It happens every time a natural disaster occurs: the ghouls creep out of their crypts and get national press coverage for their rationalizations. One example: Rick Stedman, generic Christian pastor and apologist, has emerged to ask a stupid question.
When hurricanes like Harvey devastate so many lives, where is God?
That’s a really good question—one which I’ve heard whenever a hurricane, tornado, or tsunami wreaks havoc—and it deserves an honest, though maybe surprising answer.
No, it’s not a good question. Where is Harry Potter? Where is Dread Dormammu? Where is Aquaman? These would also be stupid questions, because they are fictional characters, and we know exactly where they are: in the pages of books and comic books. They’re not going to emerge when a catastrophe strikes.
The only people who ask that question are religious apologists. It never occurred to me, for instance. This is the kind of question people ask when reality comes up and smacks their mythologies in the face, and they have to figure out an excuse for why their all-powerful superhero didn’t show up to help out. The rest of us…nope, we have known all along that nature isn’t necessarily our friend, that good and evil don’t apply in the cosmic scheme of things, and we have no expectations of beneficent super-beings feeling obligated to ride to our rescue.
As you might expect, though, Stedman is going to give us his stupid answer to his stupid question, and — big surprise — it’s not going to be surprising at all. His excuse is that his God was there, expressing himself in the charity and kindness of human beings in the face of adversity, because, apparently, people are incapable of recognizing the importance of their friends and neighbors and family, or even strangers, unless they are possessed by a supernatural entity. Whenever you see someone doing something nice, that’s God, not actually that person acting ethically. I think it might be part of that odious Christian doctrine that says we’re all evil sinners who deserve Hell, except Jesus somehow ‘saved’ us. How the idea that goodness is a manifestation of God could be compatible with Christian versions of Free Will that say our actions are our choice, so evil is our problem, not God’s, I don’t know.
It seems simpler to me to cut out the imaginary phantasmal middle man and credit human beings themselves with the good and evil they do, but then, I’m not soaking in Christian dogma.
Then there’s also a purpose to God unleashing hurricanes on us:
In a world that assumes there are no objective rights and wrongs, tragedies recalibrate our moral compasses and remind us that some things are always right.
See, God killed those people and destroyed their homes and livelihood sorta like how he tortured Job: it’s a test to help them see what is right and what is wrong. It really makes it crystal clear that when someone kills your dog and your aunt, turns your home into a mudhole, blows up your workplace, and spews chemical poisons all over your neighborhood, it reminds us that there is an objective good and evil, and if your moral compass is properly calibrated, you ought to realize that the omnipotent agent (if there is one) who spawned that death and destruction to wake us up to the nature of what is good and evil is Himself an evil mofo, and we ought to stop making excuses for him. Right? If your moral compass is still so fucked up that you scribble out apologias the deity you love, then presumably you are now in need of a colossal natural death strike on your home to straighten you out.
I don’t think even that would help Stedman, though. He’s drunk so much Kool-Aid he’s oozing Purplesaurus Rex and Incrediberry out of his pores. Look at this bullshit:
Families wept over the death of loved ones, just as Jesus wept near the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Could our tears and sorrows be reminders that death was not part of our original design, that we were created to be like God—immortal?
I have never in my life grieved over the death of a loved one because it reminds me that, oh yeah, I’m supposed to be God-like and Immortal, and gosh, the loss of this loved one sure is a painful prod to make me think of how I got stiffed out of my Cosmic Destiny by that Eve chick. I’m not crying for them, it’s for getting cheated out of my supernatural inheritance.
Jebus, but I despise Christianity.
And then he has to top it off by sniping at evolution.
(Think about it: if atheistic materialism is true, don’t you think we would have become used to death in 3+ billion years of life on planet Earth? Wouldn’t we have settled the case that human deaths are par for the course and shouldn’t trouble us more than the death of a plant or pet?)
Any time a Christian says something along the lines of
If evolution is true, then…, you can predict that they’re going to say something that reveals the depth of their ignorance.
It seems to me that if evolution would predict anything along those lines, it would be that successful lineages would evolve mechanisms to promote survival and to resist death, even inevitable, ubiquitous death. Getting “used to death” is such a weirdly narrow anthropomorphism, since most organisms are going to lack the awareness that is behind the concept of “getting used to”, and because we would expect that successful organisms would resist death.
But then, maybe this is part of the Christian experience. They get used to the unutterable boredom of having to sit through miserable church services every week, so they imagine that is what life is all about — getting accustomed to the intolerable. That’s what they think their imaginary afterlife is all about, too…an eternity of repetitive, predictable slavery. They expect they’ll get used to it. Rick Stedman will help them!