Analyzing A Typical Well-Meaning Christian Response.

An anonymous commenter wrote this to me in response to my article that God is an accessory to Child Abduction.

Lee, I sympothize with you that it seems that you are hurting and are trying to find someone to blame for something that has happened. I will pray for you!

I'm trying to find someone to blame? The blame falls where it resides, on chance, or whichever individual does something harmful, or me, but it doesn't automatically default to me as much as Christians will tell me it does.

God is not to blame for things that happen. He sees things that we don't so to say that there isn't a reason for even the most horrible thing to happen you just don't know what the bigger picture is. None of us do.

The other side of this logic is that the Christian doesn't know that there IS a reason. Since we neither know that it is true or that it is not true, all we can say is that we don't know. When we don't know we are agnostic. When we choose one belief over the other without a reason other than it makes us feel better, we are biased. So go ahead and say it. Lee you are biased. However I have demonstrated that I can overcome my bias because I was a Christian once.

Another aspect to this logic is that if there is a reason, who's reason is it? It must be the reason of whomever is in control. That would be God. For Gods reason horrible suffering happens. Then, if we do something to try to interfere with this horrible suffering, then we are interfering with Gods reason. We can make one of a couple of assumptions, that it is a test for us, or a test for the sufferer, or we don't know what is going on, so by interfering, we are acting out of ignorance which may be mucking up gods reason. Sounds silly doesn't it? There's no reason, just chance.

Here is the fundamental flaw in Christian reasoning. It is the starting point for a hasty conclusion that leads to a slippery slope that can only be justified using special pleading and the sliding window of criteria.

An assumption must be made that God exists to get him into a position to help write the Bible.
1. Christianity is built on an assumption that God exists and he helped write the Bible
2. and Christian faith is built on the bias of wishful thinking that the assumption is true obviously because it makes them feel better
3. With ambiguous evidence when viewed in the light of confirmation bias, maintains the good feeling about their assumption.

So my suggestion is that you stop blaming God for all the sick and despicable things the MAN does in this world and start looking at how to either correct the problem or how to help yourself deal with what has happened. It maybe hard and you may need some counseling.

I need the counseling? Am I really that bad off? You don't need counseling? I may need some counseling and you do not. Does it make you feel better to think that I'm that bad off?
If God made it so that a tumor in the frontal cortex will make a man act on pedophiliac tendencies (true story) then god didn't design the brain very well. If god designed the brain such that a malfunction in the Limbic system will create a psychopath, then god didn't design the brain very well. If god designs us such that we get worked up so much with religious fervor that we kill people over it, then he's got a problem in his design. Granted these are all extreme examples, but less extreme examples are seen in the behavior of Christians every day and throughout history. It wouldn't be a big deal except that they think they have the moral advantage. Even Christians get cranky from lack of sleep and get depression and panic attacks and sexually aroused at an odd moment occasinally.
The other option is that God didn't have anything to do with any of it.

Again, I will pray for you.

Thanks I appreciate the sentiment. Thats the equivalent of saying "Good Luck" or "I wish you the Best".
But what makes you think YOUR prayer will make any difference?
1. will it influence god?
2. if it influences god, won't it turn out worse if it was going to happen for the best anyway?
3. does he not know already?
4. doesn't he know what you want already?

You don't realize that your prayers cannot logically have any effect at all as long as an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent being already has a plan.

Think about it.


Tyro said...

Good post, well thought out.

I figure that if we start with the assumption that God is powerful enough to intervene, there are two cases:

1. God's plan requires the abuse continue. That justifies why it is happening, even if we don't understand, but it means we shouldn't stop it. Placates with one hand while slapping us with the other.

2. God's plan requires the abuse be stopped. Here, the abuse is some sort of test or opportunity for personal growth. But what of the people being abused? God is acting like "Jigsaw", the psychotic killer/torturer in the series of slasher movies, "Saw". It's a consistent explanation, but we're forced to ask whether we should care about any plan that is devised by a creature which such a depraved sense of morality.

Which oddly leaves us hoping that God is loving and benevolent but too weak to intervene.

And yeah, I love the defence reaction of implying that all of these questions stem from some deep childhood injury. She's hardly alone. We could count on one hand the number of atheistic characters in movies that are moral and came to their atheism without some traumatic incident. No wonder so few people understand that it's a rational and comfortable position, not a symptom of a damaged psyche.

David B. Ellis said...

If there actually were, implausible as the claim is, some reason for allowing extreme suffering consistent with God's benevolence then why does God not bother to actually present that reason (not even in the Book of Job which is about this very topic but in which God does nothing but browbeat Job at the end rather than explaining his reason)?

Given the implausibility of the claim that the two are consistent, it is up to God to actually explain that reason. Until this reason is made clear we have no reason to think God is not malevolent---same as we would for anyone else behaving in the same way.

For that matter, the same reasoning can be applied to humans as it can to dieties.

For example, being a fallible human being who does not know everything I cannot ABSOLUTELY claim to know Jeffrey Dahmer didn't have morally justifiable reasons for his killings. The being in question does not have to be vastly beyond our comprehension for this sort of reasoning to be applicable.

Or, for that matter, this sort of reasoning makes it impossible for the christian to consistently claim we can know the human sacrifices of the Aztec religion are morally wrong. The Aztec can make the same claim the christian does:

"Our God has a morally sufficient reason. Even if we don't know what it is, it is our responsibility to have faith and not question the goodness of God."

Anonymous said...

Your conclusion is incredible. It's something I've been mumbling to myself for years when people tell me they will pray for me. I express my gratitude to you for putting out there for everyone else to read. Now I don't feel like such a jerk for saying, "thanks" for the prayers and then turning around and rolling my eyes.

goprairie said...

I deeply resent it when someone says they will pray for me in such a situation. for them to have the arrogance to know what is best for me and to ask what they beleive to be an all powerful god to grant it has a lot in ocmmon with rape in my mind. if you are a christian and reading this, do NOT offer to pray for someone unless they ask you to do so or unless you know THEY beleive and would grant you the power to know what is best for them. if you choose to offer to pray for me, i will know you for that arrogant self-righteous bully that you are.

Adrian said...

I have always believed that God designed man with a free will. God is not interested in controlling us or forcing us to do anything. If a person chooses to hurt an innocent person they can. That does not mean that God is not all powerful. It only means that the very nature of God is freedom. God is also a just God - which means that one day good people will no longer have to live side by side with people who choose to do harm.

David B. Ellis said...

Adrian, as shown several times before the free will defense is utterly insufficient to solve the problem of unnecessary suffering.

Even if it were sufficient in the case of harm caused by free persons, this does nothing whatsoever to address the harm done by disease, natural disaster and the like.

Even in the case of the harm done by free persons it is insufficient but I've already explained why in the comments on John's earlier post on this topic so I won't repeat myself here.

God is acting like "Jigsaw", the psychotic killer/torturer in the series of slasher movies, "Saw".

I'm glad I'm not the only person who noticed that the SAW movies seem to be a dramatization of the problem of unnecessary suffering.

Tyro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyro said...

@Adrian - "If a person chooses to hurt an innocent person they can. That does not mean that God is not all powerful."

One possible explanation is that God would act but cannot. Another is that God can act but chooses not to. In the latter case, God can be all powerful but then God must care more about this abstract ideal of "freedom" than It case about suffering, love, compassion, personal growth or any other goal. I wonder if even the most dedicated anarchists would go this far. Can you imagine anyone standing by and allowing tragedies to unfold when they could do something about it?

This isn't immoral, it's amoral, a complete abnegation of love and compassion. Can you really believe this about God?

K. Szklenski said...

Hey Lee, great post as usual. I noticed something interesting that didn't seem to be taken as far as it could have been.

"...if we do something to try to interfere with this horrible suffering, then we are interfering with Gods reason..."

If we assume that there IS a reason for everything, and that god allows it because there is a reason, then one simple conclusion (and absurd) is that we could go around killing whosoever we wished, because there would be a reason for it. You MAY have a reason for doing it, but the fact is that if god allows it, he had a reason for allowing it. I think we can all safely assume that the people we're killing are all evil, for example. (Psarcasm). That, or god's reason is that he knows we're going to hell and we actually have to commit the evil act in order to do so (or not, if you've "committed adultery in your heart" or what have you).

To Adrian I believe it was, I'm going to write up a little explanation of an argument I've been formulating recently. I hope to send it to John and have it published here, so please check back often.