Is Phelps the only crazy one?
Over at the wacko Right web site World News Daily they have a column by a fundamentalist minister named Greg Laurie. He writes about the film United 93, about the plane taken by 9/11 religious fanatics where the passengers fought back. For once it is nice to read something by one of these fundie types where he isn’t fuming about how evil a film is and how people must not see it. He recommends the film.
But his column is not about the film. It is about the question “Why did God allow this?” He mentions an incident where Jesus said that a group of men died but that they were not being judged just that men die. As Laurie puts it: “Jesus was saying that the bottom line is that people die.” Laurie goes on to say: “Tragedies happen. Wars happen. Accidents happen. Illnesses happen. Cancer happens.”
Start with the last two: if there is a god then he created illnesses and cancer. They don’t just happen. He created them. If he is the creator of all things then all illnesses are his responsibility. They don’t just “happen”. Things “just happen” in a godless, natural world. But if there is a divine creator, and I don’t think there is, then these things don’t “just happen” they are the results of the plans of this deity.
Laurie fluctuates between asserting a god and using language that implies there is no god. The rational parts of his discussion are the latter not the former.
He quotes the Bible saying “It is appointed unto men once to die...” Appointed by whom? As he puts it: “You’ve got an advanced reservation for when you will leave this world for an eternal destination. There’s a ticket with your name and time of your departure on it.”
Who purchased the ticket? Who determined the date and time of departure as Laurie puts it? In the theology of Laurie there is only one answer: his god purchased it. Now remember he was discussing the question as to why a god would “allow” this happen.
But this theory of pre purchased departure ticket with a date and time already stamped on it doesn’t mean that a god “allowed” it to happen. No. It means he caused it to happen! When this deity predetermined the date and time of death he caused the deaths. Not only did he cause them but he determined how people would die. He had to. If there are planes with hundreds of people on them and he has pre purchased their death tickets with a date and time when which is all the same for all of them then he was the once who decided those planes would crash. When men do this we call them terrorists. When the alleged creator of the universe does it what is he? A divine terrorist?
Laurie goes on about death. Christians love to write about death since no one who is dead can contradict them. It is always safe to make assertions about questions no one can answer. He quotes the true inventor of Christianity, Paul. Laurie says, “to Paul, dying meant coming out ahead in the game! Stepping out of this life into the next was the best thing he could imagine. Being in the presence of the Lord Jesus wasn’t just ‘better,’ it was ‘far better’.”
Here is the odd thing about this? If this is really true. If it is “far better” to be dead than alive then why do so many believers, bordering on almost 100% of them, work so hard to stay alive? I’m not even suggesting they kill themselves. I’m just pointing out that if they have a heart attack they don’t sit there waiting to “be taken home with Jesus.” They call the ambulance. If they are diagnosed with cancer they seek treatment. And even the most faith ridden of them pray that their god will heal them. Why? Why want to be be healed if death leads to a “far better” existence? I’ll tell you why. They do so because some part of them has this gnawing realization that death may not be “far better” but non-existence.
Laurie is full of the contradictions that plague the believes in the non-existent. It is impossible to avoid such contradictions. He wants to argue that a loving god turns these tragedies into good things. He quotes the dumbest verse of the New Testament to prove it, “all things work together for good to those who love God” and notes: “This includes what we perceive as ‘good’ things’ as well as ‘bad things.’” Now this is a turn around from earlier. Now what he is really saying is there are no “bad things” just good things. It was good that hijackers took those planes and killed people. It was good that they destroyed the Twin Towers.
People on this site were outraged, as are all decent people, at the rantings of the crowd from the Westboro Baptist Temple. That cult says things like “Thank God for 9/11”. But Laurie is really saying the same thing just in a watered-down form. If all things work out for good to them that love the Lord then it was good for 9/11 to happen. If it was good that it happened why not “Thank God for 9/11” as the Phelps crowd would put it?
Laurie writes: “In themselves, there’s certainly nothing ‘good’ about illness, car crashes, war casualties or terrorist attacks. But God in His infinite wisdom and love, somehow takes all events of our lives -- both good and bad -- and blends them together ultimately for our good, the good He intends for our lives.” So in the end 9/11 was good. If this sentence is true then one should join Phelps and Co. saying “Thank God for 9/11.” In his column he mentions how tragedies bring people to a belief in Jesus. He gives the example of a woman who had cancer and came to his church and how this was good because of it. She would have to thank this god for her cancer as it lead to her salvation. Ditto for 9/11. So why avoid the signs saying: "Thank God for 9/11." The difference is that Phelps doesn't want to liked and Laurie does. Phelps is explicit in this message while Laurie says the same thing but soft-pedals it.
When one invents answers to questions there are always problems. Laurie is trying to explain human evil in light of his invented theory of a loving god. To do this he resorts to the claim that all things are ultimately good including all the bad things in life. He even puts “bad” in quotes at points to emphasize they really aren’t bad at all. While he doesn’t say so explicitly he is giving support to the theology of Fred Phelps of the world by claiming these attacks lead to good things and themselves are ultimately good. He is supporting the theology of “Thank God for 9/11”. He has no choice. His false beliefs force him to pursue paths of reasoning that lead to such barbaric conclusions.
Now we atheists would just say: “Shit happens.” Bad things happen. That’s life. People do bad things. We can only try to stop bad things when it is in our power to do so and to mitigate them when we can not prevent them. It’s not up to a deity. It’s up to us. And deep down most believers know this as well. That is why, when tragedy strikes them and they face death, they do their damn upmost to avoid it. If they fall off a boat they don’t happily sink into the arms of Jesus they swim like hell. If they see a truck coming head-on toward them they swerve to avoid it. If they come down with cancer they seek treatment. Believers like to say there are no atheists in fox holes. They fantasize that atheists suddenly believe in a god when facing death. I faced death two times -- that is I thought I would be dead in a matter of seconds. I was fully aware of it and neither time did my thoughts think of a deity. I thought about the person I love most in the world. In reality there are atheists in fox holes. But there are few believers in fox holes. By that I mean what I just said. When facing death Christians try to avoid it. They pretend atheists act like Christians when facing death. But in truth Christians act like atheists when they face death not the other way around.
They know “shit happens” and they try to avoid it. But in the world of the Lauries there is no “shit” there are just roses and wonders and all things, even shit, work together for good. Yeah, Right!