God’s Wrath (and those who direct it)

typhoon-phillipines

The idea that natural disasters and death are punishments from God – for whatever we humans have done to offend him – is still with us. As I suggested here, such a notion has been around from the beginnings of religious belief. It, together with its counterpart – that we need to appease the god(s) who so afflict us – is responsible for the genesis of all religion. There are those today whose thinking is wilfully stranded in the ancient world-views of ‘sacred’ texts that embody this dual notion of punishment that’s somehow merited and the need to appease the deity dishing out the punishment.

Here it is expressed recently by bear of little brain, Sam Rohrer, who has it directly from the Lord that he, the Almighty, has turned his back on America because it does not force immigrants to believe in him. America, he says has

changed the historic biblical rules (regarding immigration) … this is a reason why God must discipline our country.

Looney tune Pat Robertson, with his direct hotline to the Almighty, insists that it’s abortion that’s going to bring down God’s wrath:

One day, a righteous, holy God is going to demand an accounting for every drop of blood that has been spilled of innocent, unborn babies. And we just keep it in mind, when it happens it’s going to be awful.

Andrew Bieszad, on the other hand, knows that Hurricane Matthew which struck Florida back in August was God punishing the State for its tolerance of ‘evil sodomites’ (you don’t get much more tolerant than that.):

Stop sinning, especially with sodomy, as it is one of the four sins in the Bible which cry out to God for vengeance, which we are seeing now.

And these are just a few examples. There are many more. According to his whack-job servants, God can punish us, entirely indiscriminately, by unleashing earthquakes, tsunamis and floods; he can turn his back on us so that we wallow in our own filth; he can show his distaste for our ‘sin’ by raining down death and destruction upon us.

Naturally there’s plenty of this kind of thinking in the Old Testament, where God is credited with drowning his entire creation when a few ancient tribesmen misbehave (Genesis 6); he’s made to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah after every male turns inexplicably violent-gay (Genesis 19) and he’s said to wipe out whole swathes of his chosen people because they don’t pay him enough attention (Exodus 32.28).

None of these things happened, of course. They’re stories, myths or legends that incorporate the primitive thinking of the pre-scientific people who devised them, people who could only explain violent events in terms of divine punishment. It is this same thinking that is perpetuated today by those whose development is similarly arrested: through exposure to these same stories, an unwillingness to think rationally, an unhealthy preoccupation with God-nonsense and an overweening sense of self-righteousness (‘don’t blame us; it’s those others that attract God’s wrath.’)

There is no correlation between the disasters that befall humankind and God. Not one of the self-appointed prophets who say there is offer a single scrap of evidence that they are inflicted by a deity. Not one of their cause-and-effect assertions has ever been tested, can ever be tested. And – the clincher – there is no God anyway. All of which renders appeasement unnecessary and is good enough reason not to believe a word from these misguided charlatans.

The God of Reason strikes again!

planWe’ve been looking at how well The God of Reason™ fares in the reasoning stakes. Is he as logical, rational and reasoned as his self-appointed representatives on Earth say he is? Is he logical, rational and reasoned at all? He didn’t do so well in the set-up, those wacky creation stories at the start of Genesis. There’s nothing reasoned or rational about his behaviour there. So how does he do further down the line? Does his intelligence evolve or does he make like Donald Trump for the rest of eternity? (Spoiler alert…)

Having willfully allowed everything to deteriorate into chaos, God is upset again when his abandoned human creation doesn’t behave as he wants them to. Evidently he couldn’t see this coming, so he decides the most rational thing to is to drown everyone and everything, with the exception of a family left over from an earlier myth by the Babylonians and a floating zoo. Everyone else, every baby, every child, every pregnant woman, every living thing – from the smallest insect on four legs to brachiosaurs and the cutest lickle kittens – he murders in cold water.

After he’s annihilated them all, Yahweh is dismayed when Noah gets pissed and romps around naked in front of his son, who is called Ken Ham (can’t blame him for not seeing that coming) and he realises this plan hasn’t worked out either. Now where, in all of these larks, is rationality? More nul points for the great God of Reason and his ability to think things through.

Yahweh’s next cunning plan involves persuading a bloke who’s a few brain cells short of a pastry case himself to murder his own son and burn his body. Yahweh tells him this will be such fun. But then, at the last minute, just when the kid is trussed up on a pyre with his old man ready to plunge the knife into him, God sends a messenger to call the whole thing off. Turns it was no more than a test. Never mind the trauma to the kid and the damage to his relationship with his father, this was the only logical way for Yahweh to see if ol’ Abe was one of the good guys.

He follows it up with another great plan; he promises he’ll look after Abe and his descendants till the end of time, so long as – wait for it – they all slice off the end of their penises. Now, come on – that’s a well thought through scheme if ever there was one.

Isn’t it?  

Our Father

FatherJosh, our social worker, would always tell us that our father didn’t mean it. He didn’t mean to threaten and intimidate us. He didn’t want to have us cringing in fear of him whenever he came near. Josh said our father loved us really, in his own way. I think we knew that ‘in his own way’ really meant ‘not in the way anyone else would recognise as love’. But, Josh said, whatever it might look like, father really did love us. It was just, Josh said, that he was naturally short-tempered and really couldn’t tolerate what he judged to be our terrible behaviour, even though none of us was really what you’d call badly behaved. No more than most children, anyway. Just by being there, it seemed we irritated father to such an extent that he’d punish us severely, the punishments out of all proportion with our supposed misdemeanours. Dolores once spent the night in the coal shed because she forgot to ask father’s permission for something trivial. No-one could remember what the next morning when she was allowed back in, crying, shivering and covered in black dust. But father said she deserved it for being such a wicked child. He said we all did.

We’d appeal to Josh, of course, but he’d just say we should ask father’s forgiveness for our wickedness, but as we explained to Josh, it seemed to us that father was the wicked one. We couldn’t see what we’d done that we needed to ask forgiveness for. Josh said that this sort of attitude wasn’t going to get us anywhere except into more trouble. Didn’t we know father loved us very much? All the same, he said, he’d have a word with father on our behalf. ‘He’ll listen to me,’ he said, but it didn’t seem like he did. Father’s demands would become all the more exacting as he told us he expected more of us only for our own good. Then he’d punish us when we couldn’t do what he asked — when we weren’t what he asked, which seemed terribly unfair when we couldn’t be anything more than he’d made us in the first place. Maybe if he’d been around more and had shown us more love than he did, we might not have turned out to be such a disappointment to him.

As you might expect, we eventually lost all faith in Josh. He really wasn’t much use. He promised to fix things with father, but it always seemed like he was on father’s side rather than ours, and his threats still hung over us. We would never be good enough for him, even with Josh’s ineffectual interventions. So when we grew up we all left home. I don’t think any of us has any contact with father now. I’m fairly sure he’s dead, in fact. He has no more control over us anyway; we don’t live in fear of his threats and punishments. We’re finally free of him, thank God.