In my quest for understanding and empathy, I frequently find myself having imaginary debates with imaginary religious people. Regardless of the subject of the debate, a question I repeatedly ask is, “Why do the religious believe that God is so impotent and powerless?”
That may seem an odd question, assuming that most religious people consider God to be the omnipotent creator of all things – and often the cause of massive, inexplicable miracles. To me however, from the outside perspective, it seems that most religious people have no faith whatsoever in God’s power.
For example, the Christian citizens upset about same-sex marriage. They insist that such a thing would anger and upset God. Yet, same-sex marriage is now common place. God, though ostensibly angered by this, did nothing and has done nothing. Why not? At the very least, He only had to convince only one more Supreme Court justice. Being all powerful, God could have forcibly changed the judge’s mind, or, respecting free-will, could have inspired the anti-marriage lawyers to say just the right thing to change that judge’s mind, or, more theatrically, He could have appeared in the clouds over The Supreme Court saying, “I am Yahweh of The Bible. Hear my words! Read Deuteronomy again! Did I stutter? No legalized marital buggery!”
But He didn’t. If He does exist, and if He does hate same-sex relations, He stood idly by and let a few believers wave signs and holler what they believe to be His wishes.
There are more personal examples; my daughter and I. My wife and I have chosen to raise her in a secular home. As one of God’s beloved children, this must be very troubling to Him. Why would He allow me to teach her about The Big Bang and Evolution? Why wouldn’t He lead me to a convincing apologetic book? Or inspire me to think of something that would lead me back to whatever the right path is? If not for my sake, then for my daughter’s? Instead, He, apparently, leads me to things like http://www.fairmormon.org or http://www.discovery.org/ – ludicrous, flimsy, implausible and dubious explanations of life’s more difficult questions.
I guess I have to assume that, since God has a plan and hasn’t punished me with boils, or whale consumption, or temporary blindness, or a sodium-chloride spouse, my apostasy and blasphemy is all part of that Divine Plan. As is me writing this, you reading it, you considering it, and, possibly, you refuting it in a way that will finally convince me that He’s certainly there and that science and evidence and rational critical thinking are all pointless in the face of pure faith.
As George Carlin so brilliantly put it (cleaned up to avoid over offending):
I’ve often thought people treat God rather rudely, don’t you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. Asking and pleading and begging for favors. “Do this”, “gimme that”, “I need a new car”, “I want a better job.”
And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about The Divine Plan? Remember that? The Divine Plan? Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought. Decided it was a good plan. Put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, The Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a Divine Plan. What’s the use of being God if every run-down shmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and mess up Your Plan?
And here’s something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren’t answered. What do you say? “Well, it’s God’s will.” “Thy Will Be Done.” Fine, but if it’s God’s will, and He’s going to do what He wants to anyway, why bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn’t you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It’s all very confusing.