It is clear that god has been jerking the Republican party around. Many of the candidates vying for the nomination said that god had played a role in their decision to run. This article back in July of last year discussed god’s role in the decisions made by Scott Walker, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee to run for president.
God is kind of shy and sometimes does not like to speak to a candidate directly, which is understandable when the candidate is Ted Cruz. Cruz’s father said that god had told Cruz’s wife that he should run
“My son Ted and his family spent six months in prayer seeking God’s will for this decision. But the day the final green light came on, the whole family was together. It was a Sunday. We were all at his church, First Baptist Church in Houston, including his senior staff. After the church service, we all gathered at the pastor’s office. We were on our knees for two hours seeking God’s will. At the end of that time, a word came through his wife, Heidi. And the word came, just saying, “Seek God’s face, not God’s hand.” And I’ll tell you, it was as if there was a cloud of the holy spirit filling that place. Some of us were weeping, and Ted just looked up and said, “Lord, here am I, use me. I surrender to you, whatever you want.” And he felt that was a green light to move forward.”
It is not clear why god is so obscure. “Seek God’s face, not God’s hand” seems cryptic to put it mildly. And why tell Heidi and not Ted? And since they were all together, how come no one else heard what she heard? I think the problem is that god is using voice commands which we know are prone to all manner of errors as anyone who has interacted with telephone menus that have voice commands will tell you. To avoid this problem, when god wants to tell his chosen folk what to do, he should do so in written form. We would have a lot fewer disappointed presidential candidates then.
This business of people hearing god’s voice telling them stuff is strange. I wrote before about how I once met this guy outside my office who was handing our religious tracts and we got into a good-natured discussion where I quizzed him closely on hearing voices.
This man said that he believed that only the Bible was true because god told him so. On further questioning he said that god spoke regularly to him, in English. I asked him if anyone else was around to hear the voice so that he would know it was real and not simply in his head and he said that his wife heard it too.
I asked him if he had made any recordings of god’s voice speaking to him. He was obviously unprepared for that question and you can understand why. Religious people can quite casually say that god told them this or that and no one asks them the details of exactly what was said and whether anyone else heard it. I have lost count of the number of politicians who say that god told them to run for office or to take some action and no one thinks to press them on the details of that experience. This is why the new atheists are ruffling feathers. They are breaking that taboo, the tacit agreement that has existed for so long that when people make claims about god, those claims must not be challenged.
My genial proselytizer, thinking quickly, said that he did not record god’s voice because he did not have a voice recorder, but he laughed as he said it since he knew that it was such a weak excuse since nowadays, even cell phones are capable of voice and video recording. I told him that the next time he should really record god speaking to him because that would be big news and he would not have to waste time handing tracts on street corners since we would all be able to hear the voice of god directly.
Even nonbelievers rarely challenge believers on the details of this hearing of voices even though it is quite an extraordinary claim. I recall a debate held in England between two groups, one of believers and another of skeptics. One of the believers was someone who said he had been in prison and heard god’s voice talking to him and this sustained him during his ordeal. I was hoping that a member of the other side would ask him if any of his cellmates had heard the voice too but no one did. It seems like we skeptics think that the idea of god talking to people is so absurd that we do not bother to ask the kinds of follow-up questions that should naturally come to mind.
Oddly, for someone who invoked god at every opportunity, Marco Rubio’s announcement speech did not say that god had asked him to run. But he suggested in his withdrawal speech that maybe god had been less than enthusiastic, saying “While it is not god’s plan that I be president in 2016 or maybe ever”. If he runs again and says that it is now god’s plan for him to do so, I hope someone will ask why he was ditched by god this time.
As the title TV character in the TV show House said, “You talk to god, you’re religious. God talks to you, you’re psychotic.” Do we really want to elect psychotic people as president?