God, Indiana, and Whirlwinds

Just about two weeks after the stage collapse in Indiana, we found ourselves facing a hurricane – Hurricane Irene – a tool of vengeance that the god of the bible has historically loved and used to punish iniquity.

“For they have sown the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7) 

“As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:25)

Witness 70-mile-per-hour winds with the ominous sky backdrop and the devastation that follows. When you watch the collapse, think of the screams, the horrors, the shock on everyone’s faces…it is events like these that, sadly, are needed to bring out the best in humanity. Look at how many of the on-looking crowds come to render aid.

They were drinking and hollering obscenities at the stage only moments earlier. And then, with the plates of emergency services full (and even the state’s governor appearing in tears on TV days later), everyone else comes to the rescue. We humans can’t get past our pathetic, miniscule differences without a tragedy of some sort, which happens to be a thing believers toast to as god’s trying us by fire. (I Corinthians 3:10-15)

Believers boast about how god tries us to make us stronger. “God always has a plan for every thing we do,” goes the stupid saying, kind of like an idiot who says: “every cloud has a silver lining”—such obvious buffoonery. But I suppose when a murderer breaks into a home and butchers the small children who live there, the poor, struggling parents can enjoy the “silver lining” of getting to save some money on paying to feed and clothe their children as they grow up. Every cloud has a silver lining!

Part of the beauty of clich├ęs is that they are only true when you want them to be, which happens to be why they are rightly thought of and called the idiot’s wisdom. In the case of god recompensing mankind with storms to punish them, we have exactly such an occasion with god’s providence and his believers who claim that god may or may not be behind a given tragedy.

God may cause storms for whatever purpose he wants, we are told, but we can’t know it for sure. It may just be the weather. Some theologians think the Titanic went down because its very name was an affront to the almighty. Pastor John Hagee preached a sermon series on the topic in the late 1990s. To whatever end a preacher has, God does or does not cause these storms. But if the preacher says so, they have hard biblical evidence that a storm is god’s wrath.

A theologian might well claim that Hurricane Katrina was suffered because Mardi Grass women have this cool little habit of showing their boobs to the men at their riotous street drinking parties. Was the city recompensed of their sins? Yes, if you’re Pat Robertson or his ilk who think that our nation's acceptance of abortion is what brought Katrina. Just depends on which pastor you ask. But in the rather ordinary case of the stadium collapse, religious fools will be less likely to attribute it to divine justice. “Sometimes storms just happen on their own,” as a religious person I know recently said to me.

Why doesn’t it bother theologians and their stupid admirers that we can’t know when a hurricane or tornado is god’s justice and when it’s not? If god’s “weapons of choice,” as revealed in the scriptures, are the same as those used by nature, what real intimidation should modern Christians have when looking back and reading the sacred text? If we know that primitives like the bible writers were ignorant morons who thought that natural phenomenon were caused by a god, why are we to assume that those same events are any different today?

And if we believe in miracles and accept that everything that happens is from god, why today should I assume a hurricane is “just a hurricane” and not divine judgment? There is no need to resolve or feud over this conflict because it isn’t a conflict if you are a religious person; you simply accept that god might kill and maim or he might not. Like a privileged white girl with intimacy issues, the god of the bible is very fickle. He changes his mind all the time.

For instance, he says that a woman’s physical beauty is vain…

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
But then, he makes it known to us that after the endurance of his trials, Job was blessed with beautiful daughters…

“And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren.” (Job 42:15)

Either beauty is vain or god’s blessings are vain, but how can the latter be? Answer: In that content, it just seemed right to have god reward Job for killing off his first family over a mere bet between he and Satan, to make his daughters beautiful because it’s just not much of a selling point to make them ugly, or even just plain. Religion and religious texts take advantage of language like that.

Well, we atheists like to simplify things; we say that things happen because of natural law. We insist that if a shelf falls over in your house, it has nothing to do with the fact that you were self-fornicating only 30 minutes earlier. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, end of story.

But there is one point on which atheists and believers agree—that storms (with or without collapses) are awesome to watch and can do much, much damage. Believers can’t admit that storms “just happen” to the extent that they are outside of the providence of god. They want you to think that they can so that you will give them credit for being at least remotely rational, but they can’t and aren’t going to. That would be atheism. Life taking its purely natural course—nope, that’s atheism! That would mean that the fact that there is death and devastation in the first place is undeserved, and therefore, would suggest that god does not exist and does not take charge of his creation. Bingo, we say.

We watch as god deserts an entire stadium full of people, killing 5 and injuring many more, while leaving the rest to clean up his mess. That’s the way it has always been—when god can’t speak, humans speak for him. When god destroys the world, we rebuild it, giving him the credit that he at least started it all for us. We’re the underpaid maintenance men of god’s crappy creation; we’re also the custodians who clean god’s restrooms – this shit-house known as earth – and sometimes god fires his custodians.

Those 5 who died in the collapse, God “canned” them. Those who were injured were “suspended” and sent home for a while. We’ll never know why, or whether or not it was god who did this, and theologians and believers are totally okay with not knowing. I’m not. But what’s the difference. We’re all employed to clean up the shit he leaves behind while holding our noses.

(JH)

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