Monday, January 03, 2005

Brooks & a Comment

Everyone is jumping on David Brooks' inane little column -- the one where he wishes wistfully that we all just believed in that wrathful Old Testament God the way we used to, the one who smote those sinners, so that this mess with the Tsunami and all those little dead kids and so on would make sense (cause we know how God loves to kill babies along with their sinful parents, which Brooks is right, the OT God does indeed love to kill infants, go have a look at the OT sometimes, right and left God is smiting those sinful babies).

I forget which blog I read it on, but this is an example of the Asshat God fallacy.

As in:

"If God acts that way, he's an Asshat.

"If he's an Asshat, he's not God.

Therefore, no God could act that way.

Therefore, that sort of God doesn't exist."

Anyway, to get back to my point, on Brad Delong's Blog (, a commentor has an excellent point:

The commentor has the Blog-name Rtoes: here's the comment:

The following is a letter from Richard Dawkins to The Guardian newspaper:

"The Bishop of Lincoln (Letters, December 29) asks to be preserved from religious people who try to explain the tsunami disaster. As well he might. Religious explanations for such tragedies range from loopy (it's payback for original sin) through vicious (disasters are sent to try our faith) to violent (after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, heretics were hanged for provoking God's wrath). But I'd rather be preserved from religious people who give up on trying to explain, yet remain religious.

In the same batch of letters, Dan Rickman says "science provides an explanation of the mechanism of the tsunami but it cannot say why this occurred any more than religion can". There, in one sentence, we have the religious mind displayed before us in all its absurdity. In what sense of the word "why", does plate tectonics not provide the answer?

Not only does science know why the tsunami happened, it can give precious hours of warning. If a small fraction of the tax breaks handed out to churches, mosques and synagogues had been diverted into an early warning system, tens of thousands of people, now dead, would have been moved to safety.

Let's get up off our knees, stop cringing before bogeymen and virtual fathers, face reality, and help science to do something constructive about human suffering."

Summary: if there is no God, then there is no evil. It is just you and me, so let's do something positive about the situation.

Posted by: Rtoes at January 2, 2005 10:27 AM

This hits exactly my problem with most religions. They make their adherents other-directed. Rather than focusing on this here world, this here plane of existence, Far Right Christians, Mahayana Buddhists, heavy duty Catholics, all of them focus on some mythical place called "Heaven," some other-world. They're worrying all the time about that place: getting to that place, what life will be like in that place, fixing up their soul for that place. (Or, in the case of most Christians, escaping the "other place," as they call it in Fort Smith.)

Well, all this focus on the next world ignores this world. In fact, Southern Christianity counsels folk to ignore this world. Works won't save you, after all. This world is a trap. The poor you will always have with you. And so on.

It's this world we live in. It's this world that needs mending. It's here that people suffer, that children are hungry, and need to be taught. It's here where things can be done.

Maybe there is some sort of afterlife -- who knows?

We know we have a life here. We know this world and the people in it need us.

Stop dumping resources and time and energy into some fantasy of heaven and start putting them into mending this world -- what might happen then?

I'm just saying.

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