The god standard

Last week I stayed late at the office and took the time to clean and re-organize my work space, catch up some items I had let get behind and double check several things I had going on. That decision quickly paid off as the days that followed went smoothly and luck seemed to be on my side as any problems that did arise were simply and swiftly remedied. In my religious past, I would have attributed my good luck more to divine intervention than my careful preparedness, thanking god for a smooth day or for guiding me to stay late in the first place.

When my wife got a new job, my mom was quick to say “You really should thank Jesus for that blessing!” Never mind my atheism and never mind my wife’s degree, her years of experience, impressive skill set she has built and the time she spent preparing for the interviews; according to the Christian rationale, prayer is what landed this job and it is a blessing from God. Had she not gotten the job, I’m sure the reasoning offered would have been that it was simply “all part of God’s plan.”

If god has some grand plan, why would you ask him to change it? Isn’t this a bit like saying you know better than god? But when you pray “thy will be done” you’re simply telling god “thanks for listening to me beg, now go do whatever it is you were going to do anyway, I’ll just live with it.” Either way, it seems like a waste of both your time and god’s. Even when I was a Christian, it made no sense that god, with all of the problems in the world, would focus on whether or not I had a good day or my wife got a new job.

Being god has to be the greatest job in the universe, you get all of the credit when things go well yet none of the blame when they don’t. Christians are quick to attribute all of the world’s woes to original sin, stating man caused his own fall when Adam ate the Apple. Even the evangelical extremists who say god sends disasters as punishment for our disobedience are ultimately attributing the root cause of the disaster to humanity’s sin. According to the Christian doctrine, we all bear the burden of a sin which none of us committed, never mind the fact god could have simply punished Adam and Eve and started over, and this time perhaps, with one less tree.

Bit there is a problem with this ideology, original sin can’t account for all the problems of the world, it also can’t account for man’s initial temptation; for that we need an evil villain with god like super powers himself actively working against both Yaweh and man. A yin for god’s yang. Superman’s Lex Luther. Enter Christianity’s ultimate scapegoat, Satan. Had a bad day? Satan. Someone said something that hurt your feelings? Must be the devil. Having doubts about your faith? Lucifer must be leading you astray.

And so god escapes any blame.

For the sake of argument, let’s say there is an even chance that any given day will go either good or bad, by these odds alone I can reasonably expect that fully half of half my days will be good without any action being taken by anyone. But, if I choose to, I can take action to improve those odds by being prepared for my day, arriving to work early, getting a good night’s rest and the like. It is these actions that increase the likelihood of my day going well, not intervention by a divine being. Even with the odds of winning Powerball at 292,201,338 to 1, people still win the jackpot and winning is not miraculous just improbable and you will find precious few Christians who would call a lottery win a miracle (though some winners might disagree). How much more likely and less miraculous is getting a new job or having a great day at work than becoming an instant millionaire? Good or bad things happen, even those which may be highly unlikely, all of their own accord and tacking god on to the end does nothing but give credit where credit isn’t due.

 

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