I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona several days ago. I don’t have much to add to the more eloquent words of others, but I do want to call your attention to one related response in particular.
Martin at The Atheist Experience wrote a spot-on reaction to Congressman Mike McNulty‘s comment that he “can only think that God has more important things planned for [Gabrielle Giffords] in the future.” (And to all the politicians and commentators who have invoked religion in their mourning.) It’s Martin’s imagining of God’s internal monologue as he considers those important plans.
Hmm, I have important things planned for this Democratic congresswoman. Being omnipotent, there are any number of ways I can achieve this. But I think the best is this: I will arrange for a delusional psychopath to purchase a gun under his state’s extremely lax gun laws, fit it with an extended clip, and shoot her in the head at point blank range in broad daylight in public. In the process he will shoot a number of other people, killing some, including a small child. But these will just have to be acceptable collateral damage, even though in my omnipotence it would be easy for me to prevent all of it. I’ll just make sure the girl gets an extra-awesome Barbie collectors set when she gets up here, along with pie. Now, the congresswoman herself will not die, as I will arrange for the bullet to perforate only one of her brain hemispheres. She will be in a coma following this, and will be several years recovering. But the end result of it all will be that it will allow me to implement my important plans for her once she recovers. If she does. Even though I could do it any other way.
A God like this just doesn’t pass my basic plausibility tests. I agree with Martin that the essential reason people do buy it is indoctrination. When people don’t think about the implications of their beliefs, when they never question the basic reasoning behind those beliefs, they think what they are saying is reassuring and peaceful. They don’t realize how monstrous it actually sounds.