What has to happen?

What has to happen for people to not believe in God?

I don’t mean this in a mean way. I’m certainly not trying to convince people to believe in one thing or another. Hell, it’s your call. But …. well, I just don’t understand how so many folks continue to believe in this traditional, seemingly inane version of an all-knowing being.  To many people (and many of my friends), God understand everything. He is up there, or in us, or up there and in us. He feels our thoughts, and knows whether we have accepted his son into our hearts. And if we have accepted his son into our hearts, which he knows, we spend eternity in bliss. And if we haven’t accepted his son into our hearts, which he also knows, we’re doomed to hell.

Oh, that’s not all. He’s coming. Back here. Through his son. And we’ll know it when we see it. Which means, thanks to this craziness, millions of Bible-swearing Christians will see climate change not as a call to betterment, that as the signal that (praise Jesus!) the world is coming to an end. And that’s a good thing, because they’re all going to heaven, to live happily ever after. So what if our kids and grandkids and great-grandkids are going to die under the unshielded glare of a 250-degree sunshine? Hey, it’s God’s will! Ya!

Lastly, because clearly I need some bed, how can so many people look at, say, a child dying of starvation in Ethiopia and say, “God’s will!” What? God’s will? It’s God’s will that the kid died, meanwhile I’m still here? It’s all part of a plan? His plan? Really? Well, what about the friggin’ kid who’s dead? It doesn’t seem like a great deal for him. Or his family. Or his friends. Truth be told, the people I most hear bellowing “God’s plan” are those whose “God’s plan” includes a nice house, food on the table and an SUV or two in the driveway. It’s easy to say “God’s plan” when you know you’ll go to sleep in a warm, snug bed, then wake up next morning to a bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

Dang.

5 thoughts on “What has to happen?”

  1. Michael B Dougherty

    Hey Jeff,

    I find myself nodding in agreement with you in assessing a lot of what passes for religion even as I remain a convinced Roman Catholic.

    There is a kind of arrogance and facile touch that Americans bring to everything, including their religion.

    Imagine that you were trying to convince an intelligent skeptic of climate change to reconsider his views. You say, “The scientific consensus says thus and so” He replies, “I don’t buy a raw appeal to authority.” You might try to argue for the integrity of the scientists. He points to a few known cases of fudged data. Then you say, “Well, haven’t you noticed what a bitch this summer has been?” He replies, “Unpleasant weather doesn’t prove anything.” Suddenly you are a similar position as the average churchgoer trying to talk to an intelligent skeptic.

    What you need is someone who takes their concerns seriously, and has the knowledge and intelligence to answer them.

    There is a huge, thoughtful, and adult library to be built out of what you identify as the problem of evil. If God is all good, why does he allow war, genocide, a bus accident, cancer, the Mets? He must not be all good, or he must not be all powerful. Augustine, Aquinas, C.S. Lewis, and a huge number of religious thinkers have tackled this problem. If you continue to want to wrestle with these questions, maybe grapple with someone your own size.

    Is there a version of the Christian religion that is going to fit perfectly with your political intuitions and commitments? Probably not. I’m of a more conservative disposition than you, and I find that my faith constantly challenges me and uproots certainties. In a weird way, I’m much more skeptical now than I was as an atheist. There is an apocryphal quote from Chesterton to the effect, that “When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”

    Anyway, loved The Sweetness.

    Best,
    Michael

  2. So, having a prius in the driveway somehow makes your bellowing less annoying? Maybe if everyone held your beliefs we could all be as well adjusted and enlightened as you. Tell me, is the floor of your house filled with homeless people in your neverending quest for justice for all? When you take the family to europe for a month does it bother you knowing you could help countless people with that money rather than indulging yourself? just wondering

  3. Unlike Doug, I don’t think you are “bellowing” in the least bit. I don’t see how anyone that believes in an all-knowing, all-powerful God does not struggle with Jeff’s questions constantly. I’ve read some of the authors Michael noted and, frankly, do not find their arguments to be the least bit compelling. I also question why the animal world exists in the manner it was allegedly created. Why on Earth would God need to make animals eat one another to survive, and why construct animals in a way that they feel horrific pain as another animal eats them alive? It just doesn’t make any sense. Jeff–keep up the good work, and thanks for keeping up the blog (and the Quaz).

  4. I remember seeing someone interviewed after the Joplin tornadoes and they said it was just God testing them. What a spiteful being they believe in.

  5. Jeff, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have the same mainstream beliefs as those you mentioned above and could provide more satisfying answers to the questions you have. I find the beliefs of bad things happening as “God’s Will” or “God’s Plan” disgusting. Thats not what the Bible teaches. The simple answer is found @ 1 John 5:19 -period. Next time we knock on your door, setup an interview.

Leave a Reply