Don’t Look at Me

One common reason I found for people attempting to disprove the existence of God, or abandoning their faith in him, is through the actions of people.

Here’s a quote I found on Facebook from a page called “Humans of New York”. It didn’t specify the person who wrote it, and I wish it did so I can give proper credit:

I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t make sense to believe in a God that dabbles in people’s lives. If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God. They say: ‘God had a purpose for that person. God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide? For every time you say that there’s a purpose behind one person’s success, you invalidate billions of people. You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel.

He has a point, especially the last part. It is cruel to say survivors are somehow more special and those who died less so.

So is he right? Should I reconsider my faith because God can’t be seen when looking at human evil and natural (and unnatural) disasters?

Faith in God doesn’t make sense to the one who said the quote above, because he’s looking for God in human beings. Yes, we have the capability to show God’s love and grace, and there are countless examples of it. But for that to be someone’s only source in looking for God, he or she will not find him. At least not consistently. Not when we produce people like Pol Pot, Ted Bundy and countless others.

Therein lies the problem. God is consistent; human beings are not. We must look for God, but we must look for him through multiple sources, not only those who claim to know and speak for him.

God even told us where to look in Romans 1:19-22:

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God has made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.

When someone says after a horrific event, “It was God’s will, or God has a special purpose for that survivor,” that’s a human opinion (I also want to smack them upside the head, because — as the quote eloquently states above — it minimizes the worth of those who died, it minimizes the grief of those left behind. It also makes God look capricious and like some big cosmic bully). We humans can no more know the mind of God than an ant can know a human’s. We’re too different.

It’s certainly not scriptural that God considers one person’s worth greater than another simply because he or she survived something terrible. God can no more love one person over another than a parent can love one child over another. Not the good ones, anyway. Parents are, after all, imperfectly human, too.

In short, while we can see God’s love in human beings, we must not look for God solely through human beings. Doing so only causes anger, discontent and wavering faith.

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