Rain Magic

Every so often, sophisticated theists will say that Dawkins, Hitchens, etc. misrepresent religion, that God is not an invisible sky-daddy who grants wishes, but some ineffable essence working within the laws of nature, or some such (see here, here, here).

And then something like this comes along:

That would be Gov. Sonny Perdue, who has asked Georgians to pray for rain today, and at lunchtime will convene with various religious and political leaders on the steps of the state Capitol to seek divine intervention in the state’s months-long drought.

There’s probably a polite way to say this, but I won’t (maybe I’m just cranky because it’s raining in Maryland, rather than in Georgia where they could use it): these people believe in magic. Primitive, superstitious magic, where if you say the right words and make the right gestures, the great sky spirit will grant you your wish.

Right here, in the United States, at the dawn of the 21st century. In the sixties, people thought we’d have flying cars. Instead, we have rain dances.

And this isn’t some fringe group. Not only does Governor Perdue believe that rain dances work, enough of his constituents do that he hasn’t been laughed out of office.

So, all you sensible theists out there, why aren’t you policing your own? Why aren’t you pointing out to these superstitious fools that what they’re doing is no different from spreading mistletoe on the ground and chanting? Pastors, why aren’t you educating your congregations and telling them that no, God doesn’t work that way?

In a recent speech, Daniel Dennett suggested referring to non-brights as “supers”, because they believe in the supernatural. But perhaps “super” is short for “superstitious” as well.