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4/27/2007                                                                                       View Comments

The tragedy and a question

By Jim Earl

After reading umpteen letters written by both local and distant writers of apparently deep faith about the tragedy of Virginia Tech, I decided it was time for a view from one without this mysterious faith. I am dumbstruck by some of the statements from these people of deep faith. According to almost all of these writers, faith is the best thing anyone could ever possess, because it's just so much better than common sense or logic. Whatever life has to offer, including tragedies beyond measure, these writers want all of us to believe that without faith we don't have anything to help us cope.

Well, let me assure you that faith is not a requirement to cope with tragedy. Millions of human beings live full and fruitful lives without any religious faith. I happen to count myself among those millions. I live my life with logic and reason, and I assure you, as one who has lived on both sides of the "god" debate, life is indeed good on this side. Of course, this tragedy has hurt me beyond words. I ache for the victims and their extended families. I wouldn't be human if I didn't feel their pain. We surely don't need faith to feel the intense sadness and wish we could magically make it all disappear. The writers depend of their deep faith to do that. That flies in the face of an all-powerful deity that seemingly does nothing to prevent evil acts. But he is able to help his victims get over what he fails to prevent. Odd way of thinking, in my opinion, but apparently, that's how faith works.

This deeply rooted faith, or blind faith, intensely bothers me. Let me explain.

We are all see the dreadful effects of blind faith on a daily basis. Suicide bombers must have this type of faith or they wouldn't be able to carry out their last act for their "god" and glory. Not only that, but these hideous acts drive others to follow suit. Blind faith seems to have a clouding effect of logic and reasoning on such an individual. When someone has faith deep enough to dismiss whatever happens in life as a "gods" will, then those individuals are in serious need of help.

Many of the writers have made statements such as: "This tragedy has helped me in my faith." Say what? You have the luxury of believing in an all-powerful, all good, all everything "god", and you are asking for his help in getting past this tragedy? Where is the logic in that? If I were audacious enough to believe in a god, he would surely have to demonstrate his omnipotence beyond any doubt to me. After all, that's what a "god" is supposed to be. Most Americans believe in such a deity, and follow him without question. However, to claim a tragedy such as those mentioned would help to deepen your faith shows me that there is a serious problem recognizing the need for logic and reason. Remember, I was once playing the same game. Even as a young Christian, I wondered what "god" was doing while Hitler was burning his victims. Later, I wondered what "god" was doing while priests and pastors had their way with their young victims. Likewise, when the powerful hurricane hit New Orleans and people died praying for their "gods" delivery from the rising waters, I again wondered what was their "god" doing that was more important than saving their lives. I did notice
that the people who had an ax in their attics were able to survive. That was logic in action. It finally became clear to me that there is a definite problem with evil and an all-powerful "god." After much reading and intense research, my faith vanished, never to return. I haven't missed it one iota. In fact, I am very proud of the fact that I prefer logic and reason instead of faith and prayer.

Some of the writers even quote verses to help ease the pain. I haven't seen anyone quote Isaiah 45:7. Look it up to see where evil comes from, as stated in the source of your faith.

Some of you are probably wondering by now what the question part of the heading is all about. Well, my question is this: If a god is unable to stop hideous acts from happening, and humanity has certainly had its share lately, is such a god worthy of worship? Now of course, this question is for believers only, as non-believers already have their answer. This is a question that needs answering, but I doubt seriously if believers can answer it in a logical way. However, please try anyway. I would be happy to hear from anyone about this matter, either pro or con.

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12 comments:

Micah Cowan said...

Dave, could you strip the <br /> tags? It's really killing the readability.

.:webmaster:. said...

Micah,

Are you actually seeing HTML tags, or do just mean the general spacing and formatting?

Bill said...

James Earl said,

"That flies in the face of an all-powerful deity that seemingly does nothing to prevent evil acts. But he is able to help his victims get over what he fails to prevent. Odd way of thinking, in my opinion, but apparently, that's how faith works."

Wow J.E. what an excellent point I have never seen laid out in such a way.

Last night I was watching a show on Discovery Health that sums up that point to a tee. A lady had given birth to premature twins both born with severe handicaps requiring many grueling painful surgeries just to be able to walk with braces and crutches. She went on to thank God for the doctors and and all the strides her kids have made, and allowing her to cope.

Despite all her thanks to God these kids are going to struggle their entire lives. Why didn't that all powerful son of a gun just make her kids normal and healthy in the first place instead of subjecting them to a lifetime of cerebral palsy?

It's just so absurd how these folks can twist such a shitty situation into a God is so wonderful senerio.


xrayman

Lance said...

Wow. If you keep reading in Isaiah 45 you get the answer. God can do whatever the fuck he wants because he its his world and he made it. What kind of worm are you that thinks you can to question god? He will get a big stick and hit you if you don't watch out.

Actually I read Isaiah 45 as the writer trying to make sense of the problem of evil on the one hand, and the problem of god not doing anything on the other (in other words, lack of evidence). He first says in verses 11 and 12 that god can do whatever he wants because he is god, it is his world and he made it and you had better not question him - that's how the writer handles evil. And then he handles the problem of the lack of evidence for a good god in verse 15; "Truly you are a God who hides himself."

And that is the only answer christians really have. They don't have good, loving god, they have a religion that explains why their god can be a real jerk if he wants to, and why he is not there for them in any real way in real life emergencies. And don't question him or its off to hell for you.

Now for my question. Why does an all loving, all knowing, all good god need to use fear and violence to control people? Don't you think a good god would be able come up with a better approach? I don't control my kids that way?

Pull The Other One! said...

Yes, the reaction to the shootings is just another example of one of the most important principles of Christianity - No matter what happens, no matter how bad it looks, claim it as a victory.

Oh, so Pastor Ted's been caught visiting a gay prostitute and using drugs, has he?

Praise the Lord! Now he can get help!

A Christian couple have had a child born blind, deaf and in constant pain, have they?

Halleluya! God is hardest on those that he loves most!

More and more people are questioning the bible because they're finding flaws in it, are they?

Fantastic! A sure sign that the end is nigh!

artic said...

"God, in Hebrew thought, is considered the final authority over everything. If wars or famine happen, then God has allowed that to occur, and therefore controls evil. He does not initiate any type of evil. When a man seeks to sin and commit adultery, that is his choice."
(taken from http://www.comereason.org/phil_qstn/phi025.asp)

It seems that believers are still defending their god when people question Isaiah 45.
And what's with the "that is his choice" thing? This directly conflicts with the "God's plan".

By saying "God's plan" it's god who made wars and started everything.
Such a god isn't worth worshiping, if he existed that is.

AndrewH said...

My old youth pastor wrote me this a couple weeks after the tsunami hit a couple years ago in regards to a planned missionary trip there

"I'll be leaving to India on Jan 21. It was planned before the tsunami hit. God's timing is perfect."

That mindset makes me sick. That comment helped speed along my deconversion! Cause I knew I used to say such things as well.

200,000 people die... yet he sees the good! Its so easy when you are rich and have life without 3rd world suffering to see the good in 3rd world suffering I guess...

Laura said...

Thank you for your comments, "The tragedy and a question". Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and alone in this ex-christian path. I depended on "god" for so many years, it's difficult to give up. When others post rants and comments, it helps and reminds me of why I left my evangelical christian world. If there is a god, he certainly is not good and I refuse to live my life to "please" him!

As far as tragedies are concerned, I think we just want to believe that someone very powerful is in control and knows more than we do. The violence is all so senseless and we try to create some purpose for it when there truly isn't one.

I remember that people used to request prayer for "travel mercies" when they or a loved one were going somewhere. It never made sense to me, I mean, what if they got in an accident? Did that mean god didn't give them mercy? What about all the people who travel daily without requesting prayer for safety? Are they being shown mercy even though they didn't ask for it? It's all so stupid! I can hardly believe I spent so many years of my life living in that nonsense.

Anyway, thanks to all of you for your comments!

Laura

alanh said...

I think the typical Christian response would be something like this:

"How would we want God to act? Do we want Him to control the actions of people? In the case of dealing with a terrorist attack, what could possibly be an acceptable number of deaths for God to allow?! Would we feel better if God allowed only the murder of hundreds? Would we rather God allowed only the death of one person? Yet if God would prevent the murder of even one person, there is no longer freedom to choose. People choose to ignore God, to defy God, to go their own way and commit horrible acts against others."

(from Leadership U, a project of Christian Leadership Ministries)

The argument appears to be if god intervenes in human affairs then somehow we lose our "freedom to choose," but I have several problems with that:

1) If god prevents a tragedy, how exactly does that take away my freedom? If god prevented the VT shootings, and (even better) did so in a spectacular and unmistakable way, then what we would have is indisputable proof that he exists. Wouldn't I still be free to deny that? The fact that the Earth is round doesn't take away the freedom of the Flat Earth Society to do their thing. And if there was indisputable proof that he exists, most of the human race would "choose" to follow this god, and billions would be "saved" that wouldn't have been "saved" before. Maybe the argument here is its important to believe in something that you have no proof for, but that seems to me to be an argument for insanity.

2) According to the bible, god intervened in human affairs on a regular basis 2,000+ years ago, so for some reason it was OK then but its not OK now.

3) I think most Christions do in fact believe that god intervenes in their personal lives, so its OK for him to help you make a decision or get over an illness, but its not OK to prevent a murder. And if you believe he did intervene in your life you still have your "freedom to choose," but if he stops someone from murdering someone else apparently your "freedom to choose" goes right out the window.

4) How do you tell the difference between a god that doesn't intervene in human affairs, allowing evil to occur on a daily basis, and a god that doesn't exist?

conygham said...

Jim,
Good and evil exsist,the question is, what is God's role. Faith is a personal issue. How do we identify the true God. Does he rule the earth. What about free will. Who is the Father. Your ref to Isaiah is a good one. What could be the greatest lie in the universe. What is Truth. The bible is not an end in itself. Could a good God do bad stuff. Being "set free " is a profound statement beyond the obvious. Unfortunately common sense gives way to false beliefs all to often. Science and physics are part of the equation as well as spirituality. Your questions are not unfounded, as we all have them, but there is a true and false God, and there ia a spirit and physical world to deal with out there What do you think really happened in the 1st 3 chapters of Genesis. Unfortunately many christians just want to be too religious. Oh well, gotta go, more later

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all who wrote in response to my question. I, like many of you, think that if the christian god really existed, there would be no doubt. We could absolutely prove it by using many verses in the book he supposely wrote to prove he existed. However, you can do any of the things the bible suggests to do and nothing will happen. The only "god" that exists does so only in the minds of believers. (And non-believers in some cases).

Conygham wrote:

What do you think really happened in the 1st 3 chapters of Genesis.

I don't think anything really happened in the first chapters of Genesis. It was a story told by people to help explain things they didn't understand. All cultures have their own way of explaining things and they are all as different as night and day. They are called myths and some are believed fervently today in many different cultures. Of course, none of them are real. After all, how many different cultures claim the one true god belongs to them alone? In our country, the christian religion teaches that we are all born with original sin. That doctrine was originated in our creation myth. Therefore, it is meaningless, except to believers. Religion has worn out it's welcome in my life. Jim Earl

Trans-man said...

"Thou shalt not kill."

God???

Maybe, with all the people he has killed, he should have already received the death penalty a long time ago. Maybe by stoning, since he likes it so much. Or by drowning, since he seems to like that a whole lot too.
Maybe he'll just go to hell for it! Yeah, come to think of it, that's a good place to be for him, and since there isn't anyone else, he can continue to do there whatever he pleases without harming any humans.