Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Subtleties of God

Early this week, I entered an involuntary one-day diet program. My body decided to refuse all food, and release (as quickly as possible) any food within me. A few of my co-workers had earlier joined this program, and apparently decided to “sign me up” as it were. Had the flu.

People discussing a God that interacts with the world today agree that such a God has the power to inflict sickness, as well as the power to prohibit sickness, and the power to cure sickness. The problem seems to come in as to determining whether God is even involved, or it is just the natural course of events. Some say that a certain illness came from God, others say it could not have. Some say a cure came from God, others note the extensive medical care provided in conjunction with that cure.

But at the very heart of the question, who can tell what diseases/cures come from God, and what are just natural? They all look exactly the same!

Non-theists get sick; non-theists get well.
Theists get sick; theists get well.

There is no method by which we can determine which came from God and which did not. We all know a theist that has looked for a job. It is interesting that no matter what happens, within the process, God gets the pat on the back.

“Got an interview, praise God.”
“Didn’t get the job, must be God has something better for me.”
“Sent out 1000 resumes, and didn’t get a reply. God must be teaching me patience.”
“Went through an interview process and got the job, Thank God.”
“Got laid off. Time to trust in God.”

One of the fascinating similarities between theism and cults, is the disapproval of questioning the leader. One can never question God as to why or what He is doing. One must always assume it is for the person’s best. No matter the loss of wealth or health, never, never, never say, “Hey, God. I didn’t like that.” One does, of course, and soon thereafter, is repenting for doing so.

Here the human works hard, looking up jobs, sending out resumes, appearing at interviews, studying how to interview, working at the job to impress the boss, and it is God that gave it to them? Why is it any different for me? Why does your God give me the job just as easy/hard as He does you?

Non-theists get hired; non-theists get fired.
Theists get hired; non-theists get fired.

There is no method by which we can determine which came from God and which did not. We live our lives based entirely as humans alone in the world. Oh, you may pray, and entreat, and even hear a small voice in your head. You may even see an amazing set of circumstances that you feel is a signal or answer to prayer. But then you go out and do what your intuition tells you, and work just as hard as if there was no God.

Guess what? It all comes from humans. No one has prayed for financial help, and all of a sudden gold coins float down from the sky. Instead, upon learning a person needs assistance, a charitable organization, which is funded by people such as myself, provides help. Humans helping humans. And God gets the credit?

It is no coincidence that Jesus, alleged to be a God, appeared exactly in the form of a human. Not a single distinguishing characteristic that could differentiate a God between a man. While Joseph Smith obtained the information from an angel nobody saw, he translated, by himself. All the information came through—a human. Mohammed delivered the Qur’an. A human. Mary Baker Eddy—human.

Time and time and time again, every message, every insight, every communication is always filtered through a human. A human writes a book another human claims is from God, and I am supposed to accept it? Why?

An athlete pushes her body to limits, working out for extraordinary hours, sacrificing countless other possibilities, restricting her diet. Then, using every ounce of her strength and ability performs well in her sport. And thanks God? Why? What did God do? What I see is a committed human, endeavoring to be the best.

Why did God take so long to allow people to break the four-minute mile?

Without referring to God as doing so much, the world wouldn’t change a bit. We would still all be humans, doing human things. I realize now that the influence of God taught to me, was described as being very, very subtle. So subtle, it is as if it was non-existent.


  1. Yes, there is the "catch 22" enigma of all religions.
    "So subtle, it is as if it was non-existent."
    Is God's influence that way to test our "faith" (obedience to scripture) or is it really non-existent? Why the test?

  2. Funny, steve. As a protestant, we were always taught that Catholics were a bit silly and superstitious for belief in their miracles. (“Mary’s face in a sandwich, indeed!”) But boy we bought walking on water, feeding five thousand, and virgin births as true as the evening news. As humans we are adapt at picking and choosing our beliefs. Protestants never seem to question why dramatic miracles must necessarily came to an abrupt end at 100 C.E.

    roman, I don’t mind the faith bit. At some levels (maybe my old theism days) it even soothes me. The only thing I would have asked, is that God not deliberately send signals that directly defy his existence. Using literal Christianity, if God wanted me to have faith that He create the world, ex nihilo 6000 years ago, don’t send light from stars 10 Billion years away, and gave complementary radiometric reading of a 4 billion year old earth, and a fossil record and microbiological proof of evolution.

    Don’t tell me about a great deluge and an Exodus, and then remove ALL signs of it. I don’t mind a faith based on the evidence. Personally, the best I think one gets is a deistic god in that light. And even THAT has troubles.

    And why does God need to test humans? What the heck is up with that? Do parents “test” their children, or would we question that? Do boyfriends “test” their girlfriends? Do friends “test” their friends? Continually? For the entire length of the relationship? I once read an argument that God is afraid of humans for some reason, and that is why He is hiding. Interesting stuff.