What have you achieved today? I finished some illustrations for a children’s book a friend has written. It’s a minor accomplishment, of course, but one I like to think hasn’t added to the sum total of suffering and misery in the world (though you might want to disagree.) There’s every chance that whatever you’ve done today has been productive and positive too. That is, unless you also happen to be a deity.
What are God’s accomplishments today? What has the Omnipotent, Omniscient and All-loving God achieved in the last twenty-four hours?
Has he, for example, eliminated Ebola, Aids or cancer, or even helped those sinful human beings who strive to develop cures for these terrible diseases (which we would be right in thinking God himself created in the first place)? Erm, no. He hasn’t. Ebola, Aids and cancer are still with us today, their cure and prevention a little closer only because of human endeavour.
Has he prevented any further brutal murders by those who claim to operate in his (alternate) name? Has he rushed to the assistance of Christians being persecuted in Syria and Iraq? Erm… that’s another no. You’d think he might, wouldn’t you, given that his own people are among the persecuted, but no. And given that ‘gentle and compassionate’ relief worker, Alan Henning, has today been beheaded by Islamic extremists, you’d be right to wonder just where God is. What does he spend his days doing?
Did he, then, decide that today was the day he’d let us know which of his many manifestations is the real him – Yahweh? Allah? Shiva? Ra? One of the myriad others? None of the above? No, he didn’t do that either. He left us in our ignorance about which of the many religions, groups and sects has got it right about him. He couldn’t find the time today to tell us who it is that worships the real him, and who it is who’s deceived. Just as he couldn’t for all of the days that have so far made up recorded time.
Maybe, however, he hasn’t had time to do this because he’s been too busy sustaining the universe; you know, winding up gravity and giving the Earth those little pushes it needs to make it spin. But of course, the universe doesn’t work like this. It needs no external power source to keep it going. Even if it was God who set the ‘laws of physics’ in motion at the beginning of everything (it wasn’t), they have been self-sustaining ever since. So, no, he hasn’t the excuse that he spends his days making sure everything is ticking over nicely.
Does he spend them instead empowering believers to move mountains, heal the sick, raise the dead and perform miracles even better than those of his ‘son’, just like he had Jesus promise? Not so’s you’d notice. In fact, not at all.
Oh dear. We really are running out of possible things for God to do. Despite the sometimes desperate state of the world, perhaps all of his time is taken up finding parking spaces for Christians and sorting out their career prospects. Perhaps he’s too busy directing the thoughts and words of his ‘chosen instruments’ (see my previous post) so they can express their hatred for non-Christians and gay people. Or maybe all of his energies go into inspiring those Holy Spirit led church services that ‘bless’ Christians but are no more than human emotion run riot. Alternatively, maybe he just spends his time being offended by everything and everybody. If these are his accomplishments over the last twenty-four hours, then, given all the things he could have been doing, doesn’t it all seem rather pathetic? This is all he can manage?
Of course not. All of the triviality, and all of the brutality, attributed to him is entirely human in origin and manifestation; the beheadings, the euphoria, the offence, the vitriol. All part of the self-delusion that is ‘faith’. There is no God doing all these things, no God who manifests himself in the operation of the universe, in human suffering or the pleasures and happy coincidences of life.
It’s possible, I suppose, that there is a god somewhere, one without any interest in human beings and life here on Earth, but then he’d be even more irrelevant than the impotent gods we’ve invented for ourselves.
As Ariane Sherin famously said, ‘There’s probably no God’, with the ‘probably’ looking ever more redundant.