“Why did God allow my baby to die?”

How would you respond if a co-worker asked you such a question? This was a question that was asked of a person who watches Pat Robertson’s 700 Club show and she decided to ask the big guy (Robertson, not god) what the response should have been.

Of course, no one is likely to ask an atheist like me such a question but if I had been asked it during the time I was a lay minister in the church, I would have been stumped. After all, the problem of theodicy has challenged the most famous religious apologists down the ages and their answers, when stripped of all the theological verbiage, essentially boils down to “Beats me. Who the hell knows? Just believe that it makes sense somehow.”

But Robertson knows. He replied;

“As far as God’s concerned, he knows the end from the beginning and He sees a little baby and that little baby could grow up to be Adolf Hitler, he could grow up to be Joseph Stalin, he could grow up to be some serial killer, or he could grow up to die of a hideous disease,” Robertson said. “God sees all of that, and for that life to be terminated while he’s a baby, he’s going to be with God forever in Heaven so it isn’t a bad thing.”

So there you have it, the answer to theodicy. People may seem to die for no apparent reason but really it is because god saw that they were going to grow up to be evil monsters and so he nipped that in the bud.

So if someone should ask you this question, just tell them that they were lucky their baby died before it turned into another Hitler. I am sure that it will be a great comfort to them.

Of course, if god can know and do all that, why didn’t he simply turn the baby away from evil and towards the good, thus sparing the family all the grief? Maybe someone will ask him that next week.


  1. anat says

    Or why did God allow those particular gametes to meet and make the baby-that-would-be-Hitler in the first place? Also, why didn’t God kill Hitler in infancy (or sooner)?

  2. P. Jordan Howell says

    Why did he allow the baby to be conceived in the first instance? This I think would be another great question ask.

  3. says

    What a positively ghoulish thing to say.

    Of course, seeing as ghouls (at least in RPGs) are scavengers (and opportunist carnivores), it’s about what I would expect from Pat Robertson.

  4. Chiroptera says

    God didn’t allow the baby actual Hitler or the baby actual Stalin to die, so why would he care whether this particular baby grew up to be a mass murderer?

  5. tbrandt says

    @4 Everyone knows that God has notoriously poor aim. The Most High killed all of Hitler’s older siblings in infancy (true story!). The Lord also made a good effort at killing Stalin, afflicting him with adjoined toes, smallpox, and a carriage accident. He at least deserves partial credit.

  6. davex says

    God uses babies as means to his inscrutable ends. Remember the famous story of the tenth plague of Egypt, where god himself killed all the firstborn just to send a message? One might think a plague of painful, impotence-inducing testicle rot would have been infinitely more just, but remember: “no matter what, trust god.”

  7. Ed says

    At least Robertson apparently believes that babies go to Heaven when they die. The traditional Catholic idea that the baby must be baptized has caused terrible pain over the centuries, though it’s been bypassed and gotten around in various ways.

    The really strict Calvinists are the worst. If you’re predestined for Hell, age makes no difference and there’s no way to know which place your particular baby was predestined for. So God creates certain people for no other purpose than burning in Hell from their first microsecond of consciousness on through endless billions of years.

  8. yazikus says

    It is an incredibly cruel answer as well. So, if you are ever in the position where you need to answer that question, just convey your solidarity and sorrow at the shitty, no-good, awful fact that sometimes death happens. Don’t try to come up with a reason.

  9. dannorth says

    Numenaster says: “Can I use this argument to excuse an abortion?”

    Of course not, everybody knows that aborted foetuses would have grown up to be Mozart or Einstein.

    If not for abortions we would be knee deep in geniuses.

    There most a profound theological reason for that.

  10. moarscienceplz says

    So Robertson is admitting that his god seriously screwed up at least twice, since Hitler and Stalin did grow up to become monsters.

  11. Trebuchet says

    As I just commented at Greta Christina’s, if this had been a voluntary termination at a few weeks the baby would inevitably have turned out to be Beethoven.

    Off topic: The Mariners are defeating The Tribe. Take that, racists!

  12. Mano Singham says


    While I am glad that the Mariners won, unfortunately the Cleveland team is no longer the worst in the American League. I am hoping for an extended slump soon so that they regain that title.

  13. Holms says

    Also note that he is implying that their baby would have had a horrible life, or would have been a horrible person regardless. What a fucking callous thing to tell a greiving parent.

    Can we at least expect a tiny modicum of cinsistency from Pat, in that he appear to approve of aborting in the event that a genetic illness is discovered before birth? (HAHAHA of course not, just putting it out there.)

  14. lanir says

    That’s such a bizarre and stupid response I can’t even be offended.

    I actually think this is one of those areas where ones personal beliefs don’t matter. The thing any person with the slightest bit of empathy for their fellow human beings would do is grasp instinctively that whether they believe in a religion or not, it isn’t “God” that needs an answer: it’s the grieving person in front of them.

    Once that realizition sinks in (and it probably happened so fast you were never even aware of it) the rest is just details.

  15. Dunc says

    It’s interesting that this is phrased passively… If you subscribe to the notion of an interventionist God that has a plan and sets all things in motion, then he did not merely passively “allow” your baby to die, he actively killed your baby, as surely as if he’d put a gun to its head and pulled the trigger.

  16. DataWrangler says

    It could be even worse; the baby may have grown up to be another Pat Robertson.

  17. deepak shetty says

    >Of course, no one is likely to ask an atheist like me such a question
    In this case, practically speaking, the non believer has a tougher time answering the question (assuming of course the parent doesn’t know this fact) . The believer will usually make some variation of God’s plan, not for us to question , baby in heaven , will meet them some day etc etc.
    The non believer on the other hand , will not really want to respond to a grief stricken parent with “I don’t believe in God so God didn’t *allow* is nonsensical to me” -- The non believer also probably doesn’t want to outright lie by talking about what God does or doesn’t allow. So all the non-believer can really do is change the subject.

  18. Ed says

    Re: #11

    Maybe God decided he wants some Hitler and Stalin type monsters, but far too many are born, so he kills off the surplus supply.

    I would go the other route. Let them grow up and compete with each other. Not through war. It wouldn’t have to reach that stage. The process of running a party devoted to a violent, totalitarian ideology and leading these fanatics in taking over a powerful nation is fraught with danger from the beginning.

    A bunch of equally effective villains at the same time and place would kill each other off trying to rise to the top of the same evil organizations. Imagine if Hitler in the 20s or early 30s had had fifty equally Hitlery guys (in terms of evil, cunning and charisma) luring his followers away from him, all hatching their own evil plans at the same time. They’d all fail pathetically.

  19. mnb0 says

    “if god can know and do all that, why didn’t he simply turn the baby away from evil and towards the good”
    Free will.
    Which leads to the question: if god can know and do all that, why didn’t he simply prevent conception? It’s not that he doesn’t have a choice.

  20. Numenaster says

    Indeed, if his followers have their way, god will be the ONLY one who has a choice.

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