As many of you might have seen on the news, eastern New Mexico was hit by tornadoes over the weekend. As I was watching an interview with someone whose home was damaged/destroyed and whose mother was inches from death and not likely to survive, the person used the line frequently uttered after some sort of disaster/tragedy especially in the Bible Belt, "It was God's will."
One of the most basic questions in religion, especially Christianity, is "Why does God permit/allow so much suffering in the World?" I suppose the answer is supposed to be that it gives us a better appreciation of life and the good things it has to offer. It makes us reflect on our own lives and the fragility of it. That concept is pretty much found in all religions. I don't have a problem with that at all. In fact, I think it is a wonderful message. We only have a short time on this planet. The time spent should not be wasted and it should be spent making it a better place. I like the simple answer about good and evil. They both exist and we must accept that. The tornado that did all of the damage was not evil. It simply was.
My beef is with the Christian concept that God somehow had a part in all of this. If God exists like the Bible spells it out and people tend to believe it is, then there is this big guy in heaven sending tornadoes to Earth to teach us all a lesson. It's sort of like Job. "Here you go, Job, I'll send all sorts of misery your way to test your faith!" Yay! What a nice loving God! I think I'll go worship you! It reminds me of the days when the Mennonites would pass out brochures on campus that said "FEAR HIM!" on the cover. If you didn't do exactly what the Lord wanted, you would be punished in the fiery pits of Hell!! So which is it? Is God a nice deity that I should give thanks to for giving me life, or is He a vengeful deity who will send plagues if I somehow mess up. We have free will yet He is still a puppetmaster who has bad things in store for us either to remind us of all the good things or to punish us?
Maybe I should hope for a god like Zeus who liked to mess with the human race just for fun. At least he liked to turn humans into animals. I can hope.