word for word, but the gist of it was something like);

              “Earthly kings makes images of themselves and make many copies of them (coins etc) and all of them look exactly the same. But not so with the heavenly father. Although he made man in the image of himself, not a single one of the look exactly the same”.

              Ok, you get the idea. Even the small children among the bystanders knew this one “by heart”. It’s actually a beautiful although “crafted” parable used to educate the people of the dignity of the human kind, created in God’s image.

              Now Jesus launches his devastating attack on the hypocrites trying to snare him. In an act of ruthless “public shaming” he replies:

              “Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar” [my remark: Caesar won’t go after Jesus in this answer, but what about the treason against his own country?]. Jesus continues:

              “.. and give God what belongs to God”.

              On this sound bite even the small children must have laughed their heads of against the hypocritical religious leaders WHO HAD NOT DONE THEIR DUTY in bringing the people back to whom they belonged – To God, their creator, which they were to be “images of” (“image” in this context alludes to the ancient Hebrew notion that a child’s PERSONALITY would reflect their parents personality and upbringing, although we would perhaps call it “reflect” our parents to some extent, aso, asf).

              They had not faithfully brought the poor people back to faith in their God (the actual calling of the Jews as a nation, as a people being chosen SERVANTS of God!).

              But they had carefully paid their taxes to the Caesar! The people laughed their heads off.

              Talk about “public shaming”!

              Anyway, this is how the BIBLE “frames” the matter. Which is what matters if you want to question it and attack it in any way.

            2. >> Do I correctly take it that Jesus’s casting demons into the swine is also not to be taken literally?

              Why do you say “also not” taken literally? I assume you are reading the letters in my posts (okay, we skip single letters and read whole words, but anyway).

              I never said I don’t read texts literally, so you cannot assume any “also not” this or that for my part.


              I do think Jesus commanded (or allowed) the demons to enter the swines. He actually politely allowed then to do what they asked for (enter the swine).

              Of course he pissed off the swineherds of that village by doing so, which the text will also tell you about.

              ORIGINS & AGE

              >> How old do you say the Earth and universe are, and on what basis?

              On the basis of counting backwards from recorded (overlapping) historical events, from secular as well as biblical accounts, named individuals and their family trees and ages and so on.

              Laying out such a puzzle you will end up with an age of the creation of about 6000 years.

              RAISING DEAD

              >> Do you hold that Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter were raised from the dead,

              Yes. That seems like an simple trick by a Creator God, compared to creating us in the first place. Same goes for the virgin birth. Simple trick for a Creator God. (Not so easy for me and for you to do, though).


              >> and that not a few were raised from the dead and walking about after the crucifixion/resurrection? Or are these also not to be taken literally?

              Where did the “also not” come from again?

              The Bible is clear about the absolutely extraordinary thing about raising from the dead. That’s the ultimate thing to do if you truly are the creator God. if not true, forget about the whole thing (Christianity).

              Of course. The Bible itself concludes this. If resurrection isn’t a factual historical event that actually took place, then the Christian “faith are in vain”: Quoting Paul:

              1 Co 15:13  But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 
              14  And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 

              >> I stand by to hear whether the Joshua sun story is also not to be taken literally.

              I think I answered that one already (yes, I think it meant what it said, because that particular text doesn’t have the form of parable or some kind of poem or anything like that, it is written in the textual form of a “historical narrative” (such can be identified though the analysis and comparison of the sentence structure with other non-controversial historic narrative prose, aso. Experts does that kind of thing).

              But of course, if it really is not true when the text has the form of observed historical narrative, then the Bible is not trustworthy. It’s a no-brainer. I just think that so many other accounts is so obviously true that I have no reason to doubt it when it claims things out of the ordinary. The whole message of the Bible is “out of the ordinary” in the first place (now that people has started believe what they believed already over five hundred years ago BEFORE CHRIST, namely that life somehow gradually evolved and…, well that old myth which has never been confirmed by empirical objective evidence).

              LIFE AND DEATH

              >> In the spirit of Socrates

              He’s dead, I’m afraid. And he’s not risen from the dead. But Jesus is. And that is the only hope we have.

              We can live our lives apart from our creator and savior, but we cannot die without having made peace with God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Having our sins forgiven by Jesus on the cross is the only thing that matters when we die. He promised to raise us up from the dead, just as Jesus was himself risen from the dead.

              I hope I was clear about how I view the Bible on these subjects? Why would I “muddy the waters” by not standing on the very foundation (God’s word) for the faith I have in God and his son Jesus Christ my savior?

              1. “I do think Jesus commanded (or allowed) the demons to enter the swines”
                This, then, is a profound failure of your God. He has the power to influence events in any way he likes, yet infecting the poor pigs is really a cruel thing to do. Almost no scholar, philosopher, scientist, or anyone else for that matter would consider sacrificing swine in such a way, merely to prove a point. It’s a cruel and degrading move that should not have happened. This Jesus fellow is a bit like a reality TV host who likes to fire people. Why worship such a sadistic moron? No. Don’t answer. I don’t think you are capable of leaving you bubble long enough to give a considered reply.

              2. >> yet infecting the poor pigs is really a cruel thing to do.

                I think you missed a point, or your view of humans is lower than that of swines. Jesus set the possessed man free from demons.

                >> …sacrificing swine in such a way, merely to prove a point.

                Um… Jesus actually set a possessed man free from a “legion” of demons.

                >> It’s a cruel and degrading move that should not have happened.

                Billions of people think that saving the man from the terrible demons was a wonderful act of God. Only the power of God could have done that (if that really happened, which I do believe happened).

              3. Isn’t your god supposed to be all-powerful and all-loving? Then he had the power to put the demons into something that would not suffer, like a rock or the center of the moon, or destroy them alltogether. (But why create the demons in the first place, then?) Or it could’ve just taken them to its own home and homeschool them to behave better.

                Not doing that implies that your god is either not all-powerful or not all-loving, since it was either not able or not willing to do anything more humane than putting demons into innocent animals.

                Billions of people think that saving the man from the terrible demons was a wonderful act of God.

                Please educate yourself about the argumentum ad populum fallacy.

              4. >> then he had the power to put the demons into something that would not suffer, like a rock or the center of the moon, or

                Are you and expert on demons?

                I’m not an expert on swines, but they didn’t suffer. They died almost immediately. The man which Jesus saved, was suffering.

                Evolution OTOH doesn’t care about suffering, does it? Doesn’t it thrive on just that, death and suffering? And you are teaching the Creator God about why he shouldn’t save man from his fiercest enemy and instead do away with all the suffering, which he didn’t withdraw even from himself (caused by the evils which man drew upon himself).

                Recap: God put death and suffering on himself on the cross.

                But this, somehow, indicates that there are some rules of the play (in God’s universe) which won’t change no matter what our (yours or mine) opinions are.

                In short: No safe spaces exist from disease, suffering and finally, death.

                Only way out is IF resurrection actually happened (which I do believe happened), and IF it will happen again (for those who wants to receive that salvation and eternal life without death and suffering, but not for those who reject that free gift).

                So, if resurrection really did NOT happen, then we are all smoked, of course (me included).

                However, it’s not like you cannot possibly find out whether God really exist. And IF he exist, and IF he stands by his word (means; he will do as he said he would do), then I must remind you that – apart from inviting all men to repent from their sins and have them all forgiven, for free, through faith in Jesus Christ – he also said:

                Jas 4:6 “… he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

              5. One more question for you, venerable and beneficient LaRo. For the record, what is your perspective on the ordeal of Job? Why should Job have reasonably, and morally, been the subject of a supernatural bet (as well as and especially other human beings – chattel? – getting pulled into it and losing their lives)?

                I think you have very probably already given a general umbrella answer to this question,in this case a reasonably anticipated, more specific answer being, “Where were you when I hung the stars?” or words-to-that-effect.

                (I trust that you will forgive this post-kindergartner for asking if this “also” actually happened, or if it is “also” an allegory, a story presumably teaching humanity some some elevated moral lesson.)

              6. You missed the point on sending demons into the pigs. He could have sent them into a rock and spared the pigs. This is unnecessary cruelty. (besides the fact that demons are fictional to begin with).

  6. To put things in perspective, Ligue 1, France’s top professional soccer league, was playing matches until the second week of March. Stadiums (and subsequent bars) filled with tens of thousands of potential carriers. So this pastor wasn’t the only one behind the curve. His apology is refreshing as very few who’ve made similar misjudgments have done so.

    1. It’s funny you should mention the resemblance of COVID-19 to a biblical reference. I was traveling down one of LA’s freeways the other day and one of the digital traffic signs said something like:

      Stay safe at home
      COVID 19

      It struck me how much it resembled one of those biblical “slogans” we see so often:

      The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.

      Proverbs 18:10

      1. > “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

        So true. But is this really about safe from virus or from any harm whatsoever?

        They killed Jesus. And torturing him before finishing him off. Same thing for all the apostles. Except for John.

        But true followers of Christ, like the apostles and millions after them, knew and millions still knows full well what this safety means. Try send the hell over them, and they will not feel unsafe, and although they’d rather stay with their loved ones as long as possible, whatever happens to them they know full well that they will end up in a better world if loosing their lives.

        I would never boast about tomorrow, but I have faced the threat of imminent death myself. And I felt nothing but safe, even to the extent that my doctors got nervous thinking I was careless and giving them a hard time. Well, I actually did give them a hard time by being careless (I really couldn’t have cared less), but that’s another story.

        Point being, I know this verse is genuinely true. I felt safe while doctor’s were panicking with me giving them a hard time saying “won’t we all die” in reply to them desperately telling me what to do so I don’t fall off the pin. I knew they were right (at least that they knew better than me ), but I wasn’t afraid to die, and that scared the shit out of them (me dying would have made them look bad, etc, etc).

        I felt safe, no matter the outcome. That’s all. Thank you for reminding me about this verse.

  7. “It’s curious that this pandemic isn’t weakening faith in America, but seemingly strengthening it.”

    Religion always was the “opiate of the masses”, a way of dealing with hard times and the prospect of life being “nasty, brutish and short”.

    Which is why places like Scandinavia are the least religious, while poorer countries are still largely religious, as was everyone in the Medieval era.

    1. > “Which is why places like Scandinavia are the least religious”

      I’m a Swede, a Scandinavian that is, and yes, the socialists and extreme liberals has deliberately and according to a long term plan (as with any socialist agenda) almost destroyed Christianity in Sweden. Almost.

      And only a few days ago the socialist Prime Minister of Sweden praised the Christian congregations, in a meeting with Christian leaders and pastors, for the social service (in many different ways)they are providing the entire secular and God-hating hostile society, which the tax-funded massive social system cannot provide

      (And as you probably have already guessed, in socialist Sweden we are more or less smoked in this crisis. Watch it unfold).

        1. “Bishop” Climate Wiseman. Or is it “Dr”? Or, possibly, “Prophet”? He seems to switch it depending on what nonsense he is selling, and who he’s it selling to.

  8. This can only hasten the exodus of young people from Christianity (and I suspect all religions), who are disgusted by fundagelical stances on sexuality, gender, science and their unholy alliance with the fascist political parties.

  9. Two comments on the Standard website:

    “Why is he not being charged for criminal negligence and manslaughter?”

    Because no-one made the idiots go running to the church to commune with their imaginary space fairy?”

    I contemplate the pastor’s presumed/alleged responsibility in this situation, and compare it with that of a parent (in the U.S., and no doubt elsewhere) who, preoccupied with and distracted by their smartphone, leaves an infant in the car back seat to die from overheating, and for which they receive no legal wrist slap.

    (A few months ago, the CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance in North Carolina lost his job, and was charged with child endangerment, due to driving under the influence. Apparently it’s not OK to endanger ones child, but OK to kill it by leaving it in a hot car, as if the latter were not endangerment.)

    1. In defense of those who leave their child in a hot car (did I really just type that?), that’s an honest mistake, whereas driving drunk is willfully taking a unnecessary risk. “Don’t drink and drive” are the among the most common four syllables in the English language.

      1. Would you say that, all else being equal, one who is not drinking is more cognitively capable, and responsible, than one who is drinking?

        1. I also contemplate if it is no less an honest mistake if one leaves another person’s child in a hot car?

  10. “It will almost certainly be that we don’t understand it.”

    I’m not sure why this explanation offends you. Surely Science takes the same stand on things it doesn’t understand.

    1. Yes, yes, I know you’re a religionist but you apparently missed my point. Theologians pretend to know a lot of stuff, but when they encounter a hard problem, they punt. In contrast, in science we don’t pretend to know things that we don’t and we admit it. But theologians blather on about goddy stuff that they pretend to know, which is annoying. In other words, they have a double standard about evidence.

      To put it again, since you don’t seem to have gotten the point, I am offended because believers pretend that they know a lot of stuff for which there’s no evidence, but when faced with equally unevidenced stuff that’s hard to answer, they finally admit “we don’t know.”

      Do you understand now? Don’t bother replying.

      1. If you allow me, it is basically very simple: There are questions we cannot answer, and we know that those who answer them (religion) are just bullshitting.

  11. What historical basis is there for the idea that god would protect people in times of an epidemic? None. If god were real, and benevolent, the first two commandments would have been wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough.

    1. What basis is there? Well, after every tragic accident with survivors – car wreck, airplane crash, doesn’t matter- there will always be someone thanking god for having saved them, not infrequently while they are standing among the bodies of those who god apparently decided weren’t worth saving.

      Same motive and response, I think.

      1. The crassest example of this I saw on a report about a severe flooding somewhere in the Far East (Phillipines?) some years ago. A woman (sorry, I don’t want to be sexist, but calling her “it” would be silly) was interviewed about her experience in a hotel that became increasingly flooded. She was on the second floor, and she told the reporter how she prayed to god, asking it to stop the flooding. The water kept rising, and she started praying, and lo and behold, the water stopped rising just under her chin. She was convinced that god had received her prayer, and had stopped the water rising to let her survive! And the idiot journalist agreed! What about the people on the first floor?

      2. Reminds me of a (an outstandingly excellent one) nurse one of whose 3 children had trisomy 21.
        The child had heart surgery and survived, but two other ones operated at the same time, did not. She ascribed it to her better faith in God or faith in a better God (the child was called Faith btw), I’m not very clear on that. Recently, two years later, her child died too.
        I have no heart to point out that maybe her faith and prayers were wrong or her God might be the wrong one.

  12. In the executive order issued by Florida governor Ron DeSantis yesterday, the very first listed “essential activit[y]” that state residents are authorized to leave home to participate in is “[a]ttending religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship[.]”

    Florida is home to seven of this nation’s 100 largest “megachurches,” some of which have average weekly attendance in excess of 15,000 people.

    Might’ve been more salubrious for DeSantis to have ordered everyone to stay home and handle snakes.

          1. “My point was that any business stays in business because it has clients; thus for the client, the business is essential.”

            No. The client *believes* that the business is essential. Just like those exploited by a crook believe the crook is essential.

          2. It’s true though that tRump is a real free market maven. He has completely left the federal government out of planing and responding to covid-19. He stands, arms folded, while the states and hospitals hold a bidding war for PE. He’s Ayn Randian in his level of contempt for human life unless it gets him rich.

  13. Well, religion has found new ways to be deadly beyond ignorance, religious wars, and honor killings. Congratulations to religion…

    1. In Italy, OTOH, they believe otherwise. They honestly believe that winter sport resorts are the latest and most deadly sources of disease. How strange is that?

    2. > religion has found new ways to be deadly beyond ignorance, religious wars,…[snip]

      I bet the next religious war will be between Christianity and Confucianism while masqueraded as a “struggle for global power” and “economical dominance” and “keeping the trade routes open”*?

      (Do I need to tag the message as “irony”?)


      * Are any or all these three aspects worth dying for? I’m not saying it’s not, I’m saying something else here.

  14. Disease is a function of hygiene.

    Purity, of course, is not merely a matter of physical hygiene, but includes what you might call a spiritual dimension.

    Collective fear of disease creates a collective push for hygiene and purity.

    You have to presume there is probably an evolutionary basis to the psychology, it makes sense that people take hygiene and impurity more seriously in an epidemic, especially during an evolutionary history with much less scientific understanding.

    How is purity achieved? Well, sacrifice, burnt offerings, bathing, rituals, e.g. religious rites and rituals.

    I’m not sure the existence of God actually matters, if God didn’t exist, God or a God-substitute would have to be invented.

    1. “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer” (if God didn’t exist, he should be invented). Voltaire in his “The Three Impostors”

    2. > Disease is a function of hygiene

      Applies only to contagious diseases.

      Most diseases, both contagious and non-contagious, are the end result to mutations causing diseases and eventually killing humans and animals. Also thought to have caused us humans to come into existence. Interesting thought.

  15. These religious leaders are always put in a difficult position by a pandemic. The situation demands leadership, of course. They are tasked with telling people what God wants them to do and any action they take is supposed to reflect that. On the other hand, it is the ultimate in hubris and selfishness to expect a miracle or, worse, assume one is going to happen. This apologizing pastor presumably didn’t actually hear God instructions to hold church services. He (or she) simply took a gamble with his flock and lost.

    We see an increase in religiosity in times like these because people are grasping for protection from the pandemic storm. I expect we’ll see a rapid decline once it’s over and they have had a chance to reflect on how God performed, especially where their own family and friends were concerned. This is a time where religion is tested and, as we know, it is not a solution and will be found lacking.

    1. > On the other hand, it is the ultimate in hubris and selfishness to expect a miracle or, worse, assume one is going to happen.

      Agreed. In the Bible Satan “tempted” Jesus and his pride in that God has promised (in the OT) that He would send angels to carry Jesus so he would not get hurt, so why not try that and jump off the cliff and prove the claim?

      Jesus answered: “It is ALSO written…”. Let me quote:

      Mat 4:6  And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 

      7  Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

      This is the explicit teaching we Christians are to follow regarding risk-talking. I have never heard of any other advice, secular or religious, which is more “down to earth” based on foreseeable consequences of willingly violating natural laws that that.

      1. Just to be clear, my comment was intended to reflect how religious leaders think, not my own opinions. I don’t believe in miracles, religion, or God. There’s no verifiable or repeatable proof of the existence of miracles or God. Religions, of course, do exist and there’s abundant evidence that they are created by humans for their own amusement and consolation.

        1. … and for the control of society. Just think of Mohamed, and Constantine the Great, who used religion to stop the Roman empire of falling apart.

          1. > … and for the control of society.

            At first I was cock sure that you were talking about express atheist political systems like Communist Cuba, Soviet Union, North Korea, China and so on.

            Hundreds of millions of dead people. Pitch black darkness producing rivers of blood.

            China are trying to make proud Americans dance to their wonderful music as we speak.

            I hope that none of you atheists will ever have to taste the ultimate fruit of god-hating atheism. But you can already feel the smell (just as we do in Sweden today, and in so many other Western countries, totally blind to the utter darkness just waiting for our downfall).

            Both secular and religious (Christian) Think Tanks are full of concerns about the geopolitical strategic plannings already implemented by the CCP during the last four-five decades.

            Atheist paradise isn’t exactly the thing Bernie and his fellas tells you it is.

      2. ‘ . . . “down to earth” based on foreseeable consequences of willingly violating natural laws that that.’

        Speaking of the earth and its motions, do you hold that God stopped the sun from “setting” until Joshua could win a battle?

        1. Why ask such an insignificant little detail?

          I believe that God create the whole show from scratch. Really.

          What do you believe everything came from?

          From absolutely nothing, Caused by Absolutely nothing, by Means of absolutely nothing, for absolutely no reason? Something else more scientifically proven cool stuff?

          1. (My answer above implies the event in Josuas’ days included, of course. It is recorded as an eye witness historical account, which is either a true of a false claim about what happened, and I think it is what they observed)

          2. Of course you’re right – why should I worry my little skeptical head?

            Obviously, anything is true simply and solely because someone thinks and says so.


              Not only because someone thinks and says so, but because of critical events of a struggling nation recorded by eye witnesses such as the leader and Commander In Chief of the nation (Joshua) and documented by its scribes and archived in the national library blah blah blah.. of Israel

              For a similar reason I do believe that the unlikely happened on 9/11 because a nation wouldn’t really let reports of such a profound event be unscrutinized and archived as historical facts in the National Archives and Records Administration of the USA.

              What WOULD be valid objections would be some likewise confirmed and documented observations stating that something different actually happened (let’s not involve Alex Jones though, please).

              So, please go ahead worry your head about the trustworthiness of claimed facts.

              And if you have some documented facts of the same caliber as that of a national library (think of much of the Old Testament as a selection of accounts about some of the most important events of its early history (which it actually is) and this scrutinized accordingly).

              Most of the OT is actually not painting a very nice picture of the Jewish people. Its own scribes wrote most of it, and they could easily have edited the lesser flattening passages out (they were extremely careful and picky about each letter in their writings, which they are well know for).

              If you don’t believe me, read the book yourself, or ask one of the best known traditional Jews in the US, Dennis Prager to elaborate on the subject, or read his books (commentaries) on Genesis and Exodus, the first two books in the bible. Not very self-asserting stories there no. Quite the opposite.

              In short, I have no known reason to doubt that 9/12 happened, and also no reason to believe that the footage was fabricated, an entire nation was in shock, as the people of Israel also was numerous times.

          3. “I believe that God create the whole show from scratch”, and your reason for believing this is…?

  16. I’m going to defend him a bit.

    In late February, not many people in France were taking the pandemic seriously. I was there on a skiing holiday in the first week of March and everything was operating normally. The bars were open and full, the ski lifts were all open, even the cable car and funicular which both pack hundreds of people into small spaces.

    I remember watching news of the Italian lockdown beginning on the TV in my hotel room and thinking “that’s a bit excessive”.

    Also, in the last week of February, I went to a conference for one of the products we sell and I interacted with hundreds of people there. I was taking it about as seriously as this pastor.

  17. More of the religious thinking they are above public health measures.

    1. Christians, on the other hand, are to submit to authorities (not without constraint, but definitely under normal circumstances, whatever that means).

      Romans 13. So, should we submit to authorities (which we Christians often are mocked for) or shouldn’t we submit to authorities?

  18. It’s curious that this pandemic isn’t weakening faith in America, but seemingly strengthening it.

    Stockholm syndrome?

    1. > Stockholm syndrome?

      I don’t think so. First of all, the “Stockholm syndrome” is a disputed theory (just because someone utters an idea doesn’t mean it is a consistent pattern of behavior. Try that with a creationist and you’ll see what I mean…)

      Instead the “Corona Syndrome” may end up being a label for when people started to reevaluate what is important in life, and what is not so important in life. And in death.

    2. (BTW, I’m a Swede, and from following the drama on radio I remember clearly the tactics the robbers used (in 1973) to avoid being gassed by the police. They tied their hostages up with (I think it was) steel wires around their necks, in stand up position, and if being gassed the hostages would be hanged.)

      1. They tied their hostages up with (I think it was) steel wires around their necks, in stand up position, and if being gassed the hostages would be hanged.

        And still, the victims refused to testify against their captors, raised money to their defense, and one of the captors became friends with a victim and her family (according to Wikipedia, I’m not so deep into the matter myself).

        I can’t help but see parallels to believers who sympathise, defend, and obey a god that does or at least allow unspeakable atrocities.

        (That said, my post above was mostly meant as a joke. But I am fine with discussing the topic seriously. 🙂 )

  19. > not to help the human inside.

    Since Christian faith is based on actual words, opensourced some two thousands years ago, with significant parts released long before that (all with strict rules against modifications though), the figurative speech about armor actually does protect the inner man, to not be subdued by evil (as in, becoming evil yourself), and to remain steadyfast in your convictions during and after a **** storm. Anyone can understand the underlaying point in passages like the following in the Bible (out of many of this kind):

    Eph_6:11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

    Eph_6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.


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