Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reason gets an early mark

I had a marvelous lesson this morning on exactly how the Christian religion completely fails to come to grips with reason.

The subject of this morning’s message was “How (or why) does God permit bad things to happen?” I immediately sat up and started paying attention; the speaker was a man who is quite sharp, and I thought his take on it would offer something new (at least to my experience).

Unfortunately, I was quite wrong.

The primary argument offered was that in Genesis, God turned over the world to humanity, thereby allowing free will. By giving humanity “dominion over the Earth” in Genesis, He “delegated” His authority to us, and in that act committed Himself not to intervene in the world. To do so, He has to be invited to do so, through prayer.

(There was an aside offered that the spiritual world cannot act in the physical without a human being as a sort of gateway, to invite or plead with God, and God will not break this “law” – he had to manifest as a human being to influence the physical world.)

This has holes in it so large you could drive a truck through it.

Even the speaker admitted that there are multiple instances in the Bible where God acts completely of His own volition. Two easy examples cited by the speaker himself: the Flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah. There are countless other examples in the OT - the burning bush, multiple prophets to whom he spoke directly, even a horde of ravenous bears that killed children who made fun of one prophet's baldness. (Yes, what a loving God.) Remember, this argument is based on the early chapters of Genesis, so there is no part of the OT or NT to which it doesn’t apply.

The speaker admitted that despite all this arm-waving about the separation of a physical and spiritual world, it seems that God can act in “sovereign judgment” over the world whenever He chooses, and destroy all or part of it if he gets fed up.

To paraphrase this line of reasoning, God has determined the bounds and laws of the physical world, and committed that He will not act to violate them.

Oh, except when He decides to, irrespective of His commitment not to do exactly that.

Oh, and when someone prays to him (and presuming He decides to answer said prayer).

So, in other words, God could intervene in any thing, any time; he just wants us to pray for it. And most of the time he’ll ignore those prayers. Except when he decides to just say “the hell with it” and do something anyway without anyone wanting it.

Evil exists because we have free will, and because God won't intervene. Except as noted above. So really there's no reason for the existence of evil at all, then, is there?

God is a liar and a fraud, or more capricious than a three-year-old with attention-deficit disorder.

Or... maybe... a complete fable?

And this was proffered as a rational argument for the existence of evil. Well, mission accomplished, but not the way it was intended.

[Head explodes]

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