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I Hate to Point This Out, But…

I’m watching a seemingly endless stream of people on Fox News thanking the Almighty for saving them from the fate of death that certainly befell hundreds of others in New Orleans and surrounding areas. I visited New Orleans for the first time just a few short months ago (May, I believe), and was staying at a place dead-center of the French Quarter. The destruction is heartbreaking.

The disaster is just that, I hate to see it, and anything that comes forth from the mouth of anyone involved is certainly understandable, given the dire predicament that so many face. Just as with the Tsunami in southeast Asia over the holidays, I’ll send some money — if for no other reason, as a symbolic gesture that the State does not need to hold a gun to the head of rational and productive people (taxes) to lend a helping hand when the need is so clear and the victims have no hand in their own demise.

However, has anyone asked the question: if the Almighty is mighty enough to save them from such terrible circumstances, is he not mighty enough to prevent the terrible circumstances in the fist place? I mean, isn’t it rather like thanking the assailant who shoots you, for dropping you off at the hospital?

As I said a couple of posts down: God is a real asshole. Rational people who believe in His existence ought to be asking themselves why.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

20 Comments

  1. Richard Nikoley on August 31, 2005 at 21:46

    Mark:

    As a one-time atheist, I can only say that years ago, I came to feel that atheism was untenable intellectually.

    Thanks for stopping by and for reading, but please tell me that you don't really expect anyone to buy that, do you?

    Granted, there are lots who find religion, but atheism _is_ a serious intellectual position that is really mutually exclusive with belief in a deity at any point in the future. In my experience, those who profess as you do were not really atheists, but doubters, or those lacking what they considered a good reason to believe.

    Atheism is quite a different matter. It is the intellectual position that assertions of God are simply unsubstantiated, just like any other unsubstantiated hypothesis, rumor, or wild-ass guess.

    Atheists don't _assert_ that there is no God. They _identify_ that there is no God, for lack of any reason to believe in one, in the same way that you do not _assert_ that there is no Santa Clause, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or Unicorns. You _indentify_ that there exists no such things.

  2. Richard Nikoley on August 31, 2005 at 21:55

    Well, OTTMANN, I still recall…I think it was about 1990 or so…and the religious leaders gathered together in Iran to try and understand what had brought God's wrath upon them to kill so many in a recent Earthquake.

    I'm sure that discussion of geology and tectonic plates and such held no sway whatsoever in such discussion, so I'm sure you'd fit right in.

    Ever wondered why mystical, God-fearing, back-water places like Iran, Mexico, and other 3rd world countries have tens of thousands killed in each natural disaster while us materialist heathens of the west are limited to hundreds? Think it might have something to do with dismissing _LAZY_ explanations for the causes of things and actually getting down to business _controlling_ nature and giving "God" the finger?

    You know what? FUCK your God and the horse he rode in on. I'm serious.

  3. Kyle Bennett on September 1, 2005 at 01:12

    "FUCK your God and the horse he rode in on."

    I think it was four horses…

    Still, I wholeheartedly agree… well, except for the empty referent. But I share the sentiment.

  4. Mark Daniels on August 31, 2005 at 19:04

    I do consider myself a rational person. Only a fool would say that events like Hurricane Katrina don't raise questions about their God and faith in Him.

    But I feel that life contains many mysteries I can't explain. Why would God, inifinite and beyond my comprehension, be any different?

    Whether all those people who invoke God really were spared by Him, I can't say. I see God as neither a Cosmic Watchmaker, who sets the timepiece and then walks away, or as the Constantly Intervening Orchestrator, who causes every single thing to happen in the world.

    I believe that the world is a fallen place in which bad things happen to the good, bad, and the ugly. I believe that God intervenes when invited and when it conforms to something He wills. But I also believe that miracles are, by definition, rare and that God allows the forces of nature, corrupted though they have become, to work as He designed them to work.

    As a one-time atheist, I can only say that years ago, I came to feel that atheism was untenable intellectually.

    But once I allowed myself to get to know God through Christ, making God very personal, very accessible, I came to believe in Him as a compassionate deity–that is, as one who "suffers with" us, that being the definition of the world compassion. I also came to believe that the God Who could transform His own seemingly senseless (and undeserved) death on a cross into a resurrection could hold out the valid promise of doing the same for me and for anyone willing to entrust themselves to their fellow sufferer, Jesus.

    I've come to rely deeply on the promise that Paul writes about in Romans that "nothing" (and that includes hurricanes) "will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

    I've written quite a bit about this on my blog.

    By the way, I've been a lurking reader of your blog for several weeks now. I'll continue to do so and may offer up an occasional comment.

  5. gary on August 31, 2005 at 19:59

    I took an accidental bullet through an apartment front door from unseen assailants in Rialto, CA, twenty years ago.

    It shattered my clavicle and came within an inch of killing me.

    When a well-intentioned friend of my mother's heard me tell the tale of surviving the gunshot, she said, "God must have been looking out for you."

    She looked taken aback when I responded that if God had been looking out for me, I wouldn't have gotten shot."

  6. OTTMANN on August 31, 2005 at 21:20

    It says clearly in the Bible that those who go against Israel will be cut into pieces. We have gone against Israel by making them give up the land God gave them to the Pali's. Big, big mistake that started during the 1990's.

    Of course you likely don't or won't beleive it, but that is and will be your problem weather you know it or not.

    Perhaps if you read and understood the Bible and where we are at in time, then you might see the significance of this disaster.

    Until the secular humanism revolution in the early 1900’s, natural disasters and wars were regarded by men of God as judgments upon the nation for unrepentant sin. An earthquake, a tornado, a hurricane, an outbreak of disease, even wars, such as the Civil War, was regarded as the judgment hand of God. In fact, many were called “Acts of God” even in legal papers such as insurance documents. Pastors would call their congregations to prayer and fasting. Presidents, such as Washington and Lincoln called the nation to prayer and fasting from time to time.

    Today, if anyone in the clergy dare merely suggest that God’s judgment may be upon the nation, they are verbally tarred and feathered with such words as “crack theology,” “religious zealots,” “religious fanatics,” or worse—and this is from the Christian community. Many of today’s seminary sanitized theologians prefer to not believe that God would judge a nation for the sins of leaders or individuals. And many of them refuse to admit a connection between the spirit world and the physical world, the intersection of which is prophecy.

    But the cost of judgment on America will soon be even obvious to the blindest eye.

    Just a warning: I'd be careful about who you're calling names.

  7. Doug Wolf on August 31, 2005 at 23:47

    Ottoman,

    Let us consider for a moment the victims of the recent tsunami.

    Are you seriously going to assert that the hundreds of thousands of dead were all evil people who were deserving of drowning?

    I happen to be a deist, but pretend for a moment that I'm not. Presume I am an atheist… I'm curious: would you suggest that I'm incapable of ethical behavior without the inducement of a threatened eternity in Hell?

    — DW

  8. Blurred on September 1, 2005 at 02:52

    Ottmann,

    "He who speaks the word of God to those for whom it is not lawful, he is the betrayer of God."

    Since all of us here are "not lawful", I guess you are a "betrayer of God".

    Too bad for you.

  9. Deb on September 1, 2005 at 02:11

    You really should change your name to Extraordinary Sense.

    I am extremely fortunate in that I live in Western Australia and the only weather I get is sun and rain. I don't get snow, raining fire, plagues, frogs, hurricanes, earthquakes or any other ummm 'acts of God' that seem to strike the rest of the world.

    I've been watching the news and these people have lost everything. The God Squad people, take a minute and think about this. They have lost husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, parents and children. They have worked hard for most of their adult lives and it has been for naught. The have either damaged or no homes. Businesses ruined. Years of collecting things they hold near and dear to them all gone. Everything.

    For some well meaning religious person to come up and tell them that God must have been watching them must be a real kick in the face.

    Have some empathy and sympathy for the victims of Katrina. I'm sure a fair number of them had nothing to do with going against Israel and Ottmann, do you have any idea how stupid you looked by stating that?

    Have some respect.

  10. Dr. Forbush on September 1, 2005 at 14:48

    Its pretty obvious that God was aiming at the hypocritical Fundamentalist Christians in Mississippi. That's the center of the Katrina destruction. But, God isn't perfect. Well, OK I guess he is perfect, but he couldn't use a storm that accurately. I think he should have used a laser instead. But, the storm obviously missed some of the fundamentalists, just like the storm got some of the good guys as well. I'm guessing that the God thing isn't a perfect science. Well, it isn't a science, is it?

    :-}

  11. Richard Nikoley on September 2, 2005 at 07:28

    Toungue in cheek.

  12. Kunstemaecker on September 2, 2005 at 00:52

    I'm an atheist myself.

    If you think he's an asshole then aren't you agreeing that he exists? And why did you capitalize each time you spoke of Him or the Almighty?

    No criticism intended, I was just observing.

  13. Kunstemaecker on September 4, 2005 at 06:08

    Sorry about that lol.

  14. Kyle Bennett on September 9, 2005 at 12:21

    "perhaps you could turn down the "sneer" pot a bit when referring to others who are clinging to a tiny straw of another hope in this fucking rotten world."

    My sneer isn't aimed at those clinging to some tiny straw, its for those clinging to my ankles for their only hope when I'm trying to climb out of the muck. Climb your own way out on your tiny straw, if you think it will support you, or climb alongside me, but either way, get off my back.

  15. Doug Wolf on September 9, 2005 at 12:41

    To those who think we, as a race, are nothing but a muck of human misery:

    Go read Shakespeare's sonnets. All of them.

    Go listen to Beethoven's symphonies, especially numbers 5, 6, 7, and 9.

    Go learn to fly something.

    Love someone, and be loved.

    Bring a new thing into existence.

    Ponder what we know of the stars, despite never having visited them.

    Ponder what we know of the atom, despite the vast difference of scale between it and the macro world we live in.

    Look what we can do!

    The vast majority of those that live in a world of emotional and spiritual muck do so largely of their own will.

  16. John Sabotta on September 9, 2005 at 12:00

    This discussion – on all sides – is so incredibly profound and, uh, intellectual and rational that I hardly feel qualified to offer my own superstitious and whim-worshipping comments. Still, you know, what the hell – it beats sitting around idly cutting myself with a straight razor.

    1. Hey Nikolai – fuck your Nothing and the horse He never rode anywhere on!

    2. Nikolai! You have blasphemed by your evil capitalization, as Kuntwhateverhisstupidnameis so helpfully pointed out. To capitalize the name of God is to possibly bring Him into existence! Beware!

    3. My advice to Ottoman Couch is to read the Book of Job. There is also a relevant passage in the New Testament.

    4. Note to RN: Yes, this is a fucking rotten world, which proves to you that God doesn't exist. Okay, once you've accepted that, what are you left with? A rotten world without God, that's what. And a world of hopeless evil, that no clever plan or reasoned scheme will ever mitigate for very long. What you are really saying is that there is no hope at all, but you don't want to admit that. Well, fine – believe in the absurd possibility that someday everyone will act decently and rationally (and also solve all those mortal ills that destroy humans even without human malice). I don't believe that, but far from me to deprive anybody of all hope. This being the case though, perhaps you could turn down the "sneer" pot a bit when referring to others who are clinging to a tiny straw of another hope in this fucking rotten world.

  17. Richard Nikoley on September 11, 2005 at 07:21

    John:

    See, that's just it. It's a wonderful world and it's a wonderful life. Things are getting better for me every day, because I make them better.

    Oh, sure, there's rotten BS in abundance everywhere, and Billy may be right about this culture being doomed, but I'm not about to be doomed as long as there is anything I can do to prevent it–and I'll keep making my life better each step of the way in spite of all the crap.

    I don't need your silly fantasies — which amount to nothing more than Santa for adults — to make my way in this world. Being so foolish wuld truly bring me down.

  18. Doug Wolf on September 13, 2005 at 17:43

    John,

    We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs

    OK, I'll bite… what absurdities?

    People anthropomorphize "science" as though it refers to some oracle-like group of old guys in lab-coats making pronouncements that we must swallow without question.

    That picture of science isn't even remotely accurate.

    Science is a method of inquiry wherein a hypothesis is tested against observable facts in a controlled, repeatable manner.

    While it may be possible for some specific hypothesis to be absurd, how can ration inquiry itself be absurd?

    — DW

    (It's a REALLY slow week here!)

  19. Rich on September 14, 2005 at 03:39

    What Lewontin is admitting here is that he and those who think like him are only selective skeptics. They are hostile to belief in God because of a prior commitment to a dogmatism that excludes God—a dogmatism about which they are not skeptical at all, which they accept not because of the evidence but in spite of it, and to which they will cling even when it forces them into absurdities.

    Oh, puhleeze!

    What utter bullshit. There's no other way to describe it, John.

  20. John Sabotta on September 13, 2005 at 17:20

    "One need not take this from a theist like me. Consider the remarks of the Harvard population biologist Richard Lewontin—an atheist who thinks matter is all there is—in the New York Review of Books (January 9, 1997): “Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just–so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.” He continues, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”

    What Lewontin is admitting here is that he and those who think like him are only selective skeptics. They are hostile to belief in God because of a prior commitment to a dogmatism that excludes God—a dogmatism about which they are not skeptical at all, which they accept not because of the evidence but in spite of it, and to which they will cling even when it forces them into absurdities. For another example, consider the remarks of the philosopher Thomas Nagel in his book The Last Word. The purpose of the book is to defend philosophical rationalism against subjectivism. At a certain point Nagel acknowledges that rationalism has theistic implications. For the moment, the important thing is not whether that is true, but that Nagel thinks that it is. Note well what he says next. After suggesting that contemporary subjectivism may be due to “fear of religion,” he writes, “I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well–informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.” Nagel adds, “My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. . . . Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning, and design as fundamental features of the world.” If Nagel is right, then those who say that theism is a crutch have got it backwards. For our contemporary intellectual culture, it is atheism that serves as a crutch. It couldn’t have been easy to admit that."

    From First Things June/July 2002, "The Second Tablet Project" by J. Budziszewski

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