Two stories. First up, from our brothers and sisters to the East, comes a baptismal incentivized baby boom:
Two years after having one of the lowest birth rates in the world, Georgia is enjoying something of a baby boom, following an intervention from the country’s most senior cleric.
At the end of 2007, in a move to reverse the Caucasian country’s dwindling birth figures, the head of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II, came up with an incentive. He promised to personally baptise any baby born to parents of more than two children.
There was only one catch: the baby had to be born after the initiative was launched.
The results are, in the words of the Georgian Orthodox Church, “a miracle”.
The country’s birth rate increased by nearly 20% during 2008 – a rate four times faster than the previous year.
Many parents say they took the decision to have another child on the basis of the Patriarch’s incentive.
On Jan. 6 some 800 British red “bendy” buses carried the sign: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”
The Atheist Bus Campaign organizer, a young comedienne named Ariane Sherine, took exception last June to several London buses swathed with biblical quotes, placed by Christian fundamentalists.
Her idea to fund a few challenge ads took off; donors sent in $200,000 in two days. Ms. Sherine was joined by Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins, a leading British atheist and author of “The God Delusion.”
He predicted anger from believers. “They have to take offense, it is the only weapons they’ve got,” Mr. Dawkins said as the first bus rolled through the streets of London. “They’ve got no arguments.”
But the response by most faith leaders isn’t quite what was expected.
Since opening its book just two months ago, punters hoping to have their faith rewarded have placed £5,000 with Paddy Power.
It began taking bets on the question that has plagued thinkers for centuries in September, to coincide with the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider that physicists hope may lead to the discovery of an elusive sub-atomic object called the “God particle”.
Initially the odds that proof would be found of God’s existence were 20-1, and they lengthened to 33-1 when the multi-billion pound atom smasher was shut down temporarily because of a magnetic failure.
But interest in the wager has increased greatly following the recent launch of a campaign to have atheist adverts placed on London buses declaring that “there’s probably no God”.
As a result of a flurry of small bets Paddy Power, which also runs books on who will be the next Pope and the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has cut the odds on proof being found of God’s existence to just 4-1.
Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? The answer to the question is controversial. Most Muslims answer yes, following a passage in the Koran that appears to say that both groups do worship the same God. Many Christians, on the other hand, vigorously dispute this claim. Yet it is not clear what exactly this denial is based on. After all, Christians do not dispute that Muslims worship God, after all, and since there is, in fact, only one God, it would seem to follow that Christians (who worship God) and Muslims (who worship God) must be worshiping the same entity, no matter how different their conceptions of Him may be.
I used to think that the above argument was sufficient to show that Muslims and Christians did worship the same God. Since then, however, I have come to think the matter a bit more complicated. As I now see it, whether the claim “Muslims and Christians worship the same God” is true will depend on two things: 1) whether the statement is being made de dicto or de re, and 2) whether the word “God” is taken to be a name or a description. Continue reading
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