Thank God For…

by | May 10, 2011 | POLITICS, Religion

Dr. Hurd: I was wondering why some people — in fact, many people — thank God (or Dog if you’re dyslexic) for saving them from some calamity (such as a tornado, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, flood, etc.), but they don’t blame that same God for causing the disaster in the first place (and possibly killing hundreds […]

Dr. Hurd: I was wondering why some people — in fact, many people — thank God (or Dog if you’re dyslexic) for saving them from some calamity (such as a tornado, earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, flood, etc.), but they don’t blame that same God for causing the disaster in the first place (and possibly killing hundreds or thousands of others, including animals and children). What are your thoughts on this?

Dr. Hurd’s reply: You’d have to ask someone with this perspective to know for sure. I’ll speculate from what I know. My sense is that you’d get many, many different answers to the question, “Why do you thank God for saving you from disaster, while never blaming God for all the problems in the world — your own, or others’?”

Here are some possible answers:

“God works in mysterious ways.” In other words, God has His reasons. Mind you, God does not operate by reason, facts and logic as humans know them. God has His Own methods of reason. Our quest as humans is to accept them.

Or: “God is all good and all-knowing. If he allows something to happen — a young child to die, for example — there must be good reasons for doing so. Remember, this young child that dies goes to Heaven early. There’s no chance a young child could be guilty of sins to condemn him for eternity. God wants him early.”

Or: “Our paths are determined ahead of time. They all fit into some larger scheme and purpose. Just because we don’t know, or cannot know, what that Purpose is doesn’t mean it’s not real.”

You get the picture. What it boils down to is: Faith. In this context, “faith” does not merely refer to hope, optimism or conviction based on truth and logic. Faith means the suspension of truth and logic — deliberately and as a consciously chosen virtue. So if it makes no sense to thank God for the good things, while never blaming God for the bad ones, it makes sense precisely because it makes no logical sense. The faithful person who reads your question would be consistent to reply, “You’re asking a logical question. Logic has nothing to do with it.”

A lot has been written lately on speculation that human beings have a “faith gene” or what’s also known as a “God gene.” In other words, some are now claiming that a need to believe in God is biologically driven. How this explains the existence of atheists is unknown. How this explains the widespread existence of agnostics (i.e. people indifferent to faith one way or the other) is unknown.

One thing is known, because it’s observably true. A vast number of human beings need to be taken care of. They need to know that Someone or Something is watching out for them. This is no doubt the purpose God serves, to many. If you suggest that God isn’t taking care of them in many cases, they don’t want to hear it.

What’s fascinating is how this extends to Government, as well. Many people who favor a Big Government — fascist, communist, socialist, authoritarian welfare state, etc. — are staunch agnostics and even atheists. But they are no less religious and no less faithful. It’s just that their faith is projected onto a mystical State rather than a mystical God. They indulge the same logical fallacies you describe. Government gets credit for all the advancement in the world, both materially and with respect to justice. All that goes wrong is due to a lack of Government, or the Right Government.

If you think about it, the mystics of State are the real thing. They always have an answer. If anything is wrong in the world, there “ought to be a law” to take care of it. If there already is a law, the law isn’t adequate enough. Or the wrong person — Bush, instead of Obama — is in charge of enforcing it. And if Obama is in charge and it’s still not getting enforced — well, it must be Bush’s fault. The names change from one decade to the next, but the underlying principle does not: The Right Politician is always The Answer.

This is no different than trust in God. People put their trust in things which don’t make sense at their own peril. The challenge is not to be reasonable and logical some of the time, but all of the time. Even when it’s hard.

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Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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