“I’m angry at God, and that’s precisely why I don’t believe in him.”

I’ve just finished reading a blog posting by Father Jake, an Anglican Priest in the US, trying to explore through his blog peoples questions about where God was in the tsunami?

Like many at this time, he doesn’t have any answers, but he quotes from Rabbi Michael Learner, who appeared on a radio talk show, and said he was amazed by quite how many people phoned in with essentially the following comment:

“I am really angry at God, and this is precisely why I don’t believe in Him.”

It is worth just considering that statement, many many people are angry with God, but then use the fact that he didn’t intervene as evidence that he doesn’t exist. However if he doesn’t exist, why waste time and energy getting angry?

I highly recommend reading the whole blog posting, and I won’t attempt to repeat the whole discussion here, as it is a slight tangent from the point I’m trying to make here. However the concepts that are touched upon, reach into the very heart of faith, and ones concept of God, and are well worth exploring.

Anyway, the quote also reminded me of another quote I read today, which slightly bizzarely I had come across as a result of the current e-mails circulating campaigning against the BBC showing Jerry Springer: The Opera on Saturday night.

As I hadn’t seen the show, I’ve been finding out what I can about it. As with most stuff circulating on the Internet by e-mail I’ve learnt not to take it at face value, invariably the e-mails don’t tell the whole story, or are wrapping up something else. In the same way as I won’t click the ‘security verification link’ in some, I won’t act on something that turns up on the e-mail without checking out facts.

Anyway, I came across the line in a Daily Telegraph review. It is spoken by God towards the end of the (for Christians) controversial second act of the show. Jerry has been shot at the end of the first act, and is pulled out of limbo by the Devil, who asks Jerry to reconcile him with Jesus through the medium of his show. As anyone who has seen the real Jerry Springer show will know, a series of other people involved are brought on, one of whom is God, who sings the following line:

“millions of voices making the wrong choices and all of them blaming me”

I think it is pretty clear why the “I’m angry at God” line reminded me of this, and aside from the irony that it comes from a show being campaigned against by Christians, it does give another view of the place of God in what has happened.

The image of God given by this line is not some cosmic puppet master who either caused the tsunami to happen, or equally failed to stop it, but someone who created us with experience and free will to live in creation.

I was taught at school about the plates that form the earths surface, and the ‘Ring of Fire’ that surrounds the Pacific. On the basis of that knowledge it is no suprise that earthquakes occur in that area. Indeed as I mentioned before, the Pacific has a tsunami early warning system in the Pacific precisely because such earthquakes have occured and threatened America.

However, as people with free will we chose not to offer similar protection to all people affected by the risk. Maybe God has given us everything we need to have not let so many people die, but as the quote said, we made the wrong choices, and are now blaming God for the mistakes he gave us the free will to make.

Is that an answer or an explanation? I’m not sure, I guess like Father Jake I’m still asking questions, and this is just one possible answer.

However, whilst such questions have been, and will continue to be asked for a long time, the priority now is for those who have been affected. Donations to the relief effort can be made through the Disasters Emergency Committee website, and many others.

6 thoughts on ““I’m angry at God, and that’s precisely why I don’t believe in him.””

  1. Good post! I’ve been reading a lot of letters to the editor in the newspapers, and a lot of agnostics/athiests are throwing up that old chestnut ‘why does God allow these things to happen…if God was really omnipotent he would’ve stopped the suffering’. My Faith has been tested in the last few years and I feel that I’ve fallen away from Organized Religion in a lot of ways (but not Christianity) but I get really insulted when people refuse to look at these sorts of issues with some degree of open-mindedness. Having said that, I’m afriad to watch Derren Brown’s new show on Channel 4 this weekend because it deals with challenging people’s belief systems including Christianity and I don’t want him to go insulting my Faith either. What a paradox!

  2. Derren has said:
    “I am not knocking people’s genuine beliefs. The agenda of this show is only to raise questions. People are not mocked or made to look stupid. But there will be people out there who, like me, are already very sceptical of the belief systems I question and I’d be delighted if the show nudged some people into a more questioning frame of mind.”

    The show isn’t exclusively about Christianity (he deals with other spiritual beliefs), but I think though that for a lot of westerners (his target audience!) Christianity is an easy shorthand for belief/faith in general. I’m really looking forward to the show!

  3. God clearly passes by on the other side when disaster threatens humanity.

    Of course God has free will,so he can do that.

    As the blog explain, God has given himself everything he needs so that not so many people die.

    But he has made the wrong choices. I’m sure that next time he will have learned from His mistakes.

    Why are accidents inevitable in a physical world?

    The resurrected, physical Jesus could walk the Earth invulnerable to tsunamis or any other form of death.

    So God can do it when he tries. He can arrange things so that physical , flesh and blood beings are not even threatened by disaster.

    As for the Rabbi who refuses to answer the question of where God was in the Holocaust, his non-existent being was nowhere ,of course.

    Atheists do not blame a non-existent God for the tsunami. They simply do natural theology. The heavens declare the Glory of God says the Bible.

    No they don’t, as is obvious to a 4 year old child. (Lots of 4 year old children were oprhaned by the glorious world a supposedly loving God created)

  4. Steven,

    Thanks for your comment. However having re-read both my own posting, and Fr Jakes to which I see you have added the same comment, your comment seems to be reading in to them exactly the opposite to what both were saying. Both postings were specifically looking at the point your example makes, that when dealing with events like the tsunami, the Greek idea of God as an all-knowing, all-powerful, unmoved mover leads to the many comments such as those you have made, and those which the Rabbi ecountered on his radio phone-in – God is all powerful, God apparently let the tsunami/holocaust etc happen, therefore God doesn’t exist. However as Fr Jake quoted, the Rabbi was offering a different understanding of God, which is why he, as you put it, “refuses to answer the question of the holocaust”. The reason is that with the understanding of God that he is offering, different from the Greek understanding on which your comments are based, God is not an omnipitent being who either caused the holocaust to happen, nor failed to stop it.

    As I said towards the end of my posting, I like many people, am still asking questions, thank you for offering another different answer. The comments for Fr Jakes posting include a link to another article offering a different Christian opinion – He Made The Storm Be Still.

  5. I agree God is not an omnipotent being. He is not even an existant being.

    However the Bible clearly states that God is omnipotent (Remember the Hallelujah Chorus?). Therefore the Christian God does not exist, (as you yourself concede by saying that there is no omnipotent God)

    The Parable of the Good Samaritan clearly shows that we can condemn beings who pass by on the other side, even if they are not omnipotent.

    I should point out that unmoved mover was very popular with Auqinas and other Christian thinkers.

    How exactly can a transcendental being move? After all, he is everywhere already?

  6. If you re-read my comment, you’ll find that I didn’t say that I believed that there was no omnipitent God, neither did I say that I believed that there was, I merely offered the option that I had found interesting as stated by Rabbi Michael Learner. There are other opinions, including that stated in the other article to which I linked. I am writing about questions, and giving possible answers that I have come across.

    I can see from reading through your website that you have had a number of eloquent and well argued discussions with other more eminent Christians, following a similar path to that which you are trying to follow here, and also that you have discussed the tsunami on Usenet as well.

    I found the following comment in response to your posts on the subject particularly telling in light of the fact that you’ve essentially made the same point twice without having read what I wrote:

    I would also like to point out that various people on this newsgroup have given Steven the Christian explanation on several occasions in the past. Steven has not found them satisfactory, but that is more his problem than ours. I certainly join with you in suspecting that he does not ask his questions because he is genuinely seeking enlightenment. Which is a pity.

    This comment also tallies with the reaction of the Re:Jesus site whose policy you commented on elsewhere, and the reaction of the Bradford Alpha Course to your questions that you document on your own site. As you were told by those running the course

    As in a court of law, in order for a meaningful debate to take place at the level you were pitching it it is fair to give equal preparation.

    The same applies here. As this is a largely insignificant personal weblog, and in no way seeks to present itself as a religious debating site, whilst, given the time to prepare for such a meaningful debate it may be interesting, I do not have the time to undertake the level of study and reading that such a discussion would need. It therefore seems to be a tedious waste of both my time and resources, and yours, participating in what is effectively a ‘UK’s leading Atheist’ internet equivalent of the well-trained Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon doorstepping routine. For that reason any further discussion is closed.

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