Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter from God-not-God

I recently read an article on CNN about the Aurora shootings and the New Atheism.  The article is pretty interesting...you can read it here.  There are some heart-wrenching stories of atheists who have been hurt by people of faith, which may provide a lot of insight into their position (and perhaps the war on religion - which is often fueled my more pathos than reason - note the "Reason Rally")

But for now, I want to provide a quick brainstorm to this post on reddit, which apparently attracted quite a few comments:

"Dear Christians:

God here. I thought I would take the time to personally explain my absence in the Aurora shootings. While I was at it, I thought I would also explain my absence during every murder, massacre and crime that has ever taken place in world history, and in every war, in every famine, drought and flood.

You see, I do not exist. I never have. Did it really make sense to you that I would create an entire universe with billions of billions of planets and wait about 13,700,000,000 years just so I could focus on a few Jews from Palestine about 2,000 years ago while ignoring the rest of the 200,000,000 people on the planet at the time? Did I make those few Jews or did those few Jews make me?"

Obviously laden with satire, this smug (not-to-mention absurd) post does little to advance any position, as can be illustrated with a similar response:

Then again, why waste time trading barbs, when distinctions can be made and common ground sought.

First, I would argue that God is not absent at any point - never ever.  This can be put forward from philosophical (especially metaphysical) and theological foundation (salvation history).

That the murders happened shows that God respects our free will - a human being performed the act, not God's absence.  Human free will and corrupt human nature killed Jesus by hanging Him on a cross, not God's absence.  Perhaps these (killings, floods, famines) are also permitted because they serve to remind humanity of its weak nature and fundamental dependence.  We could also note that precisely because evil exists, God exists.  How do you know what darkness is if it weren't for light.  Or, cold if it weren't for hot.  I have an answer to evil.  I can only wonder what the atheist has to it (especially because most people have experienced some sort of transcendent good).

I'm confused by the second half of the letter from God-not-God.  First of all, an example.  Does it really make sense that a man would buy an extravagant 8000+ sq. ft. mansion for his wife and kid?  Isn't that a little excessive, and, well, stupid?  Or, does it reveal something about this man and His intentions?  Does it reveal something about his power?  The extent to which he would go to care for His family?  If human beings are excessive at times, yet with a distinct purpose or intention, could God, the God of the universe, not be the same? 

The second question deals with exegesis.  God revealed himself to His people more than 2,000 years ago.  Not sure if this guy is starting things off with Jesus or what.  And, any serious biblical study realizes that the Jews were called to be holy, different and set apart - for the sake of the population of the rest of the world.  The whole problem of the OT was that they didn't want to differ from the rest of the world.  Sweet story to make up about your God and your heritage of messing up, getting fixed, then messing up again.  Maybe the Jews did make God up, and this would obviously explain why they fought, died, were exiled, persecuted, and watched their city burn in 70AD - all because of a tall tale that got them real far here on earth...

Same could be said about the Church nowadays.  

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