Monday, July 17, 2017

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People II


As a result of our last meeting, it is right to say that life ain’t fair.

That’s odd. I was always told, as a kid, life is fair; life is what you make it. It was only later I starting hearing something closer to the truth: Life’s a bitch and then you die.

True, it’s not that way for everybody. Some people get through life without major calamity befalling them. I don’t think that’s fair. It’s not fair to the rest of us who have suffered to some degree, or a lot, whatever we believe God has stricken us with.

But is all the pain in the world really God’s fault?

Some say yes, because is he not all-powerful and is he not responsible for everything that happens in the world? Some are a little kinder in their assessment of God; they say, God is just and fair and wants people to get what they deservethe good will prosper and the bad are punished. Into this we must add a plea for ourselves: We are good people. (If you’re not good; if you sell drugs, molest children, kill people, are a thief, this applies to you also, as there is no guarantee God will punish you. For some reason, the rules break down here.)

If God is both just and powerful then we deserve whatever he deems is fitting and should consider it our due. But we’ve agreed that God is not fair in His treatment of us. So perhaps we need to erase the word “just” and just think of God as powerful. Like one of the kings of olden times who held the power of life and death of all their subjects in their hands. Think about that. Having that kind of power and not even being gods. They just thought they were. You can bet their subjects had other words for them.

So now God is not “just”, he’s just powerful. We can pray for interventions on our behalf, or the behalf of others, but God is free to ignore them. Or is He just so busy He doesn’t hear us? At any rate, even with all his power, he chooses not to alleviate our suffering.

No matter what, we are still asked to believe God is good and has control of everything in the universe. But the one thing I’ve never been able to understand is why God chose to not reveal himself in the past two thousand years. It is precisely that he does not respond to prayers and never appears that he loses fans. Millions of people still flock to church and pray to him simply because humans need a supreme being to pray to. If He showed up just once and let us know He really and truly exists, you can bet the world would be a more moral place in which to live. You know the TV commercial in which two guys are mooning over a couch. One guy is holding a crowbar (we suspect he used the tool to gain entry) and he says, “I gotta have it,” meaning he plans to steal the couch. I wonder if he’d dare do it if he thought God might be watching.

But of course, it is God’s sympathy, accountability, and fairness that are at issue, not His existence. Most of us would not deny the existence of Godof course, there is a god; the universe, the earth, the human race all had to come from someplace.

 Of course, with a god we believe to be all-powerful but not just, we must recognize that with those creds he doesn’t have to be fair. All we can do is hope … and pray, just don’t count on it doing any good.

I would think that God wants the righteous to live peaceful, happy lives, but it’s pretty obvious he cannot always bring it off. On a planet with 6 billion people, how could it be possible for even an all-powerful god to keep cruelty and terrorism and disease from claiming innocent victims. But you must ask yourself, would a world without at least the concept of God be better off? There are a lot of good people in the world who are good only because of their belief in and their fear of God. How the others avoided God is beyond me. He’s supposed to be everywhere.

So now if we swap out all-powerful for just and fair, where does that leave us? Our usual response to a diagnosis of disease or a crippling injury is to blame God. But we have just absolved God from blame for such things. He simply doesn’t have the time or, when you think about it, the motivation to pick you out of all the people on earth to hammer with a bad disease or injury. (Let’s face it, kiddo, no matter how bad you are or have been, there is someone out there much worse than you) And let’s get serious, is there any way He could keep an eye on the hundreds of trillions of chemical reactions going on in the bodies of every human being, every second of every day?

We have all (well, most of us anyway) grown up believing in an all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing God and it will be very hard for us to change our way of thinking about Him. To change our thinking on any of these ideals of Him is, well, unthinkable. We want to hold on to our thoughts about what God is, just as we wanted to hold on to our conceptions about our parents when we were childrenall-powerful, all-knowing. Remember? Dad with his know-how and magic hands could fix anything and Mom could fix the most painful boo-boo with a peck on the nose and a hug. Later, however, we discovered the fallibility of our parentsbroken toys had to be thrown out because they could not be fixed, not because Dad didn’t want to fix them. And there were some boo-boos Mom could not kiss away. Just as these things were realized, we must come to grips with the knowledge there are some things God does not control. With this knowledge we can afford him the same consideration we gave our parents when we had to change our minds about them.

 We can then quell our anger, and maintain our self-respect and sense of goodness about ourselves, without feeling that God has judged us and condemned us because we were bad in this or a previous life. That bad things happen to good people and God isn’t picking on just you.

 

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