Thursday, February 18, 2010

It is your fault; not God's

Hollywood fails to adequately demonstrate the tension that can exist between a lawyer and a client. Only certain personalities have the propensity and wherewithal to pursue litigation. And if they are willing to sue another person; they are certainly willing to sue me if I screw up their case.

Additionally, the client is firmly convinced regarding the absolute justice of their position, and no judge or jury would ever rule against them. If it does occur, the client looks for a reason why-- the lawyer can be an easy target. They think, “Surely the only way the case was lost was by deliberate legal malfeasance!”

This is not something they teach you in law school. You learn it by trial-and-error. You learn it by the client storming in your office, breathing threats and refusing to pay their bill. Each lawyer eventually adapts a means throughout the litigation to reduce this client tension as much as possible.

One lawyer who I worked with on a few cases (friend of the firm) had an approach that was…to say the least…unique. The first time I saw it, I was shocked. Our respective clients were being sued--he represented one defendant; I represented the other. Once his client completed his testimony, he asked his lawyer (as is common), “So how did I do?”

This lawyer let loose a string of obscenities. “That was the WORST testimony I have ever seen. The judge was ready to toss you out of the courtroom. I couldn’t believe you answered those questions that way; didn’t you see me shaking my head? Didn’t you see the look on my face?

“I only hope I can salvage something out of this train wreck you delivered me. Maybe we can hope the judge will give you sympathy for being so stupid.”

Now the client is shaking in his shoes. He’s never testified before; he doesn’t sit through courts day after day. He figures he completely destroyed his own case. I was sitting there thinking, “His testimony wasn’t that bad. Not perfect; only professional witnesses give perfect testimony. It wasn’t the harpooning this lawyer is playing it to be.”

But I understood why this lawyer was doing it. See, if you tell a client their testimony was fantastic and great and wonderful, and eventually lose the case…well…it can’t be the client’s fault, right? They were told by a professional litigator that their testimony was the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel, true? So they start to look for something else being the fault, which can often be the lawyer.

Further, if you win the case, it makes the lawyer look like a hero. They salvaged the wreck handed to them by the client and saved the day. The client ends up thanking the lawyer profusely for rescuing the case.

It makes a win-win for the lawyer. Lose—blame the client. Win—take the credit. The second time I saw this lawyer do the same thing, I was not surprised.

This is symmetrically analogous to how many Christians treat their God and non-believers. It is the non-believer’s fault for not being persuaded there is a God. We’re told we have a bias—our fault. We’re informed we want to sin—our fault. We’re told we ignore evidence, or make it too hard for the theist, or don’t have the right faith—our fault.

We’re told we read the wrong books, or the right books but the wrong way—our fault. Yes, this is mostly done to bolster the prejudices of similarly situated believers. To allow one believer to gloat with his/her fellow believer about how wonderful they are as compared to the non-believer. Yet a minor part is done to guilt the non-believer. Make them think they are doing something “wrong.” To make them look for salvation for screwing this up. Look for help through the believer.

Oh, the Christian may say, “I only want them to find God;” nevertheless, by repeating it directly to the non-theist they hope they get to be a tiny portion of saving the non-theist’s day. A tool obtaining credit for notching up another for Jesus.

Yet think about it…why does a God need the Christian’s help? Why is it the only proofs of God are fallacious arguments based upon flimsy propositions? In fact, if God was readily evident, why do we need all these proofs; wouldn’t one be sufficient? Why must the theist build their case on assumption over assumption?

We agree with the theist a God could easily demonstrate itself. It doesn’t need humans, or subtitles of writings, or vague prophecies twisted into supposed fulfillments. Appear to people and talk with them. Demonstrate a miracle. Performing psychic mind tricks. Win a million dollars through Randi’s challenge. One could think of a myriad ways in which this could be done.

Christians recognize this. They must, because they fashion excuses for why God isn’t doing it. One excuse is that not knowing another person is an integral part of a relationship. Another claims it is Pride, rebellion and it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. There is always the old stand-by: “It would violate our freewill.”

While we could tear into the speculative unsubstantiated nature of these defenses, the reason I bring them up is to point out even the Christian sees this as a problem. They are busy creating conflicting resolutions—they sure must see it as a problem!

So why am I being yelled at? Why am I being told it is my fault when we both see the elephant in the room—that any such God could easily demonstrate itself. Doesn’t God shoulder some of the responsibility?

The more I am yelled at (figuratively speaking, of course), the more I think about that lawyer. Is the Christian covering up for their God-concept’s inadequacies? See, it is much the same win-win situation from the Christian’s standpoint. If I am not convinced—it was my fault; if I am, it is to the believer’s credit…er….*cough, cough*….”God’s credit.”


  1. Great post and great summary of the various arguments used with unbelievers.

    I have wondered why God wouldn't work harder to get em back. After all he knows I am a type A, work-a-holic. He knows I will work myself to death for him. In fact I am worth more than 50 normal Christians.(hopefully you can "read" my smiling face right now)

    But God leaves me alone. No interest at all. In fact, in many ways, I feel just about like I did when I was "saved." According to some Christians that's because I am STILL saved, even if I don't want to be. :)

    Funny thing about free will. Both Arminian and Calvinist deny true free-will. Both believe man is born into sin and without God saving the man he will NEVER be saved. Only the Pelagian believes in true free will.

    Yet...If I am not a Christian it is because of my free-will that they say I don't have.


  2. "The more I am yelled at (figuratively speaking, of course), the more I think about that lawyer. Is the Christian covering up for their God-concept’s inadequacies? ”

    yeah, I think so, but not consciously so (see, I am an eternal optimist and cannot imagine someone doing this consciously... though I am fairly certain some do).

    I think the transformation from theist to non theist often comes when the theist steps aside and lets God be God only to find that God doesn't fill the space they were occupying.

  3. Isn't this blame the unbeliever essentially built right into the theology? How many times have we seen the quote about how we're all without excuse? That the evidence for God is so very clear all around us? That we all, on some level, know that Christianity is the Truth?

    So if, based on the theology, God has made it clear, there is no where else for the blame to but to the believer. The theology makes it incapable to blame anyone else.