Tsunami that questions belief in God

Eammon McCann is struggling to see any rational coherence in any of the local religious responses to the huge human tragedy of the tsunami in SE Asia. David Vance also has an interesting take this at ATW.

  • smcgiff

    In my hometown yesterday an 82 year old woman died in a house fire.

    She was devoutly religious. She lived across the road from the convent, but nobody in the town was in doubt as to who was the most religious person in town. Several years ago she received a medal from the pope for 25 years service (she couldn’t have been too far away from the 50 year badge – assuming one exists) to the church.

    IF there is a God you’ve got to admit he’s got a far scarier sense of humour than even the Old Testament would suggest.

  • James

    The operative phrase:

    No need to go further.

  • peteb

    Amen, James.

  • smcgiff

    But religion has nothing to do with logic and rationality.

  • Beowulf

    All hail the new god of logic.

  • Alan2

    The article seems to miss the point that most religions say we should be kind to all people. The point of religion is what happens AFTER you are dead – something the articles seems not to comprehend.

    And that is before you throw in theology like the total depravity of man, predestination etc etc.

    Whatever way you look at it, you should be prepared to die because you could go at any time and that is surely the point of religion – getting right with God before you miss the boat / cross the deadline.

    And that particularly comes into play if you believe that you are not right with God by works alone (ie God does not put you on a scale and weigh your good deeds against your bad deeds and proceeds accordingly) but that you are “saved” or “born again” through grace etc etc.

  • Donnie

    My wife is a teacher and some of the kids were saying they were told in church that the people were killed by the Devil, because they were sinners etc. etc. depending on which church they were at!

    Crazy world.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Whatever way you look at it, you should be prepared to die because you could go at any time…’

    I see. Now could you draw a few pictures and narrate in a few simple single syllable words so that future infants and babies don’t find themselves, missing the boat, as apparently the case may be with the babies and children drowned by the Tsunami. Primary colours are best, but simple black and white may work with children under 2.

  • Henry94

    Rabbi Danial Lappin puts the case for the defence

  • Beowulf

    smcgiff – do try and make sense.

  • smcgiff

    Beowulf,

    Let me know which words you don’t understand and I’ll see if I can find smaller substitutes.

  • Beowulf

    It wasn’t the words so much, more the way you put them together.

    Now could you draw a few pictures and narrate in a few simple single syllable words so that future infants and babies don’t find themselves, missing the boat, as apparently the case may be with the babies and children drowned by the Tsunami.

    What does that even mean? It’s english I’m sure, but more than that I can’t say.

  • smcgiff

    Fair play to Rabbi Danial Lappin, he not only gets God out of hot water, but manages to eulogise the US in the same breath.

    To summarise Rabbi Danial’s article:-

    The West good, everywhere else the barbarians deserve their fate (or should that be faith).

    Everything foul is man’s fault, but the good in the world can be traced back to God.

  • smcgiff

    If Alan doesn’t understand the point I was trying to make I’ll restructure my sentences. If not, I’ll assume he understood.

    Assuming that’s okay with you?

  • maca

    Some of the responses are stupid, in MY opinion, but each to his own. As one pastor said after the tsunami, “this was god punishing us”, again a stupid response, in MY opinion, but each to his own.

    It’s science. It’s life. Nothing to do with “god” if such a thing exists.

  • Lafcadio

    As sure as shooting, after any natural disaster, you get various “men of God” squawking about how it’s God’s vengeance, or how the end is nigh; equally sure is that you’ll get all shades of unbeliever saying “oh so there’s a God is there?”, as if a belief in God necessitates a belief that natural disasters should somehow never happen.

    So to take the other side of the argument for a moment (I can hardly say “play the devil’s advocate”..)

    “If there’s a God, how can he let this happen?” What’s the alternative – that God intervenes every time a tsunami threatens? And what He does with tsunamis (unless tsunamis are special somehow) He would also have to intervene in tornados, avalanches, mudslides, shark attacks, and basically every non-benign event of nature? So essentially God would neuter nature – men would have the upside (beautiful mountains, sunsets, beaches, wildlife) but no downside.

    The Bible does not talk of a world like this – so it is not incosistent to believe in God, despite the many cruelties of nature. It’s clear from the New Testament that there is a disconnect between external events and “punishment”. And the teachings of Christianity are not that men should expect to have any risk of harm or misfortune falling upon them removed, but rather that through faith in, and love for, God, they can firstly find peace in this life (whatever are the circumstances), and redemption after this life.

  • maca

    Reminds me of the story of the gardener. A gardener sows seeds in his garden, the seeds become flowers. He looks after them, cares for them, sometimes they flourish but sometimes the flowers just wither and die, despite all the care and attention. It’s not as if the gardener wants this to happen, there’s just nothing he can do.
    I suppose if you’re religious it might be a gud way to look at it.

  • smcgiff

    At the risk of labouring the subject (and hopefully in terms Beowulf can understand), what chance did the infants and children caught up in the Asian tsunami have to develop a lifetime of experience so they could ‘through faith in, and love for, God, they can firstly find peace in this life and redemption after this life’?

    Where did these babies, infants and children fit into God’s Grand Plan?

    However, even terrible tsunami’s do not prove there is or isn’t A God. There may very well be A ‘God’; but all singing, all dancing, all loving, well – I see no proof of that pre or post tsunami.

  • smcgiff

    ‘gud’

    Are you going native, Maca? 😉

  • Alan2

    smcgiff – don`t quote me on it but I think the bible says that children are innocent and that is partly why some Churches believe in adult (full water) baptism and not child baptism / christening.

    Also you have the Armenian argument of “free will” and the Calvinistic argument of “predestination”. Head wrecking stuff.

    Also (if you are religious)it was man`s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden that brought sin and death into the world

  • smcgiff

    Hi Alan,

    At the risk of a potentially blasphemous joke I just though of – I thought it was only Herod that killed the innocents!

    I can say this because while Herod was a nasty piece of work, there is evidence (or in fact lack of corroborating evidence – other ‘official’* Gospels and historical writings) that Herod did not kill all (or any) male children under two. Evidence that there is more in common between the New and Old Testament that they do not preach in Sunday school.

    I’m actually a big believer in predestination, but from a scientific and not a religious basis.

    I’m not too sure it is any consolation to the children that died or were left orphaned that they are innocents. And as they were left orphaned (although innocent at the time) will they potentially become warped as adults because of the trauma?

    What’s the official stance on the ‘Garden of Eden’? Do any of the mainstream churches still teach this as fact? I thought it was just allegory. Although the Catholic churches still perform baptism to purge original sin, so I’m not sure. But I though the Garden of Eden story and, say, The Flood etc were done away with as Fact.

    * I didn’t read this on conspiracyTheoriesRUs.com!

  • maca

    “Are you going native”

    Are you takkin me on? A’ll gar ye claw whaur it’s no yeukie.
    (d’aul copy & paste is greaat)

    The whole bible thing is a bit of a crock if ya ask me (no offence intended to any believers). Only 4 gospels, what about the non-canonical gospels? Why are people happy to believe when so much is hidden from them?

  • smcgiff

    Not to put too fine a point on it, I think man will one day look back at 15th century Earth and 21st century Earth and excuse the 15th century Earthlings a lot quicker for believing the Earth was flat than the 21st century man for believing in the God of the old/new testament.

    I probably should have put a . somewhere in there for Beowulf.

    Of course future man will no doubt have their own faults, like believing Guinness tastes nicer than Murphy’s or some other equally blasphemous drivel!

  • smcgiff

    BTW, in the future it’s called Murphy’s, not Murphys.

  • cg

    I have my own disagreements with himself upstairs.

    That said I do believe in him and its one part of my faith that I struggle with.
    How does he let these things happen, not just the tsunami but all of the other shit? Personally I don’t know and probably won’t until the day I am taken but there is no doubt in my mind that the disaster was on of science and not god.

  • cg

    smcgiff
    They both taste like shit 😉

  • smcgiff

    I can agree with you there, cg, no God caused the tsunami!

  • smcgiff

    ‘They both taste like shit’

    Heretic!

  • cg

    “Heretic!”

    LOL

    You should try a civilized drink like brandy or whiskey 😉

  • smcgiff

    ‘You should try a civilized drink like brandy or whiskey ;)’

    I’d settle for either, but in reality more often than not settle down on the sofa with a glass of Merlot with my significant other.

    Or (increasingly more rare as time goes on), that Devil’s brew, Bud, when I’m out with ‘Da Lads’.

  • Davros

    Pffffft. Hard to beat Magners. A real drink.
    Or A glass of Powers with a dash of Magners!

  • cg

    You should try poitin,you can get a cinnamon flavored type….gorgeous 😉

  • cg

    Davros
    I am a huge fan of Bulmers/Magners with 20 B&H, a good book and an open fire…Oh my god, Im like an old man

  • smcgiff

    The handy thing about Magners, Davros, is that if you’re skint you can just drop a few dishes into the sink and along with two (very important not to risk three) blobs of Fairy, you can soon have your own home brew! 😉

  • Davros

    I lost my poitin contacts when the RUC folded LOL
    Imagine. Me who lives in the Ether Triangle!

  • cg

    I love it and its cheap.

  • smcgiff

    No offence, Davros, but sometimes you can be the hardest person for us non-nordies (although, it could just be me) to follow!

    Ether Triangle?

  • Davros

    It used to be more expensive than the Government branded whiskey!
    Have you read McGuffin’s book ? Some interesting Republican history in it LOL

  • Davros

    Ether Triange was the name for an area from the shores of Lough Neagh over as Far as the border with Antrim. It was discovered that the first wash could be treated with acid to produce ether and there were many thousands of people addicted. Chemists and pubs sold it openly. I’ll see if I have the chapter on file and send you it.

  • cg

    “It used to be more expensive than the Government branded whiskey!
    Have you read McGuffin’s book ? Some interesting Republican history in it LOL”

    It isn’t expensive if you buy it from the right source.

    What sort of interesting republician history? 😉

  • smcgiff

    the first wash?

    I’m lost, but, er, yeah, for research purposes, like, send it on!

    Okay, I’m off to my leaba now, see ye later on in the morning!

  • Davros

    No offence, Davros, but sometimes you can be the hardest person for us non-nordies (although, it could just be me) to follow!

    Well, as a non-nationalist I have to do my bit to stress the differences 😉

  • Davros

    From memory, during WWII there were volunteers interned in Magilligan. Needless to say Poitin was produced to help make life more tolerable and all went well until a local Bishop declared making Poitin a reserved case ! As the only republican was devout and the Bishop didn’t often hear confession at magilligan , that put an end to that 😉

  • cg

    This is why republicanism should remain secular 😉

  • Davros

    The concept of Reserved Case is magnificent!
    Goes with Eamonn McCann’s example below…
    We prods don’t stand a chance!

    “The absurdity of religion first occurred to me as a child, when, under pressure, I paid from my pocket money to go on a ‘spiritual pilgrimage’ to Lourdes. We spiritual travellers didn’t actually go on the Derry Diocesean Pilgrimage. But our fares (half a crown, as 1 recall, return) helped subsidise those who did. The highpoint of our journey came on the evening when we assembled in St Eugene’s Cathedral at the exact hour when the physical pilgrims, led by Bishop Neil Farren, were wending their way in solemn procession towards the Shrine of the Virgin in fabled, faraway France. We sang ‘I’ll Sing a Hymn to Mary’, and were assured that we would share fully in the spiritual blessings allocated to the event. Thus, considered from the purely spiritual point of view, than which there is none more important, we gained as much as them we’d subsidised to travel—and at a fraction of the cost. So we were the winners.
    There’s a number of lessons in this story. One has to do with the differences between the Christian denominations. There never was a Protestant born who could have thought up a scam like the spiritual pilgrimage.”

  • cg

    LOL

  • Lafcadio

    cg “How does he let these things happen, not just the tsunami but all of the other shit” what do you mean by all the other shit? Wars, rapes, child abuse, and all manner of other heinous activity visited upon innocent people – again look at the alternative. If God stepped in to prevent every event of human suffering or injustice, He would remove at a stroke man’s accountability for their own actions, because for every victim is a perpetrator.

    Think of “A Clockwork Orange”, better to have the ability to choose and choose evil, than have no ability to choose and choose good, and all that.

    Davros – that’s a funny story, but as an aside, I think people make a great mistake when talking about religion by conflating, and confusing, Christianity with the various churches that claim to be Christian – most of these are empty collections of superstition, tradition and ritual; they bear no resemblance to God’s way as described in the Bible, and these days act merely as a comfortable sop to their adherents’ conscience.

  • cg

    “what do you mean by all the other shit? Wars, rapes, child abuse, and all manner of other heinous activity visited upon innocent people – again look at the alternative. If God stepped in to prevent every event of human suffering or injustice, He would remove at a stroke man’s accountability for their own actions, because for every victim is a perpetrator.”

    I see where you are coming from but it’s still shit.

  • abucs

    ?? So God should step in and stop some people drinking all the above mentioned alcohol because they might
    a) shorten their lifespan
    b) run over some kid in the street
    c) beat their wife

    etc etc. What crap ! If he was to step into our lives everytime something bad might happen we would be the first to say how unwanted that is.

    The world and life is pretty near miraculous. Natural disasters unfortunatley are all part of that creation. The good we have outweighs the bad. It’s up to us how we decide to interact with that creation and eachother.

  • maca

    The whole problem was evolution. Humans are just uppity animals. We should have stayed hairy, hanging out of trees scratching our balls. No, not students … I mean apes.
    That way we’d be like any other lfe form on earth, like ants or locusts and it wouldn’t matter a toss if a tsunami, disease or meteor wiped half of us out.

  • smcgiff

    Abucs,

    You can argue with people’s beliefs for believing that such a mindless act such as a tsunami is the sign of the absence of the god that some would have us believe exists.

    At least this argument has some substance unlike the non-atheists assertion that they believe simply because they have belief.

    ‘It’s up to us how we decide to interact with that creation and eachother.’

    Decide? Surely you jest. What decision process was made (found wanting) by the infant children caught up in the tidal wave?

  • Lafcadio

    smcgiff “You can argue with people’s beliefs for believing that such a mindless act such as a tsunami is the sign of the absence of the god that some would have us believe exists.”

    It is surely not helpful to resort to the lazy caricature of a god playing with helpless people down below like pawns in some bizarre chess game; a destructive tsunami is surely neither evidence of a loving God, or evidence of His absence – a tsunami is not a “mindless act”, it is the outcome of a chain of physical events and their consequences, stretching back as long as you care to look; and the very essence of nature is that it is beyond the power of men to control, we live in an environment that is neither uniformly hostile or uniformly benign, but our futures are at all times unpredictable and uncertain.

  • smcgiff

    Lafcadio

    I mean mindless in its literal sense, which you’ve gone on to describe less succinctly with 62 words. I obviously have to agree with you that God did not create the tsunami.

    As for laziness, then this term is surely more suited to those that simply accept the faith of their fathers and then explain or defend this as ‘a belief’. This goes for whether you were raised as a Christian in Europe or a Buddhist in China.

    Belief is the answer given by believers. It is only the starting point for analytical thinkers. I’m assuming your God created thinkers and not just sheep. I don’t think that’s what was intended by the terms ‘his flock’. However, I may stand corrected.

  • maca

    Was “flock” not the old aramaic word for “suckers”?

  • Davros

    The flock thing reflects the pastoral society of the day. The conflict between nomad and settler has continued down through the ages. Cain and Abel, Planter vs Creaghter in Ireland and Hutu vs Tutsi in
    Rwanda. The message of the bible is timeless.

  • smcgiff

    Would the planters have been the Hutu or the Tutsi, Davros? 😉

  • Lafcadio

    smcgiff – you counted my words?! yoiks..

    I’ve re-read your last couple of posts, and they meander a bit, but broadly you seem to be saying:

    1.the argument that the tsunami is a sign of the absence of God has substance – I disagree, for reasons already stated.

    2.non-atheists believe “just because” – some do, some don’t.

    3.an unthinking belief in God is lazy – correct; but no more lazy than an unthinking belief in anything else, for example that destructive natural phenomena imply that there is no God…

  • IJP

    Do these discussions also happen when something extraordinarily good happens?

  • IJP

    It’s always wise to be careful in such discussions.

    I believe in God the Creator. I do not believe in ‘God the Determiner of Everything that Happens’. I would add that for good to exist, evil must also exist. He created both.

    I do not therefore believe, for example, in praying for someone’s safety (especially after the event) – either they’re safe or they’re not. I do believe in praying for strength – in myself and others – to deal with whatever happens, and in praying for guidance to do the right things.

    I have to say that an appalling event such as this does not make me query my faith (by definition it cannot!) any more than any other event, good or bad. It does make me query if there is anything humanity in general could/should be doing to avoid this in future.

    In short, this has nothing to do with religion whatsoever.

  • maca

    Ian, almost everyone will agree that “god” is a force for good so if something good happens there is no need to question the reasons.

  • Davros

    The Planters would have been the Hutu. Very simplified, but the Hutu were settled farmers and merchants, the Tutsi were mobile Cattle herders.
    And yes, I have another interesting paper 🙂

  • davidbrew

    sorry dav, after admiring your breadth of knowledge for months you’ve been caught on. There was no internment at Magilligan, though we did have our own smuggling of the cratur from Greencastle and in the 19th century Magilligan was notorious for producing its own to the consternation of bishops and clergymen.

    I used to act for the leading manufacturer in County Antrim who always assured the court he was retiring but always used to offer part payment of legal fees in kind. Sadly he’s dead 15 years but I recall his tincture was highly regarded.Still not as nice as Islay malt though.

    BTW does it work on horses like they say?

  • Davros

    David, I did say I was acting on memory. It’s been a couple of years since I read the book. I saved the part about the Ether Triangle, but didn’t scan that bit. I’ll get back on this 🙂

    Re horses – It’ll work as well as any linament said he tactfully!

    The book also carries details of an iniquitous law that led to many feuds! The people of a townland where a still or part thereof was found were fined, so the miscreants worked close to the boundary , and on hearing of the authorities approach they yoiked it over the border so their neighbours were fined.

    The men involved in confiscating the still or worm got paid by the item, more for an entire still than for the worm. The book reports one worm as being confiscated over 300 times…. As well travelled as the cattle of a certain Unionist that could be said to have been as well travelled as Caitríona ….

  • smcgiff

    Lafcadio
    ‘you counted my words?!’- At least you know I’m not lazy! 😉
    Okay, let’s pick up on an apparently common theme.
    God is not responsible for our actions – There is free will.
    Then how does someone explain the act of belief?
    In my opinion if a person had lived all his life in a bubble until the age of reason, and was then left in a room alone with the Bible and every available historically known document he would be as likely to believe in the Christian God as he is to believe that David Ike is the Son of God.
    If you get into a discussion about the old testament/new testament i.e. the absurdities of the Old Testament and the many holes in the New Testament, then the answer is, so what, I believe. Well, that’s great! Where does that belief come from?
    Is it arrogance, an inability to break away from indoctrination or a divine granting of belief?
    How does someone come to believe in Miracles, if not by the help of God? As has been mentioned above, logic doesn’t seem to be necessary.
    In other words, you believe because…?

  • IJP

    Maca

    That’s probably indeed why they don’t, but in fact they should.

    If something good happens to me I immediately question why and wonder how on earth it is fair that it’s happened to me and not someone deserving. Believe me, I seldom if ever deserve it!!!

  • smcgiff

    From what you’re saying, IJP, the world is a crap shoot, but we should be grateful for what we get regardless of what that may be?

  • IJP

    Ha, I like to think I wouldn’t be quite so pessimistic!

    I’m saying that religion assists us in doing the right thing, not in the right thing happening. If that makes any sense. But since religion is about faith, it may well not do!

  • smcgiff

    I can think of only one thing to say to that, IJP –

    Faith and Beggorah!

    😉

  • Alan2

    “And as they were left orphaned (although innocent at the time) will they potentially become warped as adults because of the trauma?”

    It could also make them realise how fragile and fleeting life can be….

    “What’s the official stance on the ‘Garden of Eden’? Do any of the mainstream churches still teach this as fact? I thought it was just allegory. Although the Catholic churches still perform baptism to purge original sin, so I’m not sure. But I though the Garden of Eden story and, say, The Flood etc were done away with as Fact.”

    Alot of Churches just seem to make it up as they go along. Gap theories etc
    Either the bible is the inspired word of God or it is not.

    I know the Free P`s fully believe in Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark and that the world is 6000 years old or so. ( The Creation vs Evolution debate – a great site to visit is the Dr Dino

    Also “first communion” in the Church of Ireland is at around the age of 13 (I think). this surely has something to do with children being innocent before God?

  • Alan2

    “I believe in God the Creator. I do not believe in ‘God the Determiner of Everything that Happens’. I would add that for good to exist, evil must also exist. He created both.”

    So you believe in “free will”? In which case Romans 5:12 says that there was no death until Adam sinned,

    “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”

    However if he created both good and evil and you believe in the bilbe then he must be ‘God the Determiner of Everything that Happens’ – ie Predestination.

  • Davros

    HADITH OF THE DAY: CARE FOR ORPHANS

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If anyone strokes an orphan’s head, doing so only for God’s sake, he will have blessings for every hair over which his hand passes. And if anyone treats well an orphan girl or boy under his care, he and I shall be like these two in Paradise,” while putting two of his fingers together.

    Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1282

    VERSE OF THE DAY: BE KIND TO ORPHANS

    “Have you seen the one who denies the Day of Judgment? It is he who drives away the orphan with harshness and does not encourage the feeding of the poor.”

    The Holy Quran, 107:1-3

  • Alan2

    Found the quote from the bible I was looking for……

    ‘suffer the little children to come unto me for theirs is the kindom of heaven`

  • James

    Oy vey!! Such carryings’ on!!!
    Tuck yourselves into slumberland, Sluggiewuggies, with the redneck’s secular humanist credo.

    Never eat at a place called Mom’s.
    Never play cards with a man called Doc.
    Never mess with a woman who has more problems than you do.

    All that you can do something about. The rest is out of your hands. Not to worry.

  • Davros

    3/3 – no wonder I’m such a mess!

  • IJP

    Alan

    Therein lies my problem.

    How literally can that line on pre-destination be taken?

    How literally, for example, should ‘Jesus saith I am the way, the truth, the life, nobody cometh unto the father except by me’. Does that go as far as the act of praying? Or is it merely a general statement concerning general Christian behaviour?

    My faith in God and Jesus Christ has never been tested at all, but precise reading of the Bible – and the text we have is a translation not just of language but also of times – is difficult. If everything literally is pre-destined, are we not all just wasting our time? Can we change anything at all? If so, what? And how?

    Or maybe we should stick to my point here, which is merely that the tsunami made no difference to my faith nor to these queries?!

  • James

    “3/3 – no wonder I’m such a mess!”

    For prompt relief liberally apply the old Doc’s Fantastical Snake Oil Elixir containing the three magic ingredients: more, older & younger. As in:

    More money
    Older whiskey
    Younger women

  • Alan2

    “If everything literally is pre-destined, are we not all just wasting our time?”

    Well that is the question indeed.

    Is God all powerful and all knowing?
    Did he create time and if so does he therefore know everything that is going to happen and man has no free will or did God unleash man on the world without knowing the consequences of his actions

    Or do we just die and get eaten by the worms? We are certainly wasting our time if it is the latter.

  • Alan2

    If anyone can get hold of a copy of Luther starring Joseph Fiennes I highly recommend it. It is only available on region 1DVD (US / Canada) at the moment. It was released last year and funded through Lutheran Church affiliated organisation.

  • James

    “If anyone can get hold of a copy of Luther starring Joseph Fiennes I highly recommend it.”

    Ditto.

    Very instructive.

  • abucs

    Smcgiff,

    “it is up to us how we interact with nature and eachother”. Interacting doesn’t always mean ‘having control of’. To talk in general, we are all going to die sometime, that’s a reality. We don’t normally have full control of our deaths but we choose how to interact with the reality of death.

    We can do this by
    1) having reverance for life
    2) living a good life
    3) advancing our knowledge of medicine to help
    prolonging an enjoyable life.

    etc etc. It’s up to us. We don’t have control, but we have a choice in interaction.

    If you believe that your arguement ‘against a God’ by citing a tsunami is rational, i’m not going to argue with you. After all, you are talking about your ideas of what God should be. That’s fine. My ideas of a God are different from yours.

    For example, not to be too morbid, but to talk about death again. If you believe death is the end, no more, that’s it, thanks for coming – then yes, i can see how you would say that the victims of a tsunami, or the house fire you originally mentioned are proof of a terrible, senseless world. But if there is a continuation after death than that view would change. Belief is a complex thing. Now i’ll admit belief can be a non-thinking crutch for certain people. And again i’m not going to argue with your criticism of that. But also, for most people, there are rational reasons for believing in a God. And no i can’t offer you irrefutable proof. But i’m OK with that.

    I genuinely don’t know. But i live my life, learn from mistakes, make my own decisions and am comfortable with my beliefs.

    I don’t condsider that i’m kidding myself or being irrational.

  • smcgiff

    No, still don’t have you, abucs, how did the babies and children, “choose how to interact with the reality of death”.

    If you don’t mind me saying you’re talking in generalities. Please be specific and apply your beliefs to the children that were carried away on the beach. I’ll ask again, how do they fit into God’s plan?

    “We can do this by
    1) having reverance for life
    2) living a good life
    3) advancing our knowledge of medicine to help
    prolonging an enjoyable life.”

    None of which apply to the children. Sorry to harp on about this, but it’s very hard to debate with a believer in miracles and I need to be specific. I hope I don’t come across as flippant!

    “For example, not to be too morbid, but to talk about death again. If you believe death is the end, no more, that’s it, thanks for coming”

    Is this not true of other animals? Or are even the minute bacteria living several kilometres beneath the Marianna Trench (which no human is likely to come in contact with before the fireball in the sky goes nova) only put on earth to serve us? I don’t subscribe to that megalomaniacal belief.

    “I genuinely don’t know. But i live my life, learn from mistakes, make my own decisions and am comfortable with my beliefs.”

    And I genuinely envy you in your beliefs. But I can assure you that I am very grateful for my life despite or because I know this is it. The problem is to whom do I owe my gratitude?

    A comet?
    Little Green men conducting a World sized Petri dish experiment?
    A sufficiently bored superior being that wanted vastly inferior beings to look up to it in awe and devotion?

    Take your pick. I’ll go with the first option.

    And for 99.99% of the people in this world they better hope I’m right.

  • maca

    While you’re questioning Gods plan for the kids can you also ask him about his plan for the parents from whose arms the kids were torn?
    There’s a guy from the town here lying in a hospital in Thailand whose two kids were ripped from his arms before he was then crushed by debris. Would it be Gods plan that he spends the rest of his life living with the pain of having watched his kids disappear with the wave?
    I take the easy option and chose to believe that “God” (whose existence I have decided not to bother questioning) has no influence over any of this, otherwise i’d likely tell the supreme one to go **** himself.

    “The lord works in mysterious ways” or so they say!

    I’d go for the comet too.

  • maca

    Btw, if your a part time space freak like me you might be following Huygens’ journey to Titan. Scientists claim it “could yield clues to how life first arose on Earth.”

  • maca

    If you’re

  • smcgiff

    ! otherwise i’d likely tell the supreme one to go **** himself.!

    That pretty much sums up my thoughts. If there is a god, I’m not so sure he deserves unquestionable love from EVERYBODY. Certainly, there’s a lot of people in this world that didn’t get a fraction of the breaks I got.

    Yeah, I know, that just makes me even more of an ingrate for questioning. But, hey, he made me this way and created the environment I grew up in.

  • smcgiff

    ‘Btw, if your a part time space freak like me you might be following Huygens’ journey to Titan. Scientists claim it “could yield clues to how life first arose on Earth.”‘

    There’s a spaceship on the way to a comet at the moment that is going to try gather a sample of the comet. The mission is called Deep Impact.

    Who said scientists don’t have a sense of humour. It should land on the 4th of Jewly! 😉

  • smcgiff

    ‘…to try to gather a sample of the comet.’

    Purpose is to see if they can discover if life could have developed from a Comet. Don’t think Big Ian will be tuning in!

  • maca

    “Certainly, there’s a lot of people in this world that didn’t get a fraction of the breaks I got.
    Yeah, I know, that just makes me even more of an ingrate for questioning.”

    Should we be grateful? And to whom?
    And why can’t we question, after all none of us asked for these beliefs. If you’re like me you went to mass every Sunday because you were told to 😉

  • maca

    “There’s a spaceship on the way to a comet…”

    I been followin that too. Interesting stuff.

    If you’re into this kind of thing there’s a brilliant program called Celestia (site is down at the mo.), it’s a real-time 3D space simulation. Excellent altogether.

  • abucs

    The ‘interacting with death’ was speaking in general about the difference between interacting and controlling. It was not specific to the children or any one else.

    It was to say that we don’t have absolute control over everything and that my idea of God is not one who controls every facet of our life and who is responsible for each and every action and reaction.

    When you and maca talk about ‘God’s Plan’ you are talking from from your own perspectives about what God should be like (if there was one). You can’t really both define God and then argue against him.

    As far as your comments about bacteria serving us, to be honest i’m not really understanding where you are coming from there. Bacteria is simply bacteria, another form of life in the evolutionary history we all share (in my opinion).

  • smcgiff

    ‘It was not specific to the children or any one else.’

    But being general it does include children does it not? As such it falls down, IMO.

    Control

    The concept of control is interesting and conflicts with the idea of an omnipotent God.

    We are told God’s omnipotent i.e. all knowing, all powerful.

    All knowing means he knew that I was going to write this email 6,000 😉 years ago and he knows what WILL happen for all time. There can be no equivocation with omnipotence. As an omnipotent God he knows EXACTLY the actions we will take. Predestined, if you will. If everything is predestined then how can we be responsible? If we’re not responsible, how can we be judged? What’s the point of this trial on Earth?

    On the other hand, if he cannot see the future with certainty he is not omnipotent. If he/she is not omnipotent is he/she the God we’ve been told he is? Or a God at all?

    ‘You can’t really both define God and then argue against him.’

    We can only surmise what any believer believes in.

    ‘Bacteria is simply bacteria, another form of life in the evolutionary history we all share (in my opinion).’

    I’m trying to suggest that Bacteria or any other animal (other than man, apparently) will not have an afterlife. (It’d be pretty damn unfair to be a Bacterium forever for starters!)

  • abucs

    smcgiff,
    you are at it again.

    You are defining a God which should rush in to protect people from disasters. And you are defining a God that has all knowledge of what will happen. And then you are argueing against such a God. That is not the God i believe in. I’m not going to accept the God you have defined and then argue with you that the God you have defined exists.

    The God i believe in does not control us so closely and does not have all knowledge of what will happen forever. If you want to argue against a God like that then you have to find someone who believes in the God you have defined.

  • abucs

    OK smcgiff,

    i see a little where you are coming from. You are argueing against a standard conception of God promoted by the standard religions. Yes, the idea of omnipotence as defined by some people/clergy/canon does look like it struggles with the arguements you raise. To me i don’t really use the word omnipotence in every day speach and as mentioned i don’t agree with the concept.

    I believe that God has facilitated life in this universe, be it on earth or one of Saturns moons or wherever the environment is supportive. i believe he has a plan though not complete knowledge with what will happen.

    For example, i might have a plan that i’ll quit work in the next year or so and go live in Asia for a while. i don’t know exactly when or where or what will happen in between but that’s what i’ll do. – Sooner rather than later i hope 🙂

    As far as God being everywhere and life after death for different lifeforms i can only give you a general view of what my thoughts are.

    i think that God is a spirit. i think that humans have evolved (and are evolving) spiritually. This spirit survives after death. As a result we are connected to eachother and to God in this spirit. So in that sense he is in many places and has a great deal of knowledge of what is going on. Man is the only animal that reaches out to a god in prayer and i believe this is all part of an upward evolutionary path to share in some of the nature of God. (God’s plan/gift).

    This evolutionary path has taken us to the stage where we are very conscious of the universe around us and are using our intelligence to further our awareness. Part of developing spiritually is also to be aware of right and wrong and to interact with others in such a way to enhance eachothers spirituality. (Knowledge, joy, fun, comfort, responsibilities, humility).

    This is the basic concept of my faith and i have a great joy and thanks in being able to experience these things. Now in all of the above i haven’t mentioned Christianity. I am a Christian/Catholic and i accept the basic Christian theology and it has no doubt shaped my thoughts. Concepts of humility, self sacrifice, the example and love of Jesus and the Kingdom of God do appeal to me. But my world wouldn’t fall apart if some of the Christian teaching was found to be incorrect. Omnipotence, virgin birth, star of Bethlehem, walking on water, even with Jesus being the Son of God. After all, i believe we are all on the journey to be ‘sons of God’.

    To me there is a deeper sense of faith and i don’t see that that faith means i have to believe everything in a certain book or what some guy in robes says on a Sunday. Actually my faith says the opposite. To question everything, only believe in things which make sense to me but also know that there are lots of answers to questions that i just will never know here on earth.

  • Lafcadio

    smcgiff – “There is free will” agreed.

    “How does someone explain the act of belief” not sure I understand. From what you go on to say, I would guess you’re questioning the use of “faith” as a catch-all answer to difficult questions about religion. Regarding faith, it is a requisite of an acceptable service to God – there is no reading of the Bible which can avoid that. And it’s not an easy thing, and it’s not a satisfactory thing to a human mind, but nothing about serving God is satisfactory to the human mind – if believing in God and serving him was easy and suitable to humans, then serving him would be no struggle.

    To jump to what you say at the end “Is it arrogance, an inability to break away from indoctrination or a divine granting of belief?” I don’t know rightly, if truth be told. I think some people are more disposed to have faith than others, but I don’t think that anyone’s precluded. True faith is not arrogance, I see no link. It is not an inability to break away from indoctrination – that’s not to say that indoctrination doesn’t take place in many supposed “churches” (the devil works in mysterious ways too..)

    “you believe because…?” I started off not talking about me, I was merely arguing the other side of a familiar argument – it always amuses me when the proponents of logic and reason lose sight of both when an opportunity arises to ridicule God, or religion – and I pretty much intend it to keep it that way.. Suffice it to say, I don’t find it easy to believe some of the things that I believe..