I feel weird when things work out for someone and they tell me about it and then they sum it up by proclaiming that “God is good!”
I always want to say something like, “Well, what would He be if things had turned out different?”
Or, “Do you think the people that were, like, IN the fatal accident that barely missed your car think God is good, too?”
And, this one time, I almost said, “And if it had been cancer, then what would God be?” I came so close to just blurting it out, but you can’t go around messing with people like that. They’ll stop hanging out with you. Trust me.
This is a sentiment I’ve expressed many times before. Of course, the point that Jamie (the “very worst missionary,” according to her blog’s title) is making here is pretty much the opposite of the point that I would make. Whereas I would have used these examples to point out that the Christian god can’t be good because of all the clearly terrible stuff he must be in charge of if he were to exist in the first place, Jamie is trying to explain that God’s goodness persists despite all this apparent badness. So close, and yet so far.
Yes, it’s hypocritical to proclaim God’s goodness whenever something fortunate happens to you, and ignore the implications of unfortunate events happening to you or anyone else. But the proper conclusion isn’t that God’s goodness must obviously trump our human understanding of right and wrong. There’s just no basis for making that leap, as Jamie does:
[God] is good when the house burns to the ground, and He is good when the accident is terrible, even if it happens to me. He is good when the report says “cancer”. God’s goodness simply can’t be measured by what my stupid, human heart deems satisfactory. So I guess what I’m getting at is that we got our car back and we can still afford to eat because it was all payed for by cool people who are really good at acting on (what I would call) the urging of the Holy Spirit, and, of course, that God is good. Just like always.
That “just like always” gave me chills. Jamie and many Christians like her — undoubtedly many other religious people of other stripes as well — have decided that their god is good from the outset. It is an axiom. There is nothing that could happen that could possibly change Jamie’s mind. No disease epidemic, no natural disaster, no gruesome crime, no nasty story pointed out in her supposedly holy scriptures. God is good by definition, so whatever God says or does must be good. If it seems bad to us when we apply our own moral reasoning, well, that must be because we’re “stupid” by virtue of being human.
Jamie’s approach boils down to:
- Make a set of assumptions about the nature of reality
- Ignore or arbitrarily discount all evidence suggesting that your assumptions might be wrong
- Confidently state your belief that your initial assumptions are true
This may be a rosy way to view the world, but it’s obviously not a sound or reasonable one.