Interlude: A word from God


While nothing like Cyclone Idai that hit southern Africa recently, we had some terrible storms here in the north of England last weekend. The thunder woke me just after 2 a.m., each peal shaking the house, and with the flashes of lightning, it felt frighteningly apocalyptic.

And then it hit me: the Lord was sending a sign! He was angry about something we’d done! Maybe same-sex marriage, though as we’ve had that for a while now in the UK, I’d have thought he’d be used to that particular idea by now. So, maybe he was upset about abortion again. That could be it, though again, a bit late in the day. Still, with God a day is as a thousand years (and vice versa), so you never know. Maybe it’s Brexit. Perhaps the Lord’s angry we’re coming out of Europe. Or, perhaps he’s angry we aren’t coming out fast enough. Back in the 1970s, when Britain first joined the European Economic Community (as it was called then), he told his representatives here on Earth it was a Very Bad Thing, because it was like a recreation of the old Roman Empire and a sure sign of the End Times. He disapproved, but told only a few of his Chosen Ones how he felt and completely forgot to mention it to anyone else.

Christ! Don’t you just get fed up with religiously fixated nutjobs coming up with this sort of crap every time there’s a storm or a tsunami or an eclipse? Every natural disaster, every human catastrophe, every phenomenon in the night sky has to be interpreted as a message or warning from a deity who is otherwise as dumb as a rock. Only when weather does what weather is prone to do does he start communicating with us – incoherently and in code. Only a special few, those who’ve appointed themselves as his prophets and mouthpieces, are capable of telling us what he’s really saying. It’s a miracle if two or three of them ever agree about what that is.

If you need evidence there’s no God, then this is it. If he were real, we would have independent knowledge of him; knowledge that isn’t filtered through human messengers or delivered, garbled, by the weather or by a seriously flawed and obviously human book. He would be apparent; he wouldn’t need to be interpreted, explained and represented by people who give every impression of making stuff up as they go along.

What we have instead is a God who is very evidently human. It’s humans who interpret weather conditions, claim to know what God’s saying and declaim his messages and warnings. It is impossible to know anything, either about or from him, other than what humans – very often ones with very little brain and a penchant for self-promotion – tell us.

If there really were a God, I’d ask him to stop communicating with us through extreme weather, disasters and massacres, and instead to miraculously lift the curse of religion from the 7.7 billion of us here on Planet Earth. But there isn’t, so we’re stuck with it – with religion and those who have a vested interest in perpetuating its nonsense.

Christians’ Favourite Delusions 10: God cares


@deadsparrow had just made his final Tweet.

The Bible says God controls the weather and 53% of Americans believe it. A further 17% say they don’t know or don’t want to say whether he does; evidently, they aren’t prepared to rule out the possibility, otherwise they would be among the 29% who know that he doesn’t.

I wonder what those who were hit yesterday by the typhoon in the Philippines think of God’s control of the elements? Was the destruction he brought about by sending Haiyan a mark of his love for mankind? Presumably not – destroying lives, homes, possessions and livelihoods hardly speaks of love.

Was it a punishment then? Right-wing Christians like to tell us that natural disasters are God’s judgement on human sin and our ‘shaking a fist at God‘ by redefining marriage to include gay people.  Why then does he consistently punish those in parts of the world which are already prone to extreme weather conditions? Why does he punish those who are already poor? Why does he send devastating weather to the fifth largest Christian country in the world, which doesn’t recognise gay marriage? It’s all a bit indiscriminate, wouldn’t you say? What sort of Almighty are we dealing with here, who can’t even direct his punishments at the right target? It doesn’t speak much of ‘control’.

Jesus might claim, in Matthew 10:28-31, that God cares even for the sparrows but this is another of his bare-faced lies. The evidence tells us otherwise: ‘God’ doesn’t care how many humans perish in storms, typhoons, tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes and all manner of natural disasters. He doesn’t care how many lose their homes, loved ones and all they’ve worked for.

The weather, in fact, is random, largely unpredictable and indifferent to human and animal needs. If God exists, then he is as indiscriminate and uncaring as the weather he supposedly creates. But of course God is not needed to explain the weather; science tells us how it occurs in terms that don’t involve him. His very superfluousness – the same superfluousness we find in evolution and all the other ‘laws’ of the universe – is all the evidence we need that he doesn’t exist.