I’ve occasionally used the posts of a Christian minister to riff off of when it comes to showing how strange Christian arguments about their god and their religion. It’s a way to have an actual Christian’s quotes to review and to point out how their claims don’t always work out quite like they intend. For those who may not be familiar with the term “Pollyanna” it is from a movie, and has come to mean someone with a overly optimistic outlook, that every thing is wonderful and perfect, generally considered someone more than a bit naïve.
Pastor Dave has had a series of posts about creationism and his religion. This is the most recent. The basic argument is that the universe is evidence of this version of this religion’s god and that it is a result of this god’s “greatness”, which is a rather vague term, and its “goodness”, which shouldn’t be too hard to define but with many Christians, anything that this god can be claimed to do is “good” by default, a very circular argument.
He claims that “In Creation, we see God’s beauty, holiness and wisdom. For example, we see his holiness as God makes distinctions separating light from darkness, day from night, land from sea, sea from sky. This is the same God who will separate a people out for himself as a holy nation. This is also the God who, in his wisdom, creates an ordered and structured Universe.”
Now, considering what we know of the universe, it often isn’t very pleasant, and indeed, 99.999999999999…% of it is inimical to human life, supposedly this god’s favorite “creations”. It includes the vacuum of space, guinea worms, gamma ray bursts, flesh eating bacteria (a some awful photos), water that is very deep with great pressures (also pretty gross), temperatures of millions of degrees and of many hundreds below zero, toxic gases, toxic liquids and things with lots of unpleasant venoms. It takes an amazing amount of pure willful ignorance to try to make this argument, and an assumption that people are either too ignorant or simply too unintelligent to question it. It could also simply be a lot of pure malice to control people by telling them such nonsense.
It also shows that the religious must try to convince themselves that they are special and above all other humans. It’s not hard to see through history just what such ideas have done to humanity.
Pastor Dave tries to argue that this god cannot be a distant god, perhaps like the one that deists have invented, but a personal god that is constantly interfering with his creation, quoting John Calvin in that one cannot have a god that was just a “momentary creator” and claiming that “Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world then in its first creation.” The pastor makes the following claim: “God’s goodness, kindness, compassion and love are reflected in his providence.” Calvin’s words reflect this: “After learning that there is a Creator, it must forthwith infer that he is also a Governor and Preserver, and that, not by producing a kind of general motion in the machine of the globe as well as in each of its parts, but by a special providence sustaining, cherishing, superintending, all the things which he has made, to the very minutest, even to a sparrow.”
Really? Goodness, kindness, compassion and love. In this world, shown by this god. Hmmm. I wonder, can we tell this to the children who have their body parts cut off in Africa? I guess the sparrow gets cherished and screw the children. I guess it’s easy if you are comfy in a first world country to make such baseless claims and need external validation for your religion.
We also have the claim of predestination, which means that this god intends that everything happens as it does and approves of it. I guess again, this god needed children who were made amputees in one of the worst ways possible, hacked by a machete. “Providence describes the way in which God is concerned for the well-being of his creatures and so orders and sustains the very detail of Creation. Providence is a consequence of God’s Will and Decrees. In other words, everything happens because God predestines it.”. and we are told that miracles do occur and are “natural” and are part of predestination. In that there is no evidence for miracles period, there is no reason to think they real, much less natural or supernatural. Having been a Presbyterian, I know quite a bit about the claims of Calvinists and predestination, which is nothing more than excusing a god, and declaring oneself to be extra special that one will be saved because this god chose you. They aren’t much different from the Jehovah’s Witnesses in this. And many Christians are sure that predestinationalists are entirely wrong.
Pastor Dave also wants us to know that this god works through “intermediate means” like him. What he doesn’t explain is how does this work when pastors like him don’t agree on what this god wants. He also wants us to believe that this god works through “processes of the water cycle and crop generation to bring this about”. Hmmm, if this god can do miracles, why does it rely on natural processes that show that the claims of its bible never happened at all, and why does every other religion claim that their gods are responsible for the same natural processes? And why do these natural processes fail sometimes and we have famines? He also doesn’t quite get the “god of the gaps” idea. The God of the gaps is a term where non-Christians have noted that the claims for his god aren’t true, and this god is only now able to be claimed as cause for processes we do not understand yet. He wants to claim that his god is controlling all natural processes but that doesn’t work out very well for him because he wants to pick and choose when his god does something magical and when it does something by natural processes. It’s awfully convenient to cherry pick like that, insisting that coincidence should be considered a miracle, and then be able to show no evidence at all that this god does anything. It’s also quite funny to see him declare that his version of his god created a “mature universe” aka as it is right now,, when there is no evidence of that at all and indeed plenty of evidence that the universe became what it is today and wasn’t always this way. Why some Christians try to lie about such things, when accepting the same science that shows that the universe has changed, as long as it makes them comfy, is rather ridiculous. As for an orderly universe, yep, it does have certain physical laws that seem to control it, however, it’s a bit of a bummer when a star goes supernova and destroys what is around it.
Now, we get to the part where Pastor Dave claims this: “Providence encourages us to trust God’s provision and to depend on him every day.” So how does that work out with the people who were murdered in that church down in Texas? How many people does Dave think were praying desperately as the murderer was methodically walking around and shooting people in the head? Did God need a baby to die of a high-power gunshot wound? How about a good part of a family? How about those people who were in the assisted living home in Philadelphia just today which burnt in a 5 alarm fire?
Providence may be different than pantheism and deism, but it is just as imaginary. Where is that “fatherly hand” that let people die in the various recent hurricanes? The famines? The various terrorist acts? Well, this is the pastor’s response: “As Bavinck explains,“The providence of God, thus distinguished from God’s knowledge and decree and maintained against pantheism and Deism, is -in the beautiful words of the Heidelberg Catechism – ‘the almighty and ever present power of God by which he upholds, as with his hand, heaven and earth and all creatures and so rules them that… all things, in fact, one to us not by chance but by the fatherly hand.”
This is what Dave says “It is distinguished from Deism because God is personal, active and imminent.” Well, it’s up to him to show it, because from all of the evidence, this is just a fairy tale. This god cannot be shown to be personal, active or imminent. Imminent means “ready to take place” and we’ve been told that for 2000+ years now. Still nothing. Still many promises and still no evidence that this god exists much less does anything like Pastor Dave claims. Making false claims to try to convince desperate people to believe is abhorrent.
It’s no wonder that Dave doesn’t allow comments on his blog anymore with indefensible selfish nonsense like this. The universe is what it is, good and bad for humans, beautiful and horrific. That’s our viewpoint, the universe doesn’t care.
Postscript: one can see a typical series of excuses (https://faithroots.net/2017/11/22/davids-judgement-and-the-difficult-matter-of-a-childs-death/) on Pastor Dave’s page regarding why it’s okay for his god to kill a child for the sins of its father and why it’s okay not to be truthful to non-Christians when it comes to what’s really in the bible. It’s pretty much the same excuse offered by C.S. Lewis when it comes to admitting that Christians don’t agree on what their god wants, that they must be not told the truth unless they already be indoctrinated. This type of Christian horrifies me when they can ever think this is okay, not that it ever really happened at all, especially when they want to claim that their god is good.