Defending the Almighty

"God is not a bad God, Joe. You cannot prove God doesn't have reasons for human suffering."

If you guessed this little segment is an excerpt from another tireless attempt on the part of a Christian to try and explain to me the evils of my atheistic ways, you guessed right. There is nothing unusual about this, of course, but it always brings to mind how believers can be so anxious to defend the will and honor of the creator of the universe.

The God of the Bible was never created, nor can he be destroyed, we are told. He exists, defining all concepts that govern existence, as the first and only cause of the universe. He sits, enthroned in glories unspeakable, with complete control over his creation. Nothing happens without his knowledge or consent of it. He has the power to hold the Pleiades Cluster in his right hand, along with the seven seas. He can be at one end of the universe, inside a quasar at any one moment in time, and right smack dab in Peoria, Illinois at the very same time. He can create or destroy in a mere thought. He is the traditional god idea of the Christians and of the world's great religions, yet he needs to be defended by lowly creatures, flesh bags like you and I: small, weak, slow-moving, lacking in intellect, short-lived, and often contemptibly unwise. Man is confined to one small planet on the outer fringes of the Milky Way. He is woefully ignorant of the mechanics of how the universe works. On top of all that, man is easily manipulated and led astray, prone to delusions and insanity, irrationality and self-destructive behavior, and yet man is the being who is called upon to defend this deity's existence! Since when should pauper peasants be responsible for representing the honor of the King? The absurdity compels me to scream!

So you have meatbags, trying to convince other meatbags that an invisible man exists, and that this invisible man is the better one than any of the other invisible men of other religions and cultures. A Muslim, using reason, could come along and convince a newly converted believe in the Christian God that the Muslim God was the real one, and this would mean that the belief in the Christian God was never a sure thing to begin with. Conversions are made every which way into every faith and denomination, but none of them have certainty, just plenty of zeal and self-deceit that they each are right and the others wrong.

Meanwhile, the Creator of the universe is sitting up on high, watching as floods and mudslides destroy homes and take lives. Strands of the flu virus mutate and spread, becoming more dangerous than before. Terrorists plant bombs on school buses full of children. Bodies are mangled into lifeless heaps of pummeled protoplasm in auto accidents, and for what? The theists will tell us why - because God has decided that we need work to do, cleaning up all the mess He made or allowed to happen. He could, quicker than a nanosecond, bring an end to evil everywhere and vanquish every doubt as to his existence. He is, after all, omnipotent. It would cost him nothing to rectify the world's wrongs, but like a lazy son who makes his crippled father do his work for him, the God of the Bible throws this responsibility in our laps, knowing that among the children of men that he created, there are those wayfaring souls who will boldly and eloquently defend him and make him look as good and as noble as a President or King.

(JH)

20 comments:

Sandalstraps said...

I'm not a big fan of theodicies, but you hardly do them justice. Of course, neither does your opponent, who made a particularly odious one.

Those who believe in God, and who wish that God would just wipe all of the evil away, would do well to remember that as that evil swirls down the metaphorical/metaphysical drain, they go down the drain with it.

Theist, atheist, or agnostic, we all must heed this reminder from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as he sat in a Nazi prison:

There is nothing we despise in another which is entirely absent from ourselves.

If God is the causal agent of the universe, then God bears chief responsibility for the presense of evil. But, if we are honest with ourselves, whether there is a God or no, we also bear a great deal of responsibility.

Bruce said...

But, if we are honest with ourselves, whether there is a God or no, we also bear a great deal of responsibility.

Occam's Razor: one should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything

So if we can pin the responsibility on ourselves, why do we need God in the first place?

JustinOther said...

He could, quicker than a nanosecond, bring an end to evil everywhere and vanquish every doubt as to his existence

Ever drive by a car accident? Feel the undeniable urge to look, although it may be gruesome? Gotta wonder if this god is sitting up there looking down at this mess he created and going "ewww, yuck" and then drives on by, late for work.

Ninja_the_Man said...

I get the feeling that this post is just one mega MOCK. On the Ninja scale of MOCK, I say this gets a definite 10/10.

Jer said...

And to this I say, "Casket Theory!"

It all stops when we die. Maybe. Depending on who is right and who is wrong, and where each of us end up. Yeah it would be great if no evil existed, if no one had to suffer and all that, but... I can't change it. You can't change it. I wouldn't even worry about it really.

Sandalstraps said...

For one thing, we can't pin all the responsibility on ourselves, even if we have a very high opinion of ourselves indeed. I can see no way in which I am casually responsilbe for what the Scholastics called natural evil, such as hurricanes, tornados, etc.

Of course, as such things are, in the framework of the problem of evil/pain/suffering used as arguments against God, it would be disingenuous for me to use them while arguing for God. But before you break out good old Occam on me you might want to see the point which I am actually making, which is again not an attempt to build an argument for God.

My comment was designed to focus on what all people here have in common, which is an aspect of our nature which could be called "evil." We all from time to time do things which could be considered wrong, and we all have a moral responsibility to work on that.

Or must everything you say be some sort of attack on my religious beliefs?

Bruce said...

I can see no way in which I am casually responsilbe for what the Scholastics called natural evil, such as hurricanes, tornados, etc.

Agreed, because we are able to explain such things through the scientific method. Generally, atheists aren't the ones claiming that a hurricane or flood is God's wrath, now are they?

Or must everything you say be some sort of attack on my religious beliefs?

Sorry if you took it that way, my intent was not to attack your religious beliefs but rather to draw a logical conclusion from you statement.

whether there is a God or not, we also bear a great deal of responsibility.

If God doesn't exist, then who else bears the responsibility for our actions? If there is no God then we don't just bear a "great deal" of responsibility, we bear 100% of the responsibility. Your statement seemed to make an allowance for the possibility that there is no God. I was just pointing out that if there is a possibility that there is no God and thus we can bear 100% of the repsonsibility for our actions, then per Occam we don't need to throw God into the mix in the first place.

Daniel said...

Bruce,

As a materialist, I am caught in a dichotomy of ascribing to myself the full ethical burden of my actions, and in seeing that the collisions of atoms that constitute my thought processes obey the laws of physics, and not my own will. This leaves me with the unfortunate task of sitting in a pile of physicalism/determinism, while refusing to deny free will.

What do you think of that?

Daniel said...

Ok, guys, I just had a religious re-conversion, I believe in god again. Why? Well...

ARGUMENT FROM BLINDNESS (II)
(1) God is love.
(2) Love is blind.
(3) Stevie Wonder is blind.
(4) Therefore, Stevie Wonder is God.
(5) Therefore, God exists.

Repent, while there is still time!an

Bruce said...

This leaves me with the unfortunate task of sitting in a pile of physicalism/determinism, while refusing to deny free will.

I knew that this was going to come up. I almost posted again in anticipation.

I was just generalizing in order to keep my post short. Obviously, there are a variety of physical constraints placed upon us which help determine our actions. When I said "we bear 100% of the responsibility" I didn't mean that we have 100% complete free will. I was just making a distinction between explanations of a supernatural origin (God did it) and those of a materialistic origin (people do it).

I know I shouldn't be so sloppy with my language, but I wanted to keep it short and sweet. My main point was that sandalstraps seemed open to the possibility that we don't need God to explain evil in our world. So I was just suggesting that if we don't need God, why throw him in there in the first place.

nedbrek said...

"He could, quicker than a nanosecond, bring an end to evil everywhere and vanquish every doubt as to his existence."

You seem to be overlooking God's need to keep His Word. He gave the earth to us (through Adam). We chose to reject God and try and run things ourselves, and now the earth is messed up. We shouldn't blame God for that. He is going to fix things when He comes again (maybe before I finish this post, maybe in 40,000 years). But then, it will be too late to believe, for He will bring justice to the world.

Please don't think I am speaking for or defending God. He is quite capable of defending and speaking for Himself. But I am required to stand up for the truth, and to spread the good news to all people.

JustinOther said...

Nedbrek:

Point is that if there is a caring and compassionate god, why would he sit back and watch his creation got to hell (pardon the pun)? Why would he allow the humans to ruin what he created?

Sandalstraps said...

Bruce,

You seem incapable of correctly interpreting my comments.

we bear a great deal of responsibility

refers to our responsibility for the presense of that which we identify as "evil" in the world.

I am certainly not entirely responsible for your actions, and so to the extent which your actions contribute to the presense of "evil" in the world I am responsible on for the extent to which I participate in and contribute to your actions.

It would do you well to assume that not everything that comes from my keyboard is of necessity ridiculous.

Or is there something in what I am actually saying which you in substance disagree with?

Jason said...

"He is quite capable of defending and speaking for Himself."

Fictitious characters cannot speak for or defend themselves. Human authorship of every document that purports to speak for God is symptomatic of this truism.

Todd Sayre said...

You have inadvertently converted me. I now accept Will Wright as both my Lord and Saviour and recoginise him as the creator of the universe. The universe, I now recognise, is a really big game of Sim City where the player has not disabled disasters.

Rodge said...

Is belief or disbelief in God a central issue for Christianity? Perhaps not, if Jesus didn't believe in a traditional God. What seems clear, through the fog of translations and cultural biases and poetic language, is that a central thrust of Jesus' message was that each individual has a direct connection to the divine. It is also clear that the Bible seems to identify the devine as "God" in some form. But can we be sure that Jesus didn't have a very different concept of what is divine? Given the limitations of the human language he used, and the mindset of his hearers, and the theological manipulatons of the message that followed, would the words of the Bible be any different if Jesus had actually thought of the divine only as the vital, life-affirming power of personal spirituality? I think the existence of free will also proves the existence of a spiritual realm, and that Christianity could thrive by focusing on that spiritual realm without recourse to a traditional God. It's not appropriate to delve into my logic here, but I have posted a more detailed examination of this and other issues at www.explorerationalfaith.net.

Shane said...

If God does not speak for Himself, how do you explain things like this? 68 independant, WHO appointed scientists couldn't.

nedbrek said...

JustinOther:
"Why would he allow the humans to ruin what he created?"

Genesis 1:26
"and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."

God is only as good as His Word. He told us the earth is ours to do with as we please.

nedbrek said...

Nihlo:
"Human authorship of every document that purports to speak for God is symptomatic of this truism."

I am interested in hearing about any other set of books written by dozens of authors across hundreds of years that are like the Bible in any way.

The only thing coming quickly to mind are the Star Wars universe books. And they are mostly junk, except for the ones by Timothy Zahn.

Josh (joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.