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Where is the God Who Created the Brain-eating Amoeba?

lauren seitz
Lauren Seitz

Several years ago, Lauren Seitz, 18, traveled with her church youth group to North Carolina to sing at churches and nursing homes. Seitz, a member of Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church in Westerville, Ohio’s youth music ministry team, planned to attend nearby Denison University in the fall. Instead, thanks to Seitz contracting primary amoebic meningoencephalitis — an infection caused by a rare “brain-eating” amoeba, Seitz’s parents are forced to bury their daughter. I can only imagine the heartache such a loss must cause. No parent ever wants to face the death of their child. My heart aches for Seitz’s parents, sister, and extended family.

When I read stories such as this one, I ask myself, where is God? In Lauren Seitz’s case, I ask, where is the Creator God who created the brain-eating amoeba that cost Seitz her life?  While I have no doubt that Seitz’s parents, family, and fellow church members will find great comfort from the countless religious platitudes that will be uttered, I hope they will dare to ask hard questions about God’s culpability in Seitz’s death. If the Christian God exists and is the Creator, he created the amoeba that caused the infection that killed Lauren Seitz. This same God is supposedly the supreme sovereign over everything, yet he allowed a rare “brain-eating” amoeba to enter Seitz’s brain and kill her. Surely, it is a fair question to ask WHY? What could possibly be gained from snuffing out the life of Lauren Seitz, or any other child for that matter?

All the standard answers will be given:

  • We must never question God.
  • God’s ways are not our ways.
  • God plans to use this death to test and try Seitz’s parents, family members, or fellow church members.
  • All things work together for good.

These and other shallow, meaningless answers will be brought forth, all meant to exonerate God from culpability in the death of Lauren Seitz.

If Christians dare to push beyond these empty answers, daring to shake an angry, questioning fist at God, perhaps the silence they hear will tell them all they need to know about their God. The Christian God, according to the Bible, does not owe anyone an answer. When the Apostle Paul dealt with this issue in the book of Romans, he stated, who are you to question God. He is the creator and he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do. Okay, Paul didn’t say fuck, but his message is clear, God is the Creator. He does not owe us an explanation for what he does. He is the Almighty, and we are but cretins who will soon be turned into worm food or dust.

But perhaps God’s silence tells us something else. Perhaps this God is a figment of the imagination, a relic of days when humans had no explanations for what happened in their lives. We now know better. Scientists can tell us exactly what killed Lauren Seitz and why. What we are then left with is the fact that life can be cruel, causing untold suffering, heartache, and death. For Seitz, she inhaled water that allowed an amoeba a quick pathway to her brain. Wrong place, wrong time — a wonderful, thoughtful young woman dies. Heartless, I know my words here are harsh, but they reflect life as it is, not as Christians, by faith, hope it will be.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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19 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Byroniac

    Exactly! This is why I claim “apatheism” is the truth, or “God [apparently] doesn’t give a shit” (if he exists). To paraphrase an atheist explanation, I am an agnostic apatheist, “I don’t know, and God doesn’t care.”

    • Avatar
      Neil

      For me, a god who doesn’t give a shit is a god who might as well not exist. It’s reasonable to conclude he doesn’t and to live accordingly.

      • Avatar
        Byroniac

        I would Facebook “Like” your comment if I could! I tried to explain exactly that to a Christian friend who just told me that my doubts were irrational and that I was looking for reasons to disbelieve when in fact, the opposite has been the case in the past few years. I am finally giving up. I agree that Christians are free to believe what they want and should have that freedom, and I even admitted to him that I no longer want to believe, but more importantly, that I have lost that ability to believe (cue Ripley’s “Believe it or not!” here, which I doubt he will… sigh).

    • Avatar
      Gabriel Jeane

      I don’t understand why people always blame death on God. That doesn’t make sense. God is to be considered the bringer of life. Humanity is the one who chose to eat of a tree that brings death, knowing full well of their actions. God may have created the tree, but humanity partook of it freely. And, by disobeying his command, we brought all his wrath upon ourselves willingly. We chose this life. Don’t blame God for humanity’s weakness in wanting to be more like him. God simply gave us what we wanted. This life is fleeting. We all die. Whether we partake in death at birth or 100 makes no difference. How we die makes no difference. Death is death no matter which way you look at it. And, it comes to us all. Whether you die in pain, agony, or peace makes no difference either. Pain and agony comes to those who choose it and sometimes to those who don’t. Either way, we all experience pain and agony in some way or another. Some humans are simply more capable of overcoming the pain and agony of life, and find the peace lying there in wait. And, typically, these people are referred to as believers in Christ. Why? Well, that is due to the fact that through Christ, they become capable of fortifying their souls from hatred or harm. And, they make their heart secure through their love and belief in his sacrifice for them.

      When you lack a belief in God, you choose to live a life in disbelief, and for some, pain and agony wrenching at their soul. Then, there are those who have never known God, yet they still believe there is something beyond this life. So, instead of trying to go through suffering and pain, they choose live righteous and holy lives. These kinds of people are mentioned in Romans Chapter 2, who become a law unto themselves. These people are gentiles who by believing in repentance and forgiveness, will also make into into life everlasting. They choose to do good over evil. They don’t force their opinion on others. They love their neighbors. They may not know God by name, but they know he exists. And, that is why they choose to live holy lives as well.

      Having anger is normal, but try to not misplace it. If you don’t wish to believe in a God, that’s your choice, but please don’t place the blame of death on him, or how we die. It makes no difference either way.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        You come to this site spouting theology, Bible verses, and personal opinion, yet you seem ignorant of orthodox Christian theology and the plethora of Bible verses that say God is the giver and taker of life.

        Have you heard of the sovereignty of God? Is God in control of everything? If not, then how can he be God? And if he is, this means God gives and takes life.

        The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

        Deuteronomy 32:39: See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one on deliver out of my hand.

        1 Samuel 2:6: The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up.

        Psalm 90:3: You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.”

        Job 14:5: The days of humans are determined; you have decreed the number of their months and have set limits they cannot exceed.

        Acts 17:25,26: nor is He [God] served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor He made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and He allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live

        Psalm 139:16: Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be

        Psalm 31:15: My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.

        2 Kings 5:7: As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to Life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his Leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

        Psalm 31:15: My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

        Matthew 10:28: And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

        Revelation 1:18: I [Jesus] am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

        Now, having said all of this, I should point out that atheists don’t believe God exists, so he does not give or take life.

      • Avatar
        Zoe

        Gabriel Jeane: “Humanity is the one who chose to eat of a tree that brings death, knowing full well of their actions. God may have created the tree, but humanity partook of it freely. And, by disobeying his command, we brought all his wrath upon ourselves willingly. We chose this life.”

        Zoe: According to your Bible, Eve then Adam “chose to eat.”

        I did no such thing, nor did any of the rest of “humanity.”

        According to your Bible, God created the tree, and the creature who tempted them was put in the garden by your God. Nice eh?

        There you are in paradise, God tells them not to eat but forgets to tell them about the tempting creature he put in paradise. How strange that God allowed evil in the garden in the first place, eh?

        There is nothing “freely” going on in the garden. God set it all up. The omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God of your Bible belief set it all up. As Bruce indicated, the giver and taker of life. Humanity didn’t chose any of it. It was set up by your God. God put it all in motion. Every “i” dotted. every “t” crossed.

      • Avatar
        John Arthur

        Hi Gabriel Jeanne,

        What evidence is there that there was ever any literal-historical garden of Eden? Your whole wordlview seems to be based on your Conservative Evangelical opinion that there was.

        How do you account for the scientific evidence that human beings have been on earth for over 2 million years and homo sapiens about 200, 000 years? Do you just ignore this? Fundamentalists often take the view that the universe is some 6,000 to 10,000 years old (based on their literal interpretation of the bible, and allowing for the possibility of gaps in some of the genealogies). How does this square with evidence from physics and astronomy that the universe is about 14 billion years old? Someone has made a huge mistake, and guess what, I think it is unlikely to be science.

        If there was no historical Adam and no historical garden of Eden, does not your whole theological edifice come crashing to the ground? I suggest you read some of Bart Ehrman’s books to disabuse yourself of a Fundamentalist position.

        Shalom,

        John Arthur.

  2. Avatar
    JR

    One reason why suffering and death abound is that we live in a fallen world. This is the evangelical response.

    But think about this:
    God could have called the whole thing off after Adam and Eve and avoided billions of people suffering here and then in hell.

    In heaven there will be no sin, no suffering and we will still have free will. So why couldn’t he have done it like this originally?

    Nothing the bible promises can be proved in this life. We are saved from death – but only after we die. Convenient

  3. Avatar
    Geoff

    To continue to believe in god in the face of these sorts of issue is positively hard work. And this case is just a minute fraction of the unpleasant things that go on in the world; never mind human beings, just look at the animal kingdom that exists solely on the basis of creatures killing each other to survive, or even more horrible, insects laying eggs in other insects, which hatch allowing offspring to survive by eating the host.

    All it takes is a mental leap. Switch off from what you believe, almost certainly culturally indoctrinated. Imagine that there is no god and almost immediately the world makes more sense.

  4. Avatar
    J.D. Matthews

    The same people who want to charge a mother whose son fell into a gorilla enclosure will think God is a super awesome Father for letting one of his children be killed by a fucking amoeba.

    God is one of the shittiest dads I’ve ever heard tell of.

    • Avatar
      JR

      An absent father. Hasn’t seen his kids for 2000 years and never writes anymore. His kids call him regularly but he never calls them back.

      Apparently he has savings stored up for us in the future when we are old enough to understand.

  5. Avatar
    Melody

    “These and other shallow, meaningless answers will be brought forth, all meant to exonerate God from culpability in the death of Lauren Seitz.”

    That’s why I’ve started to believe that apolegetics really means apologizing for all God’s craziness. For his hatefulness and everything that simply doesn’t make sense: it’s explaining away stuff that cannot be explained in the first place.

    “If Christians dare to push beyond these empty answers, daring to shake an angry, questioning fist at God, perhaps the silence they hear will tell them all they need to know about their God.”

    It can be really scary doing that at first. I used to think badly about God occassionally when I was still a Christian and would quite soon after, tremble at what I had done and beg forgiveness. But now I don’t anymore, and I’m still here… Nothing bad happened and even if it had it would have been a coincedence (though I’m not sure I would have believed that if something bad had actually happened) I’m afraid I could have scared myself into believing again back then.

    I now see religion as a way to explain death (and soften that blow) and injustice (both softening it for the believers and promising revenge on all others) as well as a way to give meaning and value to life. The stories can be beautiful and really horrible and serve the purpose of stories in general: create morals, bring meaning and pleasure, provide warnings or explanation and education.

  6. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    Richard Dawkins is not my personal hero; some of what he says irritates the hell out of feminist me. But some of what he says makes uber-sense. A quote:

    “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”

    Note that this is NOT a diatribe against abortion, it is simple understanding of the crapshoot of even being conceived.

  7. Avatar
    Benny S

    “If the Christian God exists and is the Creator, he created the amoeba that caused the infection that killed Lauren Seitz.”

    And it seems God knew the amoeba would kill Lauren Seitz long before he created both the amoeba and Lauren and he didn’t see a need to destroy this one particular amoeba prior to the tragedy taking place…. because bible theology reasons.

  8. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    It seems to me that God loved the amoeba more than this human who was ostensibly living to please God. Maybe the amoeba theology was the True Christianity (TM). Or most probably there’s no omnipotent omniscient benevolent deity and this poor girl was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sad.

  9. Avatar
    GeoffT

    Christian apologists are constantly ‘on the back foot’ (a cricketing term indicating very defensive). Thousands of years ago they ‘invented’ God, and gods, to explain their existence and everything they saw. It was a primitive, understandable, response based on the ignorance of the times. Times, however, change. Slowly we came to understand more and more of the natural world. As our knowledge grew so religions had to become ever more defensive of their positions. This involved constant shifting of the goalposts so as to accommodate new information gleaned via science. Evolution meant having to invoke ‘intelligent design’. Paleontology the same. Evil and suffering in the world…why not just call it a day and accept the most logical explanation, that no god exists?

  10. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    For God so loved that girl that he gave her a brain-eating amoeba to she who believed in him that she would perish and not have eternal life?

    Hmm…

    When Noah brought all of those critters onto his boat, did he include one of those cerebrophagic micro-organisms?

  11. Avatar
    Brocken

    https://carloacutis-en.org/ At least that Methodist young lady made it to the age of 18. Some Catholic youth died from leukemia at the age of 15. From what little I have read on the subject of this youth’s life I guess that he always went to daily Mass. This youth was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 2020. Of course the Roman Catholic Church is always better at propaganda when it comes to their deceased youth than the Methodist church tends to be.

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Bruce Gerencser