Reason #1 I gave up my faith: Why would God let this happen?
I woke up this morning and found an article on yahoo news that struck me. There was a fire in a family’s home and this eight year old boy rescued 6 of his family members before dying beside his disabled uncle. And I couldn’t help but think, “Where was God? If God was real, why would he let this happen?”
This would be one of those questions that many people would pull the, “God works in mysterious ways” cop out, but that just doesn’t work for me. What decent God and his all powerful self would be sitting up in heaven watching this little boy run through his home saving everyone and then decide to let the child and his disabled uncle die? It doesn’t make any sense. Because I’ve been taught that God rewards the good and punishes the bad. I’ve been taught that God loves everyone. I’ve been taught that God is all powerful and all knowing. I’ve been taught that God gets the credit when good things happen. I have been taught that God is love.
So where is he when the bad things happen? Where was he to protect this boy and his uncle? Why are people so easy to praise God when they get a promotion or make it through an illness or when they get a new car but the second a fire kills a whole family or a flood wipes out a whole nation, people sit back and say, “We don’t know why God would allow this to happen.”
And I can’t accept that. You can’t throw around claims as certainties (God is all powerful, God is all knowing, God is all loving) and the second you don’t have the answers (why would God let disgustingly bad things happen) you suddenly stop speaking for God and he is “beyond you”. That doesn’t work for me. I need answers. If you’re going to make a claim, I expect answers.
So I went looking for some arguments that people give to answer this question. Here are a hand full of arguments I found:
- “Matt Slick claims that sin affects people differently, in his article, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” He says that all people sin, of course, but this “sin” may have more of an effect on one person than it does on the other.
- Matt Slick also argues that God allows bad things to happen to punish people and/or improve their character.
- God also lets these things happen so we are reminded to depend on God, says Matt.
- God loves us so much that he gave us free will, argues Gary Zimak, an author for Catholic Stand. He argues that God actually has NO part in bad things happening to people. That our free will allows people to decide to harm one another. And God has no part in that, at all.
- Gary also argues that God allows bad things to happen for the greater good. That when bad things happen, the good people come out of the wood works to help those who have been affected.
- He also argues that pain and suffering in this life will make us long for heaven even more.
- There are no innocent people, we are all sinners, says Christiananswers.net, therefore nobody is immune to God’s punishments.
I have issues with every single one of these.
- People are affected by sin differently? So is sin it’s own entity; it’s own being that God merely created and let it run loose? Or is God deciding how much sin affects each person? And, honestly, regardless of whether God has a direct hand in this or not, it’s a stupidly unfair system for an all powerful being to create. Joe Smith can go out and rape 20 women and never gets caught, lives a life of wealth and freedom. Mary Doe skips church one morning and that evening her baby has a seizure and dies. And this is because their sins affect them differently? If this is truly the case, I don’t want to be anywhere near the being that decided it should be this way. And I certainly wouldn’t worship him as an all loving being either.
- The whole idea that bad things happen to punish people is completely sick. When you’re talking about rape, torture, murder, genocide, natural disasters, and disease I’d have to argue these “punishments” fall well along the lines of “abuse”. What did the four year old girl do to deserve being molested by her uncle? What did the boy giving his life to save his family do to deserve a long, and painful death? What did the cashier at the local gas station do to deserve being assaulted and robbed? It’s a disgusting notion that God would allow such horrible things to happen to people because they somehow deserved it as punishment. And as far as improving character? Yeah I could see that happening if God didn’t give you that promotion or God made your car break down or if God made you loose your job. But I certainly don’t see how “improving character” can be justified when you’re talking about the horrible things I’ve mentioned above. How is being raped supposed to help your character? How is watching your son be murdered supposed to help you be a better person? People handle trauma differently. Sure it might improve the “character” of one person, but it could cause the next to become suicidal. It’s completely sick to assert these things somehow “help” people.
- God lets bad things happen to remind us we need to depend on him. This wouldn’t fly as a reason for a human parent. “I let my child get hit by a car to remind them they need to be dependent on me” is the excuse you’re making for God. And, frankly, if the above points are true then I don’t want to depend on him for anything.
- Ah, the free will argument. God loves us so much that he gave us free will. But this only seems to apply when BAD things happen. The moment GOOD things happen, we assume God had everything to do with it. But the second BAD things happen, it was because “we have free will”. Okay, sure. We’ll pretend this is a valid argument (it’s not, but that’s for a completely separate post) So what about natural disasters and diseases? You know, the things that we file as “an act of God” in our insurance claim after a flood ravages our home. Or what about disease and cancer? The things that humans have NO part in what-so-ever. How does free will explain those things? Some, like the people of Westboro Baptist, argue that people piss off God and he does these things to punish us. But that just loops back into my second argument.
- Sure, when bad things happen there will always be good people who come out to help. Does that really justify the bad things happening? Would you REALLY argue that God let al qaeda smash those planes into the World Trade Centers and kill thousands of people just so the good people in America would come forward? Would you REALLY argue that God let the Holocaust happen so the good people could swoop in and save those people in the Concentration Camps? Would you REALLY argue that God let a mother’s three children die in a fire so the good people could come out and surround her and support he? I sincerely hope you wouldn’t. Because good people exists regardless of whether God lets bad things happen or not (especially if you argue that God is all loving and we are created in His image). And letting horrific things happen just to “bring out the good in the world” is NOT justification for allowing people to suffer. And this whole notion of “God lets things happen for the greater good” falls dangerously along the same lines as the “God works in mysterious ways” argument. You don’t have the answers so you just assume there HAS to be some good coming from all the suffering. That God has some ultimate plan that absolutely HAS to involve someone being tortured and mutilated and disease ridden. For an all powerful, all loving God I would expect he could accomplish good things in this world without causing so much harm.
- Pain and suffering will make us long for heaven even more? That doesn’t sound like some twisted manipulative trick on God’s part, right? Again, this wouldn’t fly with human parents. What do you think the consequences would be if a 20 year old’s parents went out and sabotaged their life in order to make the 20 year old want to come back home? And then that 20 year old found out their parents were behind all the horrible things happening to them? Do you REALLY think that 20 year old would look at the situation and say, “Wow, my parents are going to make my life a living hell until I move back in with them. I certainly miss home and can’t wait to go back! They sure do love me!” I’m sure that’s what would happen. And I don’t understand why people use the same argument for God and see absolutely nothing wrong with it. If you knew God was allowing bad things to happen to you (like REALLY bad things) would that honestly make you want to be around him for all of eternity?
- There are no innocent people. The author even claims that babies and the disabled are born sinners and, therefore, not immune to God’s wrath. This whole argument is what’s called victim blaming. And it’s disgusting. It turns the fault onto the people. It turns the blame onto the rape victim. It turns the blame onto the baby who was born with a rare and fatal disease. It turns the blame onto the child with cancer. It turns the blame onto the man who was murdered. It turns the blame onto the people who are being massacred. It turns the blame onto the slave. It argues that people DESERVE to be treated horribly because they are sinners. They are innately flawed and therefore cannot escape God’s wrath.
Basically, when I look at this question, “Why did God let this happen?” I either find no answer or I find answers that make me want nothing to do with God (and that all conflict with each other). Every Theist has an opinion and it’s all pulled from the imagination. There’s absolutely no evidence to support ANY of these claims. Sure, every argument I found pulled versus from the Bible, but that’s certainly not evidence. And until someone can prove to me that (1) everything happens for a reason and (2) that God is behind that reason, I’m going to continue to see absolutely no rhyme or reason for bad things happening. They just do. People make bad decisions that affect people in bad ways. The Earth continues to function just as it did for millions of years and create hurricanes and tornadoes and volcanic eruptions and earthquakes and tsunamis. It’s just now that people are on it, we are affected by the Earth’s natural occurrences. And sometimes things just happen. It’s not a fair system and it’s a scary system, but it’s the system that seems the most plausible to me right now. And I’m not going to take it on faith that God has anything to do with the good and bad things happening in this world simply because it’s comfortable to believe.
Disclaimer: This was not THE reason, I gave up my faith. It was only one of the many, which I will continue to go into with future posts.