Religion

Oh, God. Not again.

It happens every time.

Without fail, whenever some truly monumental event occurs in the world, God swoops in and takes all the credit for the good, slipping away before anyone has a chance to blame Him for the bad. Like everyone else in the country, I’ve been following the Virginia Tech shooting all day. This morning, a man shot and killed 32 students, faculty, and staff, and injured 29 more.

Pam Tickle is a housekeeper on campus who managed to escape the horrifying ordeal with her life intact. When she heard the gunshots, she ran to a lounge with several students, where they locked the door and waited for police. After two hours, the police had control of the situation and the gunman was dead. Tickle told reporters:

I thank God because he was watching me today.

Before I go on, let me get a few things straight. This woman went through a terrifying experience, and no one can blame her for falling back on her faith for some kind of comfort. We can, however, criticize the culture that allows this kind of magical thinking to manifest. This is a very common expression, uttered at the end of football games, at the Academy Awards, and at the scene of catastrophes such as this.

I think this quote encapsulates what many atheists find so repugnant about a particular brand of religious thinking: the idea that those who survive do so because of God, with no thought given to those who died. If this woman takes comfort in the idea that God spared her life because she is special, because he was watching over her, then I’m happy for her. But, at the same time, I can’t help but be very, very sad for the 60 people who were gunned down for no reason at all. What about their friends and family? It’s awful to lose someone you love, and that pain can only be compounded by hearing that God specifically chose to protect some while allowing your loved one to suffer and die needlessly. Did God choose for them to die? Did they not pray hard enough?

Or was God just not watching them today?

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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42 Comments

  1. I find such a response on your part sadly parochial. You extrapolate entirely too much about what went on in this woman's head based on a single quote. There is absolutely no basis to assume that she is not devestated over those who died. Should her every thought be directed toward that though? What would that accomplish, except to increase chances of post-trauma neurosis? Is there no room to feel and express other emotions as well? No room for solace?

    I do not believe in God or any similar such entity, and I rabidly reject anyone's attempts to impose such thinking onto me or others. But from the single line quoted, that is not what this woman was doing. You take your soapboaxing too far in this instance, Rebecca. It was very disrespectful.

  2. Try reading the entry again jope, and this time, pay attention. Rebecca clearly states her target: the culture where god is given credit all the time for good things, and the idea, that should follow such thinking, that "god wanted them to die, or didn't care".

    Rebecca specifically says she doesn't blame this woman for having faith, relying on it in a time of crises, or expressing it. You extrapolate entirely too much about the intent of this post from a misunderstood, and apparently quick, reading of it.

    Then again, it might be my bias shining through. No matter what went through this woman's mind, the most immediate indirect consequence of her statement is that God let those other people die through either intent or wilful neglect. Now _that's_ disrespectful.

  3. Bjornar: Rebecca states an explicit target. She also clearly chose this specific article and this specific quote with which to preface it. Are the two disconnected? If so, then I will take my lumps on this. However, I think that is a shaky defense. There are plenty of other jackass articles and quotes out there (e.g. the Schlussel piece) ripe for the picking. But those were not what was cited.

    "The most immediate indirect consequence of her statement is that God let those other people die through either intent or wilful neglect"…? WRONG. This conclusion only follows from a select slice of the available interpretations of a higher power. I do not subscribe to any of them, but at least I understand the breadth of their spectrum.

    Mocking my response is pretty lame. But whatever. Thoughtful responses are appreciated; knee-jerk ad hominem attacks, please direct to /dev/null.

    When in the wake of a tragedy, relations devolve into alternating volleys of "Christians suck!", "Atheists suck!", and so on (substitute other diametrically opposed groups as needed), I can't help thinking of the line "a plague on both your houses". Sensitivity is not an unreasonable request here. Instead of jumping several steps ahead to criticizing society for its permissiveness of religious thinking, I would have been much happier to see an examination of /why/ people are often more likely to fall back on a concept of a higher power at such times. That would be a more constructive starting point for a discussion.

  4. I don't know why jope is making such a controversy. Rebecca's not saying the woman should have died or anything. She's simply pointing out that a lot of us atheists are sick of hearing people credit god for the boons and not blame him for the banes. This blog could have been made any day in the past. I've been sick of sports figures thanking god since I was a child. I think Rebecca's post isn't so much about the shootings or even about the woman who made the quote. It is about the frustration we atheists feel about the hypocrisy of Christians. But it was in the news today, so she posted it today.

    I lived through the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I saw people on the news day after day, getting rescued from their roof tops, and invariably thanking god for his mercy. I agree with Rebecca and Bjornar. You can't make that statement without implying that, either god had a hand in everyone else's death, or at least he didn't lend his hand to save those who drown in their own attics!

    Or hey, if questioning someone's faith during a [i]tragedy[/i] is what's bothering you, let's look at sports figures. How can someone thank god for letting him make a miracle catch in the endzone to win the game, without questioning why god let him drop ten others that would have put the game away at halftime? Frustrating, I tell you!

  5. Jope, I'm really glad you posted your thoughts on the matter, primarily because when I first posted this I was very unsure whether or not it was appropriate. After reading your response, I'm a bit more sure of myself.

    I'll quickly address one point. You state that I'm assuming what the woman in question thinks about the deaths here — you're correct, I am. However, you're completely wrong about what I assume she thinks. You state that I assume she doesn't care about the deaths, when in fact I make it very clear that I assume she is extremely upset by the deaths, and only that she is not attributing the same degree of responsibility to God in their cases. I made it clear that I do not fault her for falling back on her faith in this time. Her quote struck a chord with me, and I do not see the problem with using this as a jumping off point to explore a specific facet of our culture. Incredible tragedies like this can reveal an awful lot about our society, and in this case I think it illustrates the way we don't think about God. In fact, apparently one cannot think logically about God in a case like this without being criticized. Why is that?

    As Briarking just posted, yes, I could've focused on the Super Bowl syndrome that shows the same thing — but what's the end result of that thinking? Logically following from "God helped us win" is only the result, "God let the other guys lose." In this case, the logical result is much, much worse, and I think it's important that we recognize and discuss that fact.

  6. Things like this are said thoughtlessly, because the mindset is so thoroughly ingrained. However, by implication, what is unsaid (and probably unthought) is either a) "God didn't give a fuck about the poor souls who got killed" or b) "God allowed or caused the poor souls to be killed because of their sin." But I don't think people realize that this is the logical continuation of their words.

    Really, I think it's like a near death experience for these people. What they are thinking is "There must be a meaning to my life, I must have something special or important to do since God spared me."

  7. I'm sure the heart of the reason why god automatically gets credit for all of the good and not the bad is that, at the core of it, these people are good people, and would like for their god to be good as well. Meanwhile, the Phelps's are probably celebrating that their god has struck down VATech for having a glbt group. People's gods are reflections of themselves, not the other way around.

  8. To be fair, the indication is not that God was not watching over them… let me have a hypothetical conversation with a Christian on this one:

    DivaFFS: So if your god was watching over you, was he not watching over the ones that did get shot?

    ChristianFFS: He was looking after them as well.

    DFFS: But why did they get shot?

    CFFS: God has a plan.

    DFFS: A plan to have dozens of innocent people gunned down unexpectedly by a crazy guy?

    CFFS: It doesn't make sense to us as humans. God works in mysterious ways.

    DFFS: So this tragedy happened for good, and it is part of god's beautiful plan and something better is in store for the people who were injured or killed?

    CFFS: Yes.

    DFFS: But it's still evil?

    CFFS: Well, yes.

    DFFS: How can it be evil and good? That makes no sense.

    CFFS: Oh ye of little faith……

    ChristianFFS smiles sympathetically at DivaFFS and leaves to find a place to pray for her soul.

  9. All these rebuttals presuppose the assumption of an omnipotent higher power with a micromanagement problem. Is there a sound basis for this assumption? Let me illustrate an alternative view: God does what he can, but free will is out of his jurisdiction. Hypothetical, of course, because (as I unfortunately feel the need to reiterate constantly in this venue) I don't believe in bearded men in the clouds. Such a view is fairly consistent with scripture (questionably translated as it is, and not to be confused with Church canon) and pretty much negates the "OMFG, He killed Kenny! You bastard!" accusations. This has pretty much been my middleground stance whenever stuck in a conversation with diehard Christians, and most have been open to it. I like to think of it as offering them training wheels toward atheism. Rome wasn't built in a day, nor will it be dismantled overnight. In a nutshell: The target of your antipathy is a real one, but your gameplan for confronting it sucks.

  10. I don't think jope is making the argument from incomplete devastation. He is just pointing out an alternative (for the faithful) to having to think that god saved them but damned those that died. "Maybe god did what he could" kind of thinking. Of course that supposes that god is not omnipotent which I don't think most of the faithful would accept. Interestingly jope mentions that in his discussions with Christians they do accept maybe god isn't all powerful. That surprises me and seems like a good thing. Atheist training wheels indeed.

  11. jope said,

    April 17, 2007 at 12:44 pm · Edit

    All these rebuttals presuppose the assumption of an omnipotent higher power with a micromanagement problem. Is there a sound basis for this assumption?

    Yes, there is. That assumption comes directly from the attitude I'm railing against — when something good happens to someone (or something less terrible than what happens to the surrounding crowd), he thanks God for protecting him. This suggests an intercessory god, one that dips into our lives to save those who are deserving. What logically follows from that is that an intercessory god must pick and choose who lives and who dies.

    If it is someone's "time to go," and if God "has a plan," now that suggests something different: that God has an established timeline for each of us and nothing we can do can change that. This clashes with the previous idea, that God is deserving of our thanks for interceding on our behalves in times of need.

  12. I agree with Jope on several points.in particular,

    I find the general tone of most post here,needlessly

    exacerbating lucid thoughts,rather than hold a valid

    credibility…

    The reason why there's the need to invent conversations

    with Christans,(Relative References)proves (to me)theirs really

    no other view here permitted,but one..

    "All these rebuttals presuppose the assumption"

    Jope is absolutely correct!

    1)They all insert a hypothetical notion, that God

    will not let an innocent person die

    Yet we are told in Egypt,God plagued the first born of EVERY

    civilian,who didn't bare a particular ward on the door..

    How many people DID he/she kill,when God flooded the Earth,

    making exception to only Noah..

    As Jope was saying,"there's more to heaven and hell",

    however I'm positive, I can just sit back and watch, how

    YOU tell me I'm wrong for my opinion..

    So,to the question:

    Can God be selective in murder?

    Answer:

    What part of Omnipotent do you not understand?

    V..

  13. What part of Omnibenevolent do you not understand?

    And before you say "God isn't omnibenevolent" there are plenty of people who think God is.

    But that is part of the point, in that people ascribe to God any and all attributes they want.

    There is a more primary assumption going on: that a god exists. From that base comes "what god" and "what attributes" etc., and then clashes occur as one set of assumed attributes conflict with another set. Lots of people think they know the mind of god, but can't agree on the details, and so can jump on other people when they imagine a different set to them.

    And since that is what is happening here, I won't address the correctness of the base assumption…

  14. OK, I guess I'll jump in here, since it seems like we have gotten to an interesting point in the dialogue.

    Monika: I think you would be surprised to find out how many Christians recognize the paradox/potential inconsistency of a functionally omnipotent God. And while many/most? retreat behind the concept of God being omnipotent-but-inscrutable, there are certainly many others whose image of God is more limited. Whether or not these limits represent actual, or simply perceptual limitations is a subject of much debate. But the spectrum of religious thought on this subject is about as broad as it could possibly be.

    Van Helsing: Although (as a self-described Christian/skeptic) I have never felt particularly welcomed here, I have also never felt that my ideas were discouraged from being expressed. Given the demographic of this blog, I would be surprised if the tone were anything other than it is. And I have no problem at all with that. While I do agree that many of the arguments presented here use a strawman view of religion that is not quite as universally true as some here would imagine, one would have to be a fool not to see that they type of Christian often derided in these posts is a pretty damn accurate picture of a big chunk of the "faithful."

    thad: I don't know a single person, Christian or not, who feels that the Phelps clan (of Westboro Baptist fame) is anything other than a bunch of dangerously psychopathic a$$holes. I don't think religion made them psychopaths, although it does seem to help some people down that path. I, for one, would happily Taser them into twitching lumps while singing Amazing Grace! But that's just me.

  15. Still and all, this all boils down to the desire to see – just once – the media flock to a tragedy survivor, with cameras and microphones from dozens of channels and newspapers, and hold bated breath as he/she makes the statement: "Whew! Thank Chance I survived! Dumb Luck was really watching over me today!" It'd never make it on the air.

    Oh, and SteveT; that taser/Amazing Grace thing ain't just you.

  16. Rebecca, my whole beef here is your jump from the notion of an intercessory God to "what logically follows". People (even those of a non-religious bent) frequently do not apply proper logic, especially when working from a bad starting point. There is wide body of evidence supporting this.

    Was your complaint that "apparently one cannot think logically about God in a case like this without being criticized" direct at me? I have not criticized you assertions about the illogic of God. Not one bit. If you disagree, please provide a specific quote from me and explain further, as it is surely a misunderstanding.

    What I *have* criticized, but apparently lost something in the transmission, include the following:

    1) Your cited quote. Probably the least substantive of the lot, but the hot-button nevertheless. Had the linkage been that of "a jumping off point to explore a specific facet of our culture", that would have been great. But you drew a *straight line* between the two. Yes, you lay out disclaimers of sensitivity, which is great, but then utterly undercut: "I think this quote encapsulates what many atheists find so repugnant about a particular brand of religious thinking". While it may trigger this repugnance (see #3 below), the quote "encapsulates" it rather poorly. Falwell, Swaggert, Pat Robertson, and a host of others (often "host" in the literal sense) are usually all too happy to provide quotes better suited to this purpose.

    2) Your assumptions about the beliefs of believers on a wider scale. Citing extremist wackjobs like Phelps is worthless. Using your own logic to extrapolate from a single aspect of a belief system other than your own is not much better. Proper basis for assumption is actual data. And note that what I have offered is not valid data either, only anecdotal evidence! You have one hyothesis about their beliefs, I have a different one (see #4 below). Let these hypotheses duke it out in the prescribed manner.

    3) Your failure to reflect on the extremity of the repugnance ascribed to atheists and (presumably) yourself based on these assumptions. Repugnance is an emotion and has nothing to do with logic. Its presence has an unfortunate tendency to taint reasoning. Ignore at your own risk.

    4) Your lack of gameplan. Monika apparently understood my point about alternative higher power views. (which unfortunately was a distraction from the original discussion, and should have been better labelled as such) The power of offering this kind of alternate view to some who *already* assumes the existence of God is this: It opens the door to their admission of self-determinism and chance — without straight away attempting to invalidate the central plank of their belief system. Trojan Horse, sugar-coated pill, etc. It is not a viewpoint designed to convince an atheist of anything.

    This *is* a worthwhile discussion topic. As such the post was worthwhile. But sloppy in ways that were disappointing to me, yet apparently lie in the blindspot of many other readers. Criticism is part of discussion. No one is above skepticism! That's why you post, that's why we read… and comment. No personal affront was intended. I will qualify my complaint that your soapboxing was taken too far: It is absolutely your right to take it too far. But be prepared to either defend or amend your position.

  17. Dear Steve,I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree,

    for I have no intentions of changing my analysis,until the

    data I incorporate,changes itself..

    I never felt particular welcomed either,but considering the

    slander and hostility toward peoples beliefs system,maybe

    I should count my blessings..(pardon the pun)..

    "one would have to be a fool not to see that they type of Christian often derided in these posts is a pretty damn accurate picture of a big chunk

    of the “faithful.”

    I disagree completely..

    We don't know conclusively the backgrounds of

    each individual involved in this tragedy.It's obvious

    the survivor happens to be a faithful follower of God.

    In this contrast,

    I find it chillingly ironic,The known survivor,was grateful to God..

    Is it fair to assume,she was spared for that reason alone?

    V,,

  18. No one's god had anything to do with the lashing out of one disturbed young man. Anyone who mentions god is going to get more air time than psychologists who may be able to give the public a real answer as to why this man went on the assault as he did, and what people can look out for the prevent something like this from happening again. Also, the outbusrt of prayers and ribbons across the country is sickening. I'm all for solidarity when it comes to tragedy, but where's the national outpouring of grief and comraderie for the 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa?

  19. I agree with you Mattis,

    In our loyalties toward our bias,

    We shouldn't explore scenarios where fateful disciple

    prevails,over unimaginable odds and circumstances..

    God has nothing to do with a servant escaping evil,

    than praising him/her/it, for the gift to live another day..

    I encourage you all to over-look this too

    V..

  20. Rebecca:

    I liked your post and don't think (as jope does) that you took your soapboxing too far but I think I understand the point he is trying to communicate.

    The assumption of an intercessory god does not logically also have to be an omnipotent god. So an intercessory god could save someone but not have the power to save everyone. It seems a stretch to me but logically it could be more about timing and luck than god actually picking and choosing who to save. SteveT and jope seem to suggest there are plenty of faithful who think this way.

    However I feel your central point stands. I think the omnipotent and intercessory god is the one most people have faith in. I don't have any evidence though so it has to qualify as just my opinion.

    Van Heising:

    Like SteveT said this forum is probably not terribly welcoming to the religious but in my experience we are open to discussion. SteveT probably has more success because his posts are more coherent. I don't mean to be offensive but I find your points hard to figure out in your posts.

  21. "Like SteveT said this forum is probably not terribly welcoming to the religious but in my experience we are open to discussion."

    I suppose that regular academic theology, which atheists aren't exactly averse to, could actually be seen as unwelcome to *some* kinds of religious believers.

    Without wanting to offend anyone, at the simplest levels of religious (and maybe other kinds of) belief, I'd suggest there are a couple of groups – one which has a set of simple beliefs that they don't really try to connect with logic, and another group which has tried making connections, and then adopted or invented simple rationalisations or other epicycles to explain the cases that seem to fail. To the extent that people in either group desire to feel certainty, anything which points out discrepancies could be seen as a threat.

    To someone more sophisticated, who is emotionally willing to embrace doubt, discussions may be much less unwelcome.

    Personally, as a first guess, if someone survived a disaster unscathed and was thinking/talking about [deity] having watched over them, I'd maybe take it as an indication that they were understandably still thinking of themselves and how lucky they'd been.

    Had they had time to find out about and get round to thinking about the actual victims, they may well have moved on from the whole deity thing and started concentrating on people. Had they been in a room where half the people had been suddenly killed in front of them, I wonder if they wouldn't have been more likely to already be thinking about the dead and the other survivors, rather than themselves.

  22. Dear PH,you're more than entitled to your opinion,

    as I am mine.However Steve doesn't speak for me,

    nor can anyone excuse or dismiss how I feel..

    I'm certainly not alone..

    It's the presumptions of assumptions,is what irritates me the most,

    coupled by innuendos and Sophisticated misnomers,becomes

    my major turn-offs here.

    i.e "at the simplest levels of religious"

    The presumptions that anything simple regarding religion,

    contradicts that fact,that if this was so simple,why do so many fail?

    Yet you're not asking the questions,your asserting an assumption,

    and continuously ramble, as if theirs no doubt,you somehow got

    this pegged.

    I disagree..Thiers nothing easy or simple regarding religion

    (self exclamatory)

    "and another group which has tried making connections, and then adopted or invented simple rationalizations or other epicycles to explain the cases that seem to fail."

    I hope I'm coherent here,(really important)The statement

    you just made,applies directly to this group,(more so)

    than anyone else in the world(my opinion)

    I.E" God specifically chose to protect some while allowing

    your loved one to suffer and die needlessly."

    In this statement(and others)I find the exact failed connections

    at rationalization,as you indited toward religious folks.

    How do we know God didn't intervene,to keep from more

    victims from being harmed?There was students who didn't

    make it to class that day.

    Since God allows free will,why would he/she/it care what

    we do to each other? innocent people die all the time,

    so why would now be any different?

    Because God has the tendency,to spare faithful followers

    from certain tragedy,It's also said,he spared mankind by

    sending us Jesus..

    "The lord can givith,the lord can takith away"

    So,I don't agree with most of the assumptions here,however it's

    the accretion of Your Ideology(not academic)that makes this

    an unwelcoming environment,to have health conversation.

    To be clear:Some of you think you know so much,

    but how does this leave any room,for someones with an

    Academic Objection?

    V

  23. "It’s awful to lose someone you love, and that pain can only be

    compounded by hearing that God specifically chose to protect

    some while allowing your loved one to suffer and die needlessly.

    Did God choose for them to die? Did they not pray hard enough?"

    Dear Rebecca

    These are great questions to ask a priest,pastor,

    or spiritual counselor,their insight explores responsibly,

    the emotional and spiritual healing,which is clearly relevant,

    as well as evident,yet ironic how in our society,some consider

    how we emotional and spiritually heal merely anecdotal.

    For once I agree with you,their pain is very real,

    even if we can't see it..I still empathize..

    "God specifically chose to protect some while allowing your loved one to suffer and die needlessly. Did God choose for them to die? Did they not pray hard enough?"

    To answer your question Rebecca,God allowed

    Jesus to die,Do you really think we're any better?

    V..

  24. Van Helsing: I wouldn't presume to speak for you. I'm sorry if I didn't make that more clear. I speak only for myself when I post here. My views on religion are admittedly not particularly mainstream, although I do know a number of people who feel similarly to me on many of these issues.

    I really don't think you do your argument any favors by expressing yourself so unclearly. Given that you are targeting your comments to a group of people who disagree quite strongly with you, you need to not take things so personally. There are a huge number of perfectly valid criticisms that can be made of religion (and many religious people), so it's important not to take each one as a criticism leveled at you, personally.

    Do the people who post on this blog make unfounded assumptions and rationalizations? Yes. Everyone does. It's an unfortunate part of being human.

    Do they make MORE unfounded assumptions/rationalizations than most religious folk (as you contend)? Not even close, in my experience.

    Lastly, I have to note that your writing reminds me of a previous poster on this blog, by the name of Mikal D'mon. Are you him (operating under a pseudonym), perchance? If not, I humbly apologize.

  25. V, To clarify:

    At the simplest level, someone might have a few simple statements about the nature of a deity (deity is good, deity is powerful, deity is all-seeing). When faced with a tragedy, some people might view their own survival as being linked to the good/powerful features of the deity but just not progress to questioning why others weren't so lucky. That wouldn't necessarily make them a bad person, just someone who doesn't necessarily apply much analysis to religion even if they may otherwise be a profound thinker.

    Some people might move a little further, and get to questioning seeming discrepancies, but rationalise the apparent contradiction away as the deity's mysterious will, the evil work of some claimed negative sub-deity, the deity being just-not-quite omnipotent, etc. Some people might just ponder various rationalisations and not make firm conclusions, whereas even in the absence of any actual evidence, some people could conclude that they knew which rationalisation was correct.

    "How do we know God didn’t intervene,to keep from more victims from being harmed?"

    We don't *know* whether one or other deity made things better or worse, just as we evidently don't have any way of knowing whether any particular deities actually exist that even believers would agree about.

    "Since God allows free will,why would he/she/it care what

    we do to each other?"

    Because your particular claimed deity is supposed to be loving, and is also claimed not to be averse to intervening in the world, it must at least care. If your particular deity actually *was* renowned for being hands-off, presumably people wouldn't bother asking it for favours (however unselfish the request) or thanking it for good things it has done specifically for them.

    "Because God has the tendency,to spare faithful followers

    from certain tragedy,It’s also said,he spared mankind by

    sending us Jesus."

    That rather suggests you think the people who were killed in this event or numerous previous tragedies may have been less faithful than those who were spared?

    Do you have any evidence at all for that, or is it just something you want to believe because it makes your deity look like less of a *&^%?

    "Yet you’re not asking the questions,your asserting an assumption,

    and continuously ramble, as if theirs no doubt,you somehow got

    this pegged."

    *I'm* rambling?

    I'm thinking out loud, wondering about how people might think, and asking questions. If someone actually wants to take up a particular point and disagree with it, they are perfectly welcome to do so, as long as they do so clearly enough for me to be able to understand what they're trying to say.

  26. Hello Steve I don't claim to have a writing style,

    however if "group of people who disagree quite strongly

    with you" than I deduce,I 'm somehow able to still get my

    point across.. logical conclusion..

    I didn't mean to suggest you speak for me,

    if that's how some interpret this,I apologies..

    I meant to express an object perspective,probably

    not considered,when providing us these great topic..

    V..

  27. L.O.L..

    Okay Ph,I'll do my best,providing you a clear view,on my position..

    "At the simplest level, someone might have a few simple statements about the nature of a deity (deity is good, deity is powerful, deity is all-seeing)."

    Although I believe this was the intent of this thread,I don't agree

    enough evidence has been submitted,to validate this position..

    Those who practice their Faith are well aware how God interacts,

    so theres no need to determine if "deity is good, deity is powerful,

    deity is all-seeing"since we ALL agree,who's the bad-guy here PH.

    Since we're permitted free-will,Why would anyone hold God

    responsible,when our actions and judgments,cause someone harm misfortune?

    That's part of the deal..

    Had it been Satan who went on a shooting spree,

    I would see your point,but Y'all are attempting to insert

    a notion,God should allow others to live,when he allowed

    Jesus to die..

    I personally don't think he owes us any favors,however

    I appreciate the reality,that someone did survive..

    and she Thanks God.

    V..

  28. "Hello Steve I don’t claim to have a writing style,

    however if “group of people who disagree quite strongly

    with you” than I deduce,I ‘m somehow able to still get my

    point across.. logical conclusion.."

    Actually, the logical conclusion would be that some people *think* they know the point[s] you're trying to make, and disagree with those points, or they *think* they know roughly where you're coming from, and disagree with that general position.

    If someone has said 'You're being very unclear' it does rather suggest that they think at least *some* of your points aren't being clearly put across.

  29. V,

    "To answer your question Rebecca,God allowed

    Jesus to die,Do you really think we’re any better?"

    Nice rationalisation there, V.

    No-one's worth as much as son-of-deity, therefore deity can't be blamed even in circumstances where dozens, thousands, or maybe even millions of people suffer and die. Though deity *does* love us, and *could* save us, and sometimes *does* decide to save us, affirming the faith and earning the gratitude of surviving believers, we're really not worthy, so shouldn't really lose faith or be ungrateful if deity doesn't bother saving our loved ones.

    Theologically speaking, I kind of assumed that Jesus is claimed to have been born specifically *in order to [temporarily] die*, albeit with the obvious distinct comfort of certain knowledge of eternal life after a few days of suffering. Doesn't seem *that* bad a trade-off to me, especially if compared with countless other people dying in rather more pain, over a much longer period, without any certainty of things getting better.

    "Since we’re permitted free-will,Why would anyone hold God

    responsible,when our actions and judgments,cause someone harm misfortune?"

    Because numerous believers claim that God not only has the power to override Free Will, but frequently chooses to exercise that power. Therefore, at least for those believers, it's not entirely Free in terms of outcomes, is it?

    If someone handed out weapons to small children knowing full well what would happen, and stopped *some* of them harming others when they could stop all of them harming others, they'd be hard put to explain how they weren't responsible, let alone to expect gratitude for the times when they did intervene.

    In the case of an powerful deity, possibly bad things might be part of a mysterious grand plan that mere mortals aren't capable of understanding, but that plan is still the responsibility of the deity.

  30. Hello Ph,

    "No-one’s worth as much as son-of-deity, therefore deity can’t be

    blamed even in circumstances where dozens, thousands, or

    maybe even millions of people suffer and die."

    Correct..If free will permits humanity to engage

    in such ruthless actions,I believe humanity is at blame here,

    the cause and effect..God has been clear on this view toward

    murder,how much more responsible can you be?

    Should we also blame God for all of societies children,

    born out-of wedlock?Sounds like the same thing to me..

    "Though deity *does* love us, and *could* save us, and sometimes

    *does* decide to save us, affirming the faith and earning the gratitude

    of surviving believers, we’re really not worthy, so shouldn't’t really lose

    faith or be ungrateful if deity doesn’t bother saving our loved ones."

    How about saving ourselves Ph?

    Are we capable?

    I find it personally offensive to think,I require an outside source,

    to raise our children..No,I don't believe so!

    God may have saved someone,you're negating

    the Christian,or does this Fact,upset you?

    Are you worried an atheist don't have a prayer?

    (pardon the pun)I would too..V..

  31. "God has been clear on this view toward murder,how much more responsible can you be?"

    That'd be the God responsible for inciting He knows *how* much murder and genocide, up to and including the whole Noah thing, if the Old Testament is to be believed?

    I'd say that *that* God had made it pretty clear what the Authorised view on murder was: "It's OK if someone doesn't think the way you do, and/or is living on land you'd like".

    A lesson which seems to have been learned amply by humanity, as demonstrated not least by current events in the general area of the Biblical Lands.

    "God may have saved someone,you’re negating the Christian,or does this Fact,upset you?"

    "God may have saved someone" isn't a 'fact', it's an entirely unprovable and hence pointless speculation. With the addition of the implicit lead-up "For all we know…", it would be a true statement, but that's because it doesn't really say anything about God or about saving, but about our lack of information.

    I could say "[For all *you* know…] I may have had a ham sandwich for lunch today", and in the simplest analysis, that statement is true, but only because in reality, it's not really a statement about my lunch at all, but a statement about your entirely understandable ignorance about my lunch. I might just as well have said "You have absolutely no idea what I had for lunch today"

    Being intellectually honest, "God might have saved someone" would be better expressed as "God (assuming God exists), may have made things better or worse overall, or done nothing at all. I have absolutely no way of knowing."

    "I find it personally offensive to think,I require an outside source,

    to raise our children."

    Who was talking about raising children?

    "Are you worried an atheist don’t have a prayer?

    (pardon the pun)I would too..V.."

    To paraphrase Homer Simpson:

    How do you know you're worshipping the *right* God? Every Sunday you might just be making Him madder and madder.

  32. I didn't find anything you said relevant toward our topic

    "Being intellectually honest"is also considering that a Christan

    did survive tragedy,True?Since we can't prove what God can or

    can't do,I don't bother speculating..That would be intellectually

    dishonest..(my opinion)

    God had made it pretty clear what the Authorised view on murder was

    Correct..The Ten commandment decrees,thou shalt not kill..

    How simple is that..

    V

  33. "Being intellectually honest, “God might have saved someone” would be better expressed as “God (assuming God exists), may have made things better or worse overall, or done nothing at all. I have absolutely no way of knowing.”

    Actually PH,I think you're being arrogant,and exaggerating

    the variables,just to nitpick on a irrelevant issue.

    The math can be simplified to either God does,or

    God does not..

    considering I DID say "might have" I also include the possibility,

    that maybe God did not..So I object to your objection,and annoyed

    by this side-bar issue..

    V..

  34. V

    *You* are the person seemingly seeing relevance in the suggestion that your particular deity *might* have saved a believer, but you find any actual analysis of that statement irrelevant, even though the statement is effectively an expression of a total lack of knowledge.

    You seem to think I might be 'upset' by the suggestion that we have no idea whether any deity (if any deities actually exist) might have had a hand in the situation, for better or for worse.

    To set your mind at rest, I'm not upset in the slightest to acknowledge humanity's complete ignorance on the issue.

    "The math can be simplified to either God does,or

    God does not.."

    Does or does not *what*? Exist? Intervene? Only do Good?

    And what does Math have to do with anything?

    "God had made it pretty clear what the Authorised view on murder was

    Correct..The Ten commandment decrees,thou shalt not kill..

    How simple is that.."

    It'd be rather more simple without much of the OT being a catalogue of God-sponsored murder of men, women and children, up to and including genocide, including the big G supposedly wiping out almost the entire human and other animal population of the planet.

    It'd be rather more simple if generations of presumed believers had actually practised what they should presumably have believed.

    In the centuries of European warfare, God knows how many people went out to kill others, with the church/state-injected belief or hope that God was on their side, yet it doesn't seem that God ever actually stuck His head out of the clouds and asked "What the &^%$ do you morons think you're doing?".

    “Being intellectually honest”is also considering that a Christan

    did survive tragedy,True?"

    To be intellectually honest is to acknowledge that virtually the entire university population survived.

    *I* have no prejudice-based reason to suppose that anyone who died somehow deserved to die, or that any of them were lacking in faith or Goodness or didn't pray hard enough when the door burst open. Equally, for all I know, some people might have survived by getting wasted the night before and not waking up until noon.

    In any case, short of the whole country just disappearing, or there being some extraordinarily narrowly targeted disaster, it would be astonishing to have any kind of significant disaster in the USA that didn't have some Christians amongst the survivors, and highly unlikely to have any large event with numerous survivors where none of the Christian fraction might at least fleetingly consider that they had possibly been spared by divine intervention.

    Logically speaking, to have some number of apparently devout Christians surviving a large USA-based event is basically a sure bet, and, unless there was some very odd pattern of selective survival, the fact that some might think God helped them has precisely zero significance even for a sensible believer.

    If there were some disaster at a new-age convention, there'd be all *kinds* of people attributing their survival to one flavour of woo another. All that would actually tell a rational observer about would be the people's prior beliefs, not whether any of those beliefs were remotely justified.

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