Monday, August 31, 2009

You're Not Helping Your Case

atheism, atheist, suffering, makarios, christian, god,
The suffering question. It the sticking point for many people when considering the concept of a caring deity. You can answer the suffering question a number of ways, the easiest two being the pagan answer, deities are not all powerful and cannot prevent most suffering, or you can go all Christian about it and declare "ineffable!*", which is essentially cheating.

Any other explanation is just cruelty. Cruelty on a scale I can't imagine anyone really being comfortable with, though apparently some people are.

This, I believe is perhaps the single greatest reason for why God allows suffering and tragedy to take place. These things solidify our opinions about God. Suffering causes us to either reject God or humble ourselves before God.

Yesterday, I needed help to stand up. Every damn time I wanted to stand up. I'm 33 years old. It was painful, it was humiliating and it was terrifying. I spent the day restricting my fluid intake in order to cut down on urination, because, as a girl, I pee sitting down . . . and I couldn't get back up by myself. So my hips hurt and I felt like I'd run a marathon through the Sahara. Fortunately, I was babysitting my 10 year old niece, and she was cool about it.

According to Makarios, god did that to me to force a reaction out of me. First of all: psychotic. If I started torturing people to get a reaction out of them, you would rightly condemn me to prison for the rest of my life. Secondly: we've already gotten a reaction here, so why keep doing it? I've rejected god, we should be done now, right? The same can be said for believers that continue to suffer. They've gotten down on their knees, now leave them the fuck alone.

Basically, Makarios, and all the others like him, think of god as a little kid pulling the wings off of flies just to see what will happen. Newsflash: that's not a good thing.

Seriously. People just piss me off.

*In case you're not familiar with "ineffable!", it's that the mind of god is not something mortals can comprehend, so stop trying and just go with it. Sorry, but my mind will go to the off position the day I die and not one moment beforehand.


  1. ineffable also means - I don't fucking now, but it has to be good in some way because my conception of God is good, since we can't see the good in it then it must be good in a way only God can know, yeah that is it...

  2. Spot on. The 'ripping the wings off flies' example is actually perfect.

  3. God with an ant farm and we are his ants!

  4. This reminds me of one of the best quotes I've heard (for obvious reasons):

    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
    — Epicurus, Greek philosopher (341-270 BC)

    There is simply no way to defeat the logic of that quote whilst still upholding the notions that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent and omnivalent. Something would have to give, and if it did, then he wouldn't be God anymore.

    You just can't beat logic.

  5. And people say my gods are cruel. Jesus, what does it say about the inner working of these people's minds that "God abuses us for the fun of it" is perfectly OK?

  6. Epicurus rocks. I showed my Christian friend that logic and in the end he admitted that his god couldn't be those three things together, logically speaking. However, in the next breath he proceeded to explain how human terms for things are limited because, according to him, Yahweh really defines words not us. So in his mind, Yahweh is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-benevolent...just not how we think of those things and in the ways we would expect of someone like that. Nice save. Sigh.

    The ancient polytheists did not apply those concepts to their gods, they did not have or believe in inspired books or dogmas. They were about orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. And best of all, they were progressive.

  7. There's also the idea that in order for humans to have free will, they actually have to have free will, and the capacity to inflict and therefore receive pain, which I think is a bit more popular than the less sophisticated explanations mentioned here.


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