Hurricane Florence and The Will Of God

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolinas, once again I am seeing posts all over social media about prayers — Prayers for safety, prayers for “calming the storm,” prayers that God would somehow miraculously change the course of the hurricane. At a church I used to attend, there were people known as “Prayer Warriors.” These were people who were “full of faith” who prayed boldly and fervently, convinced that God was not only listening to their prayers, but was POWERFUL enough to respond to those prayers with action. The foundation belief behind this is that 1) God is in control of everything, and 2) Our prayers can change God’s plans.

So if God sends a hurricane our way, if enough people petition The Almighty — people full faith — God is able to “move the mountain” that is heading toward us.

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This photo is obviously faked, because — as we all know — the world is flat, and satellites which take pictures from space are #FakeNews.

If you are a long time reader here, you probably already know how I feel about this issue. I have written about this general topic before (Prayer and God’s Will). A couple years ago, I wrote a post titled “God Had Nothing To Do With This.” If you haven’t read it before, you should. And after my wife was diagnosed with cancer, I wrote a post titled “Fun With Cancer” about “the God who CAN but WON’T.” It is also worth a read (if I do say so myself). You might be wondering why I keep coming back to this. You might be thinking, “What difference does it make? Why do you care? So what if people believe that their prayer circles are making people safer? Let people believe that their prayers have and actual EFFECT on the outcome of this storm. Let them believe in “The God Who Is In Control Of Everything.”

Here’s why it matters: Because “The God Who Is In Control Of Everything” is a MONSTER. And the more powerful God is, the more monstrous God becomes.

Imagine that I threw a football at a little kid… Imagine that I threw it pretty hard. The more control I have over that situation, the more awful I become. If I’m just throwing balls in random directions, and one just happens to hit a kid, that’s one thing… But If I’m able to throw with pinpoint accuracy, and the football smashes the kid’s face, that’s on ME. Now imagine I am ABLE (fast enough and powerful enough) to run while the ball is in the air and stop it from hitting the kid’s face… Imagine I hear people — both friends and parents of the child — PLEADING with me to change the ball’s course (something I could easily do) but I just decide to NOT intervene. What does that make me? I’ll tell you what it makes me… It makes me an asshole. And what the people pleading with me SHOULD be thinking about is this: Why in the world are they expecting a last-minute intervention from the one who threw the ball at the kid in the first place?

And that is why it matters. That is why I want to rain on people’s churchy parades every time I see them post stuff about “Prayers for safety” for people in the hurricane’s path. Because the god you’re praying to is the same god who threw the damn storm at those people! And when you mix this Bad Theology of A Monstrous God with the unwavering belief that God is GOOD, you can see how easily we can end up with confused people who believe that Monstrous is “Good.” Cancer? God’s will. Terrorist attack? God’s will. Trump? God’s will. Deadly hurricane? God’s will. People so desperately need God to be in control of everything that they are willing to turn God into a monster to have it. And when people believe that Monstrous is “Good,” it has real world consequences.

People want to believe in control. Chaos is scary. And if THEY’RE not in complete control, at least they can believe that God is in complete control. But this illusion of control is a cop out. If everything that happens was “supposed to happen,” then we have less responsibility to PREVENT things from happening. If school shootings are “God needing another angel,” we have less responsibility to pass laws which regulate killing tools. And if a hurricane is some sort of judgment because of gay marriage or abortion, we have less responsibility to change the human behavior which warms the environment and makes these storms more and more common.

This issue is one known as “Theodicy.” Theodicy is often thought of as the question of why God permits evil… But even the word “permit” presupposes that God is in control of everything (evil, cancer, hurricanes, etc…). Theodicy is the attempt to vindicate divine Goodness with the existence of evil and the notion of divine providence. Prayer is inexorably tied to theodicy… Especially prayer in the face of destruction and natural disasters. And how we attempt to reconcile these things determines what kind of God we believe is at the heart of things. Is the unifying force in the universe a benevolent Goodness and Love? Or is the unifying force in the universe an All-Powerful Indifference  who CAN, but WON’T? Because either God is Good and less strong than most people think… Or God is Omnipotent and Monstrous. And at times like these — with a giant hurricane heading toward our eastern shoreline — I choose to believe the FIRST one is true. I find it both more comforting, more consistent, AND more beneficial to society as a whole.

 

Hi there! If you value this blog, and you’re feeling generous and cool, you can help support it. You can either BECOME A PATRON and give a little bit every month, OR you can LEAVE A TIP on PayPal. I work at a restaurant, and people give money all the time for bringing them some food or a bottle of wine… I guarantee I worked harder on this than any server worked bringing for food. Either way, thank you so much for reading this. You should follow me ON FACEBOOK and ON TWITTER. And if you want to shake the cage a little, share this post as a comment when people are inadvertently crediting God with the destruction that is about to hit the Carolinas. Take care of each other… and for the love of God, VOTE!

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17 Responses to Hurricane Florence and The Will Of God

  1. Ellen Williams says:

    I’m struggling with this. Part of me wants to agree with you. Part of me says, Jesus prayed, “Father let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will but thine be done”. Jesus prayed for a different outcome and God didn’t give it to him. If Jesus doesn’t understand how God works, why even be a Christian? Might as well give up on any kind of belief in God at all. Also, I’m sitting here believing that Jesus is God in the flesh, yet he prayed as if his will and God’s will are not the same things. Very confusing when you try to pin down spiritual truths.

    • heatherjo86 says:

      You raise some good questions. I think a lot of confusion comes from the belief that Jesus is God. I often hear people say this with much conviction, however, the Bible does not support that notion. Jesus never sought to glorify himself. He always strived to do the will of and glorify his father. At Matthew 6:9,10, Jesus directs his followers to pray for God to sanctify his name, for his will to be done and for his Kingdom to come. Philippians 2:5,6 mentions that Jesus existed in a godly form (meaning a powerful spiritual creature) but never even thought about trying to be equal to God himself. When Jesus was praying for “this cup to pass from me” as he finishes his prayer he states that he wants his Father’s will to be done. He was praying for Jehovah God to accomplish his will no matter what, even though it would cause him great pain. His will was accomplished so Jehovah did answer the prayer of his son. Jesus understood fully how His Father did things. We know that because only Jesus could explain the Father to us (John 1:18). An important truth I’ve found to be helpful is at 1 John 5:19 which says, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” This is also mentioned at Matthew 4:8,9. If Satan is in control of the world and its governments, it makes since that there is so much suffering and disaster. We’re warned at Revelation 12:9-12 that the Devil has come down to the earth with great anger knowing he has a short period of time. I recently read a book that explained all of this in great detail with each point supported by scriptures. I’ll send a link to you if interested.

      • joesantus says:

        How long since you began letting the Governing Body of the Watchtower interpret the New Testament Scriptures for you, Heather? Have you become a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses yet, or are you still only studying their literature?

      • heatherjo86 says:

        Why is my understanding of the scriptures their interpretation? I’ve read and researched material from many different sources and use several translations of the Bible to gain a full understanding. If you put forth the effort Jehovah God blesses your efforts (James 4:8). Is there something in my statement that you disagree with?

      • joesantus says:

        “Why is my understanding of the scriptures their interpretation? I’ve read and researched material from many different sources and use several translations of the Bible to gain a full understanding.”

        You didn’t really answer my question, though, did you, Heather?

      • heatherjo86 says:

        And you didn’t answer mine.

      • joesantus says:

        No, I didn’t — but I asked first, though, didn’t I? Are you dodging my question to avoid admitting you’re a Jehovah’s Witness, or that you’re intending to become a member of that organization?

      • heatherjo86 says:

        No, I didn’t immediately answer your question because the tone of your comment was very rude. I am a Jehovah’s Witness by the way. Something I’m very proud of. How about you? What’s your religious affiliation?

      • joesantus says:

        I asked my question in the tone I did because your tone reflected a typical Jehovah’s Witness tactic of initial avoidance of identifying affiliation. I felt you were dishonest for not identifying your religious affiliation and for not making clear the book you offer is produced by the Watchtower.

        I have zero religious affiliation. I hold zero supernaturalistic beliefs. As my other comments to this blog post and my comments to other of Boeskool’s posts make clear, I do not find adequate evidence for the existence of any deity nor supernatural entity.

      • heatherjo86 says:

        If you felt I was being dishonest I apologize. I didn’t see anyone else that commented on your post stating their religious affiliation so I saw no need to mention it. I was replying to someone that had good questions and I thought I would be helpful by sharing scriptures that I found to be comforting. I’m not sure about any “tactic” to avoid identifying as a Jehovah’s Witness. We’re known for a public door to door preaching work so we’re easily recognized from a distance and for our beliefs. Usually whenever we say Jehovah, it is assumed that we’re a Jehovah’s Witness. I was trying to be helpful not deceitful. The Bible is the focus of our message. Not our affiliation.

  2. Interesting take on this. Not sure I agree with you on all this but I’m also not sure I don’t. This is a tough subject for sure.

  3. Lindi Roze says:

    Interesting. I think I understand where you are coming from. I think one of the biggest problem believers have is seeing a God in their own reflection or in their own image. People interpret the Bible with that same mentality. Faith is contained in a little box. Thanks for saring your thoughts

  4. jefftcann says:

    No fate but what we make! (That’s from Terminator 2).

  5. joesantus says:

    BOESKOOL…’course, your either/or dilemma (which does honestly and logically face the reality of, “if ‘god’ is omniscient, omniprescient, omnipotent, omnipresent, infallible, eternal, loving, and just, then why is the human experience of pain and suffering ‘the best he could do’ ?”) is necessary only if you’re desperate to salvage theism.

    A simpler explanation is, “based on the reality we observe and experience, there is not sufficient evidence for the existence of any deity”.

    • theboeskool says:

      There is only “not sufficient evidence for theism” if you define God using that litany of superlatives. But think about how deeply the vast majority of people are compelled to believe — independent of one another — in similar concepts of goodness and justice and love. And how the vast majority of those people credit that phenomenon to the existence of a higher power. I’d say that is statistically relevant.

      If a Higher Moral Law, then why not a Higher Power?

  6. joesantus says:

    However, they don’t do they? The same vast majority disagrees and even conflicts among themselves about what those concepts mean in concrete. What love, justice, and goodness actually mean is ultimately “in the eyes of the beholders”, with groups, families, and individuals specifying variously. “One person’s terrorist is another’s liberator”…”Trump is the savior/trump is the anti-christ”…”spanking children is love/spanking children is abuse”. Reality is, humans on the same road of life employ the same term “traffic law”, but some sincerely see a speed limit sign posting 40 MPH, others, 55 MPH, others 70 MPH, and others sincerely see no posted limit at all. You yourself have lamented this disparity among professing Christians.
    Is the fact that the majority use the same terms, “love, goodness, justice” yet define them differently and even conflictingly evidence of one “Higher Moral Law”? Or, rather, is it evidence against the existence of a “Higher Moral law”?

    As far as majority opinion — the same vast majority who believe in a deity believe in versions of exactly as you termed, “Higher POWER”. They believe in deities who are powerful enough to intervene in and control weather, illnesses, accidents, other tragedies, and human lives. If what the majority believes is important evidence of the existence of deity, then where does that leave you with your contrary version of “god”?

  7. heatherjo86 says:

    I truly don’t believe that God causes the suffering we see in the world. James 1:13,14 says, “When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone. 14 But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire.” Job 34:12 says, “For a certainty, God does not act wickedly;The Almighty does not pervert justice.” If we really think about it, can we honestly say we (the human race) have nothing to do with the increase of natural disasters? We’ve abused the planet for centuries and expect nothing to happen. Can we really be surprised at an increase in violence when we as a society glorify violence? Sickness, disease, etc. are these not increasing because of the constant pollution of our air, water and food? Greed, clawing for power, hatred, etc. are all qualities we possess and are a major source of our suffering. 2 Timothy 3:1-6 explained that these traits would be prevalent throughout all mankind during “the last days”. Now is not the time to blame God for our own mistakes. We should seek him all the more so because the deliverance of his people is getting near (Luke 21:28).

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