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Two worldviews

I’m not going to say a word about this video: it’s theologian Paul Begley reading from the book of Revelation.

What I think of Paul Begley and his explanation cannot be adequately expressed in words so I’m not even going to try to write them. Use your imagination.

Here’s the scientific explanation. Contrast the two.

A drought has left the OC Fisher Reservoir in San Angelo State Park in West Texas almost entirely dry. The water that is left is stagnant, full of dead fish — and a deep, opaque red.

The color has some apocalypse believers suggesting that OC Fisher is an early sign of the end of the world, but Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries officials say the bloody look is the result of Chromatiaceae bacteria, which thrive in oxygen-deprived water.

Which one makes more sense to you, and actually tells you something useful about the world?

Comments

  1. says

    Hmm, well let’s see… a scientifically plausible explanation that holds true and has prior knowledge oooorrr a superstitious explanation that requires one to abandon skepticism and accept the words in a 2000 year-old book which may or may not have been related to an historic event which has been repeatedly misinterpreted, mistranslated, and misattributed…

    Decisions, decisions…

  2. rob says

    OMG! you where else i see signs? at many intersections there are octagonal signs. you know what color they are? RED!!1!!!!11 RED SIGNS!11!1!!! and they tell you to stop, cuz, you know the end of the world is here.

  3. Tualha says

    What an asshole. His style reminds me of Glenn Beck. I wonder how many of the idiots who believe this stuff will kill their children to spare them the tribulation?

    I am so, so sick of this shit. I want to live in a sane county.

  4. Brian says

    And the third angel opened its vial and poured its contents on the cities of the earth. And the intersections of the world turned red, and naught could proceed through the streets of the city, naught save the jaywalkers and the scofflaw motorists. And the third angel said unto the LORD, “Yo, my vial’s lame.”

  5. says

    @Brian:

    And the fourth angel opened its vial and poured its contents on the Internets. And the network connections did slow, and naught could connect and download their pornographic videos, to much lamenting and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  6. Cameron Reid says

    Sheesh, I wish that guy would stop yelling at me. Inside voice, please.

    I hate the “TEH MARK IS MIKE ROWE CHIPS!!” meme. I also hate the habit that crazy people have of saying “I’m not saying [something crazy]… I’m just saying [crazy thing he just said he's not saying]!”

    I’m not saying Ken Ham rapes piglets… I’m just saying, he’s been known to force himself into young swine.

  7. says

    Why is this idiot reading such bad faery tales and thinking they have any bearing on reality?

    I mean, the book he’s reading from opens with a story about talking animals and an angry giant in an enchanted garden. It features a talking plant that gives magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero. Shortly before the bit about faeries and dragons he’s quoting, there’s a bunch of zombie snuff porn, including the “hero” demanding intestinal squickage from his thralls.

    You’d have to be having carnal relations with Mickey’s dog in order to take this stuff seriously.

    Cheers,

    b&

  8. Aquaria says

    What I think of Paul Begley and his explanation cannot be adequately expressed in words so I’m not even going to try to write them. Use your imagination.

    I’m guessing that “moronic”, “fucking” and “douchebag” are definitely in there.

  9. says

    Well he’s convinced me. The incoherent ramblings of a bronze-age lunatic are far more in-line with reality than science.

    What a waste of oxygen this chap is.

  10. rad_pumpkin says

    Ok…mark of the beast=microchip, and a bunch of people will worship it? Huh, I always suspected Steve Jobs was up to no good…

    So yeah, us denizens of the glorious state of Texas (with its totally not batshit insane governor) are quite rational when it comes to droughts: first, we hold a prayer rally that does nothing. Second, we interpret it as a sign of a vengeful god of some primitive middle eastern tribe from the bronze age that somehow found its way across the Atlantic. Third, we freak out, and prepare for the end of the world. Like I said, we’re completely rational, and at least some of us have family trees that do not resemble telephone poles.

    I might actually check this lake out. Looks like a neat destination for a little trip.

  11. CJO says

    Testing in the new digs. (and on the iPad too) Can you hear me Major Tom?

    Anyway, not “a bronze-age lunatic” but a Roman-era (off by about a millennium, but who’s keeping score when there’s a cheap shot to be made, right?) astral prophet employing the highly abstruse technical terminology of that discipline. A “discipline” that needs those scare quotes when compared to the scientific worldview, no doubt; but that view was simply unavailable to the author. Our latter-day prophet has no such excuse, of course, and for that reason more closely resembles a lunatic than the author of Revelation.

  12. says

    I wonder how many of the idiots who believe this stuff will kill their children to spare them the tribulation?

    what I’d like to know is, why do these people, who are so completely convinced the End of the World with all it’s horror, tribulations, plagues etc. blahblah is almost here, still even have children, and often more than the average American?

    I know a lot of people who look at the world, think it’s going to hell in a handbasket, and decide that this isn’t a world to bring a child into. But the Christoids seem to do the exact opposite: “the world is ending! quick!!! let’s make a bunch of kids, so that we don’t have to suffer alone!!!”

    Even the !st generation Christians, who were an apocalyptic cult, as well, knew better than to spawn. IIRC, they were all advised to abstain, since the world is ending soon.

  13. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    He says “Texas” like it’s GOD’s special place. There’s a whole planet, just in our solar system that’s kinda red. But then a super omnipotent, transcendent being wouldn’t see wavelengths of light as colours anyway, would xe he?

    (p.s. first comment on the new site, so this is also a test.)

  14. Ragutis says

    Lemme see if I got this straight:

    “I’m not saying the world’s about to end, but all the signs of the end of the world are happening.”

    Isn’t that a bit like “I’m not saying the traffic light is red, but it was yellow a second ago.”

    At least he’s learned the #1 rule of prophesying, always leave some wiggle room.

  15. NJ Osprey says

    Wow! Sounds like Texas is toast. I don’t think Rick Perry’s little “praying where all can see ya,” PR stunt ain’t gonna help.

    Texas…where the Apocalypse happened first.

  16. DButton says

    “I’m not tryin’ to put it all… I’m just SAYING!…”

    Oh, well, if your JUST “saying” I guess you don’t really mean it, and we can excuse your stupidity. NOT.

  17. Carolw says

    Hell’s bells, I’ve got to apologize for Texas again? First our nuttier-than-granola governor tries to pray the drought away, now our lakes are trying to start the Apocalypse. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

    Why so shouty, Paul Begley? Going for the “volume = right” style of discourse? How tiresome.

    He’s not from Texas, is he? Tell me no, please.

  18. Sastra says

    … it’s theologian Paul Begley reading from the book of Revelation.

    Ok, my guess is that people who have studied theology and call themselves “theologians” would gnash their teeth and rend their garments at the idea of calling this guy a “theologian.” From what I can tell he’s a radio preacher and probably got most of his larnin’ in Sunday School and from readin’ the Good Book– which just interprets itself if’n you got the Holy Spirit in you. An actual degree in theology probably requires some actual scholarship and breadth of study.

    That said, I agree that this guy has as much right, technically, to call himself or be called a theologian anyway. The “study of God” doesn’t have any objective, verifiable subject to study. Unless theology is just the study of other theologians and what they’ve said about God, then there’s no way to arbitrate disputes. Begley’s therefore got as much right to say he knows and understands God as does a professor of theology at Harvard.

    And neither one of them beats a scientist when explaining why the water in the Texas reservoir has turned red. No, not the “how” — the “why.” There is no psychological or social reason why it turned red other than the scientific one. Goofballs all.

  19. says

    What Sastra said. I don’t see anything on Begley’s web site to indicate that he calls himself a theologian, or that anyone else does.

    And besides, he has a clear point to make, and he manages to make it in just a few minutes without putting his audience to sleep. From what I’ve seen, that disqualifies him from being a Serious Theologian™.

  20. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    A theologian is someone who studies other peoples’ opinions about a fictitious character or characters.

  21. says

    @’Tis Himself:
    Oh, like someone who participates in Internet Star Trek discussions, you mean? The people who can explain exactly why trichnetium kills Bajorans in one episode, but is a tasty delicacy in another, and how that’s not really a contradiction?

    I didn’t know you could get paid to do that.

  22. Joel says

    There is another good reason for the stagnant water in San Angelo to appear red:

    The dirt in San Angelo is red. It’s not too far off the reddish tint you see in pictures of the Grand Canyon and the like.

    THEN AGAIN: Mr. Jeffs (the LDS fundamentalist who is being tried for raping teen and pre-teen girls) has threatened that God will avenge his faithful if that travesty of a trial is not halted immediately.

    And where is that trial being held? San Angelo, TX.

    So our competing hypothesis boil down to:

    – The water in San Angelo is red because the dirt and bacteria in the water are red, or

    – The water in San Angelo is red because God is having a mad over Warren Jeffs not being allowed to rape young girls.

  23. plum grenville says

    “The rivers and the waters in fountains of waters and they became blood.”

    “There followed hail and fire mingled with blood and there were cast upon the earth and a third part of the trees were burned up and all the green grass was burned up.

    This lake in Texas and the drought there can’t possibly have anything to do with these prophecies. The lake is filled with red water, not blood. And there haven’t been any wildfires in Texas, just drought and a heat wave.

    What? Oh, you mean “became blood” and “fire” and “burned up” are metaphors? But I thought fundamentalists took the Bible literally. Now I’m confused.

  24. Phalacrocorax, not a particularly smart avian says

    plum grenville says:

    What? Oh, you mean “became blood” and “fire” and “burned up” are metaphors? But I thought fundamentalists took the Bible literally. Now I’m confused.

    Good point. But the truth is that nobody can read the whole Bible literally. There’s no way of doing that with an ambiguous and self-contradictory text. The problems start with Gen 1:2.

  25. raven says

    Around here, some of the rivers and lakes are turning green. From blue green algae blooms.

    It’s recommended that you be careful around them. Several dogs who drank the water died of a toxin produced by the algae.

    I don’t recall the magic book of all wisdom saying anything about bodies of water turning green. Or keeping your dog away from it.

  26. Michael says

    The preacher doesn’t believe it’s a prediction coming true and the mugs in the pews don’t believe it either – they’re just in love with the idea of talking about religion.

    Later, when the water turns blue-green, they won’t even remember this sermon – they’ll be talking about something else.

  27. says

    HE’S NOT SAYING
    But yet he’s saying.
    Oh gawd Jeebus
    I wanna be saved I wanna be saved I wanna be saved I wanna be saved I wanna be saved
    Bed time for me!
    THX!

  28. ekwhite says

    Dr. Bunsen, le Savant Fou said:

    “We’re TALKin bout TEXAS.

    Begging for an AutoTune remix, this one.”

    Texas – the State of Ignorance

    An AutoTune Remix of Paul Begley yelling would be frightening. Worse than listening to Lady Gaga while on acid.

  29. says

    14 seconds. That’s how long I lasted with this asshole’s rant.

    What a tool.

    This is a test of the Kamakanui commenting network.

  30. says

    This is a test of the Kamakanui commenting network.

    Oh, you all can tell the avatar is a carabao (water buffalo), right? RIGHT?

  31. says

    Oh, the bad carabao avatar disappeared! The rice terraces are better…at least it looks like a mountain.

    The carabao looked like, umm, well, not like a water buffalo.

  32. says

    “I’m not saying…”

    No, but you are doing an awful lot of shouting. Replacing reason with volume does seem to be a common theme with the deluded.

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t make it to the end. I generally like to watch the whole of these things before passing comment, but enduring the final minute was making my waters turn red, particularly the ones in my eyes*.

    *Yes, yes. I know it’s not water. I was being arch.

  33. says

    Living in Texas, I’ve seen firsthand a lot of what this guy’s talking about. And sure, it’s hot and some of the plants are dying, but I always thought the coming apocalypse would be a little more, I don’t know, apocalyptic.

  34. says

    And there haven’t been any wildfires in Texas, just drought and a heat wave.

    Actually, we have had fires. Back on a particularly windy day in April, there were a bunch grass fires around the area. Here in Wichita Falls, the fires destroyed at least 3 houses (some friends of ours spent the night with us since they were evacuated from their house – it wasn’t damaged, though). Down at Possum Kingdom Lake, the fires were worse. I couldn’t find an article that listed how many homes were destroyed, but the fires were so bad that they took days to be put out, and ended up burning over 100,000 acres (130-150k, depending on the source). You could still smell the smoke when we went there on the 4th of July.

    The Texas Forest Service has a page where they keep track of the wildfires. There are several burning right now.

  35. says

    This comment didn’t appear the first time I tried to post it. I’m assuming it was tagged as spam because of the number of links. So, I’m repeating it with all but one of the links removed. I apologize if it was just held in moderation and this ends up being a repeat.

    plum grenville wrote:

    And there haven’t been any wildfires in Texas, just drought and a heat wave.

    Actually, we have had fires. Back on a particularly windy day in April, there were a bunch grass fires around the area. Here inWichita Falls, the fires destroyed at least 3 houses (some friends of ours spent the night with us since they were evacuated from their house – it wasn’t damaged, though). Down at Possum Kingdom Lake, the fires were worse. I couldn’t find an article that listed how many homes were destroyed, but the fires were so bad that they took days to be put out, and ended up burning over 100,000 acres (130-150k, depending on the source). You could still smell the smoke when we went there on the 4th of July.

    The Texas Forest Service has a page where they keep track of the wildfires. There are several burning right now.

  36. Die Anyway says

    >And where is that trial being held? San Angelo, TX.

    Oof! Goat roper capital of America. Literally. There was a sign that said so*. Worst 3 months of my life… at Goodfellow (Good Buddy) AFB, barely beating out the 3 months at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TEXAS. And for short term Hell, there was 2 weeks at Webb AFB in Big Spring, TEXAS. And there was that 3 day drive across TEXAS when I moved from California to Florida. If I never see Texas again, it will still be too soon.

    *snipped from the intertubes:
    “The annual pre-convention Goat Roper’s Golf Tournament and a reception at Roeder’s Log Cabin will be held Thursday.

    Established in 1915, the San Angelo-based Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers’ Association is the nation’s oldest and largest sheep and goat producer organization.”

  37. drbunsen le savant fou says

    [nitpick]
    Strictly speaking, an event can have a rational causative explanation and be prophecied. If you accept the premise that prophecy is possible.
    [/nitpick]