Monday, 1 December 2014

What kind of god do you worship?

If you are a theist, you're most likely a monotheist. One of the approximately 3.8 billion people who follow the two big Abrahamic religions - either a Christian or a Muslim. 

That's over half the world's population. There are also about one billion Hindus but from what I know, which is not much, their gods don't operate the way the Abrahamic one does. 

So this post is really directed to the Abrahamic monotheists. 

What kind of god do you worship? I ask because I'm really not sure. From my experience the answer usually includes, but is not limited to, something like 'the all loving creator of the universe'. I've written before that from my experience there seems to be as many definitions of God as there are people who believe a god exits. Rarely do I find two people whose descriptions match exactly, even if those people believe in the same god, such as bible-god or Quran-god*

Say, for example, a tornado hits a small town and from the rubble a person is pulled 'miraculously' alive. Perhaps it's a mother, clutching her months old baby. Or maybe a building burns to the ground, dozens die, but from the ashes a man in his 90s walks free. He's cut, a little bruised, probably inhaled a fair bit of smoke, but by god he's alive, praise Jesus, praise Allah. 

Do you worship this god? This god who saved the mother and child, or the old man? If so, is it because he used his power to save these people? I do understand that if a super being bent what we know of the laws of physics in order to keep someone alive, that would be something to celebrate. I'm not sure I'd go as far as worship, but I can understand showing appreciation. 

It sounds great, on the surface. But it leads to me wondering the following: Do you also worship the god who sent the tornado in the first place? The god that put in motion the series of events that lead to dozens dying in the burning building? From what I'm told of Bible-god, and Quran-god, you must, because whichever one it is that you believe to be real, everything is part of his plan. He is 100% in control of all that happens. If God saved the mother and child from the tornado, surely this same god sent the tornado in the first place. 

Is a god that sends tornadoes knowing they will kill people, really worthy of worship? I wouldn't have thought so. 

One of the great quotes I've seen in the atheism/theism discussion comes from one of the hosts of The Atheist Experience, Tracie Harris. It was said in reply to a caller who was questioning the morality of atheists.

"You either have a god who sends child rapists to rape children or you have a god who simply watches and says: "When you're done I'm going to punish you"  If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That's the difference between me and your god"

The inevitable response from theists here is the cry of 'free-will'. The claim that their god cannot do anything because it interferes with the free will of the rapist. 

Yes, really. As though the free will of a child rapist is more important than a child not being raped. I have three main problems with the cry of free will as a defence of child rape. 

1: The god which is described to me knows in advance that a person will one day become a child rapist. Estimates suggest as many as 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.1 An all-powerful, all-loving god could ensure that any future child rapists are included in this 50% and never again would children be raped, and the free will of all those non-child raping people is unaffected. 

2: I can't think of a single monotheist that I've spoken to that doesn't think God intervenes on earth. Biblical literalists think God put Adam and Eve here. Muslims think God spoke to Mohammed. Every (surely) Abrahamic follower thinks prayer achieves something. In the examples above God is rescuing people from disaster. God helps people pass tests, get jobs, find their keys. The god that most people believe in intervenes on Earth (in their minds). If God can influence human life so an already millionaire sports person can win another trophy, then *surely* the same god can influence human life so a child is not raped. 

3: There are many things we *could* do with our free will, but don't. We could bite off the legs off strangers. Any time I walk down the street I could have to be wary that someone will attack my thighs with their teeth. People simply do not have the desire to chew on other people's legs until they come off. If we're not born with this desire, surely god could make it so we're not born with the desire to rape children? 

Going back to Tracie's quote - God could stop child rape and chooses not to. The free will argument doesn't wash. 

Do you worship a god that allows children to be raped? If do you manage that? How can you rationalise worshipping an all powerful being that allows children to be raped? Okay, you believe a god was required to create the universe, but worshipping it? I'm not sure how you can get to that. 

I could list many, many things here that people would find truly awful, and keep asking if you worship that god, but I think the point is made. 

I know this post touches on the Problem of Evil argument but I'm not saying a god can't exist because there's evil. The question is as the title asks - What kind of god do you worship? From what I can see, every person who worships bible-god or Quran-god, worships a god that allows evil. 

There is no evidence I know of that could convince me the Abrahamic god exists but even if that evidence was one day presented to me, I know one thing for sure, I could not willingly worship it.  

I've wondered if Quran-god and Bible-god are to be considered the same God. Some will say they're the same, just interpreted differently. Others will call Bible-god Yahweh, and Quran-god Allah where Allah functions as a name rather than the Arabic word for 'God' which it is. I like to think of them as different gods who, to borrow from evolution, share a common ancestor. On a side note, I once read a tweet that read 'I don't believe in Allah, I believe in God.' Literally translating to 'I don't believe in God, I believe in God.'


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