Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Best Laid Plans of... God?!?!

"God has a plan," my mother is found of telling her kids, whether they like to hear it or not. This was also what a great deal of the Amish were saying as they were interviewed tonight, on their thoughts and feelings about the massacre of their daughters. "It was in God's hands. It was part of his plan," stated one young woman, who had two cousins who were shot that fateful day in the school house...

Another older gentleman said, "If it wasn't by this man's hands, another way would have been found for God to take their lives this day. Their time was up. God called them home."

A plan? Really? He's god, he has a plan, and this is the best he could come up with? I think to myself.

Granted, I don't place faith in the almighty being, the great spaghetti monster in the sky, whatever. But, really, if your god's plan for me is to be lined up against a chalkboard, tied by my feet, and executed by a raving lunatic, I'd rather come up with my own plan. And it wouldn't involve anything these poor ten young girls had to endure.

Now I understand that we have a need to explain things--to find a reason, to bring forth the logic, to find the pattern that, when we look at it, go "Aha! That's why!"

But to claim your god planned this? That he willingly let these poor girls die like this? And to claim god is merciful and just?!?! What the hell kind of fucked up idea of god is that?

Now, I'll willingly admit, I don't have the answers. Most likely never will. I am not above telling little pleasantries to help you get going the next morning, when you realize your little girl or boy, your child isn't coming home. Everyone needs to cope, and some people need plain lied to to do so. I get that. But to call it a "plan"? This is a pill I'm having a hard time swallowing right now...

This brings up a very disturbing thought: If all of this is some kind of "master plan" for god's creation, is he truly a god worth worshipping as so many people do? (or at least, is this attribute of god worthy of worship?) The story of Job is filled with heartache, loss, death, destruction, despair and torment--why? God and Satan playing a game. A bet, as it were (perhaps this is where fundies draw the conclusion that gambling is bad?) Satan says Job will curse god if god takes away all of the blessings he has bestowed on Job. God says, "Pshaw! You're full of crap, Lucy! Just watch!" And god proceeds to decimate Job's life. His wife leaves him, all of his kids die, his crops and cattle die, he is stricken with sickness, and he loses his home. And, of course, god is right (as the all-powerful always tends to be in these types of tragedies), and in the end, god gives back Job everything double. So, does this speak to Job's martyrdom? God's ego? Both, perhaps?

The thing is, not everyone's tragedies have so neat and tidy an ending. "Happily Ever After," as it were. These families will be mourning the loss of their children for the rest of their lives. No child they have in the future will ever replace the person they lost that day. So even if everything is brought back double, what is the point?

Some will claim lessons learned. God was teaching them something, as is god's want. Or perhaps some will claim god was punishing them, to bring them back to him (though not in Job's case)...

But who does it profit? A believer will still be a believer (whether or not they rail against god) as the bible already says "Once your name is written in the book of life, it cannot be taken out" (paraphrase). And those who refuse god will still refuse god, despite what god may do to them. And since god already knows who will choose him and who won't, why the seemingly indiscriminate suffering? And even if god doesn't know, hasn't he ever heard, "You get more flies with honey than vinegar"?

What it seems to boil down to is simple: God is sadistic. If he is truly all-powerful:
  1. either he enjoys seeing us suffer, or
  2. He is powerless to stop any of it, hence not all-powerful, or
  3. his plan is severely flawed, or
  4. there isn't a god.
Now, I know what's coming here, so go ahead and let loose, but be forewarned, I've heard it before. Either I:
  1. refuse to see god when he's standing in front of me shouting in my face, or
  2. god's plan is so much higher than I could possibly comprehend that me talking about it here won't even begin to do it justice, or
  3. there is no god, and we're all just here suffering along the best way we know how.
We all suffer, some a lot more than others. Some know pain that no person or animal should ever have to go through; watch the news tonight and you might see what I mean. And if you can sit there and watch the horrific conditions of the world, and tell me it's all part of some "master plan," and I'm going to call you crazy. Don't worry: I'm crazy too. Ask my mother.

Some of you I like, some of you I love, some of you I can't even stand to think about, and some of you are growing on me like cancer. :) But we're all here, on this journey together. And you're more than welcome to be the masochistic whipping boy of the great sky god (or not). And I'd love to hear your thoughts (although be prepared to hear my opinion about your opinion if I feel it is needed, or if I simply feel like sharing).

Is our misery of god? Or of ourselves? I'm placing my bet on number 2.
From a philosophical point of view, Epicurus presented the problem this way:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

Hume stated it this way:
If evil in the world is the intention of the deity, then, he is not benevolent. If evil in the world is contrary to His intention, then, He is not omnipotent. But evil is either in accordance with His intention or contrary to it. Therefore, either the deity is not benevolent, or He is not omnipotent.

Or, as Douglas Adams put it one time, "That about wraps it up for god." :)

I think I may pull Epicurus' argument apart just for shits and giggles in the future, but for now, have fun!

9 comments:

mom said...

hello jason! i really don't know what to say with all of this but i will try since i really do think everything we go through good and bad alike is for our own good if you are walking with God. i can't say i had suffered anymore than anyone else but know i did go through things that was not good. as i read your blog i thought about what you say about God maybe being able to stop this bad stuff and looking down like its a game and i will say i wonder why God does things also but than realize it isn't Gods fault since i look at it as our own doing. He gave us our own wills. that is why He lets you do what you do and me to do what i do and others do what they do. He gives us freedoms of choice and isn't what we all want? well, anyway, i can't even go to where these people are since i did not have a child taken away from me (and i do hope i don't have to ever face that) but dealing with it the way they are is teaching me something in the way they are trying to digest it and face it head on and talk to people that care that will listen and try to look to God for answers that you do find when you seek Him. i know the things i went through with all you kids and my parents and dads side i never felt God left me down. even when i thought it was the worse i found a peace that only God can give. when i thought you where going to die when you got so sick and i can take you to the spot where i felt God giving me that peace when i needed it so much when you faced the turning point of living or death. i am happy i had to face all the hardships in my life since i feel i have learned so many lessons that made me a better and stronger person and i know i can help others if they need me with some of what i went through. i do give God the glory since i know i could not do it myself since i will say again while we are here on this earth we each have a job to do to help others. i look at the people in lancaster and i feel i can learn from them on how to handle life at its worse. i guess you will have some arguement on all this and thats fine. maybe i am crazy for bloging on this but i am your mother and you need to hear it again whether you need to hear it again or not!! :) love and prayers

Steve said...

What has always surprised me about events like this is that people are fast to say “why did God let this happen?” and “what is God trying to teach us?” and “God is punishing people for this, that and the other”.
Why does God get blamed every time bad people, who refuse to follow His teachings, do bad things to good people? What does God have to do with the unrepentant sinner?
Aside from loving the sinner and hoping that he/she will turn from the path of sin back to Him, He has nothing to do with the unrepentant sinner.
They sin because they don’t know Him, or have rejected Him.
Bad people do bad things to good people. But that is hardly God’s fault.
The peace and joy that a walk with God can give to a person is beyond anyting this world can offer.

Jason Hughes said...

Mom & Steve: Ahh, two of my favorite conservatives... :D

Yes, the whole "free will" set forth back in the day is a factor--people can freely do what they want to do when they do it... but how does that correlate into a "plan" by god? Why does there have to be a "god" factored in at all when there is no compelling reasoning behind it?

It does all come back to each individuals feelings at any given time... Nothing more. We all try to make sense out of these scary things that intrude upon our lives (more so with the whole "communications" age than in the past...) and I have to say, factoring in a diety of any kind is simlpy a coping mechanism, in my honest opinion...

Whether or not it's a good coping mechanism is a different discussion.. :)

But why is it when something bad happens, it's people and "sin" nature, but when something good happens, it's of "god"? You both say in your comments that "god has taught you something from this" and that "god has given you peace"; Steve, you specifically say "They sin because they don’t know Him, or have rejected Him." Then why do Christians continue to "sin"? Why are there varying definitions of what "sin" is? "Sin" is nothing more than a moral concept you have created and come up with based on what you were taught and what you found best worked with the world view you created--much like a Buddhist would find it abhorent to squish a bug, you might find it dificult to justify gambling or using a "curse" word. Neither is any more a "sin" than the other, depending on the world view you are subscribing to at the time...

Then how those personal mores and values factor in to the greater society beget laws and customs, as it were, that the majority of the whole can generally agree upon based on what is best for the "collective" or "community." Nothing more. Nothing divine, just common sense and general welfare, with a dose of empthay and simpathy for your fellow man on this journey through life on earth...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts though!

mom said...

hello jason! you need a good haunting!! :) :) i know you will find an aguement on that also but i just had to say that. :) what i am saying to go through something like the amish people went through or anything horrible that people go through daily there is a power you can tap in and for me it is the divine power of God. there was at least 4 times i felt the Holy Spirits presence and this was after i DID see the person i am without Him and follow Him on a daily walk. it is not easy to see the person you are until you do look DEEP within and realize the person we truly are and its when we realize we need to change. its also i feel letting go of our human control. living by faith is living in change and letting go of OUR control. i can't change you anymore than anyone else and even God won't tackle you down to change you. all He does if offer a better way of life and thats all up to you. i can only live with a daily walk with God to help me with my life! i know how i am without Him. i can give you example after example how He changed me with His divine power. if we do find out its just all common sense well what harm did it do to live the way i am trying to live with His daily help? since i do not see any proof He doesn't exsist and i can look at my life in what God did for me and how He changed my life for the better i rather ere on this walk than walk without Him. well, this is your mothers heart coming out and i thank you again for your blog. :) i feel God is using your blog in a special way. like it or not! :) love and prayers ps you should be a lawyer! :) :) :)

beth said...

Hey, Jason, your 3rd favorite Fundie here.....I just have to say that you really should listen more to your mother - she sounds like a pretty smart lady. These Amish people are a great example of God's forgiveness. They are supporting and raising money for the family of the man who killed their kids. Just as God takes care of the people who killed his kid, Jesus. I know you hate to hear it, but it is so true. Ask your mom, she knows. And that, is my three cents.

Jason Hughes said...

Beth: There are great examples of people's ability to empathize and forgive... there is no god to factor in... sorry!

And I listen to my mother a great deal, for she is a wise and wonderful friend--but that's not to say she's right about everything, of course.

:)

Welcome back anyway!

mom said...

hello jason! you need a good haunting!! :) :) i know you will find an aguement on that also but i just had to say that. :) what i am saying to go through something like the amish people went through or anything horrible that people go through daily there is a power you can tap in and for me it is the divine power of God. there was at least 4 times i felt the Holy Spirits presence and this was after i DID see the person i am without Him and follow Him on a daily walk. it is not easy to see the person you are until you do look DEEP within and realize the person we truly are and its when we realize we need to change. its also i feel letting go of our human control. living by faith is living in change and letting go of OUR control. i can't change you anymore than anyone else and even God won't tackle you down to change you. all He does if offer a better way of life and thats all up to you. i can only live with a daily walk with God to help me with my life! i know how i am without Him. i can give you example after example how He changed me with His divine power. if we do find out its just all common sense well what harm did it do to live the way i am trying to live with His daily help? since i do not see any proof He doesn't exsist and i can look at my life in what God did for me and how He changed my life for the better i rather ere on this walk than walk without Him. well, this is your mothers heart coming out and i thank you again for your blog. :) i feel God is using your blog in a special way. like it or not! :) love and prayers ps you should be a lawyer! :) :) :)

Jason Hughes said...

Mom & Steve: Ahh, two of my favorite conservatives... :D

Yes, the whole "free will" set forth back in the day is a factor--people can freely do what they want to do when they do it... but how does that correlate into a "plan" by god? Why does there have to be a "god" factored in at all when there is no compelling reasoning behind it?

It does all come back to each individuals feelings at any given time... Nothing more. We all try to make sense out of these scary things that intrude upon our lives (more so with the whole "communications" age than in the past...) and I have to say, factoring in a diety of any kind is simlpy a coping mechanism, in my honest opinion...

Whether or not it's a good coping mechanism is a different discussion.. :)

But why is it when something bad happens, it's people and "sin" nature, but when something good happens, it's of "god"? You both say in your comments that "god has taught you something from this" and that "god has given you peace"; Steve, you specifically say "They sin because they don’t know Him, or have rejected Him." Then why do Christians continue to "sin"? Why are there varying definitions of what "sin" is? "Sin" is nothing more than a moral concept you have created and come up with based on what you were taught and what you found best worked with the world view you created--much like a Buddhist would find it abhorent to squish a bug, you might find it dificult to justify gambling or using a "curse" word. Neither is any more a "sin" than the other, depending on the world view you are subscribing to at the time...

Then how those personal mores and values factor in to the greater society beget laws and customs, as it were, that the majority of the whole can generally agree upon based on what is best for the "collective" or "community." Nothing more. Nothing divine, just common sense and general welfare, with a dose of empthay and simpathy for your fellow man on this journey through life on earth...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts though!

mom said...

hello jason! i really don't know what to say with all of this but i will try since i really do think everything we go through good and bad alike is for our own good if you are walking with God. i can't say i had suffered anymore than anyone else but know i did go through things that was not good. as i read your blog i thought about what you say about God maybe being able to stop this bad stuff and looking down like its a game and i will say i wonder why God does things also but than realize it isn't Gods fault since i look at it as our own doing. He gave us our own wills. that is why He lets you do what you do and me to do what i do and others do what they do. He gives us freedoms of choice and isn't what we all want? well, anyway, i can't even go to where these people are since i did not have a child taken away from me (and i do hope i don't have to ever face that) but dealing with it the way they are is teaching me something in the way they are trying to digest it and face it head on and talk to people that care that will listen and try to look to God for answers that you do find when you seek Him. i know the things i went through with all you kids and my parents and dads side i never felt God left me down. even when i thought it was the worse i found a peace that only God can give. when i thought you where going to die when you got so sick and i can take you to the spot where i felt God giving me that peace when i needed it so much when you faced the turning point of living or death. i am happy i had to face all the hardships in my life since i feel i have learned so many lessons that made me a better and stronger person and i know i can help others if they need me with some of what i went through. i do give God the glory since i know i could not do it myself since i will say again while we are here on this earth we each have a job to do to help others. i look at the people in lancaster and i feel i can learn from them on how to handle life at its worse. i guess you will have some arguement on all this and thats fine. maybe i am crazy for bloging on this but i am your mother and you need to hear it again whether you need to hear it again or not!! :) love and prayers