Kanye the Shelter Dog

If a being that is all powerful, all knowing, and all compassionate exists, whence came such misery, but if it doesn't, why worship it?

My first church held to a literal interpretation of the Biblical account in which God made the world perfect. The first two humans were innocent of the knowledge of right and wrong, and it was to them that God gave the very first thou shalt not. As soon as these childlike humans were tempted by Satan, they disobeyed God, and God was forced by his perfect sense of justice (God's inviolable virtues are often in unavoidable conflict) to place an everlasting curse upon all of his living creation and their descendants forever. Everything that is painful in any creature's life is attributable to that curse. When, as pubescent, I argued that this was unfair, I was told that that my human sense of fairness was flawed; that God's sense of fairness is perfect; that I was never to question or doubt God; and that I was to "live a Godly life" (whatever that means).

Because I found it impossible to accept what I was told about God, I often asked other people how they explained suffering. Some said that we couldn't appreciate health and happiness unless we were exposed to disease and misery (why we couldn't, they couldn't say), and this meant that God had to make the world imperfect. I then wondered how a perfect God managed to get himself boxed into a corner from which he was forced to create imperfection in order to achieve his goal; why there has to be so much suffering; and why the suffering is unevenly distributed. I was told that some people suffer more than others because they are too proud and stubborn to ask to God for relief, yet I've known people who begged God for relief without getting it.

I was also told that it's our responsibility to end suffering, because it's not God who failed us but us who failed God, but how was it that we, the perfect creation of a perfect being, were able to choose imperfection, and what of creatures like babies and puppies that don't even know what the word means; would a God of perfect justice allow them to suffer? It's also true that even if millions upon millions of we humans worked together, we couldn't possibly end all of the misery inflicted by our species, and then there's the evil that's not inflicted by our species, things like tornadoes, earthquakes, cancers, Alzheimer's, birth defects, mosquitoes, freak accidents, mental illness, and so on.

I was often told that I "think too much" or that I "ask too many questions," but I could easily turn the criticism back upon my critics by arguing that the main problem with religion comes from thinking that one knows everything that's necessary to know about God despite being unable to answer even the most basic questions. Religious people form their beliefs based upon what someone else says is true, and they commonly persecute anyone who disagrees with what that someone else says (or at least with what they think he says), but why should they believe this someone else in the first place? There's a hymn that goes, "Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey," but if the existence of the very being that forms the foundation of a person's trust can't be substantiated, why have "faith" in Jesus instead of in some other god? 

Yet another "answer" regarding why a good God runs a bad world is that God really isn't all powerful, so he needs our help in making the world safe and happy. Really!? The God who made more galaxies than there are earthly particles of sand needs our help to make one little planet a fit place to live? Couldn't he at least put an end to some of the most obvious sources of suffering? For instance, he could remove the earth's entire stock of explosives, or he could make it so would be murderers would feel faint when they tried to hurt someone.

Look at it this way, when God made Adam and Eve, he walked in the Garden with them "in the cool of the day" (paradise being hot the rest of the time), and they knew him face-to-face as a friend, yet they chose Satan over him, so if he couldn't make a relationship work between himself and the world's first two humans back when he had everything going for him, how can he make it work for billions of people now that he's nowhere to be found, and when a big problem for those billions of people is that millions of them want to kill one another because of him? Couldn't he at least tell us all how he wants to be worshiped?

I regard earthly reality as an ocean of greed and hatred interspersed by islands of goodwill, like the one in the video. I'm told that ours is a back-forty solar system in a second rate galaxy amid billions of other galaxies, so maybe we are ruled over by a back-forty god who lives in fear of being judged by his betters. When I see a puppy screaming in terror before a loving hand, I have no choice but to deny the existence of any being that is worthy of being called God. Puppies deserve to be safe, happy, and loved, and if God can't even get that right, what can he get right?


Marion said...

Well, one thing for SURE convinces me of evil in the world and it ain't a mistreated dog, it's the millions of human babies that have been & are being murdered (genocide!!) every day. Yes, it's wrong to mistreat animals, but how much more to deliberately and purposely kill a human life? It breaks my fucking heart and I'm sure it's made God regret that "human free will" thing, too. Excuse me while I go cry... xo

Emma Springfield said...

You pose many of the same questions I have. If God is a loving father as we are taught why does he supposedly assign some of us to Hell? My father loved me and would have forgiven anything. Many refer you to the Bible. Do they realize that it was written by mere mortal men? Do they realize that it was then translated from one language to another many times? Then it was re-interpreted to make it say what a new writer wished it to say. As far as cruelty to any other living thing there is no excuse... none. No loving deity would ever possibly condone it. By the way Satan was once one of the fabored angels. He didn't like the way things were going in heaven so he left/was cast out. We maybe should worry.

kj said...

I certainly don't understand the absence of divine intervention any more than I understand how Donald trump could be America's president. animal neglect and cruelty hits me especially hard, just as watching the Syrian families walk for days in miserable weather to reach a border point that offers no refuge.

I make an effort to seek and find the goodness of so many people--more, I'd guess, than those who support or act in harmful hateful ways. I'm lucky to have so many good people around me. Is it because of where I live or how I live? I don't know.

is there a God? I don't know and truthfully I don't spend much time wondering. There must be some laws of nature that govern goodness and evil, creation and decay, and I hope I stand on the right side of that.

hope all is well with you , snow.

Snowbrush said...

"it's wrong to mistreat animals, but how much more to deliberately and purposely kill a human life?"

First, I would argue that there's no way to objectively prove that it's worse to torture one creature than another. This means that the question comes down to a subjective valuation of what makes it wrong to torment any creature. My personal answer has to do primarily with innocence and with the capacity of the creature to suffer. Since it's not my impression that children and puppies differ at all in innocence and probably not in their capacity to feel fear, anguish, and pain (if not humiliation); it's not my belief that the abuse of the one is demonstrably worse than the abuse of the other per se.

However, if you were to present me with a normal puppy and a normal child, and tell me that I had to choose which one would be tortured (otherwise, they would both be tortured), I would choose the puppy, but the only reason I could give for doing so would be species bias, and I would never be at peace with my decision. But let's imagine another scenario in which I had to choose between a puppy and a brutal dictator, I would instantly choose the dictator because of the innocence of the puppy.

Marion said...

You're just a pet man, Snow. Last year I had to have two of my beloved cats put down within a few weeks of each other...one was 20 years old and had a crippling stroke and the other was only 10, but had severe kidney disease...and it was a horrifying experience, so painful that I'll never get over it. The beauty of your blog is that we can all have these differing opinions/beliefs and still remain friends. You're the philosopher of blogland. xo

Snowbrush said...

"Many refer you to the Bible. Do they realize that it was written by mere mortal men?"

Liberal Christians don't think that the Bible IS the Word of God, but that it CONTAINS the Word of God. This enables them to ignore the absurdities, the contradictions, and the cruel teachings and examples of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son as not having a Godly origin. I very much respect my Christian readers and other Christians I've known, but I don't understand what they admire about their deity. It's strange to me that people can be so far apart in what they believe that no bridge of understanding is possible.

"I'm lucky to have so many good people around me. Is it because of where I live or how I live? I don't know."

I don't know either, but, based upon my own experience (as follows), I would guess that it has a lot more to do with whom you are than where you live. As I look back on my 36 years in Mississippi and how much I came to disrespect white Southern smugness, religion, and values, I am only now able to see that my feeling of superiority was probably obvious and led to some of my isolation. In other words, if I had been different, the South would have treated me differently. I still carry that sense of superiority, but it's not so certain now that I am forced to the realization that whatever potential for achievement I once possessed is fading from me unfulfilled, and probably unfulfillable. How ironic that I moved to liberal western Oregon only to find that, just as I looked down upon white Southerners and did my utmost to escape the South, some Oregonians continue to look down on me because, even after being away from the South for 32 years, I still have enough of an accent that people can tell where I'm from. I suspect that you would thrive in the South as long as you were in an urban environment so that your liberal views and lesbianism would find sufficient acceptance that you would be able to built a sense of community. If I were to go back to the South today, I think I would thrive too, not that I'll be going back.


Snowbrush said...

"is there a God? I don't know and truthfully I don't spend much time wondering."

I know you don't. I've written about being a major fan of the writings of Margaret Deland. For some reason, I didn't read her second novel (entitled "Sidney" circa 1890) until recently, and found that, as with much of what she wrote, religion plays a major part. Specifically, she addresses the issue of how a person can dare to love deeply in a universe that has no obvious meaning and that contains the certain knowledge of a final separation by death. Most of the main six characters in the book are able to do so by believing--or at least trying to believe--in immorality. Others are like you in that they regard religion/spirituality as ultimately unknowable and even irrelevant. One character is an atheist who became so distraught by his wife's death that it caused him to raise his daughter in such a way as to spare her the pain of loving anyone. Then there's the Christian perspective and what amounts to the Buddhist perspective, although she doesn't call it that. I've never read a book that so thoroughly and fairly addressed the core issue of my life, yet it contained no answers that I found satisfying.

Deland lost her own Christian faith while sitting in an Episcopal Church in Boston listening to the famous preacher Phillips Brooks. She did so by examining the core tenets of her religion one by one and realizing that she didn't really believe any of them. The loss colored the rest of her long life (1857-1945), although she did come to believe in an amorphous version of God. Some people simply can't get over something like the loss of something in which they once believed--or tried to believe--deeply, and I am one of them. I hesitate to say so because it unfairly fits the stereotype that believers hold of atheists, the truth being that there is no stereotypical atheist anymore than there is a stereotypical Christian.

Snowbrush said...

"Last year I had to have two of my beloved cats put down within a few weeks of each other..."

I remember this, and I continue to be sad for you because I know how it feels to have a family member euthanized (Peggy and I have lost three dogs that way), and that's what pets are to those of us who love them.

"The beauty of your blog is that we can all have these differing opinions/beliefs and still remain friends. You're the philosopher of blogland. xo"

Thank you. I'm starting to trust that you're going to stay around. Not many do when their values are so different from mine and, I'm told, I express myself so bluntly. I'm trying to tone down the bluntness, although I sometimes don't know how to be both tactful and honest. I know both you and KJ from way back, and both of you stayed away from me--and me from you--for a long time, so I'm determined to do what I can to encourage a continued relationship with you both.