Sunday, 24 July 2011

The God I don't believe in

It seems a grim old time at the moment! The East Africa crisis, the acts of atrocity in Norway and the death of Amy Winehouse. In their own way, each highlight the question of suffering, and ask the question, 'Where is God in all of this?'

I looked back this morning to the sermon I preached after the terrible tsunami of Boxing Day 2004. Here is the start of what I shared:

In ‘Catch-22’, a novel by Joseph Heller, one of the characters Yossarian, holds the following conversation with a colleague’s (Lt Scheisskopf’s) wife:

‘Don’t tell me God works in mysterious ways. There’s nothing so mysterious about it. He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us …How much reverence can you have for a Supreme being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of creation? What in the world was going through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the ability to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain? …Why couldn’t He have used a doorbell instead to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of red-and-blue neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead? …What a colossal, immortal blunderer! When you consider the opportunity and power He had to really do a job, and then look at the stupid, ugly little mess He made of it instead, His sheer incompetence is almost staggering …Why, no self-respecting businessman would hire a bungler like Him as even a shipping clerk!’

‘Stop it! Stop it’! Lieutenant Scheisskopf’s wife screamed suddenly …’Stop it!’

‘I thought you didn’t believe in God,’ he asked bewilderedly.

‘I don’t,’ she sobbed …’But the God I don’t believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He’s not the mean and stupid God you make him out to be.’

What about the God you don’t believe in and the God you do?

The God I don’t believe in:

Ø A God who has created the universe then lost control. A God who is powerless to do anything for his created beings, never mind to do anything about the unbelievable forces of the Tsunami that ravaged territories around the Indian Ocean. A God who loves but cannot help.

Ø A God who does not love his created beings! A God who created human beings and then callously condemned many to die by a giant tsunami! A God who could help us but has chosen not to.

Ø A God who is non-existent – the way of the atheist. With this God, no one created the universe, but everything is random. There is no God who created me, no God to love me, no God to call me towards a better life, no God to give me hope for the future whether in this life or the next, and no future life to look forward to! With this non-existent God, evolutionary processes of natural selection will ‘improve’ the human race, at the cost of those who, through no fault of their own, happen to have been born and raised in areas subject to natural disaster. I just don’t buy it!'

That's more than enough words for now! Tomorrow, I may post part 2 of the sermon - the God I do believe in.

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