God does everything, God does nothing

Posted on May 2, 2011

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Sometimes disaster strikes, like the tornado that just whirled through the South last week.  Many homes were leveled, and so were other town buildings that included many churches.  Of course you know that disasters are sometimes purported by the faithful to be God’s weapon against sinners, and you don’t have to look hard for these kinds of quotes from religious nuts regarding even such recent tragedies like the hurricane in Japan.  The main thrust of their arguments flip-flop with mindboggling rapidity, leaving God responsible for everything, and then nothing.  A great example of this comes from a bunch of Southern Baptists interviewed about the recent tornado.

Macolee Muhammed accepted the prayer of a relief worker who stopped by what was left of her Birmingham home. It didn’t matter that she was Muslim and he was a Southern Baptist.

“If you came here to help, the only person who sent you was God,” she said.

This is one of the many reasons that religion makes me sick.  Instead of giving thanks where it is actually due, they ricochet their thanks off those deserving of it and confer it up to their Sky Daddy–God.  Someone may have seen footage of the wreckage, been moved enough and able enough to either send aid or go provide aid directly themselves, only to have the people who they are helping give thanks to their imaginary friend.  So essentially they aren’t really thanking anyone, since God doesn’t even exist!  It’s like those people who have cancer in regions extraordinarily difficult to access bestowing thanks on God for realizing the 5% chance they had of the surgery being successful.  What about the doctor that went to medical school for nearly a decade?  Shouldn’t he deserve at least some thanks, seeing as though their chance of survival would be nil without him?  There’s also this:

So on the first Sunday after the disaster, believers streamed into houses of worship to give thanks for being spared, to mourn the dead and to ponder impossible questions. Why did some survive without any explanation? Why did others die for no apparent reason?

Many people in this highly religious region saw God at work, even amid the devastation.

“God just put his big old arms around us,” said Peggy Blevins, 59, of Rainsville, Ala. “I don’t understand why he takes some people and leaves others. But I thank him just the same for protecting us.”

These kind of “why” questions really make no sense, and I hate how the journalist conceded that these people are pondering such “impossible questions”.  Impossible?  Really?  Here, try this on for size.

Climate is largely unpredictable due to the complexity of the global system.  It’s difficult to account for every factor leading to a fierce storm.  When storms of such an immense scale come to be, they tend to indiscriminately destroy everything in their path.  There is no reason a tornado kills one person rather than another.  Each situation is different.  Some people are better concealed than others, some have stronger houses, and some just happen to be lucky enough not to be hit by a 2×4” carried by the wind.  Some people will live, and some people will die.  The distribution of deaths will be somewhat predictable based on proximity to the tornado’s path, but whether or not any one person will die can’t be given an exact number.  The process of a violent storm are stochastic, and only predictable in the sense that it will roughly follow a normal statistical distribution.  There, according to the journalist, I have just answered an “impossible” question.

The above quote also goes to show that no matter the outcome, God comes out on top.  If innocent people die, He is working in mysterious ways.  If some people live, He saved them for a reason.  There is absolutely zero accountability for God in the minds of these people, and they display some amazing mental acrobatics to maintain this position.

“To some people it might sound cold, but God does have a plan,” Blevins said. “I know I sound like one of those Southern Baptists, but I am.”

What about all those preachers that would tell you that the tornado hit your town because it must have harbored a lot of sinners?  Clearly they have this idea that God intervenes.  So what happened to his plan?  To some people this might sound cold, but sometimes shit happens, and it certainly doesn’t help to try to explain it away with an obscure notion of a God who loves you.

“My faith is stronger now than ever,” she said. “I know God will test you, but it can’t be nothing but stronger.”

The above sentence doesn’t make sense for two reasons.  The first reason is that it’s structurally incoherent, and the second is that the idea that events which should make you believe less in a loving God actually increase your certainty that He exists, via mental contortion that God is testing your faith, is pathetic.  Again, God can’t lose; if he saves people it strengthens faith, if he kills innocent people, that also strengthens faith.  How could any outcome predicted by chance, then, not lead to a strengthening of one’s faith?

“You might say, `Where was God in all of this?’ But I think he’s still providing protection. God didn’t kill those people. The storm did. He preserves lives.”

So, now God only saves people, but isn’t responsible for the disasters themselves?  Doesn’t this beg the question about why God chooses to save some people and not others, then?  Did the people who died not pray hard enough, or go to church less frequently?  And what about the man above that says God has a plan?  Did God plan the storm or didn’t He?  And again, what about all those pastors and priests who are so quick to postulate a storm as God’s way of punishing the sinful?  It seems pretty clear–God does everything, and God does nothing.  Whichever justification you choose to take up is completely subjective and is a prime example of an ad hoc fallacy.

Can religious people just use their brains for once, please?

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Posted in: Atheism, Religion