God, Science, and The Black Death Plague

I just watched the movie Black Death, set during the time of the Bubonic Plague that traveled from one country to another between the years 1348-1350 A.D. It was one of the most devastating pandemics in recorded human history, killing around 100 million people in the known world with a population of 450 million. In Europe 25 million people died--more than one third of the population. The movie itself was interesting and a bit gruesome with a twist at the end. But it also visualizes what it was like during this tragic pre-scientific superstitious era. Good movies have a way of doing that and this one delivers the goods, at least up until the last 30 minutes of it--I did tell you there was a twist, right? We can read descriptions of how horrible it was, but seeing it enacted on the big screen brings it to life, much like the movie Saving Private Ryan did for the Normandy invasion during WWII, and just as the movie Schindler's List did to show the horrors of Jewish sufferings in concentration camps at the hands of the Nazi's.

When in comes to the Black Death I want believers to seriously consider God's inaction, the mind of the believer, and how science solved a problem that faith could not solve.

The people in the 14th century didn't know the cause for why so many people were dying horrible deaths. They guessed that God was punishing them, that the Jews, heretics and/or witches were to blame. But to think in terms of disease? That requires science. They didn't know to quarantine the sick, nor did they have a clue about vaccines, antibiotics or anesthetics, all of which were to come later, much too late to help. It wasn't until a few centuries later that scientists figured out the cause and what could have cured this disease. That's science baby. It works. Prayer does not work. Faith does not work.

It's curious to me how most Christians just do not think about some things. It's because faith blinds them, that's why. Has it ever occurred to you how human beings first learned what killed us? Take lead poisoning for instance. Do you know that people had to die before we could figure it out? Then think about all of the poisonous plants and venomous creatures. People had to die from eating certain plants and being bitten by certain creatures before we knew what not to do. Take polluted water. Same thing. Read the book, The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, and see for yourself. People in London were dying from drinking polluted water. They didn't have a clue why they were dying. Then science showed up. One scientist mapped out the places where people were dying and concluded they were dying in specific locations, the ones where there were polluted drinking wells. His solution that saved many lives? Boil water before drinking it, and clean out the streets from the garbage thrown into the middle of them. That's science baby. It works. Prayer does not work. Faith does not work.

To become educated about these things people, mostly children, had to die. You see, there was no other way. At best a good God could have created us so our bodies would be able to withstand these diseases. If not, he could have told us how to make vaccines, antibiotics, anesthesia, penicillin, and so forth. He could've told us in advance to avoid the kinds of things that would kill our daughters, fathers, husbands and wives. But he didn't. So he knew in advance people would have to die tragic and sudden deaths before we could figure it out. He could have told us about the medicines that could help our pain and heal us. But he didn't. This would be considered gross negligence on the part of any doctor, if he or she knew how to help millions and millions of people and refused to do it. It would be criminal. For the more informed a person is about a tragedy and the more power (or authority) such a person has to alleviate that tragedy, then the more of a moral responsibility one has to help. Therefore God, who is supposedly maximally informed and who has maximal power, is the most culpable of them all for not helping. He is quite plainly barbaric if he exists. He sat idly by while 100 million people drowned in the own blood. Sisters, daughters, mothers, brothers and fathers all watched their loved ones die this way as God did nothing. Nothing!

There is no all-good, all-powerful God. Period.

How the Christian faith survived is beyond me. I know a 35 year old convenience store cashier who has serious heart problems and needs a heart transplant. He had his stomach reduced to lose body weight to alleviate the stress on his heart. I asked him how he's doing and he replied, "God is good." What a delusion! Even though God could have done better this guy still loves God and has faith in him. That's clearly what medieval Christians concluded. Those who survived thanked God for their own health and survival. It's like a plane crash that kills everyone on-board leaving one survivor who says he's thankful to a good God who spared him. That is utterly selfish and egotistical, totally ignoring that people died horrible deaths. But then, that describes the same God they believe exists. He doesn't care about human beings, just himself, if he exists at all.

It's claimed God is omniscient, that his ways are higher than ours so he knows best, using what I call the Omniscience Escape Clause. Any theistic religion with an omniscient concept of God has the same escape clause, no matter what happens in life. Reasonable people, by contrast, need to know enough of God's ways to know that his ways are good, and clearly we don't. In fact, if he created us as reasonable people then he should give us what we need, sufficient reasons to believe. Instead, he created us this way and withholds from us that which we need to believe, and in so doing will condemn us for how he created us. Surely an omniscient God would know the Black Death would be seen by reasonable people after the rise of modern science to be disconfirming evidence that he exists, like I do. And he still did nothing to help.

Believers say God wants us to freely believe so he doesn't reveal his power and presence to us, for if he did, we would be forced to believe. But this is poppycock, pure poppycock. For one thing, Theodore Drange argues that since people want to know the truth about why they exist then God would not be abrogating our free will by giving us what we want. But God doesn't do this. For another thing, there were people we read in the Bible for whom God supposedly appeared to them, like Moses, Gideon, Jacob, Mary, James and especially Paul. If God could appear to them without abrogating their free will then he can do so to all of us. If he can't do this, then he abrogated their free will. Furthermore, if God wanted to remain hidden then all he had to do was stop the Black Death pandemic with the snap of his omnipotent fingers. If it never occurred at all then no one would ever know he intervened, simply because it didn't take place. It may require a perpetual miracle but then why is that a problem for God? What? Is an omnipotent God lazy or something?

Believers will go on to argue that maybe God has intervened in many cases to alleviate intense suffering, just not in this case, or in that one. This is a mere possibility without any evidence for it at all. The number of tragic events throughout history and in today's world is strong evidence God doesn't intervene at all. This argument of theirs is an ad hoc one meant to explain away the probabilities. It grants that the evidence is against what they are claiming, for if the evidence were otherwise they wouldn't have to punt to mere possibilities.

Believers will also use the "black or white," "either/or" fallacy, also known as "the fallacy of the beard," saying the only alternatives for God are to have a perfect world without suffering as compared to the present one with massive ubiquitous suffering. Then they will conclude I'm asking the impossible of God, since a perfect world would not try the souls of men adequately. Listen up. I can know what a beard is without having to specify which whisker, when plucked, no longer leaves a beard. If God were to merely eliminate the cases of massive intensive suffering then this whole problem would be diminished by the same force. That is, the force of the problem of suffering for an all-good all-powerful God would be rendered ineffective to the same degree as the amount of suffering is reduced in our world. And there is simply way too much of it to suppose an all-good all powerful God exists.

Believers will say this is all due to a fall into sin by Adam and Eve in the garden. But it's crystal clear that if every single human being on the planet would have sinned under the same initial test conditions then that test was utterly unfair. If, however, the test in the garden was a fair one after all, then there are people alive who are being punished for a sin they never would have committed.

So Christian apologist, I put it to you. Why didn't God do anything about the Black Death pandemic? Be reasonable here. Why? This is but one example. There were many other pandemics. I argue that Christianity is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter who dies, or how many, or what the circumstances are when people die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being burned to death. It doesn't matter. God is good. Death doesn't matter. People die all of the time. In order to justify God's goodness Christianity minimizes the value of human life. It is a pro-death faith, plain and simple. I argue that Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die. Or, you can prove me wrong.

No wonder I say that most believers are impervious to reason. Hey, they think this same God has spoken to them, or that they have a subjective private inner witness that he exists, something most believers in different hell-bound religions would claim as well. LOL!! I have something to say to these Christians, best seen in this video:



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Christians have one last resort, to say "we have other reasons to trust in God even when we cannot explain his inaction in the world." Okay then, how do these other reasons compare with this particular defeater? That's the question I explore next.

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