“Interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50% rate.” ~ George Carlin
I was talking to a friend today who told me a story about answered prayers. It seems that their car broke down, the only car they have, and they couldn’t afford to fix it. After saying a prayer to God, miraculously, a guy they had never talked to from their church told them that he was a mechanic and would fix their car for free.
Another friend was suffering from a horrible disease last year that landed her in the ICU for two weeks. She almost died, but after much prayer by her family and church congregation, she miraculously pulled through.
Every time I watch a football game on TV, inevitably, in a post game interview, a player will thank and give credit to God for the victory.
What do these people all have in common? God has made it a point to touch their life in some way and bless them with His power.
Why? Are they special? Does God have some great plan for these humans?
– Every day across the world, roughly 25,000 people die of starvation. A very large percentage of those are children.
– In the United States alone, 40,000 people die in car accidents every year.
– During the Iraq War, 4,486 of my fellow service members were killed. The death toll of Iraqis hovers somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000. About five percent of Iraqi children have lost one or both of their parents.
– Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and maimed by drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Drone strikes ordered by a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, nonetheless!)
– 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed.
– 67,000 homeless veterans are living on American streets.
– 7.6 million people die from cancer each year, worldwide.
– 16.4 million children in the United States, live in poverty. More than six million of these children are under six years old.
(I could go on and on with these “statistics of suffering,” but I’m not trying to write a fucking book here.)
So, what about these people listed above? Does God not care about them? Certainly a large number of them were Christians. Were they not important enough to save from death, maiming or misery? Why not?
To any thinking, honest person, the answer is obvious.
God, by definition, is omnipotent and omniscient. The religious also claim that he is omnibenevolent.
But the numbers don’t add up. A god that is all-powerful and all-knowing would be able to stop all the misery in the world. And a god that was all-good would surely choose to stop the suffering.
Yet the suffering and misery go on, day after day. Innocent people die horribly in drone attacks and vehicle accidents. Children suffer for months from malnutrition, their parents watching on, helpless to save them, until their little bodies finally give out and their pain is ended. War, disease, famine, genocide, murder, torture, natural disasters, rape, child abuse….
Where is god? He appears to be AWOL most of the time.
We have a few options here: God is either, a) powerless to stop the suffering, in which case, he is not God, or, b) he chooses not to stop it, in which case, he is not good and certainly not deserving of our worship. And of course, there is one other scenario: c) He, God, simply does not exist and we are on our own. For some reason, option “c” is the scariest for most people.
“But God works in mysterious ways! Who are we to question HIS will?” I’m sorry, but that is just a cop-out. We question everything, all the time. It’s what humans do. Well, some of us anyway… Besides, if He works in mysterious ways and His will is not to be questioned, why are you praying to him in the first place?
What is the point of this essay? I’m attempting to point out the hypocrisy. The people I spoke about in the beginning, those who claim that god has made, for some unknown reason, an exception for them. By making this claim, they are, by default, claiming that their lives are more important than all of the millions of innocent people affected by tragedy everyday. These people were praying as well, but for some reason, God chose to ignore them.
My other point is this: We need to give credit where credit is due.
My friend who had his car fixed for free by a complete stranger after praying, thanked God. He should have thanked the mechanic who showed such selfless behavior and went out of his way to help another human in need.
The person who was suffering in the ICU thanked God when she recovered. She should have thanked the surgeons who, after years of education, practice and dedication, successfully diagnosed and cured her ailments.
The quarterback who thanked God for his victory in the football game should have thanked his offensive line for blocking for him, his coaches for drawing up the plays and himself for putting in the hours and effort to be able to perform at his highest level.
In closing, it’s not my intention to turn people away from whatever philosophy helps them get through their difficult times. We all need something to hang on to. I get it.
But when things go our way, we should first look to, and thank, the living, breathing people around us who have helped. If you still want to thank “god,” that’s fine. But don’t you think its kind of rude to ask God to fix your car in the first place? After all, He’s extremely busy letting poor kids die, fixing the Super Bowl, crushing small towns with tornadoes and hating the gays.
Author: Nick Allison is just a banged-up combat infantry veteran of the War in Iraq. He lives in Austin, TX with his wife, their children and two big, dumb, ugly mongrel dogs.
Please feel free to send your love letters and hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter: @ChaosSection.com or @NickAllison80