With God, All Things are Possible… and that’s the problem.

Guest Author: Don Severs

I just spoke with a dear friend who assured me that God has a purpose for everything. I told her that that would mean that kids being tortured and killed is part of God’s purpose. She smiled and said it again: “God has a purpose”. She’s a mandatory reporter, so I’m confused.

Here is my best attempt to understand this position:

I sometimes have to hold my kid down for the nurse to draw blood.  He has to trust that I have a purpose in inflicting pain on him.  If he had cancer, he might even die from complications of the treatment.  Believers want to say God is like a parent who sometimes has to hurt his children to help them.  But parents aren’t omnipotent.  We make the best choice we can.

An omnipotent God could design a Plan that didn’t involve torturing kids.  In his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Kushner gives up omnipotence for just this reason.

But my friend insisted her God was omnipotent.  She wants to say a God who can do anything still chooses to have kids get tortured and killed.  He has a Purpose.

Some of God’s purposes leave kids dead.  To salvage the idea of Purpose in this case, you need an afterlife.  But even then, how does that justify the suffering and loss of Earthly life they endure?  Consider this:

You are treated/tortured for three days by a doctor.  When he’s done, he fixes you up good as new.  Are you grateful?  YES, as long as you believe there was a good reason for the treatment and the doctor was doing all he could for you.  But wait, you find out later there was a painless treatment the doctor was trained to administer.  He didn’t use it because he’s a sadist and likes the old methods.

An omnipotent God has options no human has.   He never has to allow torture.

My friend can believe that her God has a purpose for kids suffering, but then she can’t say her God is loving or just.  When we have the choice, it isn’t loving to torture and kill kids, no matter what your purpose.  Some say that God is sovereign and has a right to torture us.  In that case, he is a sadistic tyrant.

If God allows suffering when he has a choice, then he isn’t loving.  We are lab rats in his Plan.

  • http://facebook.com/donsevers Don Severs

    http://www.worldtocome.org

    This website, advertised on this very page, claims to answer why God allows suffering. It says God is merciful and a God of Love but the Devil frustrates his plans. The site claims that their literature will tell us the actual causes, the reasons God's Plan works the way it does. They say that God, as a parent, grieves and hurts when we do.

    Another ad from the Swedenborg foundation also answers it this way: God has a Plan. He takes the Long View. It'll all work out in the end.

    This, of course, is no answer at all. It almost works for adult humans who are capable of such a sophisticated view. Epicurus held that the gods weren't malevolent, they just didn't want to intervene with the natural order. He said that the wise man wouldn't suffer because he would see that pain is simply part of living.

    The problem with this is that children suffer. They don't have the Long View. A loving god, who could set things up any way at all, would never allow kids to suffer.

    What do we call people who set things up so that people suffer? Sadists.

  • http://facebook.com/donsevfers Don Severs

    Here's another episode of God's Plan:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/30/nyregion/30girl…

    Most of the believers I know are nice people, yet most of them think God is omnipotent and loving. It saddens me that they persist in believing that God is in charge yet does nothing for girls like Marchella. It saddens me that they keep their comforting God while kids are abandoned to their murderers.

    The good news is that there's no god to be mad at. We have only each other, and there is much work left to do in caring for each other. Believing God will sort it all out is an affront to kids like Marchella. Believers torture logic to comfort themselves. I, for one, can't tell kids like Marcella about a loving God who did nothing to stop her abuse.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith Jo&atild

    Thee is nothing to ignorant, silly, or perverted that theists will not embrace it as "part of god's plan."

    Similarly, the law, common sense, or even human decency are not obstacles to theists in forcing their sick, twisted beliefs upon everyone.

    Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. For example, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, and family planning clinic bombing in the USA. Then there were the crusades, the inquisition, and the dark ages. Get the idea?

    Humanity will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.