Monday, October 29, 2012

Malevolence of God Belief

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?- Epicurus (341-270 BC)

Suggesting that human’s need to have an invisible personal god as the background force for action, sort of like radio waves telling us what to do or buy, is one of the most insulting aspects of theistic philosophy. However, such a concept is also the basis of most if not all organized theology. As we know, it is just easier to place one's faith in the mystical than it is to look for cause based facts and evidence. Simply put, having faith is easy while knowing science is hard.

If god is all knowing and powerful, to suggest that he could not stop violence or natural events because he’s given us free-will or because we deserve retribution and pain is absolute rubbish. It would be the moral equivalent of having a parent leave their child in a public space, see the child molested or hurt, and blame the child for not calling for help, for causing the event or for not running away. I can think of no parent who would leave their child in such a situation and if this is the parenting style of god, perhaps "he" should be visited by child advocates and social workers.

I will acknowledge that in difficult times, some may pray for their life or that of a friend or relative. Such comfort at the abyss of the unknown is a human contrivance, and it is an ancient one. However, it is one I have never chosen, even as I faced my own mortality. In times of stress, we look for comfort in possible intervention and improbable mediation. With the possible we seek medical care and use science to make our world better and safer. Those seeking improbable mediation will seek prayer. This is the cosmic battle within human nature centered on reason versus magical thinking.

But here are some quotes from those religious leaders who see god's will as the ultimate arbitrator of their view of theistic "justice" including one newly recent quote regarding Hurricane Sandy:

"Chaplain John McTernan has said God's judgement of gays caused the hurricane nearing the east coast of the United States"

"Haiti's earthquake was caused because its people are in a pact with the Devil." Rev. Pat Robertson

"Ovadia Yosef, an orthodox rabbi, stated that Hurricane Katrina was god's punishment of US support for the withdrawal of Jewish settlers.

Muslims affiliated with Al-Qaeda suggest that Hurricane Katrina was "Gods attack on America"

"Hurricane Katrina was Gods punishment for American racism" Minister Louis Farrakhan

"Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment in response to America's abortion policy" Rev. Pat Robertson

On the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks - "The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this for throwing god...the federal court system for throwing god out of the public square and out of public schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God's will not be mocked." -Rev. Jerry Falwell

"Thank god for 9/11, the land of the Sodomite dammed" Rev. Fred Phelps

"We can't cure AIDS because it is God's punishment for sin." - Minister David Barton (as echoed by 27% of the faithful based on 2007 Pew research)

"Condoms make AIDS crisis worse. (The) distribution of condoms aggravates the AIDS crisis." Pope Benedict XVI

(Evolution) its only a hypothesis...its only a as science it is by no means proven." Christian Theologian James Packer (as echoed by the Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationists and anti-evolution religious communities).

Certainly people of faith can and do take care of those who are ill because of AIDS and other maladies, accept evolution as fact, and do not believe natural events are gods will. However, there are those within numerous faith communities which do and speak loudly to change laws and share their none evidenced religious philosophy as both truth and fact.  It is those people, who are anti-secular and anti-humanist who are readily able or hopeful to use their faith to deny others their human and civil rights.

But as the great Christopher Hitchens had challenged (and I'm paraphrasing), "show me one act of kindness and bravery that a religious person can do that an atheist cannot.  If you cannot, then there is no need for religion or religious faith as a point for action."  However, as Hitchens' has pointed out through documented evidences, faith-based action, as a point of ignorance and disharmony and malevolence is real and is immensely destabilizing to the service of our collective humanity.

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