... like the fine print in a fraudulent contract

by cofty 8 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • cofty

    Daniel Dennett has accused apologists of double-standards in a column in the Washington Post.

    Like all things that are worth saying it made me want to go away and really think it through for a while. Perhaps Pat Robinson was just being more honest about the real implications of faith?

    One of the striking differences between modern, "organized" religion and tribal or folk religions--religions without seminaries and theologians and official books--is that in tribal religions they have no double standard! They thank their gods for the good stuff that happens and blame them for the bad.

    The idea that God is a worthy recipient of our gratitude for the blessings of life but should not be held accountable for the disasters is a transparently disingenuous innovation of the theologians. And of course it doesn't work all that well. The Problem of Evil, capital letters and all, is the central enigma confronting theists. There is no solution. Isn't that obvious? All the holy texts and interpretations that contrive ways of getting around the problem read like the fine print in a fraudulent contract--and for the same reason: they are desperate attempts to conceal the implications of the double standard they have invented.

  • cofty

    Richard Dawkins has also been expressing his thoughts in the Washington Post on the recent efforts of apologists. Like Dennett he challenges christians to stop the pretense and accept that the god of the bible makes no apology for suffering, natural or otherwise.

    It is no surprise that his words are even more robust than those of Dennett.

    Loathsome as Robertson's views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable 'mystery', or who 'see God' in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God 'suffering on the cross' in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here....

    The article is worth a read ....

  • Opus92

    Excellent point. Thank you for posting this.

  • Opus92

    And WOW does Richard Dawkins bring it.

  • cofty

    Thanks Opus. Dennett is very succinct, such a clear mind.

    Dawkins and Dennett were responding to the universally condemned comments of Pat Robinson regarding the cause of the Haiti earthquake.

    The great and good were invited to contribute their perspective on the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog.

    Here are a few highlights of their collective wisdom; click the author's name to read their full post ...

    I read the Book of Job almost as satire, mocking the simplistic answers and apologetics of Job's "pious" friends and acknowledging that we don't always get the answers we request. At the risk of being accused by Rev. Robertson of dealing with another devil, I believe what Mick Jagger sang: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."

    Rabbi Jack Moline

    When evil strikes, it's easy to ask, where is God. The answer: God is suffering in the midst of the evil with those who are suffering. Throughout the Scripture, we find a picture of a God who is with the people, even in their darkest hours... Today, in Haiti, God is suffering with those who are suffering. God's heart breaks with the heart of those survivors looking for their families, the injured crying in pain, the orphans weeping for the parents they will never see again.

    Jim Wallis CEO of "Sojourners"

    A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening... Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ's people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ's people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

    R. Albert Mohler - Southern Baptist convention

    Suffering overwhelms us like a wave, but it cannot defeat us. Those who love suffer. Those who love much suffer much. It's part of the human calculus. Ours is not to judge things we cannot totally understand in the present moment. Why did Jesus choose to die such a terrible death, in front of his own mother? Love is stronger than death, it cannot be defeated.

    Thomas G. Bohlin - Vicar of Opus Dei

    I don't want to undervalue the importance of relief efforts ongoing right now in Haiti. These are vital and so much more is needed. But if we are trying to figure out where God is in all this, I would say we are asking the wrong question. I ask myself often, where am I with God? And how is my life reflecting His Love, especially in a world capable of such horror.

    Phil Davies - Christian Scientist

    We will never understand God in full. As He has said in Isaiah 55, "just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." Who do we think we are to imagine we could judge God? We are mere creations of the All Powerful. It is not for us to advance our faulted human understandings of justice against His authority

    James Standish 7th Day Adventist

    I see those who experience such suffering as going through one of the most difficult of life's lessons and courses. It is something we all must experience and learn in one lifetime or another, maybe in several of them until we are able to realize the lessons to be learned. The next disaster could be the time for any of us to learn that lesson. It is important to remember that first graders are given easy lessons, and some lives are rather easy. The harder ones are for those who are the higher grades

    Ramdas Lamb - Hindu Monk

    Catastrophes get people to talking more about God/god, and some even to thinking more. While from this I do not infer that catastrophes are a divine attention-getting device, I do infer that religion and catastrophe, separately and in their interaction, stir human beings to widen their attention from the everyday to ultimate concerns. And I do believe that human life is enriched and even ennobled by the increase of appreciative and critical awareness .

    Willis E Elliot - Baptist minister

    Humanly-caused suffering is of course only a part of what human beings must endure. Disease and natural disasters have plagued our history, and there is no adequate answer to the anguish and death these have wrought. Part of the response of faith is to understand what role suffering might play in the way human souls grow

    Rabbi David Wolpe

    Robertson's callous comments came out of the sin and brokenness that led to the current catastrophe. We choose faith when we resist the sinful worldview that produced his remarks. Ultimately God intervenes through the faithful. Perhaps the question is not, "where was God," but "where are the faithful?"

    Jennifer Butler - Rep of Presbyterian church

    Blaming the victims for their suffering is an all-too-common human response for some people of faith who think they need to protect God. Bashing belief in God is another solution for inexplicable suffering. Either way, talking badly about God keeps the focus off what human rights ought to do. For those of faith, a better way is to ask what is it that God wants us to do. Faith in action avoids the fruitlessness of the theologically inexplicable

    Robert Parham - Baptist Center for Ethics

    Rather than trying to answer the question of "why, God" though, we would do better to ask where can God be found in the midst of these horrible events. The "why" I leave to God, both because all of the answers are unsatisfying and because the "where" will help us so much more.

    Rabbi Brad Hirschfield

    And the prize for stupidity goes to journalist Cal Thomas

    The Creator of the universe has His own purposes and is not required to explain them to us. But if one is looking for a "reason" why natural disasters happen, it is because the world is fallen. God did not make the world the way it is with fault lines running through the earth

    With a few exceptions the posts are quite brief and worth a read if for no other reason than to observe the collective sense of bewilderment.

    The question the contributers were asked to address was -

    Many have criticized Pat Robertson for suggesting that the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was the work of the devil or a form of divine punishment. But if one believes God is good and intervenes in the world, why does God allow innocents to suffer? What is the best scriptural text or explanation of that problem you've ever read?

    There is a common theme that runs through all of the replies; they insist on changing the question. Where they do get close to dealing with it, their reply, when all the rhetoric is stripped away, amounts to this;

    "I have no idea, it contradicts everything I believe, but I am going to go on believing it anyway"

    Pat Robinson is as vindictive as he is vacuous, but at least he has the balls to face up to the inevitable consequences of theism.

  • cofty

    The beginning of the end of my post-JW christian faith was the 2004 Asian tsunami.

    No only was I shaken by the needless loss of life, I was equally stunned by the inadequate response of the great and the good among christian teachers and apologists. Both in the media and in my local fellowship the response reminded me of the kind of equivocation that we were all so familiar with in the borg.

    Once again religious spokespersons of all shades are mumbling platitudes.

    They take refuge in divine mystery, they claim that, in a strange kind of way it was a blessing, they blame the victims, they change the question.

    As Dennett said, "There is no solution. Isn't that obvious?"

    Since I accepted that in 2004 I am much happier.

  • cofty

    Sorry wrong thread. Too many tabs open!

  • besty

    I was just praying for a decent post on this topic to come up....:-)

  • bohm

    if you still have threads from 2009 open in tabs you should consider closing some of them :-)

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