fundamentalism, God, Non-Believers, religion, suffering, theology
Sometimes when I read or listen to someone tell me why they no longer believe in God, or at least Christianity, I feel so very sad. Sad, because at least in my case, God continued to bug me even when I ignored him in my agnostic splendor.
I’ve come up against a good many “issues” with conventional Christianity over the years, and frankly, it’s never caused me to reject it or God, but to dig deeper. That’s why I feel sad, since the reasons given are always those that relate to a very “basic” bread and butter type of Christian understanding. I could use the word fundamentals but then we get into THAT issue.
Today, we deal with BEattitude‘s third reason for rejecting Christianity.
The statements, “God works in mysterious ways,” or “It will all make sense in heaven,” are little more than irrational cop outs. This God allows horrible atrocities to be committed against innocent men, women and children every day.
Hey, I couldn’t agree more! I find those excuses just plainly unconvincing and frankly not even comforting. They aren’t so much irrational as they are thoughtless. I want a reason that is both sensible and comforting, and one that holds together.
The issue of suffering in the world has caused no doubt more than a few folks to opt out of religion, and sadly also God. Instead of, as I said, causing one to investigate further, some it seems, use this wall as an excuse to not be bothered any more with God. Instead they turn to making fun of what they once believed, and referring to believers as wrong headed, lacking in intelligence, and other demeaning things. They finally have gotten smart you see, while believers, they now recognize for the fuzzy headed, rather illogical and light minded individuals that they really always were and are.
That this is absurd on its face is apparent. Since at least the beginning of Christianity, there have been billions of believers. A goodly number, numbering in the millions probably, are smart; in fact some, (tens of thousands) might be termed brilliant. To suggest that suddenly you’re the bright light and they are all dunces, is presumptuous at the very least, and beyond arrogance at the worst.
I won’t argue that suffering is a thing that causes one to think deeply. Arguments that, somehow we will understand all this in heaven, are insufficient. Telling us that there is “grace” and value in suffering, as the Roman Catholic Church does, is also sounds good on paper, but I doubt that it suffices much for the sufferer of misery, physical or emotional. A better explanation is called for.
God is alleged to be omniscient, all knowing, he is moreover thought to be omnipotent, capable of all things. Why then does he allow suffering? Most Christians are smart enough to realize that God, even of traditional orthodoxy, doesn’t cause suffering. He allows it. He in a word, allows us to suffer the consequences of our own mistakes.
But this doesn’t really address natural disasters, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and all that ilk. Why doesn’t God prevent them?
My answer is that it’s part of the authenticity of being. God creates, and he does so by means of establishing physical laws to govern the universe. Those things play out in a perfectly scientific manner. Sentience, develops here and there, as conditions for it fortuitously occur. Biology, driven by evolution, creates DNA that is not helpful, causing disease. This is all quite natural. Mutations are neither good nor bad, they drive life or they inhibit it.
Why does God not meddle? I see it as God being authentic with his creation. He experiences through all of his creation, but if he controls how it acts and turns out, then he’s merely creating robots, not authentic life with all its ups and downs. If God is to control these things, then of course we all ought to be perfect in every way. We aren’t.
If God meddles, saving this person and not that person, they God is tampering with the evolutionary model. And worse, he is tampering with human free will at some point. If natural events point me to death on the highway next week, then changing that changes the future, and who knows who else is affected adversely? You see the issues?
I’m convinced it’s just part of the deal, that God doesn’t intervene and save us from ourselves if you will. That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t intervene of course. It means he doesn’t do so by supernatural means. He intervenes through those whom he touches enough that they graciously grant God to use them as his instruments. So perhaps, on that highway next week, I don’t die, because the person who would cause that accident, or would be in a position to prevent it, acts in a different way by being more mindful than usual at that moment.
God allows, because our lives become mere puppetry if he doesn’t. We can’t choose God, God chooses for us. Nothing authentic about that at all. Nothing in it for God, nothing worthwhile for us as human beings. So God doesn’t.
What He does do, is remain with us as close as our breath. He suffers with us, unbearably pained at our misery. He aches to be felt by us, as he waits with perfect patience and politeness for the invitation. He is deeply saddened no doubt that some give up so easily based on what men and women concoct about Him. But He waits. He will wait until you return to Him.
That’s the way I see it at least. Which means nothing of course necessarily to anyone else. It’s how God speaks to me.