When people are better than God

The aftermath of the Aurora shooting demonstrates something quite clear to me: Christians are adept at cleaning up after the tragedies their God saw no reason to prevent. Christians are better than their God.

This is a testimony to the strength of human nature. When something goes terribly wrong, there are always people who throw themselves into helping those who are affected. Of course, in the case of mass shootings, it is also human nature that leads to the tragedy itself. Human nature varies greatly from person to person, and from moment to moment.

The great irony here is that many Christians believe their good deeds to be possible only by the grace of God. The same God who allowed a mad man to mow 12 people down in a crowded movie theater. God’s grace, it seems, is as sporadic and unreliable as human nature itself. (No surprise, given that God is created in man’s image.)

It’s been quite embarrassing, I must say, to see the complete lack of answers provided by the alleged “experts” of religion – pastors, ministers, and priests – as to why God would allow such an awful crime to be committed. Some even try to downplay the importance of asking the question in the first place.

Indeed, it’s not a little shameful that people should continue to believe in a benevolent, all-powerful God in the face of such damning evidence. Yet they insist on doing so. They cling to the fairy take like a baby clings to his pacifier.

But people can be forgiven for doing this, because people are not perfect. People need comfort. They need stability. And many Christians demonstrate real strength in their support of others. This, once again, is where they shine, while their god fails.

Christians are better than their god.

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21 Responses to When people are better than God

  1. L.Long says:

    As stated many times…
    “NOTHING fails like the power of prayer!”
    As I’m sure that at least one or two of the victims prayed to gawd for help before being sent to hell by the shooter.

    And yes I know they went to hell because I asked gawd and it told me they went to hell because they wasted their last moments asking for help rather then for forgiveness of their sins against me.

  2. L.Long says:

    Forgot…
    yes the only REAL help the victims got was from the medics, police, and hospital people acting better then the xtian gawd. And it is sicking to hear the xtians go on about how it was gawd that gave them the skills and strength to get the job done, there by ignoring years of training and experience.

  3. Again, here is proof of that “enmity with God….” And this enmity with God is precisely with Yahweh, the bible/Christian god, in particular.

    It’s present in the majority of your posts, Keith, so it’s pointless to deny it’s here. Something you claim you don’t believe in takes up quite a lot of your time, railing and insulting against its influence, or non-influence, (in this particular post).

    You’ve already called Him a tyrant on my blog, but yet you would still have Him manipulate us like we are chess pieces, eh? You would prefer we not endure the consequences of our own choices? You would rather a benevolent being manage everything for us and clean up our errors like a good father figure, and thus we’ll never really be independent or free to even really love Him, will we?

    You don’t care for the tyrant but then you blame Him and criticize Him for not stopping a disturbed, mentally ill individual who had his own reasons for the choices he made. This is all really unfair of you, imo, Keith, and not at all “reasonable” and “unemotional.” It’s not “scientific” either. 😉

    • Keith says:

      Warrioress

      I’m rather shocked to see you defending the Colorado shooter in this way. By defending God’s decision to do nothing to stop the shooter, you’re essentially defending the right of the shooter – indeed, of *any* shooter – to walk into a crowd and mow people down with a gun, whenever their free will prompts them to do so.

      If you really think God is calling you to defend people’s right to commit mass murder, then I think you demonstrate my point for me, namely that yours is a cruel and evil god.

      This, to be clear, means that I’m angry at people, not gods. I’m angry at Christians who turn a blind eye to their God’s atrocious negligence toward his own people. I’m angry at people who are so brainwashed by religion that they insist that God must be good despite the overwhelming tide of evil he allows to wash over the earth every day.

      In short, I’m angry with people for being so irrational in their worldview. In the face of the Colorado shooting, and in the dark shadow of countless other pointless acts of violence that have collected throughout our history as a species, Christianity is utterly and completely irrational.

      • I disagree with your comment, Keith, and I’m surprised by something so emotional-sounding from you. Obviously, your feelings toward God are more “involved” than I was initially aware of, but yeah..you’re exhibiting definite enmity toward Yahweh to be sure.

        I’m not defending the CO shooter; I have no idea how you came up with that from what my initial reply. I simply don’t understand how you can have it both ways. You think God is a tyrant but you also feel He should step in and puppeteer us when we’re out of line. Well, which is it? Which way would you have God be, Keith?

        People in our world are free to do lots of things, Keith. Think about Hitler, Stalin, and countless other communist atheist leaders and the atrocities they committed. If God did nothing but control wicked people, what would be the point? We would all be little programmed robots and mere puppets, don’t you see this?

        What is irrational is your angst at God because He is a tyrant and a control-freak, in your opinion, and then you’re anger because He isn’t controlling enough to suit you..

        Yep. Irrational, to say the least. I think you need to think on this whole thing a little more deeply.

  4. Here is the opinion of a pastor that seems to be telling us something similar to what I just said:

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/07/28/my-take-this-is-where-god-was-in-aurora/

  5. Ruedi says:

    Seems to me you are still stuck in your own assumption that a good god would have to make evil impossible. Other than your personal preference, I see no logical basis for your claim.

    • Keith says:

      Ruedi: If you want to explain why God had to allow the Colorado shooting to take place, by all means go ahead, but first try your explanation on the victims’ families, and let me know how that goes.

      • Ruedi says:

        Keith: First of all, I don’t want to sound glib – I have far too many friends in Aurora for that!
        Second, it seems to me that you have far more to explain than I do. From a philosophical POV, it looks to me like you are portraying the ideal human as a semi-automaton, able to do good but unable to do evil. Or as a split personality – able to think evil but unable to do evil. It seems to me this approach lacks realism, and intrinsically devalues humans into mere semi-humans. From a theological POV, you are creating “god” according to your own preferences and criteria. And when that creation fails, you blame God for having created us full humans, able to love and to hate Him, and able to love and to hate their neighbor. You cannot have fully human beings and a fully divine God that way.

  6. Keith, just wanted to share one more really excellent take on this CO shooter thing, with you:

    http://theupsidedownworld.com/2012/08/02/its-the-prime-directive/#comment-2721

    • Keith says:

      This post basically amounts to: God is not responsible for looking after us because we’re really not specially related to him in any way. We’re just an alien species on an alien planet, and God just happens to be zooming by on his spaceship.

      If you really accept that this is the true relationship between people and God, then I’m more than happy to accept the “prime directive” premise.

  7. I think you’re missing the point of her take by the prime directive example. It means to allow humanity their right to freedom of choice, to be responsible for their own reality and the consequences that are created as a result of that. God does not intervene or interfere.

  8. Keith says:

    Warrioress:

    “I simply don’t understand how you can have it both ways. You think God is a tyrant but you also feel He should step in and puppeteer us when we’re out of line. Well, which is it?”

    Puppeteering has nothing to do with it. Do parents “puppeteer” their children when they stop them from running into the street in front of oncoming traffic? Do police puppeteer school students when they check them for weapons at the school doors? In our daily lives we all accept certain limits on our freedoms – limits whose sole purpose is to make daily life safer for everyone.

    The truth is, Warrioress, that if we as humans insist on hurting each other, then we DON’T DESERVE complete freedom of action. Complete freedom of action is not some sort of right – it is a privilege that comes with responsibility. And we, as humans, have demonstrated that we are not ready for this responsibility. We therefore do not deserve to have complete freedom.

    If God gives us complete freedom anyway, then he is SPOILING us, like a push-over parent spoils her child. And as we know, spoiling a child leads to bad behavior. In the same way, by giving us freedoms we have not earned, and which we do not deserve, God is allowing us to indulge in bad behavior – behavior that hurts (and kills) others. By this stage, a good parent would have realized her mistake, and would have restrained her child. God doesn’t seem to have figured this out yet, and he’s still letting us run around with all the candy we want, while it rots our teeth.

    But, to answer your question, I want neither a tyrant nor a puppeteer. I would like instead to see evidence of the God that Christians insist exists, yet doesn’t seem to: the kind of god that would never allow a madman to open fire on a crowded theater. A god that would prevent people from committing crimes, thereby allowing more people the freedom and happiness of a safe society. I honestly don’t see how restricting people from committing crimes is equivalent to making them puppets. That’s plainly ridiculous.

    “People in our world are free to do lots of things, Keith. Think about Hitler, Stalin, and countless other communist atheist leaders and the atrocities they committed. If God did nothing but control wicked people, what would be the point?”

    The world would be pointless without the sorts of crimes committed by Hitler and Stalin? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Have you actually gone back and read what you’ve typed? Do it now. Read those words of yours I’ve quoted. You’re actually saying that there’d be no point in having a world free of Hitler-esque atrocities.

    Unbelievable.

  9. You said:

    “But, to answer your question, I want neither a tyrant nor a puppeteer. I would like instead to see evidence of the God that Christians insist exists, yet doesn’t seem to: the kind of god that would never allow a madman to open fire on a crowded theater. A god that would prevent people from committing crimes, thereby allowing more people the freedom and happiness of a safe society. I honestly don’t see how restricting people from committing crimes is equivalent to making them puppets. That’s plainly ridiculous.”

    Keith, I’m not sure if you realize what you’re dreaming of here, but to put it succinctly, it’s apparently a kind of Heaven where evil does not exist because God has removed all ability of people to do evil, or perhaps He’s simply gotten rid of it altogether.

    If you reaffirm belief in Jesus Christ, sincerely, you’ll be able to experience this type of life because that’s the kind of life God has planned for the future after Satan and his minions have been tossed into the lake of fire. You’re thinking about the new earth and heaven where this kind of dream becomes a reality; that’s not the reality of the life we’re living right now though.

    Evil definitely exists, Keith, and it’s being allowed to run rampant, unfortunately. Satan is having his day in the sun and things are going to get a lot worse than they already are before they get better. God isn’t going to treat us like children, apparently, like you want Him to. He wants us to be absolutely free to make our own individual choices and decisions in this life, and bear the consequences for those, for whatever His reasons are.

    You’ve obviously misunderstood the last part of my post before this one.

    You said:

    “The world would be pointless without the sorts of crimes committed by Hitler and Stalin? Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Have you actually gone back and read what you’ve typed? Do it now. Read those words of yours I’ve quoted. You’re actually saying that there’d be no point in having a world free of Hitler-esque atrocities.”

    I meant that life would be pointless if everything we did and said were censored and edited by God. We would not be free or even really living. We would be prisoners. Your idea of being controlled in that manner doesn’t appeal to me at all; that is not living, Keith. I’m not a child and I would not appreciate that kind of control or being censored like a child and puppeteer-ed like one.

    Crime and nutcases gone wild are what we have to endure in order to have our freedom on this earth. There are crazies and there are genuinely good people; life is simply what it is right now and we have to take the good with the bad. God is not going to exercise that kind of control over us like you apparently want Him to, so that you can see Him as a “good” god.

    • Keith says:

      Warrioress:

      “Keith, I’m not sure if you realize what you’re dreaming of here, but to put it succinctly, it’s apparently a kind of Heaven where evil does not exist because God has removed all ability of people to do evil, or perhaps He’s simply gotten rid of it altogether.”

      Yes, it’s exactly like Heaven itself. You would agree, wouldn’t you, that people in heaven have free will, yes? Yet they don’t do evil things. If it’s possible in heaven, then why not on earth? Why even have the feature of sin exist in the first place?

      “If you reaffirm belief in Jesus Christ, sincerely, you’ll be able to experience this type of life”

      This is absolutely false. Show me a single Christian who has completely ceased sinning. There are no saints, Warrioress.

      “You’re thinking about the new earth and heaven where this kind of dream becomes a reality; that’s not the reality of the life we’re living right now though.”

      And this is the central problem of Christianity. It cannot explain why a world full of evil, like ours, should exist in the first place.

      “God isn’t going to treat us like children, apparently, like you want Him to.”

      But we ARE children, Warrioress, that’s the point of my latest post. We actually DESERVE to be treated like children, because we clearly cannot handle the responsibility of free will.

      “He wants us to be absolutely free to make our own individual choices and decisions in this life, and bear the consequences for those, for whatever His reasons are.”

      Even if it means having the freedom to shoot 12 people dead in a movie theater. Got it.

      “I meant that life would be pointless if everything we did and said were censored and edited by God. We would not be free or even really living. We would be prisoners.”

      But once again, heaven is not like this is it? God doesn’t have to censor and edit everything we say in heaven, does he? And yet people in heaven don’t sin. If on heaven it’s possible, then why not on earth?

      “Crime and nutcases gone wild are what we have to endure in order to have our freedom on this earth.”

      But this makes no sense. What about the victims of the shooting? Where is THEIR “freedom on this earth”? In the shooting, God allowed one person’s free will to directly suppress the free will of tens of other people. Where is the justice in that?

      Surely the ONLY situation in which EVERYONE is free to exercise their free will is a situation free of the heinously violent crimes like the one we’ve just witnessed?

      “There are crazies and there are genuinely good people; life is simply what it is right now”

      Now you’re just being fatalistic. It is what it is. But that’s not an excuse when you also believe in a God who supposedly is NOT apathetic, and does actually care about suffering.

      Once again, if heaven is free of suffering, why not earth?

  10. Keith says:

    Ruedi:

    “Second, it seems to me that you have far more to explain than I do. From a philosophical POV, it looks to me like you are portraying the ideal human as a semi-automaton, able to do good but unable to do evil.”

    People’s free will is already restricted in many ways, Ruedi. Everyone is faced, almost daily, with things they really want to do but, for various reasons, cannot. Adding another relatively minor restriction is not going to suddenly turn us into automata. I say “minor” because most of us don’t do all that many evil things on a daily basis anyway, so our lives are not going to be that much different without that option.

    “It seems to me this approach lacks realism”

    I’m sorry, but I had to chuckle at this. The Christian worldview is the one that lacks realism in this discussion. You have a man who claims to be the son of a powerful invisible being that created the universe, this man died and then, so his believers claim, came back to life three days later, and continues to live in some invisible utopia beyond the clouds. It’s precisely BECAUSE the Christian worldview permits so much unrealism that it can be accused of not adopting just one more small aspect of unrealism in the form of humans who never consider doing anything evil!

    “From a theological POV, you are creating “god” according to your own preferences and criteria.”

    That’s what everyone does though.

    “And when that creation fails, you blame God for having created us full humans, able to love and to hate Him, and able to love and to hate their neighbor.”

    No, I blame Christians for holding an irrational and perverted theology that holds that the unfettered exercise of the shooter in Aurora is actually MORE IMPORTANT than the lives of the young people he killed.

    • Ruedi says:

      It seems to me you are trying to get out of this one by diversion and moving goal posts. Having a systematic inability to do evil or think evil is rather different than not always being able to do everything that one wants to do. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend “Clockwork Orange.”
      You can blame christians for holding a bad theology, but that’s no excuse for your defending a stunted view of what being human means. Nor are you very consistent – on the one hand, you recognize that humans do wrong on a daily basis (at least that christians do wrong…), on the other hand you are railing against a worldview that recognizes that humans do wrong on a daily basis… You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

      • Keith says:

        Ruedi:

        “Having a systematic inability to do evil or think evil is rather different than not always being able to do everything that one wants to do. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend “Clockwork Orange.”

        Clockwork Orange (I’d recommend the book over the movie, it is excellent!) is one particular person’s perception of the situation and besides, it has far more to do with brainwashing or habituating a person into a particular behavior, it is not an exploration of what a world would look like if people NATURALLY had no inclination to do or think evil things.

        Furthermore, you have no better conception of what the inability to do or think evil would look like than I do, or anyone else for that matter. It’s not at all clear to me that it would be a negative thing at all. John Lennon gives us a positive glimpse of the possibilities in his song “Imagine”.

        I should also remind you that you do, in fact, believe that a world without evil is possible, assuming you hold to standard Christian beliefs: you presumably believe in an afterlife in which people maintain their free will while simultaneously never doing evil.

        “You can blame christians for holding a bad theology, but that’s no excuse for your defending a stunted view of what being human means.”

        I’m not sure what you mean by this second accusation. I’m not defending a stunted view of what being human means. In fact, under a naturalist worldview, every detail of human nature is fully acknowledged and indeed far better explained than under the theist worldview. Evolution handily explains why human nature is the complex mix of good and evil that it is. And the naturalist worldview has no difficulty explaining why such evil persists, because it has no all-powerful benevolent being whose duty it would surely be to stop such evil, yet who fails to do so.

        But yes, I am blaming Christians for holding a bad theology, on that you are right.

        “On the one hand, you recognize that humans do wrong on a daily basis (at least that christians do wrong…), on the other hand you are railing against a worldview that recognizes that humans do wrong on a daily basis”

        This is not inconsistent at all. I agree that Christianity RECOGNIZES the presence of evil. I’m simply arguing that Christianity cannot EXPLAIN it.

        • Ruedi says:

          Keith, People naturally do have an inclination to do evil. It seems to me that you accuse the Christian God of not treating people like the villain was treated in Clockwork Orange – do something to them so they are henceforth unable to do or think evil.

          Indeed I believe that a world without evil is possible – the afterlife is one instance, the garden of Eden was another.

          Ok, so we agree that real people do evil. Where we disagree is in your summary of an “all-powerful benevolent being whose duty it would surely be to stop such evil, yet who fails to do so.” I’d say you’re wrong in both parts – “whose duty it would be…” (says who? There are a lot of logical leaps in there over some rather inadequate syllogisms) and “who fails to do so” – not always, the complexity of stopping evil sometimes yet without destroying our ability and responsibility for choosing good over evil seems to be a concept that exceeds the explanatory capacity of naturalism. Maybe you find christianity’s approach unsatisfactory, but overall, I haven’t see a better one yet.

          Not sure you really meant that Christianity cannot explain evil. It seems to me what you mean may be a/ christianity attempts to explain it but falls short, or b/ christianity fails to reconcile the real existence of evil with the alleged existence of a good God. I think you mostly mean b/, if I understood you correctly.

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