Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God, Are You Listening?

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your Christmases and holidays and New Year celebrations were happy ones. This year, while still tackling some of the things about evangelical Christianity that I no longer believe, I am also going to try harder to listen, and to turn the temperature down when possible. Here are a couple musings I have on a late night in early January.

Does God Really Answer Prayer?

This opens up a whole can of worms, the first being "define what/who you mean by God?" Are you talking of the Judeo-Christian God found in the Bible, or some other form that another religion or philosophy believes in?

Seeing as how I have a lot of Christian friends on Facebook, it's not uncommon to see prayer requests come through. "Please pray for my Aunt Susan, she just had a heart attack." "My wife just got layed off and please pray that God will provide."

Now, if you believe in the interventionist, intelligent, supernatural God that a lot of my friends and family believe in, these are quite valid pleas. God is somewhere out there or even near here and perhaps he will act on their behalf.

But it's anybody's guess, and the response to that is usually, "well, only God knows. We're not God so we should just trust him."

However, does it not bother such believers that God heals Susan and not Shirley, or that he "gives" Henry a new job to provide for his family, and not Harry?

Furthermore, what does this God base his decisions on? Is it how faithful Susan was or how Harry never read his Bible?

God Does Great Things

Often we'll hear stories in the news about car accidents and how it was a miracle that a baby was uninjured in the crash. Or we'll hear stories of new schools being built in Africa.

There's only one problem.

What of Sandy Hook Elementary School and the 20 children who were gunned down? What of children working in sweat shops in Bangladesh with pretty much no shot at a better life?

If God is the Controller of the Universe, you can't praise his name and then let him off the hook or excuse him from the atrocities that go on in our world every day.

This is one of the many reasons I do not believe in this intelligent, controller type God anymore. So what then?

A Few Final Thoughts

To end off this brief entry, I will reiterate what I have always said. I deeply believe in God, though I seldom use that word. I believe there is a Mystery to life that we may never fully comprehend, in this life or any other.  Also, there is a metaphysical aspect to life that we have barely touched on, and practices such as Reiki and chakra work can do wonders. It's all very ethereal.

But if we're going to praise an all-knowing, all-powerful God for the good, we better be prepared to give him an earful for the evil.

Mark Andrew Alward

1 comment:

Jim McDowell said...

I'm thinking that from the information you've given, your conclusion makes sense. I'm also reminding ourselves that God cannot be comprehended (i.e. a full understanding) by humanity and thus when we make "if-then" conclusions, they are apt to be faulty because we don't know enough about the "if" part.

Particularly in the area of causation in a universe where there is so much freedom (random chance, as well as human free will) we can't know the criteria by which God chooses to intervene and not intervene causally.

Thus you are likely right in that if we praise God for every good thing as if it is His direct intervention, we open up some questions about the bad things and His non-intervention.

Instead, we might praise God that there is so much good naturally occurring in our lives (that's true: the universe is generally felt to be friendly, safe and good), and then try to discern when there is clear evidence that God has intervened in some event we experience. Depending on what we discern, we stick with the praise for natural good, or we may express our conviction that He has intervened for reasons best known to Himself.

When He fails to intervene to head of evil from accidents and perverse human choices, we realize there is so much we don't know about the way He has set up the world and causation. We seek His comfort.

Best to leave it at that, I think, rather than draw conclusions that may be based on an inadequate set of "if" statements.

That would be my take, and it certainly acknowledges your point that Christians too often don't have a well-conceived idea of God's intervention and non-intervention. I'd point out that the same is true of non-Christians.

Whaddya think, Mark?