Sunday, January 29, 2006

Don't look now--Jesus has some money for you

Not feeling well? Got the blues? Need a new car, a house, or cash? Don't waste your time just wishing you were better off, or buying lottery tickets! You can get results within days, thanks to the Rev. James Eugene Ewing and the
miracle of direct-mail godly promotions. These blessings are brought to you by Ewing's "St. Matthew's Churches"--of which the main cathedral is a post office box in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

There have been lots of televangelists offering hope and healing (for a donation) over the years, but I haven't seen such an appeal to ignorance and avarice since watching Reverend Ike on television. At least Rev. Ike conducted "services" (pep rallies for people who wanted to become rich) in a real building.

Like so many chain letters, the recipient of an epistle from these blessed anonymous folks (the letter is "signed", in script, by "Saint Matthew's") is given detailed instructions and advised to fill out and mail a form (along with the included magical prayer rug), together with a "seed gift" and warned not to "break this flow of power between us." The implication is that if your wishes are not granted within a few days, you must not have followed the instructions carefully. The instructions also say that Jesus is watching you and waiting, so be sure to "Give God your best seed" (i.e., a nice big check or money order).

Ewing's St. Matthew's Churches mail scam has been discussed in detail at this
, cited above, and his organization has been tracked for years by the Trinity Foundation, as described in the previous link. It is unfortunate that there are, even in this modern age, predators that seek out those who are poor, uneducated, or with little hope and rob them of what little they have.

It's not only the televangelists and mail-order prayer scams, but alleged psychics, alternative healers, inventors of free-energy machines other flim-flam artists. Not a few politicians travel in the same herds.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Not everyone buys into evolution

There are significant numbers of people who do not think that the theory of evolution accurately accounts for the biodiversity we see today. This should come as no surprise--there are also significant numbers of people who do not think the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, or that vaccines can be efficacious, or that Northerners ever owned slaves.

The simple fact is, significant numbers of people do not have the specialized education and knowledge to properly judge whether or not evolutionary theory is well supported. And yet hordes of creative writers, political scientists, journalists and others with little or no training in science (much less in evolutionary biology, geology, and related fields) avidly pontificate about how evolution researchers have got it all wrong. They were awfully quick to dismiss Federal Judge John Jones's decision in Kitzmiller &al. v. Dover &al., which held that teaching Intelligent Design was an infringement of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution (and was in violation of the State of Pennsylvania's constitution as well). It appeared that many critics who called Judge Jones an activist judge did not read the decision, even though it is readily available.

But I guess that's typical of life in the United States: why listen to a doctor if you can hear medical advice from an actor? Why ask a climatologist for information about global warming, when you can read a novel? Why believe peer-reviewed research published in reputable scientific journals, when you can listen to a televangelist?