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The Mad, Mad World of God’s People on Earth

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Rex, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Rex

    Rex Founder
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    [font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The Mad, Mad World of God’s People on Earth
    There is something wrong when religious faiths can be shaken to the core by natural disasters but seem able to reconcile themselves with events such as the war on Iraq which are the result of human folly
    [/font]​
    [font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]by Muriel Gray [/font]​
    [font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Only nine days in and already the first New Year’s resolution has slipped. I promised myself to stop droning on in this column about repressive religions and psychotic gods, and try and concern myself more with the new season’s fabrics and colors in soft furnishings. But the apocalyptic nature of 2004, from its filthy, warmongering beginning to its heart-stopping, disaster-torn end, would test any resolve to be light of heart.

    Curiously, all the post-tsunami talk about how a loving God could deal such a cruel blow seems particularly cockeyed. The debate, all over the press and internet, seems to rest on the testing of faith of those peculiar people who believe in a God sufficiently hands-on to respond to their personal prayers about doing well in a job interview, while at the same time being seen as responsible for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people.

    One such newspaper correspondent pleaded, with unintentional black humor, that “God regularly answers our prayers, including recently saving our son’s marriage when it went through a rocky patch, yet He ignores the pleas of thousands who scream for their loved ones lost to the waves. We are in turmoil”.

    Presumably the author of the letter has never previously considered that while their God was busy divinely intervening to stop their son breaking wind under the duvet without apologizing to his wife, He must also, by implication, have been deaf to the prayers from thousands all over the world, screaming mercy for loved ones blown up by bombs, dying of famine, run down by cars, killed by robbers, fires, disease or poverty. The turmoil the letter writer should be experiencing is how he arrived at being so terminally self-centered and unutterably stupid not to have noticed pain and suffering until it came to his attention in the form of a headline-grabbing tsunami.

    But if we can forgive the knuckle-dragging idiocy of a member of the public, who could, after all, quite possibly be educationally subnormal, it’s considerably harder to explain the reaction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, an educated theologian of some intellectual standing, when he described the tsunami as “testing our faith”.

    The tsunami would only have been a test of faith to a person believing in the interventionist God of the Old Testament, the crazy guy who regularly smote down chaps for not paying him enough respect. The Church of England, however, is largely thought to adhere more closely to the New Testament, where a non-interventionist God sends His only son as a last effort to make His ungrateful creations see sense, and then lets mankind get the hell on with it.

    How the archbishop reasons that a natural, and indeed geologically predictable, earthquake can shake his faith, when war, famine, criminality, religious hatred and the advancement of science that makes his religion look increasingly ridiculous, have never been singled out by him as having the same faith-rocking effect is mystifying.

    If anything, the indifferent destructive power of the tsunami, in contrast to the malicious destructive power of mankind, is so obscenely impressive that it’s more likely to tempt the swithering non-believer into the fold of supernatural belief than drive them away. Puny humans, armed with all our expensive weaponry, technology and irrational loathing, take months to systematically slaughter thousands of people in Iraq, whereas the Earth’s crust gives one tiny shrug in its sleep and hundreds of thousands die in a matter of days.

    The timing and the scale could easily be interpreted, by those of an imaginative disposition, as some deity losing patience with our year of non-stop global aggression, and deciding to show us, just 20 minutes after the close of Christmas Day, how effortlessly a god can destroy and at the same time force man to rekindle the dying embers of his humanity.

    But of course I just invented that. Sadly, evidence would strongly suggest that no deity exists to care a toss whether we send $2 million missiles to blow up children in their homes while they sleep, or whether we pour money into plastic buckets in supermarkets to help those who suffered in a natural disaster.

    But plenty of decent, wonderful humans do care a great deal about such things. They’re already out in Asia, pulling bodies from wreckage, trying to administer to the sick, struggling to organize getting tankers of water to the thirsty and dying. They’re fighting and protesting to stop war, or working inside strife-torn, volatile, dangerous countries to heal, help and build.

    It’s they who are the foundations of the most important faith of all, the faith in plain humanity itself, and for the Archbishop of Canterbury to have his faith “tested” by a natural occurrence, yet not strengthened by the magnificently compassionate reaction of ordinary people around the globe, might suggest his theology is somewhat shallow.

    Meanwhile, a letter to The Herald about the tsunami from Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain, claims to speak for all Muslims, and tells us that this world’s “reality” is of little consequence, since believers know it is nothing more than a test, and they can look forward after death to an “unimaginable quality of life”. He finishes by expressing bafflement as to how those of us who don’t believe in this promised land manage to cope at all, as in his words, “It’s only the knowledge that everyone will be recompensed in the hereafter that keeps me going”. If this perspective came from a deeply depressed, terminally ill person in great pain, or the lone survivor of a terrible family-destroying calamity, one might afford it some sympathy. As it comes from someone fit, healthy and hired to represent the views of a great many diverse Scottish Muslims, most of whom love this life dearly and wish to make the best of it for themselves and those who share the planet, one can only hope he gets better soon.

    [/font]
     
  2. croak

    croak Trickster

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    Muriel, please try and keep your New Year's Resolution.

    As for me, I don't know why a tsunami happened. You could say Allah is testing us. But what if there was another reason?
     
  3. Valjean

    Valjean Veteran Member
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    Perhaps it was just a sudden slippage at a subduction zone....
     
  4. may

    may Well-Known Member

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    When Jesus described the terrible things coming upon the earth in the last days, he added: "As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near." (Luke 21:28) Jesus was talking about deliverance into God’s righteous new world, where "the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God."—Romans 8:21
    so any one who studies the bible will know that these things are foretold by Jesus , so even though they are not nice , it makes me realize that the bible is correct, which in turn strenghens my faith that the bible is the word of God.
     
  5. painted wolf

    painted wolf Grey Muzzle

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    yeah but disasters have happined since time began. They arn't significantly more common today than they were 2000 years ago. Its like predicting an earthquake in California.

    wa:do
     
  6. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    It makes sense to me. The sufferings due to war and human folly have an obvious source of blame, human folly. The sufferings due to a natural disaster have no obvious source of blame, unless one attributes it to God. And humans always need a source of blame, or to put it more positively, we always need to understand why. When we can't answer that question, I can see why people lose faith, and I have no real good answer for them.

    What I don't understand is how a believer's faith can be shaken when they lose a loved one to a human act such as murder. They demand to know how God could permit such a thing while they never asked why God permitted the Holocaust or slavery etc. It's as if the question wasn't real to them until they were forced to experience it themselves. Of course, I never ask them about this inconsistency in the middle of their grief - it would be too cruel - but I don't understand it.
     
  7. may

    may Well-Known Member

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    The Bible describes events and conditions that mark this significant time period. "The sign" is a composite one made up of many evidences; so its fulfillment requires that all aspects of the sign be clearly in evidence during one generation. The various aspects of the sign are recorded at Matthew chapters 24, 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21; there are further details at 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 2 Peter 3:3, 4, and Revelation 6:1-8.

     
  8. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Everything predicted by the bible as a sign of the end of times -- wars, famines, rumors of war, earthquakes, etc -- has always been with us, and always will be with us. There's nothing new in today's events, nothing that hasn't been there before today.
     
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  9. may

    may Well-Known Member

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    True, these things have always been with us,but historians say that there is something drastically different about the 20th century especialy since 1914, which according to the bible is the start of the last days of humans ruling themselves independent of God.matching world events is like matching a fingerprint to its owner.for instance(matt 24;7) says , Nation will rise against Nation and kingdom against kingdom.Beginning in 1914 the first world war was fought .this was not just a conflict between two armies on the battlefield, for the first time ever all the major powers were at war
    For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: "Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep [in death], all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning."(2 peter 3; 3-4)

     
  10. lilithu

    lilithu The Devil's Advocate

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    That's nothing new either. We always say that this time it is worse.


    Don't get me wrong. I do worry about humanity's ability to wipe ourselves and a good chunk of the rest of creation off the face of the planet. But I don't see how it's necessarily biblical. According to Hinduism, we are in the Kali Yug, the fourth and final, most corrupt stage before the universe ends and the whole cycle starts all over again. This too has been predicted and one could look at current events as a validation of those predictions as well.

    Or one could try to make the world just a little better.
     
  11. may

    may Well-Known Member

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    Of course, it is not God who is coursing these things to happen , there are many reasons why, but it still doesnt change the fact that the bible foretold these things would be happening at this time . but Jesus also said that there would be a reason for his followers to be optimistic in our day(luke 21; 28-31)Because his Kingdom(Goverment)is the only hope for humans ,even though we may be trying to rule to make things better we were not created to rule ourselves independant of God.
    The course of history confirms the truth of (Ecclesiastes 8:9: )"Man has dominated man to his injury." Or as the Catholic Jerusalem Bible expresses it, "man tyrannises over man to his hurt. so no matter how well meaning indivduals try, we still have human goverments at the moment.

     
  12. michel

    michel Administrator Emeritus
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    Quote :-Does God have a role in natural disasters like the tsunami? What does your religion say?

    I voted and was surprised to see that I voted with the majority; I really cannot understand the Idea of God following each and everyone's move, and then punishing just one part of the world. I mean; if one believes the tsunami was an act of God, is it supposed to mean that God is angry will all Asians?

    Come on.................................
     
  13. Pah

    Pah Uber all member

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    No, just the ones along the seacoast.

    Bob
     
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