It’s been awhile since I blogged about the claims of Rabbi Gellman of the one person God Squad. But today we have a curious column from him in my local paper. The title comes from Star Trek: The Final Frontier, where Captain James T. Kirk encounters a god, something that happens with some regularity to the crew of the Enterprise. Kirk suffers gods no more willingly than I do.
In Gellmans’s column, it’s the problem of evil. The basic point of the column is it’s all the fault of humans. The rabbi scolds the querent, how dare he question this god when he should just sit there and take it because it’s God’s will. The querent should be like Job, accept any misery as a “test” of his faith or should accept that any misery is God’s plan and that God’s ways are “mysterious”. (my paper’s column was quite truncated, but the whole thing appears at the link.)
There are some large problems here:
- Why does a supposedly omniscient god need to test anyone for? It would already know the answer, so the murder of Job’s family, servants and animals serves no purpose at all. A good review of the book of Job is here.
- Why does a supposedly omniscient, omnipotent, and often claimed omnibenevolent, god need misery to make anything happen? It appears that it cannot think of alternatives or implement them. This would make any claims of all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving wrong.
Gellman goes on to insist that anyone who questions the claims of Christians is “angry” with God. I suppose that might be true, if this god actually exists. Imagine a human that tested people when it knew the answer and tested by killing their families. Would you be angry with them? Or that said that your child needed to get agonizing bone cancer, and, honest, it would make everything better in some undefined way but never showed how this worked or that it did at all. Would you be angry with them?
Would you question?
Rabbi Gellman quotes Archibald MacLeish “If God is great, he is not good. If God is good, he is not God. Take the even, take the odd.” This is from MacLeish’s play “J.B.” (it’s about Job, with a much better ending which you can see in the plot summary) which rather than saying that it’s not God’s fault, it appears to say in context, that there is no point in a god that is this impotent or evil. It shows that Christianity doesn’t agree on what God does and why. It broaches the question, if this god is touted as constantly helping people in the bible, why doesn’t it do the same things now?
Gellman next offers the usual, “It’s your fault” claims, where humans make the wrong choices, which can be true, we can choose to pollute, etc. He does admit that it is a problem when natural disasters happen, but then it’s all our fault because we “get in the way”. He argues that we choose to live in danger zones; since there is no place on earth not in a “danger zone” from something. it’s rather hard to avoid them. If God made the earth, this god is rather inept at making a safe place for its supposed loved ones to live. Recently, a Anglican reverend said to me that she found pointing out lack of reason in her religion disrespectful. With this kind of lack of reason in religion, it’s someone’s duty to point it out before someone gets hurt by a similar lack of reason.
The next odd is where Gellman says that, well, let’s see the whole paragraph: “Genetic mutations that cause stillbirths or genetic diseases occur because that’s the way our genetic material sorts through mutations and achieves the natural selection that has made our brains larger and made us more perfectly adapted to the needs of our evolving species. They are part of God’s perfect design for adaptable life”. Perfect? I’ll be blunt, that’s a fucking strange definition of the word. This god is now responsible for evolution, but is somehow too inept to make it better than it is, which strikes me as a prelude into the “best possible world argument” that does its best to depower this god from the omni-whatever that the bible claims. This god hasn’t been able to figure out what humans have, how to have the good without the bad and how to fix what the rabbi now seems to claim that God screwed up in the first place.
He says that we should save our anger for the way we treat each other and not for how God treats us. I’ll say that I’m not angry at this version of the Jewish god, but I’d find it pathetic if real, considering all of the claims made about such an inept being.