Monday, November 10, 2008

Tract Links Hurricanes to God's Wrath

Chick Publications has released a new tract called Somebody Angry? As is usually the case, the tract is chock-full of errors, fallacies, and unproved assertions.

Panel One: A meteorologist that a hurricane's winds are 170mph and increasing . . . "This could become a category five."
Error: According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, a Category 5 hurricane is any storm with winds over 156 miles per hour.

Panel Three: A sidebar lists the time at 10:40 am, and someone remarks, "We anticipate landfall in 6 hours.
Error: Hurricane Rita made landfall at 02:38 CDT, sixteen hours later than this character estimated.

Panel Four: A stranded motorist fleeing the Gulf Coast cries, "I'm afraid! Why is God doing this to us?"
Assertion: While being stranded in a deadly situation is nothing to joke about, the line is intended to set up the premise for the tract--namely, that God sends hurricanes to punish people for their sins. As the tract later explains, if anything negative occurs to a country, it's because God is punishing those people--particularly for their treatment of Jews.

Panel Five: A television meteorologist reports that strings of tornados are forming across Arkansas: "Now we have two disasters hitting us at once!"
Error: The meteorologist implies that the tornados occurring at the same time that Rita hit was a coincidence. In reality, the tornados were caused by Rita's high winds. Rita's tornados were unusual in that they moved in a northwest direction but most tornados move northeast. Incidentally, no deaths were reported in Arkansas due to Rita or the tornados.

Panel Nine: "Grandpa" (not named) says the disaster was because of what "we" did to Israel today.

Panel Eleven: After the storm passes, a boy declares, "It skipped us, Grandpa. Nothing was touched!" Grandpa thanks God for saving their farm again.
Assertion: Asking God for protection will spare you from destruction. This is proven false by every Christian who has befallen a natural disaster. Simply put, some Christians prayed for protection from Hurricane Rita and they lost their home and in some cases, their lives. It seems arbitrary that God spares some and ruins other, all who pray the same prayers. In the next panel, a neighbor, "Charlie," suggests they may have just been lucky, but Grandpa knows better.

Panel Thirteen: Grandpa reads Zechariah 12:9: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." Charlie says that sounds scary, and Grandpa says that God is scary to his enemies.
Error and Assertion: Zechariah's prophecy was meant as a warning to the enemies of Israel of his time--it was not intended to be a promise that twenty-five hundred years later a hurricane will hit another continent around the world. As a prophecy, it is so open-ended that it's vulnerable to misinterpretation. Other prophecies issued by Zecharia never came true, such as the river Nile drying up, and Israel will never be oppressed after being freed from capitivity. Moreover, so little is known about Zechariah that it's not clear why his warnings should be heeded at all. Why would Charlie be more scared of this passage than, say, a similar threat uttered by Sauron from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

Panel Fifteen through Twenty-One: A brief retelling of Israel's early history, from God selecting Abram to live in Palestine, Hebrews suffering as slaves in Egypt, the Ten Plagues, the Exodus to the Promised Land, and the defeat of the Canaanite residents.
Assertion: This story is not supported by any archaeological evidence. There is no Egyptian record of the reported two millon Hebrews fleeing Egyptian slavery nor of any plagues decimating Egypt. There is no evidence of a large mass of people spending forty years in the wilderness between Egypt and Palestine. There is no evidence of entrenched city-states being destroyed by an invading army of Hebrews. The archaeological evidence suggests the Israelites grew out of Canaan as one of many competing subgroups that eventually dominated and unified the people.

Panel Twenty-Three: Grandpa says that the Jews rebelled against God and were forced to scatter across the world, becoming known as the Wandering Jew.
Error: The Wandering Jew is a thirteenth-century Christian folklore about a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to Crucifixion and was cursed to live and wander until the Second Coming. It was also a convenient explanation to the apparent failed prophecy of Jesus who uttered, "There are some standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." When generations went by and Jesus never returned, the Wandering Jew was invented to safeguard the prophecy. The Wandering Jew has nothing to do with Jews living in many parts of the world. People-groups have spread all across the globe for a variety of reasons and eventually influenced and were assimilated by the people they intermingled with. Jews have been able to maintain their Jewish identity only by strict adherence to Jewish law and culture and adopting a separatist mindset.

Panel Twenty-Four: Grandpa states that During World War II, Hitler killed 6 million Jews. The whole world hated them--especially the Muslims, the Vatican, and England.
Error: The Jewish Holocaust was a tragedy of epic proportions, but I'm not sure why England is singled out. Many countries were either neutral or hostile toward Jewish refugees--England being no exception. But England did fight the European takeover of the German Nazis, indirectly fighting on the Jew's behalf. While there was anti-semitism in England, there were also supporters of British Jews, who never had to endure the persecution of their European kin. Nearly 100,000 European Jews were allowed to migrate to Britain before the war, and 10,000 Jewish children were saved by the Kindersport, although their parents were not given visas. Again, why Chick Publications singles England out is unclear.

Panel Twenty-Five: Grandpa asserts that "England has paid the price for double-crossing Israel. She lost her Empire."
Assertion: It's not clear how England "double-crossed" Israel. England's empire has been in decline for most of the twentieth-century, no doubt in part to the heavy losses she took fighting an expansionist Germany in two wars--partly on behalf of the Jews.

Panel Twenty-Seven: Grandpa states that in 1991, George H. W. Bush "launched his land-for-peace plan by giving away Israeli land. That day, God sent the Perfect Storm with 100 foot waves into New England, damaging even President Bush's home."
Error: The Land-for-peace formula first appeared in the UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967, not 1991. The 1991 Halloween Nor'Easter exhibited 30 to 50 foot waves.

Panel Twenty-Eight through Twenty-Nine: Grandpa states that in August 2005, the U.S. pressured Israel into evacuating Gaza. The very next day, 8/29/05, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.
Error: Israel's Unilateral Disengagement Plan was proposed the Israeli Prime Minister Sharon in June 2004. The evacuation began August 15, 2005 and lasted until September 12, 2005.

Panel Thirty-One: A long list of dates detailing US involvement in Israeli-Arab negotiations to broker peace, followed by natural and man-made disasters that occurred around the same time.
Assertion: More Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc assertions. The US gets involved with the Israeli peace process, and somewhere else in a country three-thousand-miles across, a natural disaster occurs, such as tornados or flooding. Grandpa asks, "Does anybody notice a pattern?" Of course, natural disasters occur in the US every year--including years in which the US does not make a major shift in foreign policy with regard to Israel, but those years aren't listed. This is counting the hits and ignoring the misses.

What's more, Grandpa states that in August 2001, the US, Arabia, and Israel prepare a comprehensive peace plan, and while negotiations were going still going on, "God lifted His hand of protection," resulting in the 9/11 attacks. The problem with this is that Khalid Sheik Mohammed proposed the attacks to Osama Bin Laden in 1996, and the hijackers arrived in the United States to begin their flight training in 2000. I don't know what the comprehensive peace plan of 2001 mentioned in the tract refers to: The Camp David summit took place in 2000, and the Beirut summit took place in March 2002. The assertion that God allowed the 9/11 attack to take place because of this unknown 2001 peace plan that were still being finalized is disturbing. Suppose the plans fell through at the last minute? Also, God's Hand of Protection implies that people try to fly planes into American buildings all the time but are magically repulsed by an invisible force-field that God raises and lowers at will. This is a deeply disturbing notion.

Panel Thirty-Three: Another Zechariah verse spelling doom for Israel's enemies. According to Grandpa, this prophecy hasn't come true--yet--but when it does, billions will die.
Assertion: We've already seen that Zechariah's prophecy was intended for Zechariah's audience, and that open-ended prophecies that might come true someday are meaningless. Plus, the intention is clear: Zecharia said that all the people of the earth will fight Israel, there are over six billion people on earth, therefore billions of people will die. That doesn't bother Grandpa because hey, if it's in the Bible it must be true.

The rest of the tract is the standard witnessing fare from Chick Publications: Despite the fact that God wants to destroy the United States for trying to keep Israelis and Arabs from killing each other over the same few square miles of land, He loves you and wants you to live forever, or else you can go to Hell.

1 comment:

Email said...

Summer Glau

P.S. I can kill you with my brain.