This past week a winsome young mother-to-be distant relative wrote asking my help in a family history that she working on. In the course of our exchange of emails, so that she might be better informed, I told her about the faith of my clergyman father and his father and disclosed that I no longer accept. I wrote her:
I came to understand that if there is a God, he, she or it certainly is hands off as far as this universe and humans are concerned.
”We just read about a god like that the other day in the account of Elijah at Mount Carmel. Elijah taunted the priest of Baal for calling out to a god who might be musing, relieving himself, on a journey, or perhaps asleep. But that’s not the kind of God I serve. He is the one who created the world and has been intimately involved in ruling it ever since. After man sinned, he promised a redeemer and over many years of recorded history He brought his plan into being, always keeping His promises and guiding His people, even sending prosperity to other nations that hated Him, until in the fullness of time He put His son on earth. He was hungry, happy, tempted, and sad like we are but without sin. Now Jesus reigns over all the earth and his kingdom is always expanding, and the world benefiting, as more and more people bow to him, and one day He will return to take his people into glory and to judge the world. This glory that God has promised is not a sea of puffy white clouds and chubby cherubs, which scene I always thought a boring picture of Heaven, but it is a new heavens and new earth. Surely the God, who made us to enjoy things like His love, sunrises, food, biking, good company, and the physical relationship in marriage, must have an amazing reward for those who spend eternity with Him.“I am sure you know all of this, but I wanted to tell you what I believe and am excited about. I do not believe in a hands-off God, and am excited to serve the one true God who made me and is the best of fathers.”
In our exchange of emails, I argued that this creation is flawed and those flaws are painful and deadly:Rather that believe blindly, I think that by doing the best we can some of us will survive and die a natural death; however, that isn’t easy for millions who must face devastating tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, famine, plague, and the many manmade evils of greed and poverty.
In reply to my argument, she answered:
”It’s true. If there is no God, or if he is just an insipid lay-about, or even a clever cosmic maker of watches, then what a miserable world we live in. It is best to eat, drink, and be merry, hoping not to be one of the many people who live in poverty, die young of cancer, or are killed in war.
Oh, and I do intend to pray for you:)”I suggest that this winsome intelligent soul is in denial. In order to hang on to the security blanket of faith in a loving soul-saving all wise God, she fails to attribute the tragic consequences of the way this world works. This is not to say I can’t see the amazing beauty of a sunset or flower. In fact this week my sister, who is devout as this distant relative who is working on a family history, forwarded a clip of unfolding flowers “The Life of Flowers” with a concluding comment: Truly beautiful!!! Straight from God!Yes, it does seem logical to say it took a genius Creator to make something so beautiful. The same line of reasoning explains the star-filled heavens. But such cause and effect or effect and causal reasoning is more difficult the more one knows. The more one knows about our universe with billions of stars spinning through space for billions of years, the more it is difficult for the faithful to comprehend the purpose of it all so they find it more comfortable to turn to the Bible what “knows”. No matter how sure is the author of The Purpose Driven Life, he, nor any other tome I have ever read, has explained the purpose of these billions of stars spinning for billions of years through endless space.
As I write headlines tell us “Turkey Earthquake: Hundreds Dead as Rescue Workers Dig Out and we’re informed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake has leveled dozens of buildings, killing hundreds–366 dead as of October 25, 2011. This and other articles tell us Turkey is highly susceptible to earthquakes as it sits on major geological fault lines. And we are reminded that earthquakes are not rare at all – several hundred earthquakes occur every day, about 1 million of them annually – of which 50,000 can be felt without the aid of instruments. Tremors of the magnitude of Kobe in 1995 (which caused an estimated damage of $100 billion) are measured 20 times in an average year. http://www.statssheet.com/articles/article7082.html
I then think of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11 lat year has left some 20,000 people dead or missing. overall cost could exceed US$300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster on record. And I yet remember the 2004 quake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean.But those of us are not living in Eden, who by chance of being born far inland where tsunamis can’t reach and where earthquakes rarey wreak havoc. We must fight off microscopic enemies, superbugs that put us at risk even when taken to a hospital. In an October 19, 2011article “Infection: How Hospitals Are Breeding Grounds for Superbugs You’ve Never Even Heard Of” by Anneli Rufus, we learn in American hospitalsmillions of infections are contracted annually within these ostensibly sanitary institutions. Collectively, they’re called hospital-acquired infections, nosocomial infections or HAIs. Patients face the gravest risk, but visitors are far from immune, at a cost of some $40 billion every year.http://www.alternet.org/story/152786/infection%3A_how_hospitals_are_breeding_grounds_for_superbugs_you%27ve_never_even_heard_of?akid=7765.145380.Q_J8LG&rd=1&t=6So to what does all this add up to in the mind of the faithful? Are these facts, describing the way our world muddles through, the work of a mad incompetent cosmic scientist? My distant faith-believing genealogy-digging relative answers in denial, “If there is no God, or if he is just an insipid lay-about, or even a clever cosmic maker of watches, then what a miserable world we live in. It is best to eat, drink, and be merry, hoping not be one of the many people who live in poverty, die young of cancer, or are killed in war.”