Being scientifically minded, I feel that an experiment is in order: if there’s a God who gets ticked off just by creationism/intelligent design supporters being voted out of office, then he, she, or it should really become peeved at my telling him, her, or it to go to hell.
So either me or whoever will inherit this Church of the Churchless blog (should I fail to survive this test) will let you know if anything spectacularly or miraculously dire happens to me soon.
I can report that no avenging angels are evident outside my office window at this moment, 7:40 pm PST. And I don’t expect any to show up later. For if God gets pissed at being dissed, there should have been thunderbolts hurled at me a long time ago.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of cursing at God. From time to time I still direct some obscene blasphemy at any higher power who may be listening. For assuming there is a personal God who is aware of what is said and done here on Earth (an exceedingly doubtful assumption, in my opinion), that being deserves to be cursed.
When children die for no reason. When innocents suffer needlessly. When good people live in misery and bad people prosper. When silence is the response to sincere prayers.
Which means, God deserves to be cursed all of the time.
Now, I did indeed write a book called “Life is Fair.” It may well be. I don’t know. I like to think that it is. But if life is fair, it’s difficult to envision how there also can be a personal God—especially a loving personal God. This is why I don’t worry very much about the consequences of blaspheming God: I’m confident that no divinity can hear me.
My cursing at God is mostly to make myself feel better, to let off steam when the unintelligent design of this world becomes too much for me. I don’t really believe that any personal higher consciousness is taking in my words and reflecting, “Hmmmm. I’ll have to do something about that Brian Hines guy one of these days.”
However, a lot of people do believe that they have a personal relationship with God, Pat Robertson among them. Many Christians are disavowing Robertson’s warning to the Pennsylvania voters while others are defending him, as can be seen from the comments to this Think Christian blog post.
I’ve been writing about mantra meditation lately here and here. It strikes me that anyone who considers that their mantra or prayer is being heard by God or some other higher power is in the same theological camp as Pat Robertson. For Robertson’s ranting, though appropriately condemned by mainstream believers, is rooted in a belief that they share.
Namely, that God hears us when we speak to him (or her, or it), and that God also has the power to respond to what is spoken.
This conception of God seems increasingly unlikely to me. It just doesn’t mesh with what science tells us about how the universe is put together and with the absence of any convincing evidence that God personally intervenes in human affairs, either on an individual or collective level.
As I’ve said before, and likely will say again, I understand the appeal of believing in a personal divinity who hears us, responds to us, walks with us, guides us, and yes, corrects us.
Pat Robertson believes in this sort of God. It isn’t a God who I choose to believe in. A loving God too easily turns into a wrathful God. Belief in a personal God not only probably is wrong, but it also leads to a lot of divisiveness—whether that belief be correct or incorrect. For people play favorites, and a personal God almost always is considered to do the same.
I’ll take my God universal, thank you. Hold the personality.
Nonetheless, I’ll keep one eye on the sky, checking for thunderbolts. It makes sense to be open to any and all spiritual possibilities.