Sunday, December 31, 2006

A reply to a rant by someone who has lost their faith

I have been conversing by email with someone in a newsgroup who has completely lost their faith. I received today a long, rambling email from this person decrying all the sin and evil in the world, quoting Epicurius and Madeline M. O'Hare (the famous athiest activist) and so on. If you don't recall your high school philosophy, Epicureans believe (amoung other things) that, 1. Either God can't stop evil, therefore He is not omnipotent, or 2. God won't stop evil, therefore He is evil, and so on, and their end conclusion is that such a God either doesn't exist or is not worth worshipping.

Here was my reply. Tell me what you think, class.

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If I recall correctly, M. M O'Hare's son is now a believer.

You sound like David Hume - the British philosopher. You should read his work. According to him, people don't believe because they haven't had a "personal experience" with God to convince them. However, he says, people who claim to have such a personal experience are clearly insane, and should not be taken seriously. You, like he, have set your criteria so that no matter which way the evidence goes, you get to keep your position.

What you are saying is that millions of people who have had such a "personal experience" - an answered prayer or whatnot - are liars or insane. Are you just angry because God chose not to answer a prayer?

That's not an open mind. You're deluding yourself if you think so. God does answer prayers. But it's terribly arrogant for any of us to think God owes us anything or should get us out of the consequences of our own free will, or the free will choices of our parents, grandparents or community. The mistake made by people like yourself is blaming God for things that were done by human beings. You have free will, and that includes the will to do evil. So does everybody else. If there wasn't free will and the evil that follows, you would be a robot. So much for your intelligence then.

While you're reading, I also recommend to you Fyodor Dostoevski's "The Grand Inquisitor on the Nature of Man." This is a great parable itself about why "bread and circuses" - miracles for everyone - would not solve the world's problems. And, in fact, won't solve them. Even the NT book of Revelation admits that at the end of the thousand year kingdom ruled by the messiah - after a thousand years of perfect schools, good government, sound economic policy, environmental problems solved, and every person happy under their vine and fig tree - the people rebel against the king just as soon as hasatan is released!!! Why???? If nothing else, the bible is a true picture of human nature - and you are very, very wrong if you think it is religion that makes people irrational and sinful.

What you see in the Bible is just a real, honest, acknowledgment of human nature which we all know is true. It is simply free will - our own choices - that shape us. People do commit crimes, people do act irrationally, people do sin, people do stubbornly cling to things they shouldn't. It's not God's job to get you out of every bad spot. It's your job to learn not to get into them in the first place. There is precious little evil in the world that you truly could not have avoided. If that means never going anywhere alone to avoid rape, then so be it. If that means you have to move your family to a safer area, then do it. If that means going against the popular grain to avoid credit card debt, then do it. If that means you have to change careers, then do it. Etc., etc. ad nauseum. The onus is on you, Bob, not God, to solve your problems to the best of your ability. God may or may not intervene in the end, but He certainly won't at the beginning and He certainly won't unless you really, really put in your best effort. Most people, however, are lazy.

Now, a parable for you: if you owned a large building in a desirable area, and wanted to give it to your son, you can legally do so. But suppose the building was empty for a while, since you move out of town, and now has squatters in it. The squatters are diseased, made a mess, and do drugs and cult practices. They know you're coming, but they refuse to leave, saying just because you own the building means nothing - they live there, so they have the right to continue living there. Now suppose you inform them again you are coming to evict them, and they still refuse to leave - then what? Call the police? So the police try and force them out, or drag them out, but they fire weapons - they fight the police. What then? The police go in shooting, and people get killed who won't submit. It's a bloodbath. It's in the news. Most people gripe that something needs to be done about the illegal aliens, the squatters, and the government has been too lax in letting some of these things go on. A small number of liberals gripe that the people should have been treated "better," but never really explain how that jibes with the landowner's rights or their refusal to leave without violence. So the outcome is regrettable, nobody is happy, blame is spread around. But nothing made them stay - they knew they weren't the legal owners and they could have left. Their blood is on their own hands, isn't it?

Or, are you claiming you would just say "forget it," and give up the expensive building, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and tell your son he no longer has an inheritance? - because I don't believe that. Nobody here believes that. You would do whatever you needed to do to get rid of the squatters, because no one in their right mind would allow dirty, diseased, corrupt people to continue to live with their son and his family.

That's the truth. And you know it.

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