Author: smcintos

Are religious people stupid?

You may have heard the arguments, psychologists have done many studies, and they have found that atheists are more intelligent than religious people. Here is a quote from an article linked here: “the research found that atheists performed better overall than the religious participants even when demographic factors like age and education were taken into consideration. Agnostics mostly placed between atheists and believers on all tasks.” READ: Atheists are more intelligent than religious people, finds study How does that make you feel? One question is; does religion make people stupid, or do stupid people choose religion? I’m writing as a Christian; I believe in the God who made this world, and I believe that Jesus made the way for us to find God. Does that make me stupid? Recently, I explained what I believe to a young relative of mine, and his answer was something like “How can an intelligent person believe that?”  I still have a good relationship with my relative, but the experience taught me some important lessons. When believers are accused of …

2021: Do we have a future now?

A few minutes ago, I got a surprise. I went for a walk, and the winter ice is slippery, so I was doing my careful penguin slide-walk. You have to live in a place with cold winters to know what that means. A neighbour came by, walking in the same way. We said the usual “Hello, how are you?,” and he was very happy to know that I was doing well. We walked together for a while, and he told me how concerned he was about our personal freedom. You probably know someone like him, and maybe you agree with him. Conspiracy people. He told me about a place that has a curfew, where millions of people are not allowed out at night, and this is supposed to keep us safe from the COVID virus. My neighbour bought extra groceries because he isn’t vaccinated. Apparently, he has been praying for me. I did not know that he had any religious beliefs, but he is very concerned about our future. I hear words like his in …

Our History and Our Future: What scary things will happen in 2021?

Our History and Our Future: What scary things will happen in 2021? This is a history lesson. I am writing this on January 1, and everyone I know is worried about this new year 2021. What is going to happen? Should we worry? I might have an answer, and I found this answer in my closet yesterday. Our history is our future. We haven’t changed. Recently, I was reading something, and I saw two words that reminded me of something: “Nikolsk Ussurisk.” That led me to a search of my closet, and I found those words again. This is the story, from the beginning, including the parts where I guess what probably happened. I have a tiny French New Testament, published by the American Bible Society, in 1910, and probably printed in the U.S. It’s in excellent condition, and probably no one ever read it, including me. A few words are penned inside: “French” to tell English speakers that it’s a French Bible, and some faint handwriting “Franz [something] Nikolsk Ussurisk [something] 7/VII 1920. That’s …

Low Temperature Religion: Is a Muslim Christmas possible?

There are stories this Christmas of Muslims putting up Christmas trees and putting gifts under them. I have read at least two of these stories in the news. The Muslims, in the stories, are immigrants living in places where most people celebrate Christmas. This seems strange; the holiday is Christ-mass, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Until now, Muslims never celebrated Christmas; they had their own special events on the calendar. From the descriptions, it looks like some Muslims chose to celebrate a cultural Christmas, with a decorated tree and presents, and maybe some thoughts about a jolly fat man coming down the chimney. There were probably no herald angels on the tops of the trees, and probably no manger scene with a baby Jesus. They were having fun, and enjoying the season. It’s easy for me to understand, and smile, and I am sure some strict conservative Muslims do not approve. These events happened in places where Muslims were immigrants, and a minority in the population. READ: I’m Muslim and didn’t celebrate Christmas …

What is Melchizedek’s Temple Zero?

If you haven’t heard yet, you will learn soon about ‘Temple Zero’ in the city of Jerusalem. Long ago, the city of Jerusalem was named ‘Salem’ and it had a king Melchizedek. That king was a priest of the same God that the Jews and Christians worship, and we are told that Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation respected him and gave him some generous gifts. Now, some people claim that ‘Temple Zero’ has been found, in Jerusalem, and tourists can see it. READ: Temple Zero in Zion | Melchizedek’s Anointed Standing Stone in Jerusalem We can be cynical. This discovery may boost the local tourist industry, and someone will probably charge admission, if you want to see an old piece of stone. We can also know that a stone in Jerusalem probably marks a place where the God of the Bible was worshipped, and the people who worshipped there were not Jewish. The Israelite or Jewish people came much later and built a temple on a hill at Jerusalem, and rebuilt it twice. …

Radical Disruption: Your life is about to change.

How are you doing this year? Did you see all these changes coming, in 2020? I didn’t. It’s clear to all of us that things are still changing. Everyone I know does not like the restrictions with the COVID pandemic, and we wonder when things will be normal again. That will be never. Disruption to our lives, and the cost of coping with COVID restrictions is forcing businesses, employers, to close; and they might never re-open. The world has changed forever. READ: Covid-19 will permanently change the world’s economy So, what does that mean to us? What happens when my life changes, and keeps changing? What will happen to you? This is not an abstract economic theory, this is a permanent change to the way we live, and it has already happened. Soon we will see and feel the effects. I work at a job that I really enjoy, and in a few days it will all be over. I can’t tell you what it is until the work has stopped because I work under …

The Covid Crisis: Are you ready for the virtual God?

We are living in strange times, and this is a very strange year. I don’t want to criticize the authorities who must make hard choices, but some restrictions are strange. Where I live, the government and the medical authorities are being cautious with social restrictions. We are mostly warned to be careful, and given good advice. I haven’t heard about fines or arrests for breaking the rules. My work, for the government, is high-risk, and I have a generous supply of spray cleaner and hand disinfectant. I also have training on how to use the cleaners and stay safe. A neighbor goes to a church near us and they are probably still refusing to wear masks in their services. No one is talking about this in the news, my neighbor told me when I met him in the back alley. Do you believe in God? If you are a believer, what tells you to believe? What are the signals that you need? Do you attend a church or a temple, a mosque or a synagogue, …

Have you found your four-hour work week?

Last night we went out to get some chores done, and I almost had a life-changing event. Something almost happened, and if it had, I probably would not be writing this; I would be in some state of anguish. I was driving home in the dark, on a freeway. Here is some advice from me; limit conversations while you drive and watch the road ahead. That’s what saved me. I also give God credit for watching over me. In the darkness, on the freeway, I thought I saw something dark in front of me. All conversation stopped, and I saw a man walking in a traffic lane, with his back to the traffic. I guess he was trying to commit suicide, and probably under the influence of something. Somehow, I was able to slow and swerve, and I missed him. We called the police as soon as we could, but I haven’t heard if they found anyone. Imagine your vehicle badly damaged, and a dead body lying on a freeway at night. That did not …

Orthorexia Nervosa: Do you have a food religion?

Are you a Vegan, or a Keto Carnivore, or maybe a high-fat, low-carb foody? Are you into fasting, or apple cider vinegar, or PSMF (Protein-Sparing Modified Fast), or the Paleo Diet, or is your diet Perfectly Balanced? I might have missed a few options. In our COVID 19 pandemic there are new ideas. Are you getting enough vitamin D? After decades of fast food and other unhealthy eating, we have a pandemic of health problems, often called metabolic syndrome, and often leading to permanent diabetes. This is happening in the wealthiest parts of the world, where we have an abundance of food at low prices. It seems that we make bad choices, when we have the power to choose. Here is my version of the “Bratman Test,” a method to test if you have Orthorexia Nervosa, or maybe a food religion: Does your healthy diet interfere with relationships and your social life? Do you feel guilty if you eat food not approved for your diet, and do you judge others who break your rules? Does …

My Father Died: Where do I go from here?

I don’t like to write about personal things here, but this was a shock to me. I got a message from my sister that Dad was failing, in his nursing home, and we needed to say goodbye. That was Sunday, and he lasted until Monday afternoon. I am waiting for the funeral to start as I write this, If you are wondering, I’m doing well. Dad was 95 and he lived a good life. He finally died from old age, and not from any accident or illness. In this pandemic year, when everyone seems to be angry about politics, my Dad reminded me that I have a personal life. Dad gave us a stable family and a heritage to be proud of. When I was a boy, we visited the home farm and Dad pointed at a local cemetery and said” Simon Fraser is buried there.” The huge city of Vancouver is on the Fraser River, and in the suburbs is Simon Fraser University. That famous man was a neighbor near the family farm, on …

Is the U.S. election in Bible Prophecy?

The United States is completing an election, as I write this, and what an election it has been. The two sides were divided and angry from the beginning, and the results will be almost a tie. When one side is finally declared the winner, the other side will argue about dishonesty and corruption in the voting process. There will be legal challenges, probably for months, and some people will never accept the results. For the record, I am not choosing sides, and I hope everyone involved can find a good future. This election has divided the people of the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world, and the whole world will feel the fallout. There is no middle ground, or neutral position. The nation is divided. This must hurt; the Russians are laughing at the Americans about the election: READ: Russian media serve up smugness, mockery after U.S. vote This is huge. So, is such a world-changing event in Bible prophecy? The Bible says many things about the future, and it focuses on things …

Employment: Do we have a future?

“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” Do you know that old song? It sounds like a Christian gospel song, except Janis Joplin, who sang it starting in 1970, was making fun of materialistic Christians. There is some truth in every criticism, and my friends and I knew the truth, when we heard the song. The point I got from that song is that my Christian life was more than an extension of the surrounding culture; it was a whole new life. We live in a world of greedy and materialistic people, and Christians can be greedy and materialistic people who also go to church. Janis Joplin was mocking those shallow religious pretenders. The truth comes from many places. We could pray for a few things, or we could have a new life. So, what is new for us in this terrible year of 2020? We need something new. On Thursday of last week, I was told to log into an online staff meeting, for my work. I expected something boring, and it …

And you think you have problems: Other People

How big are your problems? This is the year when things really go wrong, and we all can feel the effects. The man with the most problems, that I know of, was Job. He lost everything that was important to him, including his children and his health. I remember reading his depressing story when I was young because I thought those Bible stories were good for me. It’s a depressing story about human suffering. “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3: 25 and 26) I didn’t feel pumped after reading the story, but I did learn something useful. God told Job about other parts of the world, when he complained about his suffering. “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?” (39: 1) and “Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied its ropes?” (v 5) and “Will the wild ox consent …

This year: Does anything matter?

Have you noticed that Internet sites and videos now come with advertising? And this is the year of the angry radical, shouting for something and burning things down. Everyone wants a piece of us. In the last few days, we had some early cold weather. Our rain barrel is frozen over and I can’t break the ice. I would break it because I saw a big bird, a magpie, trying to get a drink of water. The bad news for the birds might be good for us. We have experienced some petty crime in our neighborhood, and the police don’t like to get involved, if the offenders look poor. It was becoming scary, and then the cold weather came, and kept most of us in warm places. I feel safer in the cold. Also, several elections will happen in the next few weeks, and maybe people will stop bickering and shouting so much, when decisions are made. We could use some peace, in this troubled year 2020. What is important to you? If I went …

What if we pray for the wrong thing?

A man named Robert Joamie prayed and asked God for something, and he would probably tell us now that he prayed for the wrong thing. He “asked God to end his suffering, then passed out from exhaustion. When he woke up, he laughed at himself and told God he’d changed his mind” Robert is Inuit, what we used to call Eskimo, and he got lost while hunting. He survived for four days without food, although he did have one can of Pepsi and he ate some wild plants. I think he is more durable than most of us. The good news is that God didn’t answer his first prayer; he was rescued and taken to a hospital. READ: Nunavut hunter survives 4 days on the land with no food, plenty of polar bears Simple faith in God is for all of us ordinary people, whatever we do in our day. God has told us: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah …

This is the future. Are you shocked?

When I was younger, there didn’t seem to be as much news as we have today. If that sounds strange, rapid change and too much information was predicted, in the year 1970, by Alvin Toffler. His famous book is “Future Shock” and he explained how we will not be able to cope, we will be shocked, by the changes that we make, and the speed of those changes. We are now living in that future, and we should be wise about our new world. It is a dangerous place. READ: Alvin Toffler: What he got right – and wrong Here is some good news; we are not alone, and our plans are not the only way to the future. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

Aliens? Have we been visited?

If we want to understand people in our modern world, we should know there is a persistent belief in Aliens who visited the Earth. The belief is that humans now revere those ancient visitors as gods. READ: Ancient Astronauts Advocates of these ideas refer to stories in the Bible; the God of the Bible is from some other place that we call Heaven, and that makes Jesus a visitor from another world. At the root of this belief is the knowledge that we all started somewhere, and our ancestors communicated with beings from another place. We seem to all know that. The Bible record is that we moved away from the truth: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed …

Does the Devil exist, really?

Atheists don’t believe in the existence of God, and they might laugh at believers who have an ‘imaginary friend in the sky.’ If people don’t believe in God, we don’t even need to ask, they don’t believe in any other beings from the Bible. I find that most Atheist arguments are with Christians, but it is fair to say that other religions also believe in evil beings who cause destruction among us, and that includes Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others. Most religious people believe there is something bad out there, and most Atheists don’t. In 2009, a survey of people who identified as Christian, in the United States, showed they do not believe in the Devil: I remember old rock songs like “Devil you” and “Beware the devil woman” but those are just entertainment on the radio. So, does that evil person exist, and how does this question even matter today? Human beings do their own evil deeds, and we don’t need an evil ally for that. Or do we? I know I’m not a …

Protesters and Their Message: What truth?

Probably the whole world knows that a man named George Floyd died after being detained by police, on May 25, 2020. After the death of George Floyd, demonstrators went into the streets in many cities, around the world. The demonstrations grew, and persisted, and became violent. Probably the most important development was that the demonstrations became news stories, and we all started watching and reading. We were interested and we all started to form opinions. It’s important to remember that our news come from corporations, and they like making money. Even government-owned news sources like to attract audiences and sell advertising. In a strange development, George Floyd was a gold mine for media corporations. The whole world watched and read the news about his death, and the demonstrations. Like any other business, news corporations have to pay their bills too, and a world audience of billions is their gold. READ: Killing of George Floyd: Wikipedia And then other demonstrators became interested. 2020 is the year of Covid 19, and it is probably no coincidence that …

Signalling for Virtue Points: The New Religion

Do you drive an electric car, or at least a hybrid? Do you eat meat? What do you own that is ethically sourced, or organic, or renewable? What is your opinion about climate change? Would you like to demonstrate in the streets about something? Is it important for you to tell other people about these important things in your life? You might be virtue signalling. If you are angry at me for asking those questions, here is a correction; you are free to earn your living, and buy the things you like, and you can have your own convictions about social issues. If your car is a hybrid, and you can afford the payments; good. Just ask yourself one question: What is the attitude behind the action? Virtue signalling, or posing, seems to be tied to the spread of information on the Internet. People who don’t know you can believe whatever you tell them, if you project enough virtue. And I know that I am writing this for publication on the Internet, and you probably …

Christians: What happens when we quit?

Are you a believer; in anything? Have you thought about quitting? Do you know anyone who has? The pandemic with the Covid virus has closed churches where I live, and it feels like everyone is dropping out. Quitting is like a modern fad. Often, millennials do not like the things that were important to baby boomers, especially religion. There is a growing trend these days, to quit religion. I have some close relatives who have done that. If you do an Internet search with “ex” and any belief, you will find many discussion sites. There are ex-Mormons, ex-Muslims, ex-Evangelicals, and probably any other belief you can think of. Some have video testimonials. I’m a Christian, so what should I do with this information? This is important. I was raised with the idea that new converts would find their way to the truth, but now we have reverts who leave. There are several possibilities: a) They never really believed. People easily drop out of ‘Churchianity’ if they have only joined a religious tribe. Subscribing to a …

The news that’s about to happen: Who is your god, really?

There was a time when religion was important for everyone. Now, many parts of the world are secular and religion is only a personal choice. This brings problems for believers, whatever they believe in. This news video is several years old, but the problem has only grown since 2012. Note that it is from Al Jazeera, a news source owned by Muslims. They saw something happening to Christians and they were interested: I have learned, that there is always a new generation of children, and they will be adults soon. The children that we see in a playground will be voting in a few years. I remember talking to a pastor in my church, when I was a young man. I don’t remember what I was concerned about, but he told me to look at the little children in Sunday School, and know that they would be running the church in a few years. Their decisions would rule. When he told me that, my big concern got smaller, as I found a new perspective. He …

When Darwin went to church: Where is the systemic racism?

In 1859, Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of the Species.” What he did not mention was the future of the species, also known as “Social Darwinism.” We all know the general idea, Darwin tried to explain the past, or how we got here, with his theory of evolution. What Darwin did not explain was where we go from here. If we evolved to this point, it must also be true that we will continue evolving and become something else. If evolution is true, it did not stop with us. In practise, this idea of Social Darwinism is one of the most horrible ideas in human history: READ: Social Darwinism Eugenics is the name for science that aims to improve society by ridding the world of “undesirables” which is similar to a farmer breeding cattle. This includes getting rid of the unwanted cattle, and only keeping the best ones. The evolutionary science of Eugenics was founded by a cousin of Charles Darwin. Probably the most famous eugenicist, or forward looking evolutionist was Adolph …

How to be homeless: Coping without God

2020 is an interesting year, so far. I don’t think we know how much the world around us is changing, mostly because of the COVID 19 pandemic. Some changes were happening slowly, but our response to a virus is making things move faster. I met some people a few days ago, and they surprised me. I was working at a site, and I took a break for lunch. For me, that’s a fast food snack. As I walked into the food outlet, I saw some young adults standing near me, and someone said ‘We need face masks to go in there.’ They wanted food, and the rules are to wear a mask inside a business. I have a government job and my employers supply me with more PPE than I need, so I gave them face masks and showed them how to use them. We talked for a while, and I remember one man saying that he needed to get a driver’s license from the Government some day. I think the whole group agreed, and …

The Virus Wars: Are you ready?

Many people are protesting the restrictions we live under, with the COVID 19 pandemic. I work with the public, and recently a woman talked back to me and protested me. I am trained to wear a mask and use disinfectants; we have safety procedures, and I think they are good. I think we are all safer with the procedures and disinfectants, and I can still do my work. One woman protested that face masks cause distress for the client I was talking to. The woman took out her phone and found a government web site with information for people who have problems with masks. If you are wondering, I didn’t look to verify the information. The place was isolated and there were no known cases of COVID 19 for many miles. I carefully disinfected myself and made sure my mask was in position, and I finished my work, and I cleaned myself carefully after. The risk was small, and those people made their own decisions about their safety. I did not want to be a …

Faithfulness: Why is this so hard?

I have a relative who I am very fond of. When I was a boy, she was married to a good man, and we always wanted to see those two at family reunions. We liked them both so much. It was not easy for me to understand when the stories began to circulate, and even I heard, that the husband had another woman in his life; he was unfaithful. It made sense for me, that they should stay happy together. I still don’t understand why he did that to his wife. Most of the details were never told to me as a boy, but I learned that the “girlfriend” would come to the house, and when the wife answered the door, she would ask for her “boyfriend” because they were going on a date. Many years later, I met someone who had worked with the “girlfriend” and that person was shocked that the man would leave his nice wife for the other woman. Apparently, he did not get the best one. If you want to …

God in Mongolia: Things are changing

Until recently, Mongolia was controlled by Communists. The nation was a Soviet satellite, and a neighbor of Communist China. When the Soviet Union collapsed, life changed in Mongolia. One change was a rapid increase in the number of Christians. This is a new idea for most Mongols. It is easy for us to focus on ourselves and to believe that important things happen among us. The world is much bigger than us, and it is interesting to see what God is doing in some places that we might overlook. People matter in those places too. “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You.” (Psalm 22:27)

Credit: NASA Johnson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Watch our world as it changes

Social Media, including You Tube and Facebook, and many more new offerings, is a big part of life today. For most of us, it’s a huge part of life. The Internet has changed the world everywhere. I remember bulky computers on desk tops, and now we have phones in our pockets. I also remember life before the Internet, when phones had dials, and we talked on them; we only talked on them. We live in a time when old things pass away quickly, and new things emerge and dominate the world. God has promised to shake this world, and it’s easy to see how that could happen. We can’t keep what we have. “Now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken; that is, created things.” (Hebrews 12: 26 and 27)

The nerd rapture: Are we in a religious revolution?

One rule about religion is that things change when communication changes. The first Christians spoke and wrote on scrolls. Things changed with bound books, and then printing presses, which produced the Protestant Reformation. Radio, and television, and now the Internet have radically changed human communication, and we can expect big changes in the way people find God. Some people call this the nerd rapture. We are connected by the Web, and this year we are isolated by a virus pandemic. Expect changes. In the time of scrolls and preachers, Jesus told His followers to communicate: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16: 15 and 16) That is easier to do that now, than any time in history. The speaker on the TEDx video predicts a religious revolution based on communication. He mixes in his own advice, but he is correct with his basic prediction.

Beirut: What is God doing?

Right now, we are in this year 2020, and this is the year when the world changes. We all know about a virus from China, and violent demonstrations in the streets. Life has changed in a big way. And then we had an explosion in Beirut Lebanon. At this time, more than a hundred are confirmed dead, and searchers are still looking for bodies. Apparently, a ship filled with Ammonium Nitrate was abandoned in Beirut harbor a few years ago. High nitrogen fertilizer, if that was the product, is very dangerous. I have worked in transportation safety, and that fertilizer mixed with petroleum, is as explosive as dynamite. It was used by terrorists to blow up a government building in Oklahoma City, and do you know the meaning of TNT? That powerful explosive is Tri-Nitro Toluene. Toluene is petroleum, and nitrogen is in products like fertilizer. Beirut was just waiting for the explosion, and it was like an atomic bomb without the radiation. READ: Beirut explosion: Angry protesters storm government ministries Lebanon is in the …

Does religion put us at risk?

Jesus spoke to a conservative religious woman, a Samaritan, and told her “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4: 23). He warned that change was coming on them. As the world struggles with the COVID pandemic, many religious groups resist health restrictions and regulations. Conservative groups that live with rituals and traditions find it hard to adapt; people who have lived their own way for centuries are not interested in changing now. This is not only true for Christian groups, the major center of infections in Israel is one Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. READ: Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities ‘ignoring’ COVID-19 rules In Canada, Hutterite colonies have high rates of infection. These people practice their conservative religion in communes, and they love their lifestyle. I often meet Hutterites, Russian Old Believers, and Mennonites through my work, and I find them friendly and likeable, but they don’t like to change their ways. READ: Canadian Hutterite colonies struggle with coronavirus outbreaks

Orthodox Rituals in a Changing World: How do believers cope?

What we do might have to change, for health reasons. Belief is important to any Christian, but many struggle to adapt their practices. Eastern Orthodox Christians have many rituals, practices that are sacred to them, but they also have a health emergency. This new world can bring us all back to the starting place; “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) We might laugh as the priest in a country area, but he is trying to keep his faith in challenging times. On a larger scale, many churches are struggling to adapt to a world-changing crisis.

Baptismal service in Iran Photo: Elam Ministries elam.com

Something Good From a Pandemic

We might have missed the news, but the COVID pandemic has produced a strange effect in Iran. The nation is an Islamic Republic governed by conservative Shiite Muslims, but millions of people are moving to Christianity. This is a scenario that generates religious persecution; the government is strict and it does not like this change. Iran has also suffered from the pandemic after receiving the virus early from China. To protect people from the virus, many prisoners have been released, including many persecuted Christians. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8: 35) READ: Iran Releases a Third of Christian Prisoners Due to Coronavirus Concerns