Ah, faith. It makes the heart warm.
The Blessed Atheist Bible Study received a comment the other night. As its subject is so relevant to this Blog I feel talking about it here is warranted. It’s in response to a post I wrote back in May regarding the death of my best friend three years ago. You can find that post here along with the comment in question. Now mind you, I am fully aware Mr. Davis means well so I am reluctant to take him to task here, but I also feel strongly that something needs to be said. In light of that, I have edited his name and email as to allow him some privacy but as for the content, that became public domain in a public forum. I’m trying not to be a jackass here, but I find that Mr. Davis’ rational for God is the very root of many of our problems in this world. It’s an illogical line of thought based on only a couple of assumptions. But these assumptions are massive and must be addressed. The 800 pound gorilla in the room needs an ass-whooping!
Please note that I tried to quote only the relevant parts to the comment, but as it’s a long and very entwined account and response, I felt it necessary to just throw the entire thing up and let you judge for yourselves. There seemed no way of untangling the various lines of thought. Sorry.
Hello. I am terribly sorry that you experienced this; but I also realize how empty my words may sound to you, so I won’t take too much time trying to console you. Just know that I am empathetic.
I want to impose a question. You know what you have been told about God, that He is omnipotent, omnipresent and righteous. Do you understand the full implications of having the power to do anything, knowing how everything was and how EVERYTHING is? Do you know how to think of everyone, in everything everywhere and love it all? I have prejudices, and I’m not talking about race. So simple as thinking that people who believe pro-choice is a good thing are ultimately motivated by hate. So I can tell you that I cannot fully understand His being. But I don’t want an answer to that question, because the answer is negligible.
You may think something like, “how can a god with all of these highly exalted attributes allow suffering like this?” Before I impose the question of concern, let me validate the empathy that I spoke of earlier. When I was seven my aunt died. She was married to a wealthy man and didn’t have to work, when my mom did. During the summer I stayed with my 2nd cousin and my aunt a lot. She was like a second mother and my cousin even still like a brother. My feelings regarding why are no where near my cousin’s, who has OD’d 4 times, 2 of which his body did shut down and he was revived. Why was this allowed?
At thirteen my dad was hit by a drunk driver leaving Stennis Space center. It took him out of work, destroyed my family, medicine ruined his marriage to my mother, and he went out of town with another woman ON my 18th birthday. I sure would like to see the puzzle completed!
When I was 20 I had an excellent job. I was saved when I was 12, just eight months before my father had his wreck. After that happened I kind of let loose. Done some things I’m not proud of, but like you, I regret nothing. It has made me who I am now. Well, I took the job in spite of feeling like I needed to move somewhere else. By the way, these feelings are the Spirit giving guidance, but realize that the devil is best at fooling us using “feelings”. It’s one of the best tools he’s got. However, because I am saved and I do have a personal relationship with the Lord, regardless of the sin I committed in the past, I can discern good and evil. Most of the time when it is selfish, it is evil. But I digress.
I was working this job and one night in 05 I was driving home. That’s it. I could tell you what I have learned about the event, but let me just say that I don’t remember 2 months of my life. I broke my neck. I woke up with screws in my skull. While I was in the coma the staff told my family that I would need to learn how to read, write, walk and talk again. Through God’s grace and the power of prayer, I woke up, freaked out and shoved my father down trying to get out of there. I signed myself out. But why did this happen?
Now comes the questions. Why did God let me through my party phase practically unscathed? I had been bragging about not breaking a bone not a month before the wreck. Well that was foolish. I was in a good job, doing well, tithing like I thought I should.
And why did God let my dad smoke weed and escape time with his family because of pain from his sister dieing? Why wasn’t something done at that time instead of when he started going back to church and doing good?
And why did God let the sorry punk who killed my aunt get out of town free of charge? There seems to be so many other ways that God could have done these things.
That’s enough for now, and I want to respond to this section now before we move on to the rest. Although I am a bit confused as to what exactly happened, it’s obvious that this man has suffered greatly in life. I sympathize. I truly do. I know that I may have given some readers the impression that I am a cold-hearted bastard. In fact, all my readers likely assume that readily. People who don’t like the questions I ask or the mocking way in which I ask them are likely to check the Asshole and Heartless boxes on my personality evaluation and leave it at that. Trust me; I understand. Though the Asshole designation is pretty much spot on, just ask my parents, the Heartless one isn’t. For a lack of God, I cry at movie trailers!
Let me tell you, the pain this man suffered kept me awake last night. I lay awake imagining what I would be like after enduring the prolonged agony such a life endured. Conclusions were slow in the coming right along with sleep, and to my disappointment those conclusions weren’t deep or epiphany-like. As usual, they were just another work-a-day look at life, but a good look. Though admittedly incomplete, this is what I’ve come up with so far
Would I be different person were I to suffer as he did? Absolutely! We, as humans, are the sum of our genetics and experiences, and as such, you cannot change either of them and not come out with a radically different person in the end. This is a given. Would I have found solace in God and have turned to faith for my answers? Now this is a different question altogether. What if’s are questions that cannot be answered with any degree of accuracy. We indulge these wisps of fantasy constantly throughout every part of our lives from politics to work, and they seem to be a necessary part of the learning process. They are thought experiments more than anything else, and I can, with intellectual and emotional honesty say no. I still would not believe. To the contrary, I think things like this would have driven me from the imagined arms of a vengeful God earlier and faster. I’ve read this comment through four times and every single time I shudder. After suffering these many tragedies, I cannot understand how someone can ever see the hand of a kind and loving God here. A wrathful petty deity is much more consistent with the evidence given. But even that takes a back-o-the-bus seat to the real answer, chance. This is pure random chance at its most basic level, combined with an evolved level of selfishness. That’s it. The selfishness of humanity accentuating random events that happen all the time. Sometimes, you get hit by the car. Sometimes, you don’t.
Giving any kind of credence to feelings produce by a “Devil” and to those given by “The Spirit” is nothing more than superstition. Feelings and emotions are simply evolved survival responses. They do not come from devils or spirits just like they don’t come from Odin, Shiva, our sacred ancestors or some impersonal pyramid-shaped creator force. They are your brain reacting to its environment both in the short term,”Get the hell out of the way of the bus,” and the long term, “would another job/car/girlfriend make me happier.” While I’m sure those sudden morning erections do seem less than divinely inspired, it’s generally these longer term emotions that Mr. Davis is assuming are from both the Devil and God.
How do you respond to the idea of an omnipotent God and a wily Devil battling through your emotional and rational brain by sending vague feelings and desires? Hmmm?? Would the highly technical term “bullshit” work? God won’t come down and talk to you like a sentient being but will send vague and watery “Feelings” to guide you? But Satan also sends “Feelings” virtually indistinguishable from his rival’s with the intention of leading you astray. WTF?? Really? This is the fucking communication system that an omnipotent being comes up with to guide his designed-by-perfection-yet-vastly-inferior adored creations? How far up your ass must your head be to see any logic in this?
When I pass by an incredibly attractive woman and experience signs of attraction (we’ll just leave it at that, OK?), these are not the Devil’s latest salvo in some ancient supernatural combat. They are symptoms of an even more ancient evolutionary need to get my genetic material spread through the future generations. I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, evolution fully supports a moral basis for life. We are stronger as a group that sticks together rather than one that kills each other. That said, it doesn’t support perfect morality. In the real world, cheating can get you ahead, substantially in some cases. Considering the financial debacle of the last few years, can anyone actually doubt this? We are just, loving, caring but innately selfish beings whose primary goal is sowing our seeds into the next generation. It’s all about sex, baby, just sex. We rise above that, sometimes, but this remains our basic programming. It’s the default position. This inevitable selfishness conflicts constantly with our desire for a better world, our instinct to support each other. Evolution with all its often contradictory morality explains why the world is as screwed up as it is. The idea of an omnipotent, omniscient and omni-loving God, does not. Perfection and reality are not compatible.
In addition, Mr. Davis’ second paragraph is strongly reminiscent of other arguments we have had here. That is we can’t possibly understand the mind of a perfect and loving God, therefore he is above our ability to judge. In the course of criticizing God’s lack of basic decency and love in other posts, I have been told that true and pure love cannot be comprehended, and that I can’t possibly know what it is. Although, this is likely true, I cannot grok perfect love, I am fully capable of understanding what it isn’t. While I may not be able to understand every nuance and characteristic in perfectly pure iron, I can reasonable assume it’s not like paper. It’s not wood. And it certainly isn’t dog shit. Love does not include torture, slaughter and cruelty. It’s disingenuous to use the idea of incomprehensible perfection to justify all the atrocity we see both in the Bible and on a day to day basis. This is a rationalization of the impossible. This is swallowing the blue pill!
Let’s continue to his next point.
Now let me ask the question that no one wants to pay attention to. Why doesn’t God just let us all suffer in hell than sending HIS OWN SON to hang on a tree to save us? If we want evil to stop, where do we ask God to stop it? Do we stop it a murder? Abuse? Disease? Getting drunk and acting a fool? Lieing? Or do we get him to get the root of the problem: thinking? If we want God to destroy these things in this world we have to ask Him to destroy us, cuz we are the source of the problems. It’s our choice to sin. Did sin cause that disease? I don’t know, maybe a chemical someone was testing at some time did, but why was it tested? Sin probably!
Ok. Wow! Umm… I’m not really sure where we should start on this one. It’s like a bag of live eels, lots of slippery little bastards all entangled together and all of them highly unpleasant.
Here we come to those assumptions I referred to. First, Mr. Davis is asking the wrong questions here. It’s not that we don’t ask the question. It’s that the entire line of question is based on bullshit. The question is not “Why did God send his only begotten son to die for our sins?” That question is completely voided by simply digging deeper than the thin veneer Christians wrap around this question for protection. Even if we assume it’s all true (which we don’t), the real question that all theists must ask themselves is why in hell did a supposed omnipotent deity use this convoluted and illogical system for the redemption of a species that he omnipotently and perfectly(??) created. Of all the godforsaken ways of going about it, this one is an absolute late-term abortion of logic.
Jesus died for our sins? Why? How the hell was that necessary? When you are strong enough to make the rules why make them as shit-assed crazy as this? If one has infinite power, why claim one’s going to bend over and take it up the poop chute to save everybody unless… unless one likes/wants it that way. Hey, to each his own but honestly ask yourself: What kind of nutless buttplug designs a system where he has to torture himself to death to save everyone else from the behaviors he designed into them? I’m shoving my head up there as far as I can, and it still ain’t working… And goddamn it! Someone sure made a mess in here!
In addition, Mr. Davis claims that thinking is the root of all evil. (I paraphrase here. Truly, I’m not really sure what he’s saying but this is my best guess.) Now, I freely admit that poor thinking leads directly to poor decisions and hence to suffering. Oh, but how many times in my youth did I think that one more beer was a fine idea. But poor thinking habits hardly explain disease for a-lack-of-Christ’s-sake, not to mention earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and erectile disfunction. Not that I suffer from the last. I’m just saying.
And Mr. Davis, if we are the source of all the problems, isn’t God the source of us?
I won’t even bother responding to the Chemical testing causing disease inference. Shit! How can I respond? All the words make sense until you put them together. It’s like it’s in code.
Man was given kingdom authority at creation. No we didn’t evolve to the top, God set us up there because He wants the best for us. When Adam and Eve ate of the tree they handed the serpent, the devil, the rights to kingdom authority. The devil is roaming the earth, seeking whom he may devour. The worst thing we can do is BLAME God for what humans set in motion. And if you can’t perceive these things as truth it is because the devil has hardened your heart to the truth, not because you have gained intelligence that brings you past the thought.
God want’s the best for us. Hmm! Nice fantasy, but I’m unsure how that relates to world I live in, that is the real one. Hell, I don’t even know where he finds that in the Bible, but… OK! And again he hammers on the idea that God and the devil are locked in combat over the state of our souls. If God is so powerful, why doesn’t he just crush the fiery little piss-ant? It must be that testing thing. You know, God places obstacles in our path to see how we fare, to weed out the chaff of humanity. But AGAIN, if he is perfect and omniscient and created us, there is no need of a test. He knows who will fail and who will succeed.
Now get this, God makes his “Kingdom” so fragile that all it takes to bring it down is a single before-dinner snack. Now that’s a piss-poor architect if I may say so. And to think there are hordes of people begging to get back into his kingdom for all eternity. C’mon, how long will it be before someone gets the munchies and brings the entire house of imaginary cards down again.
Please understand, I fully agree that one of the worst things we can do is to blame god for our problems. In fact, I’d rank it about third in the dumb-assed pantheon of activities, right behind giving him credit for anything and actually thinking that praying to his make-believe ass accomplishes a goddamned thing. Pardon the pun.
This brings me to one of those thing that Fundamentalists say that drive me insane. If you doubt/question/deny the teachings/morality/existence of God then the devil has control over you, has hardened your heart, so to speak. What a crock! “I don’t believe in God.” “Oh, the devil’s got ahold of you but good son!” Every time this is said, the speaker acts as if he can really see the red bastard clinging to my back goading me with some big-assed spurs. So what do you say to this? “Yeah, that may be true, but Zeus has had an eye on your cute little ass for quite a while!”,or “Well, don’t just stand there buttercup, sacrifice a virgin and ring the sacred bells to scare that shithead off me!”
Buddy, if I can’t perceive the “truth” as you see it, the reason lies with my open eyes and mind, not with some little red-headed step-child of a demon pissing into my left ventricle. You use this idea as a shield against logic. See how far that’ll get you.
I am working on my second Master’s degree now. Five years after it was thought that I wouldn’t have any basic motor skills due to brain damage. As far as a plan, you will never figure it out. I will never figure it out. I do know that it is centered around love. He loves you, he loves Blake. You read right, and no it’s not error. I don’t know what Blake’s response to the love of Christ was, but regardless he still loves him. God’s goal doesn’t include pain for anyone. I hurt every day, but I praise God for getting me away from the negatives that were in my life. I just hate that it took him allowing me to break my neck. I do know that I’m not paralyzed like most people who have spinal injuries. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, we just have to realize that if we are in His will we can handle anything, if you don’t mind another cliche (French=expression) as you will probably call the verite (French=truth) in this.
No, we will not figure out a plan. I couldn’t agree more. This is not because it’s complicated or secret or in some frakking cipher. The facts all line up to the conclusion that a divine plan simply doesn’t exist. To see this all you have to do is open your eyes… and of course, pull your head out of your bung hole. The first is easy. The second’s going to hurt a bit.
As for God’s goal not including pain for anyone… Hmm… Does anyone else here see the odd discrepancy between a God who hates pain and one who sends a majority of his creations to hell? Oh, I know the argument. God doesn’t send people to hell. By sinning, they send themselves. Oh for Jesus Christ on a piece of toast! We sentence ourselves by not living up to his expectations? We send ourselves to a tortuous existence by demanding a life path other that slavery? We send ourselves to hell by living free, decent and caring lives? Apparently, God is a fucktard!
Oh, how many times have I heard that last expression. “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” That in mind Mr. Davis, tell why the world is littered with the husks of broken humanity? Why are there old men sitting alone on park benches shattered by the loss of their spouse? Why are there children raped or molested and left mentally torn the rest of their lives? How is it that people die slow and terrible deaths in such a variety of ways? Wasn’t that more than they could handle? Wasn’t this too goddamned much! Mr. Davis, how many Jobs broke under the testing. How many just weren’t strong enough to handle the punishment your God dishes out while calling it love?
What you really mean to say here Mr. Davis is that if you love unconditionally and without reservations and convince yourself that there is a mysterious and incomprehensible plan then you can swallow the shit burger life randomly deals to its participants. And to be honest, I don’t necessarily disagree. An active fantasy life can increase morale dramatically. In times of stress, imagination can certainly ease you over the rough stretches. But none of this, even in the slightest, increases the likelihood of the concept. Just because these little fairy tales help you deal with life on a day to day basis in no way proves or even hints at its truthfulness.
I just wonder how many people have been trapped in burning houses or buried in earthquake shattered buildings and kept up that fantasy to the end. As the fire gets closer or the bricks and stones press harder, does the fantasy help?
As your rapists continue their work after you prayed to your God to make it across that dark parking lot, does your “belief” offer you any consolation? Is the pain and humiliation less? Does belief in God ease the suffering?
I doubt it. I really do. The newspaper gives evidence to the contrary every day.