The case of People vs. Jehovah
Welcome to our jury. Your task is to pass judgement on the defendant. We will present the pertinent facts and you will decide whether the he is guilty or not guilty.
Our defendant, J., asserts he is a loving father who cares for his children well. The prosecution contends that J. is guilty of egregious examples of child abuse. The defendant admits being the father of numerous children yet he has frequently neglected those children.
Child #1 was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, the precise nature of which is not pertinent to the case. All that we need know is the child’s life was in danger and J. was made aware of this fact. A cure was readily available and it was within the means of J’s ability to provide. J. refused to offer the treatment to the child who subsequently died in a most horrific way.
Child #2 was playing the front yard. She was bouncing a ball with her dog. The ball went over the fence into the street and the dog chased after it. The young girl ran after her dog. J. was sitting on the porch watching the entire event. He saw that a truck was a short distance away. He did not try to stop the girl. She was struck by the truck and paralysed for life.
Child #3 was hungry. In fact the evidence shows that this child was severely malnourished. J. had the ability to feed the child. In fact he fed some of his children quite well. But this child was neglected. This child starved to death.
These are just three cases where J. neglected his children. They are not the worst cases but they are three we shall focus on today. Here is J’s defence as given by witnesses for the defence.
In the case of Child #1 J asserts that it is the right of a father to say “no” to a request from a child. “Children constantly ask for things and a good parent has to tell them ‘no’ sometimes. All parents refused their children periodically otherwise they would be pestered to death.”
In the case of Child #2 J responded that he had posted a series of rules in the kitchen where all his children could see them. One such rule was that they must not run into the street. On a regular basis the children were told to read the rules. Either this child neglected to read the rules or ignored them. Either way the consequences are hers and hers alone.
In the case of Child #3 J. claims that the food was in the pantry and while this child was incapable of getting into the pantry this is not relevant as J. had a servant whose job it was to deliver food to the children in the part of the house that did have access to the pantry. J. argues that the servant neglected his duty. J. admits he was aware the servant was not doing his duty and that the child was hungry as a result. He said: “If I step in each time the servants refuse to do what I have told them to do they will never learn their lessons. I have to teach the staff how to behave responsibly and I am sorry that Child #3 died as a result. But what else should I have done?”
In cross examination J. admits that he knew of the circumstances of each child. In two of the cases the children specifically asked him for help. But he said he had a reason for refusing to help them which the jury is incapable of understanding. He said jurors must simply trust him and not ask questions as his ways are too profound for them to comprehend.
Now you are the jury. J. stands before you charged with child abuse, child neglect, child endangerment and a host of other similar crimes. How say you in this matter? Guilty or not guilty?
I suspect that most of us, if facing a case like this, would find the defendant guilty as charged. In fact the court would have to restrain us from lynching the s.o.b. And we would hope the judge would pass the maximum sentence.
Yet the religious folks among us say that we have a heavenly father who loves us and who wants to help us. And when he doesn’t help us, or he allows awful things to happen, they have excuses.
People are supposed to pray and ask their god for the things they need. But this alone is absurd in many cases. A good parent feeds his children even if they don’t constantly ask for food. A mother will wash the child when he is dirty whether he requests it or not. The loving father will pick up the hurt child and care for her simply because she is hurt and needs care. Good parents don’t wait for the children to ask.
It is often said that after we ask our heavenly father for the things we need that he will answer our prayers. God always answers prayer we are told. The smug religionists then says: “But sometimes he says no.”
It is true that parents do sometimes say no to their children. “Daddy, can I have a pony?” may elicit a chuckle and a “no” from daddy. “Mommy, can we go to Disneyland?” “No, Disneyland is far away and you have school today,” may be an appropriate response. There are all sorts of things where it is perfectly sane for a parent to refuse a request from a child.
But the religionist takes this sane response to one category of questions and then applies it insanely to other categories. “Daddy, my appendix burst and I’m going to die. Can I please have surgery?” “Mommy, I’m really hungry please can I have a piece of bread?”
Not only are there situations where it would be criminal for a parent to refuse the child it would be considered ridiculous for the parent to demand that the child even ask them for such things. Yet we are supposed to believe that in cases like this we are to pray to god and ask for such things and if we neglect to pray it is our fault if we don’t receive them. In addition we are told that if we do beg god to save our lives that it is perfectly fine for him, as our loving parent, to say no. The religionist basically puts a request to save one child’s life on par with another child wanting a pony. Apparently neither the faithful nor their deity can see the moral difference in equating, and denying, both requests.
In other cases the loving father in heaven is watching us make mistakes that will cause harm or death. The religionist says that a good parent lets a child learn by their mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you allow the kids to play with loaded guns so they can learn that if you pull the trigger they will die. It doesn’t mean you allow a child to run in front of a truck. And even if you give them a clear cut set of rules and they ignore one of them you don’t allow them die as a result.
In fact the rules that are given are not always clear cut. They are often obtuse or contradictory. They are buried among hundreds of thousands of words. Some may be precise such as “thou shalt not steal” but they don’t address vast areas of human existence. There are actions that children can take where no rule applies and there is no obvious negative consequence. But if the parent knows there is a horrible negative consequence and simply watches a child act in this dangerous manner anyway we would say the parent is negligent.
Well Jehovah is negligent. He allows his children to starve. He ignores pleas from dying children to give them care which is available and affordable for him. (After all he is omnipotent and omniscient. So he knows the needs of the child, even if they don’t ask. And he has the ability to care for them.) That he refuses to give this care is negligence.
Another excuse given by the defenders of Jehovah is that he has charged his servants with caring for the needs of his children. These servants may be rulers, ministers, parents, etc. But he has a large household with many servants to care for his many children. And they must learn to do their duty. He is aware when they are not doing their duty but has decided they should learn the lesson the hard way. Of course it is not the servant who really suffers but the child. Jehovah could replace the servants as he has all power but he chooses not do so. He hears the pleas of his children to help them because of the actions of his hired servants. He ignores the pleas.
And in conclusion he simply asserts that he knows more than any of us. He claims a “higher purpose” which is “unknowable” and “beyond human comprehension”. And we are supposed to buy that.
When we are dealing with humans acting in this way we would find them guilty of child neglect at the very least. We would throw the book at them. When it comes to some deity religionists flop around looking silly trying to come up with excuses. They simply can’t assert that the deity is actually guilty of child neglect.
But now let us go into the courtroom again. We hear this evidence. But there is no defendant sitting in front of us. He never speaks on his own behalf. Only others speak on his behalf. We ask them where he is. They say he is everywhere. We ask them to describe the defendant and they all have different descriptions.
In fact we have trouble charging him because all the witnesses disagree as to his name. None of them have actually ever seen him. They read a rule book which some people say he wrote but they have no actual evidence he wrote it. Others hold up an entirely different rule book also attributing to the defendant. They disagree among one another as to which rule book he wrote or which parts he actually authored. They claim to have seen the results of his actions but all the actions they point to have other explanations for them as well.
One could well be excused for starting to wonder whether the defendant exists or not. We may just have to conclude that the reason these children were in bad straits was because, instead of having a loving father, they were orphans.
Now that is the conclusion I have to draw. It is not that I don’t want a heavenly father who would care for me in my time of need, or who would comfort me when I am troubled. It is that I have no verifiable reason to assume he exists. He doesn’t act as if he exists. He doesn’t exhibit the love that is ascribed to him.
Now there is some slim chance that there is some deity (but I doubt it) but there is no chance that there is the deity of the Christians. We know this because the Christians describe their deity and we can see that no deity is actually acting in the manner they describe. The all-loving, all-carrying heavenly father is clearly a hoax. So if that slim chance exists then the deity who is there is very different from the one most people imagine.
He would be someone who watches the innocent suffer and does nothing about it. If he is all powerful then he is cruel. He would have to take some sort of pleasure out the suffering of others since he could stop it but prefers to witness it instead. There is this assumption on the part of religious folk that a deity must be kind and loving. Every day we see evidence that this kind of deity can not exist.
We do see evidence that another kind might exist. He is one that cruel and violent and vicious. He is one that takes pleasure in the pain of his children. He is one who enjoys forcing them to beg him for the basics of life and then refuses their pleas for help. The case for such a demonic deity seems far stronger. That it is not embraced by religionists is not due to the evidence. It is due to the fact that to contemplate such a god would strike utter terror into the hearts of those who believe. It would make life itself unbearable.
I look at the evidence and do not assume that god is negligent or cruel or violent or vicious or demonic. Nor do I assume that god is loving, compassionate, caring, etc. I look and find the god who is not there. And then I say to myself: “I am not a pawn. I am not at the mercy of an all powerful demon nor am I the ward of some divine welfare state. I am a man responsible for the choices I make. If this world is to be a better place it will come, not through prayer and supplication, but through work and human effort.”
Rejecting the concept of a deity does not make one powerless “and afraid in a world I never made”. It means that one must use their rational faculties to discover the best means of living. It means that good and evil are in our own hands to a very large measure. And it means we have no other choice but to make this world better. If we don’t do it no deity will. It is up to us and us alone. A bit scary for some? Perhaps. But it is empowering as well. Get off your knees. Stop begging a deity. Do what needs to be done yourself. As Ronald Reagan put it: “If not us then who? If not now then when?”