Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV)
If they aren't blaming gay marriage or the lack school prayer for tragedies, then they usually resort to claiming “This didn't catch God by surprise. He is sovereign and this is all part of his plan. In Heaven we will look back and understand why He allowed this to happen.” In other words, the Guy in the Sky has a super-duper, top-secret plan which somehow allows and uses school shootings, rape, genocide, birth defects, cancer, pedophile priests, starvation, tsunamis and other horrible things as a means to achieving Ultimate Good. Sparrows die? Don’t worry - it’s part of God’s will. Parent, was your child abducted, raped, and killed? Relax! God was lovingly watching from above, and one day you will understand why, in his infinite wisdom, He allowed this to happen. Trust him. Have faith…
See what you did, Jesus? You found a way to make human misery worse by adding to the mental anguish of those who are already suffering. Now they have deal with the fact that a God who is supposedly all-powerful and all-loving stood idly by and did nothing to help them during their darkest moment. Not only that, they have to put on a brave face and praise your grace and mercy. They have to profess their love and gratitude for someone who they think let terrible things happen to them and/or their loved ones.
Everything that happens to sparrows is according to the will of Father God, and that should cheer us up? Apparently God’s plan includes my cat regularly killing birds (based on the empirical evidence of feathers scattered in my yard). God’s ‘will’ looks suspiciously like the random everyday occurrences of life. Somehow, God’s inaction on behalf of birds fails to instill a confidence that there is a god looking out for my well-being.
God has the hairs on my head numbered? I seriously doubt that an angel is going to descend from Heaven to hand-deliver Rogaine if I start going bald. If I get cancer, God won’t cure me, let alone provide a wig when my hair falls out from chemo. What comfort is there in thinking that every vile and tragic thing which happens in life was personally vetted by God? What good is a god who never intervenes, and in that case, how can he ever be called good?
The idea of a god secretly pulling strings and levers behind the scenes is quite simply a mental game in which weak-minded believers attempt to quell their terror of an uncaring universe.
Jesus, what you've really taught us is that we’re on our own. If any help is to be had, it will be the help we give each other. Probably not the lesson you intended with your bird talk, but useful nonetheless. Imaginary friends aren't much help in a crisis, so don’t expect any calls from us. We know you’re probably busy monitoring sparrows and tabulating hair counts, and would hate to bother you.
*Note for Christian readers: I am interacting with the Jesus character of the Gospels solely for the purpose of examining the inferior nature of the teachings attributed to him. No actual communication is intended, since talking to a dead guy would be kind of weird.
Written by J. M. Green