I am not a practicing Christian
About the only thing I do practice is Onanism. On quite a heroic scale. After 25 years of practising I am now quite good at it.
However, some of the media coverage concerning the tsunami is starting to get under my skin. Many news outlets, in search of 'thoughtful' angles to cover the tsunami story, have started kicking out that tired old war-horse …
'If there is such a thing as God why would he permit such terrible suffering'
I have just sat through a discussion on BBC's Newsnight featuring a Catholic Cardinal, someone from the Muslim Council and an academic atheist. On a points basis the atheist won.
He shouldn’t have. The problem is that the Pro God lobby is usually represented by religious people who inevitably start talking about subjective concepts such as faith. The atheists always seem stronger because their arguments usually sound somehow more scientific or rational, even though they are not.
At the risk of repeating myself …
Atheism is no more scientific than a belief in God. Both are belief systems that cannot be proved or disproved by our existing scientific techniques.
Anyway, back to the question of the moment, if a benevolent God exists why would he permit such suffering?
Well, he's God. That means he's cleverer than we are and it is pretty arrogant of us to believe that we can second guess the motives of a far superior intellect and petulantly declare that God doesn't exist because he fails to meet the expectations that we set for him. Also, we cannot for a second pretend to know how he goes about his business. For all we know, in the moment before those tsunami victims left this life, God could easily have provided them with a whole lifetime of experience in an instant. If God had created a World without pain or struggle where all of us lived cosy predictable lives, dying in our sleep at 95, we would not develop as individuals. The very reason for us being given life and individual personalities would be negated. The fragility of our existence should inspire each of us to live the best life that we can; for the benefit of those around us and ourselves, right now and for every waking moment. God has already compensated those people killed in the tsunami. Those of us left on this Earth should learn the appropriate lesson and get on with living decent lives.
Now, of course, this could all be bollocks. However, it does answer the question without ducking the issue and cannot be proved or disproved scientifically. It is a self-consistent belief system; like atheism or the belief that elephants and butterflies share a common ancestor. I would suggest, however, that the God-based explanation offers a more satisfying explanation for the reason for our existence, the trials we live through and a guide to how we should live those lives.
And I don't even go to church.