Bethany, our daughter with Down Syndrome, had her eyes checked today by the ophthalmologist. Two years ago, she had cataracts removed from both eyes and a year ago she had laser surgery to correct a small complication. Bethany has a pair of glasses she is supposed to wear for reading and other up- close work, but she refuses to wear them. After months of almost daily nagging, we gave in and told her she no longer had to wear them. Her visit to the ophthalmologist was to make sure there wasn’t any physical problem that was causing Bethany’s reticence to wear her glasses. Good news? Her eyes are fine, and if she is happy with how her world looks, there’s no need for us to nag her about wearing her glasses.
Using an eye chart, the intake nurse did a preliminary exam on Bethany’s eyes. First one eye, then the other, and then both eyes. When checking both eyes, the nurse said, Bethany, look through both eyes, it’s the way God made them. Both Polly and I looked at each other and smiled. No big deal. We know the nurse is a Christian, as is the doctor. God talk is, for the most part, harmless, so we rarely, if ever, say a word. But, it did get me to thinking…
If looking though both eyes is because that’s the way God made them and how he intends for us to view the world, why then did Bethany have to have cataracts removed? Without getting into the complexity of the human eye argument, why is it that these perfectly tuned eyes of ours often require glasses to see properly? After we got in the car I told Polly that God is the General Motors (GM) of the physical world. Supposedly, our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the image of God, yet there are numerous design flaws and failures, quite like the recent spate of problems GM has had with millions of automobiles.
You see, if God is going to get all the credit for the body being perfectly designed, including seeing out of both eyes, then he must also bear the responsibility for the parts that are poorly designed and the parts that do not work as they should. If GM can be held liable for engineering failures and be fined billions of dollars, shouldn’t God be held accountable for the same? And in God’s case, his lack of proper design and engineering skill has resulted untold suffering and death. Perhaps God is more like the Ford Motor Company and the Pinto, in which a design flaw resulted in people being burned to death. Maybe God is like the bean counters at Ford who decided it was cheaper to pay the wrongful death claims than it was to recall and repair Pinto gas tanks. Well, God is actually worse than Ford because he lives in a world where he is immune from wrongful death claims. God just smiles and says, I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life…even if that plan means roasting you like a hot dog on a stick.
As we sat in the waiting room, I noticed a frail, petite, elderly woman sitting in front of us. She had no nose and it looked as if part of her upper jaw had been removed. I suspect that she likely had some sort of oral cancer. I could see her tongue constantly flick towards where her upper teeth once were. I felt so sorry for her, for the pain and suffering she must be going through. I told Polly that seeing someone like that is a reminder that things could be worse. While I feel like I’ve gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson and lost, only to be run over by a truck after the fight, I have not been permanently disfigured by surgery. From my perspective, I’ve got it good compared to this poor woman.
After Bethany’s appointment and the nurse’s mention of God’s design, my thoughts returned to the woman with no nose. Where is God for this woman? The perfect designer made a body that is prone to sickness, disease, and death. The one who supposedly created us neglected to make sure our DNA and cells couldn’t go wild and cause cancers that eat away at our fearfully-and-wonderfully-made bodies. What kind of God gives a woman a cancer that ravages her face, turning her into a freak stared at by all who dare look her way? It’s sin, Bruce, the Christian is sure to say. Sickness, disease, and death are the consequences of sin. This woman is paying the price for her sin. God still loves her and has a wonderful plan for her life if she will only put her faith and trust in him. Does the Christian ever bother to consider what a monster their God is? A God who maims, afflicts, and kills just because he can and because he wants humans to love him. Would anyone in their right mind want to be married to or be friends with such a person? Our televisions air crime procedural shows like Criminal Minds, dedicated to stories about human psychopaths; how is God any different? How can anyone look at the untold agony, suffering, pain, and death caused by the Christian God and still worship him? Is it not better to say there is no God and accept that sickness, disease, and death are the consequences of living? It is not better to say shit happens and that we all have to die of something? How does having a God with a grand design and plan make things better? If this God can’t be bothered with his creation now, why should his creation be expected to or desire to worship him? Isn’t God the equivalent of the psychopath who tortured a woman for ten years, only to let her go free, hoping that she would still love her torturer and voluntarily come to live with him? Would we not take steps to make sure that this could never, ever happen? Yet, when it comes to the Christian God, he keeps meting out pain, suffering and death, and millions continue to love, adore, and worship him.