Tag Archive: God

Is God to Blame for Weather that Kills People?

god in control of the weather

If you are a Christian and you believe the Bible is truth then the answer is an emphatic YES. People killed by tornadoes? God’s doing. The people killed by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy? God’s doing. Mudslides, floods, tsunamis, lightning, thunderstorms, blizzards, ice storms…all of these come from the hand of God and God is ultimately responsible for any death or injury caused by these weather events.

The Bible is clear:

And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. Exodus 10:19

And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. Numbers 11:31

For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: Job 28:24-26

But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Jonah 1:4

But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.  Jonah 4:7,8

He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by his power he brought in the south wind.  Psalm 78:26

These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  Psalm 107:24,25

He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. Psalm 135:7

And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! Matthew 8:25-27

Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. Exodus 9:18

And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. Exodus 9:22

Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. Isaiah 29:6

And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.Genesis 6:17

Thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood: thou driedst up mighty rivers. The day is thine, the night also is thine: thou hast prepared the light and the sun. Psalm 74:16

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 2 Peter 2:4-6

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth. Genesis 7:4

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Deuteronomy 11:13-15

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45

For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.  Job 37:6

There is no doubt about who is in control of the weather. The Bible makes it clear that God controls the weather. If God controls the weather then HE is responsible for the devastation and death that comes when bad weather comes our way.

Not happenstance.

Not Mother Nature.

God.

Not any God, the Christian God.

Dear Christian friend, the next time you are bitching about the weather please turn your bitching towards your God. He is the one to blame.

Several years ago, a Christian commenter left this gem:

The thing is you want a God in your own image. You are justifying yourself and bringing him down to a human level. Complain, mock all you want. Like a crybaby. He is God and is right and as God can make the rules, not you. He is truth, whether you like it or not. The creator has the right to impose what he deems correct on His creation according to His standards. I am sorry for whatever has brought you to the point that you have set yourself against Him so, but it is just pitiful that in the end you are going to find out that the reason He does what he does is for your good and final happiness also, not because He is a tyrant like you think. But you will have missed out, because all you think of is “poor me.”

According to the Bible, this commenter is correct. Basically, God is God and he can do whatever he wants to do. How dare any pimple on the ass of God human beings say anything about what God does.

Every day, somewhere in the world, the Christian God is using his control of the weather to bring devastation and death.

Who are we to complain?

Rebellion and How an Authoritarian God Deals With it

rebellion

Rebellion is a common word in the vocabulary of Evangelical Christian pastors, church leaders, husbands, and parents.

Here’s what the Bible says about God’s view of rebellion:

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23)

Those who practiced witchcraft were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18, Deuteronomy 18:9-11), so it is clear that God considered rebellion a serious matter.

God commanded a harsh punishment for a rebellious son:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them;Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

The Old Testament is the written record of how a Holy God dealt with a rebellious people, Israel. Page after page details God’s judgments against his people and those who got in his way.

When we get to the New Testament, the word rebellion is not used. Does this mean that God has changed? Of course not. How is it possible for a perfect God to change?  Malachi 3:6 says:

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

The Bible says, speaking of Jesus:

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

It is clear that God is immutable. He doesn’t change. (though there are a few texts that seem to suggest otherwise)

The Evangelical Church is a sect that accepts both Testaments as authoritative. (especially those Old Testament verses about tithing) Granted, Evangelicals are quite contradictory in their interpretations of the Old Testament, picking and choosing what they want to believe, but they do say all sixty-six books of the Bible are authoritative.

The key word is AUTHORATATIVE.

Evangelicals take seriously the matter of rebellion because they believe that the Bible is an authoritative text and from that text they deduce an authority structure.

It goes something like this:

  • The Christian God is the supreme authority over everything. He is the sovereign over all. He is the creator. He is in complete and absolute control. Even with salvation, no one can be saved unless God permits them to be saved. (both Calvinists and Arminians believe God is the final arbiter when it comes to salvation)
  • The Christian God has established authority in the church. Under Jesus Christ, pastors (elders, bishops) are the head of the church. They have been called by God to teach, correct, lead, and direct the church. They are to initiate discipline when necessary to ensure the church is a pure, holy body. (though many churches have a pretty low standard for pure and holy)
  • The Christian God has established authority in the home. Again, under Jesus Christ, the husband is the head of the home and his wife is to submit to his authority. Children are to obey their parents and submit to their authority.
  • The Christian God has established authority in nations. All nations are to bow to the authority of the Christian God. Their laws should reflect God’s law. Better yet, theocracy, God rule, is the best form of government.

The Evangelical Christian believes God rules over all. There is no King but Jesus and no God but the Christian God.

The problem here is that Evangelical Christians are human. Contrary to all their talk about being saved and sanctified, Christians are pretty much like the rest of us. For all their praying and confessing sin, they live and talk just like everyone else. Simply put, like all of us, they do what they want to do.

And that is a big, big problem.

You see the God of the authoritative Bible demands obedience. God expects Christians to implicitly obey his commands. All of them. God will have none of this picking and choosing that American Christians love to do.

So everywhere you look you have Christians in some form of rebellion against God, the pastor, their parents, or their husband. No matter how much they pray, read the Bible, go to the altar, and promise to really obey God this time, they continue to lapse into sin and rebellion.

This is what Jesus told his followers in Matthew 5:48:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

It seems Jesus didn’t lower the standard. God expects and demands perfection. God will have none of this “I am not perfect just forgiven” cheap grace Christianity. Jesus expects his followers to walk in his steps. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, they have been given everything they need pertaining to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

But, let me say again:

The problem here is that Evangelical Christians are human. Contrary to all their talk about being saved and sanctified, Christians are pretty much just like the rest of us. For all their praying and confessing sin they live and talk just like everyone else. Simply put, like all of us, they do what they want to do.

The difference between the atheist and the Evangelical Christian is guilt. The Christian lives in a constant cycle of living right, rebelling, feeling guilty, repenting, and back to living right. This cycle can go on numerous times a day. The atheist can feel guilty at times, but since they are not encumbered by a long list of laws, commands, rules, regulations, precepts, or standards, they are less likely to feel guilty. With no God hovering over them and no pastor preaching at them, the atheist is pretty much free to enjoy life.  The atheist tired to live by the maxim: don’t hurt other people, and when they fails they are likely to make restitution and ask for forgiveness from the person they hurt. No need for a God, Bible, church, or pastor. As a human, the atheist has all the faculties necessary to be a good person.

What makes it worse for the Christian is that they go to church on Sunday and their pastor reminds them, from the Bible of course, of how rebellious they are. He points out their sin and reminds them that God hates sin. He calls on them to repent. You would think that people would get tired of all this, but each week they dutifully return to church so their pastor can remind them about their sinfulness and need of repentance.

Children, especially teenagers, get this same treatment from their parents. When they don’t obey their parents they are chastised and reminded that God hates rebellion. But kids will be kids, as every parent knows, and in Christian homes it seems that children are either starting into rebellion or coming out of it.

Parents are commanded by God to beat the rebellion out of their children. God provides himself as a good role model to follow.  Hebrews 12:5-10 says:

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

The Bible records how God goes about chastising rebellious Christians. He maims them, makes them sick, kills their family, takes away their possessions, starves them, and, if necessary, kills them. God goes to great lengths to make sure a Christian seeks after the “peaceable fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11)

Here’s how God expects Evangelical Christian parents to respond to the rebellion of their children:

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. (Proverbs 23:13,14)

Let me tie this all together.

An authoritative text from an authoritarian God establishes authority structures for the church, family, and nations. Disobedience to authority is to be punished.

For those of us raised in this kind of Christianity (and all forms of Christianity have some of this, even liberal iterations of Christianity) we well know how this practically works out.The Bible, in the hands of God’s man, the pastor, is used to dominate and control people. Individuality and freedom is discouraged, and, in some cases, severely punished.

Pastors remind the church of pastoral authority. Parents remind children that they are to be obedient and threaten them with punishment if they don’t. Husbands remind their subservient wives that they are the head of the home and their word is f-i-n-a-l. Collectively, Christians warn government officials that Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings and God demands they submit to the authority of God, the Bible, and his people. (this is the essence of the theocracy movement in this country)

Some readers are likely weeping by now. Their mind goes back twenty or thirty years to a time when they were teenagers. Their parents considered them rebellious. Often their rebellion was things like listening to rock music, smoking, getting pregnant, talking back, having sex, or smoking marijuana.Their parents, needing to show them that they were in charge, sent them off to group homes to get their “rebellion” problem fixed. What really happened is that they were cruelly misused, abused, and debased. Years later, their lives still bear the marks of the Godly “rebellion” treatment they received.

It is hard not to see cultism in all of this. I am sure Bible-believing Christians, people of the book, will scream foul, but the marks of a cult are there for all to see if they dare but open their eyes. Millions of people attend churches that believe the things I have written about in this post. This is what Bible literalism gets you. How could it be otherwise?

Songs of Sacrilege: Dear God

This is the sixth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Dear God by XTC, as new wave band from Swindon, England, 1979-2006

Video Link

Lyrics

Dear God, hope you get the letter and
I pray you can make it better down here
I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer
But all the people that you made in your image
See them starving on their feet
‘Cause they don’t get enough to eat from God
I can’t believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you but
I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
And all the people that you made in your image
See them fighting in the street
‘Cause they can’t make opinions meet about God
I can’t believe in you

Did you make disease and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the Devil too!

Dear God don’t know if you noticed but
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain’t, and so do you
Dear God
I can’t believe in
I don’t believe

I won’t believe in heaven or hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You’re always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it’s the same the whole world ’round
The hurt I see helps to compound
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in

It’s you
Dear God

 

God Loves You and He’ll Make You Suffer to Prove It

calvin and hobbes god

December 12, 2014, I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Defiance Crescent-News about the death of Brittany Maynard. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

Recently, Brittany Maynard, a brave woman with terminal cancer, took her life. As a resident of Oregon, Maynard could legally choose to commit suicide. Many religious people are incensed over her suicide. A Papal Monsignor called Maynard’s choice reprehensible. Pope Francis called such acts a sin against God. Evangelicals have taken to the internet to denounce Maynard, suggesting her suicide landed her in hell.

Here’s what the religious need to understand: those of us who are not so inclined are not moved by quoted Bible verses and threats of God’s judgment and hell. For us, a God who controls life and death and afflicts people with disease, is a fiction. Everywhere I look, I see suffering and death. I reached a point where I asked, where is God? Eventually, I concluded that the Christian God was a figment of my imagination, an imagination fueled by 50 years of Christian indoctrination.

The Bible encourages people to pray, have faith, and hold on. The faithful are assured that God only wants what’s best for them. Suffering is turned into virtue, some sort of badge of honor. Those who suffer will be rewarded in heaven, the Christian preachers say. Of course, we have to take their word for it because no one has come back from the dead to testify to the veracity of the suffering for God sermons.

I am more inclined to believe what I can see. What I see is suffering and death. I should do what I can to alleviate the suffering of others. Imagine one of my children suffering from a painful disease and I have a cure for the disease. However, I am not willing to give my child the cure because I think his suffering is good for him. What kind of father would people think I am? Yet, the Christian God gets a pass when he does the same. If we consider a human who withholds that which could alleviate suffering reprehensible, surely we should view God the same way.

Theodicy, the problem of suffering and evil, is one of the reasons I am no longer a Christian. Like Baal in I Kings 18, when it comes to suffering, war, famine, disease, pain, and death, the Christian God is AWOL. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, suggesting that their God was on vacation, talking with someone, sleeping, or using the toilet. Could not the same thing be said for all gods? It seems quite clear to me, we are on our own.

At the heart of Maynard’s choice is the right to self-determination. As a person who suffers with unrelenting chronic pain and debility, I want the right to say, no more. Unlike many religious people, I see little value in pain and suffering. I endure it for the sake of my wife, children and grandchildren, but my family knows that there might come a day when I am no longer willing to do so. I want that choice to be mine.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

In today’s paper, almost 3 months after my letter was published, the Crescent-News published a letter from Diane Hammon of Mark Center. Hammon, a Roman Catholic, had this to say:

This letter is in reference to a letter Bruce Gerenscer had written about suffering.

Mr. Gerenscer stated that no one has come back from the dead to testify to the fruits of suffering, but Jesus did. The Catholic Church, which teaches the fullness of the Truth, teaches that suffering is allowed by God to happen for a greater good. Like Jesus who suffered for mankind, we too, are to offer up our sufferings for others or ourselves. He told us to take up our cross and follow Him.

Our suffering may help someone to have a conversion of heart. It may be for our own good so that we realize God’s love for us which manifests itself in a variety of ways. Or, maybe by the way we endure our sufferings, we inspire others to have hope and courage in their sufferings.

Through suffering, we gain virtues such as faith, hope, charity, humility and fortitude. We all know it’s especially difficult to watch those we love suffer, but we can offer their sufferings up just as Jesus’ mother offered up His sufferings. She chose to silently endure and offer up watching her Son die knowing that it was for a greater good, the salvation of all the world past, present, and future.

Since God is love, we know that He doesn’t enjoy seeing us suffer but He allows it for a greater good. We all can relate to this when we must watch our loved ones experience situations such as painful medical procedures, corrective measures for physical problems, grueling practices, disciplinary measures, etc. but we allow them to go through those difficulties for their good.

In reference to Brittany Maynard who was suffering from a brain tumor and then killed herself, it’s an offense to God because He gave each of us a life with a plan. Who are we to decide when that plan is complete? God alone sees the whole picture.

Diane Hammon
Mark Center

Hammon objects to my statement about no one coming back from the dead. Silly me, I forgot Jesus came back from the dead. And where is the wonderful death-defying story of Jesus found? The B-i-b-l-e, an ancient text written thousands of years ago by unknown authors. In what other circumstance would we appeal to an ancient text written by unknown authors?Imagine what my response would be if I went to the doctor for a health problem and he said, let me see, where’s Galen’s wonderful little book on the bloodletting? Galen, a 2nd century Greek physician advocated bloodletting as a cure, as did many ancient physicians. So it is with Jesus’s supposed resurrection from the dead. Nothing more than a quaint story from 20 centuries ago.

Hammon, like most Christians, fails to understand that stating THE BIBLE SAYS, THE CHURCH SAYS or THE POPE SAYS is not proof for the assertion that Jesus resurrected from the dead and is in heaven now working with Habitat for Humanity building mansions for his father’s children. Either one believes or they don’t. Either they ignore the lack of evidence and have faith, or they don’t.

total world population

According to a 2013 Discover Magazine article by George Johnson:

While I was writing The Cancer Chronicles, I came to a point, early on, where I wondered how many people had ever been alive in the world. The best answer I could find came from a study by an organization called the Population Reference Bureau: 108 billion.

I was stunned by the magnitude of the number. It is still common to hear that more people are alive today than have ever lived. Or an even more extreme claim: that 75 percent of everyone who ever walked the earth is living today. But that is not even close to being correct. By the Population Reference Bureau’s reckoning, the proportion of living to dead is only about 6 percent.

The author of the study, Carl Haub, describes the assumptions that went into his calculations. Modern homo sapiens is widely believed to have made its appearance around 50,000 B.C., so that was year zero for his count.

As more people began to move from a nomadic existence as hunter-gatherers to a more sedentary life as farmers, the world population grew at an increasing pace. There is actually a specialty called paleodemography, and Haub drew on various estimates to come up with a population of around 5 million in 8,000 B.C.

By 1 A.D. experts estimate that there were at least 45 million people in the Roman Empire. Extrapolating upward, Haub put the world population back then at roughly 300 million. Based on various assumptions about birth rate and the impact of infant mortality, infanticide, and the Black Death, it took until 1650 for the number to reach half a billion, surpassing 1 billion only in the 19th century. Today the population is 7.1 billion and rising, but the total accumulation of people, living and dead, has reached 108 billion…

Since Jesus is purportedly the only human to die, be buried, and come back to life, this means that only 1 out of 108 billion people have resurrected from the dead. (and technically Jesus was not human, he was God in a human body) Looking rationally and objectively at the ratio of resurrected to stay dead, I think I can safely say that when any of us die, we stay dead. But, what about Jesus? Well, all we have is a legend, a myth, a story. Again, either one believes or they don’t. Either they ignore the lack of evidence and have faith, or they don’t.

Hammon states that God is love and that he uses suffering to teach us and inspire others. While I would most certainly agree that pain and suffering have taught me many things, the very notion that there is “loving” God that uses pain, suffering, and death to advance his perfect plan, makes God into a psychopath; a deranged person who uses the pain and suffering of others to meet some need in his life.This God, the Christian God,  should be the featured psychopath on Criminal Minds.

As a Christian, I used similar arguments to defend God and his actions. His ways are not our ways, the Bible says. Who can understand God and his ways? In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul gives a lengthy defense of election and predestination. He rebukes those who would dare question God’s actions:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

In other words, Paul tells those who dare to question God’s actions to shut the hell up. God can do what he wants! Why? Because he’s G-O-D. God is the parent, when questioned by a child, who says, because I said so!

At the end of her letter, Hammon addresses the point of my letter, the death of Brittany Maynard. Maynard, a beautiful, full of life, young woman, had an aggressive, stage 4, zero chance of survival, brain tumor.  Maynard decided to control the decision of when and how she would die. On November 1, 2014, surrounded by her loved ones, Maynard ended her life. Prior to her death, Maynard wrote on Facebook:

Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.

What people like Hammon want to do is rob people of a dignified death. God, and whatever perverse plan he might have for your life, is all that matters. No matter how sick you are, no matter how severe the pain is, no matter how much the cancer is eating away at your organs, you must let God do whatever he is going to do for/to you.

Hammon wants us to believe that only God sees the “whole” picture. Granted, none of us can see the whole picture, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make responsible life and death decisions based on the evidence at hand. Earlier this week, I asked my doctor, do you think I have cancer? He told me no. Based on a CT scan,MRI, endoscopic ultrasound, and biopsies, it is unlikely that I have cancer. Can my doctor be certain? Of course not. But, based on the available evidence, it is unlikely that I have it. Based on a 30 minutes talk with my doctor, I have decided to stop any further testing. My symptoms remain the same as they were before I started the testing 4 months ago. $25,000 later, I am still sick. Am I making the right decision? I don’t know. If I start coughing up or shitting blood six months from now, I guess I’ll know the answer.

Life is a roll of the dice. We don’t know will happen a minute from now, let alone an hour, day, week, or year from now. The Bible is right, yes I really did say that, when it says, Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. All we can do is life each and every day to its fullest. I continue to plan, hope, and dream. I want to live, but there might come a day when I no longer wish to. Maybe I will reach a point where my health is so poor and the pain is so severe that Polly, kids, and grandchildren no longer are enough for me to remain among the living. When and if that day comes, I want the right to say, no more.  Better to face the cruel, heartless world head on than to think there is a divine puppeteer in heaven pulling strings to manipulate and control my life.

As a father, husband, grandfather, and friend, I want to do what I can to ease the suffering of those I love. Whatever life lessons might be gained through suffering, I don’t want my loved ones to suffer. Everywhere I look, I see pain, suffering, and heartache. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave over people and make them whole. But, I have no such magic and all I can do is give them my love and support.

What are we to make of a God who does not do the same, a God who supposedly has the power to alleviate pain and suffering but doesn’t do so because of some wonderful plan he has for everyone? As I have mentioned many times, the existence of evil and suffering and God’s part in it, remains an insurmountable hurdle for me. The God of Christianity, the God of the Bible, is a mean, egotistical sadist who gets off on the suffering of others. Such a God is worthy of ridicule and scorn. He is certainly does not deserve my praise, worship and devotion.

That is, if he exists.

Jessa Duggar Seewald: Preaching Hellfire and Brimstone

jessica duggar ben seewald

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald getting it on in public

Several days ago, Jessa Duggar Seewald, one of the Duggar 19 and counting clan, took to Facebook to express her righteous indignation over people using human logic and reason to determine how to live their lives. In Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God fashion, Duggar Seewald blasted all those who live their lives by any other standard than hers:

One of the most quoted verses from the Bible is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not!” Whenever someone speaks out against something that God calls sin, “Don’t judge!” can be heard coming from a thousand lips. People don’t like to have other people disapprove of the way they’re choosing to live their life.

I will speak to you a hard truth. I do not write this because I think that it will bring me popularity. It won’t. But it is Truth from the Word of God: the Bible.

To not tell people this is to hide the truth from them. To keep silent is to not care for their eternal destiny! I care about you, and this is why I am speaking out!

In this world, people have seared their consciences. The standard of what is “ok” or “permissible” in our society today, hardly reflects God’s standard.

People are content to live on in lying, cursing, pride, anger, bitterness, disrespecting of parents, lust, pornography, fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins– and if anyone tries to confront them, their attitude and response is, “You live your life, I’ll live mine. Don’t you tell me what to do! Only God can judge me!”

They don’t even realize what they’re saying. God’s judgement isn’t something to be taken lightly! It should scare you! Man’s “judgement” is a 1000x lighter… usually just a voicing of disapproval. But when unbelieving, sinful men die and stand before God, He justly condemns them to hell.

But people disregard the Bible, and instead use all kinds of human logic to try to justify their way of living:

Person #1: “I’ve been living this lifestyle for years, and I’m a ‘Christian.’ I don’t feel that God is angry with me. I believe in a loving God, not one who would send people to hell.”

The person speaking this is right– their god is not angry with them. He can’t be, because he doesn’t exist. They are not talking about the God of the Bible. They have created a god in their own mind to suit themselves. They have removed any notion of the Justice of God, and have created a god of their imagination that they can be comfortable with.

The Bible teaches that God is a Just Judge, and He must punish sin. Every one of us have broken God’s law, and hell is our deserved punishment. (Unless you’re reading some very distorted “translation” of the Bible, you cannot get around the fact that there is a hell).

Person #2: “I have a ‘peace’ about this, and I’m listening to my heart. God doesn’t seem to be judging me. If God didn’t approve, why wouldn’t He strike me dead right now?”

First off, our human hearts are bent toward sin and not righteousness. We shouldn’t follow the inclinations of our heart, but rather we know what is right and wrong according to what we find in God’s Word: the Bible.

Secondly, God isn’t slacking to fulfill His promised Judgement on sin–it’s coming. And the only reason you’re are alive right now is because He is merciful and has kept your heart beating for another day. He is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should reach repentance. But He will not hold back forever. The hours of your time here on earth are ticking away. You’re not promised another day, or even another breath. God’s Day of Judgement draws near. It will come as a thief in the night–when you least expect it. Everything that you have done in secret will be exposed. Nothing we do is hidden from God’s view. (1 Peter 3:9&10)

This should be concerning to you. I know it was for me! When I saw myself in light of God’s standard, and I knew that I fell short. But I found hope in the Gospel– the “good news” of Jesus Christ! I would still be lost today were it not for His grace!

Read what God has done so that you and I might be forgiven of our sins and saved from the punishment we deserve:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21

Repent! Turn away from sin, and to Jesus Christ today! Be saved from the wrath to come.

The believing man has Christ’s perfect record put to their account.

God gives him a new heart and new desires.

If you find yourself a sinner in need of Jesus, then open your Bible today and begin to read the books of John and Romans. Let the Word of God root out the sins of your heart. Do not let up until you have found Salvation for your soul!

Standard, Evangelical scare tactics. God is gonna get you for sinning. He may not get you in this life, but, Duggar Seewald promises, he will get you in the life to come.

Duggar Seewald lists ten sins:

  • Lying
  • Cursing
  • Pride
  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Disrespecting of parents
  • Lust
  • Pornography
  • Fornication
  • Adultery
  • Other sexual sins

Four of the eleven sins have to do with sex. It seems that the Duggar clan spends an awful lot of time talking about sex. Why is that? Why are Evangelicals, in general, obsessed with who is sticking what, when, and where? Inquiring minds want to know, what exactly is “o-t-h-e-r sexual sins? Kissing before marriage? Copping a feel on a Friday night date? And why didn’t she mention the sexual sin above all sins, the sin Evangelicals love to call sodomy?

Here’s the good news. We all get to watch the Duggar children grow up. Some day, researchers and reporters will delve into the lives of the Duggar clan and I suspect they’ll find that the Duggar family is not quite as pure as the driven snow. Perhaps, as a commenter mentioned, we’ll find out one of the Duggar children is gay. Wouldn’t THAT be sweet? Or worse yet, we’ll find out that several of them fornicated (held hands, you know the way Martians have sex) before marriage. Perhaps one of the Duggar boys wills will finally admit to spanking the monkey/choking the chicken/beating the meat, depriving the world of potential little Duggars.

If there is one thing I know for certain it is this; those who pride themselves in being morally superior to the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the “world” will some day be exposed as hypocrites and frauds. As the Duggar family Bible says, Pride goeth before a fall.

Thank You God for Blowing My Leg Off

rebekah dimartino

Rebekah DiMartino’s Amputated Leg

Many Christians are taught to give thanks for everything. The Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

No matter what, the will of God is for them to always, in every circumstance, give t-h-a-n-k-s. When tempted to whine, complain, or pity themselves, the Christian is reminded of the pain and suffering Jesus endured on their behalf. No one has ever suffered like Jesus, or so Christians are told by their pastor.

Like all of us, bad shit happens to Christians. They get sick, they have accidents, they are at the wrong place at the wrong time, or any of the other countless 1,000 ways to die.  They contract sickness and disease, so much so that it makes an outsider wonder if the Great Physician has lost his license to practice medicine.

When it comes to physical, emotional, and mental maladies, Christians are in the same boat with the rest of us. The difference is they have to pretend that what is going on in their life is good for them, that God had a wonderful, awesome, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious plan for their life. They must always look on the bright side. They know every word of the Footprints in the Sand Poem by Mary Stevenson:

 One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

Jim Steinhauer speaks for many of us when he wrote:

Sorry to have to break it to you, Jesus, but those are obviously my footprints.

Look closely. See how those footprints have that wavy tread pattern on the bottom, just like my docksiders? If they were yours, they’d make a sandal mark, like the footprints next to mine a little farther up the beach when I was going through better times.

See the footprints at the time of my divorce? You’ll notice that the sandaled footprints drift off from the docksider ones. They lead to that picnic bench over there, the one with the cigarette butts scattered all over. It appears that in my darkest hour, instead of carrying me, you sat on a stump and had a couple of smokes. Real helpful, Jesus. Real helpful.

Sure, the sandal footprints came back when I got that big job promotion, but right at the point where my son Tommy died, they veer off again. Actually, now that I look again, it seems like there’s an unusually large distance between each of the sandal-wearer’s footprints around the time of my son’s death, as if the person were actually running away.

I’m sorry, Jesus, but your whole story about carrying me during my worst moments just doesn’t gibe with the facts. Besides, you’d certainly think a person would remember being carried by the Son of God, right? That’s a pretty memorable thing, wouldn’t you say? Well, either I’ve got amnesia, or you’re a liar, because I don’t recall ever being toted around by the Messiah. The only thing I do remember about my worst moments on the path of life is the horrible feeling of plodding along the cold sand all alone while icy rain fell in sheets and chill winds assailed me.

So thanks, Jesus. Thanks a bunch. You were really there for me when things got tough.

I realize that thanking God in the midst of adversity and suffering can be a coping mechanism. One night, in the midst of a bout of horrible pain, I found myself crying out to the God of Ceiling®. While my utterance brought no answer from the Great Physician, it did help to distract me for a moment from the pain. My utterance also  caused me to chuckle and say, hey, Bruce who ya taking to? Dumb ass!

I don’t want to rob anyone of anything that helps get them through the rough times of life. But, when I read news reports of someone praising God for their sickness, disease, or accident, it does cause me to wonder if the person is living in denial or has been so conditioned by their religious training, that they cannot see life as it is. Such is the case of Rebekah DiMartino.

On April 15, 2013, DiMartino was standing 3 feet away from the Boston Marathon finish line when a bomb went off. The blast caused severe damage to DiMartino’s left leg. Weeks later, the leg had to be amputated. She now has a prosthetic leg with the word BLESSED embroidered across the front of it.

Recently, DiMartino told her story at St Matthew’s Baptist Church in Louisiville, Kentucky:

“Whatever you are going through in your life, don’t give up because God has got a plan for everything. And everything that we go through, it ultimately works together for your good.””I took everything in the back of the legs so that Noah [her son] would be saved. That is God’s purpose [for me]. I cannot feel sorry for myself in the least bit because I know my son is running around like normal today. … I thank God every day for my little boy still being here.”

While I certainly sympathize with DiMartino and I appreciate her positive outlook on her life after the bombing, I cannot accept or embrace a God who uses a terrorist and a bomb to blow someones leg off . Using DiMartino’s God’s got a purpose for everything logic, the deaths of Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and Martin Richard, all victims of the same bombing, happened because God had a purpose and plan for them. And the same could be said for policeman Sean Collier who was shot to death by the bombers. 264 people were injured in the bombing. Like DiMartino, 16 people lost a limb and 3 people lost multiple limbs.  Is this really God working out his plan for all of these people?  (see my post God Gave Me Breast Cancer Because He Loves Me)

I understand the religious conditioning required to think like this. I used this same thinking for years to “explain” my own health problems. God has a plan for my life. God is working all things out for my good. God is teaching me to trust him more. God is drawing me closer to him. God is testing my faith. God is chastising me so that I might draw closer to him. Christian clichés, that’s all these are. The truth is, for Rebekah DiMartino, she was the victim of a terrorist bombing. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and her son fortunately was at the right place at the right time.

These kind of stories should remind us that our lives hang by a slim thread. An accident, a genetic abnormality, a stray bullet, a moment of clumsiness or inattention, along with a plethora of diseases, can snuff out our life in the blink of an eye. As an atheist, I have no intention of praising an absent or fictional God for the suffering and pain I must live with every day of my life. Instead, I embrace the pain and suffering and do my best to make the most of it. Certainly, that’s what DiMartino is doing. The only difference is that she thinks the Christian God is behind the wizard’s curtain orchestrating the events of her life.

Note

Yesterday, People Magazine published a story detailing DiMartino’s separation from the man she married 10 months ago:

After 10 months of marriage, a couple injured in the Boston Marathon bombing and married in a “dream wedding” last April are separating……Gregory, who tied the knot with DiMartino in Asheville, North Carolina, in a ceremony and reception thrown by TheKnot.com, tells PEOPLE, “After the decision was made to amputate my leg in November, I found myself having to make an even more painful choice – to separate from my husband Pete. Over the last several months I’ve come to realize that going through such a horrific event together put a fast-forward on our relationship that we each handled differently.”While my heart is beyond broken, I have a certain peace knowing from day one, I truly gave it my all, and have been fully invested in keeping this marriage, and my commitment before God. I still love Pete with all of my heart and ask that everyone respect our privacy as we try to figure out our next steps. As for now, I am focused on doing what I feel is best for my son and I, and will concentrate my time on healing, both physically and emotionally.” …

Frank Turek Says the Most Important Question is Does God Exist?

frank turek

Frank Turek

In a recent World Magazine interview, Frank Turek, author of Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case, stated that the most important question any of us will ever face is, Does God Exist? Here’s what Turek had to say:

Early in your book Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case, you say that there is one core question every human being needs to ask and answer. What’s that question? “Does God exist?” is the primary question because if God exists, then there is a real purpose to life and we live a certain way. If God doesn’t exist, there is no real objective purpose to life and you can do whatever you want. “Does God exist?” is literally the most important question every human being should answer. Unfortunately, most of our education system, particularly our public education system, assumes the answer to that question is no without even examining the evidence.

Shouldn’t Turek’s question really be, Does the Christian God exist? Turek, like all fundamentalists, presupposes the Christian God is the God that we must determine exists. Isn’t Turek doing exactly what he condemns the public education system for doing? Let me reword Turek’s last sentence:

Unfortunately, most Christians, particularly fundamentalist Christians, assume the answer to that question is the Christian God without even examining the evidence.

Most Christians embrace the religion and God of their culture and tribe. This is why most Americans self-identify as Christian. Few of them have actually considered the evidence for the existence of the Christian God. They just believe because that’s what most Americans do.

No Christian has ever been able to successfully explain to me how one can look at creation and say a God created everything and then turn right around and say that that God is the Christian God of the Bible. What evidence gets us from A GOD to THE GOD? There is none. Believing that the Christian God is the creator requires faith not evidence. This is why atheists like me do not believe in God. It’s not so much about evidence as it is faith. We don’t have the requisite faith necessary to believe that the Christian God created the universe in six days, six thousand years ago. We don’t have the faith necessary to believe in a virgin having a baby, a dead man getting out of the grave after he has been dead for three days, or a man walking on water or through walls.

If apologists like Turek have evidence for these things, by all means they should present it to the world. Pointing an ancient text that purportedly was written by men under the influence of God, is not evidence. Step outside of the Bible, where’s the evidence for the Christian God being the creator?

Turek seems to have forgotten Hebrews 11:3:

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Through FAITH not EVIDENCE we understand the worlds were framed (created) by the word of God.

As I have said many times before, Christians do a real disservice to their religion when they try to “prove” the existence of their God. Either people believe or they don’t. Either they have faith or they don’t.  Count me as one of the faithless. While I can appreciate the deist argument for the existence of a creator God of some sort, I don’t think the evidence is such that I am willing to abandon atheism. Since there is no threat of hell or judgment with the deist viewpoint, I am content to try to live a moral and ethical life, loving others, and helping those who are in need.

As an atheist, I have a lot of questions, but does God exist is not one of them. While I am technically agnostic on the God question, I am confident, based on my study and experience, that there is no God. Perhaps a God of some sort will reveal itself to us some day. If I am alive when that day comes, I will then consider whether that God is worthy of my worship. Until then, I am content to remain an atheist.

Note

Doctrinal statement for Southern Evangelical Seminary & Bible College, the school Turek received his PhD from.