Among the leading reasons generally given for atheism in developed countries is the problem of theodicy. Theodicy is the act of justifying God, as implied by the roots of the word itself. In a world where many innocent suffer, as well as many guilty, the question of how a loving God and divine fairness fit into such a warped and corrupted system presents questions often left unanswerable. My class tonight will be reviewing Job, a book steeped in the issue of misfortune. The best that the narrator can offer is that Yahweh made a bet with the Satan and Job came out on the losing end. Not much hope for justice there.
This week’s horrific earthquake in Haiti has elicited high levels of sympathy and support as this poorest of western hemisphere nations struggles to find some kind of balance in a reeling world. The question of where God is amid all this tragedy, perhaps 100,000 dead, pensively teeters in minds sensitive to the human condition. Other minds, however, blare idiotic platitudes that only drive mourning theists closer to the other side. Pat Robertson, a major political player who has been a card-holding member of the Religious Right from its unholy inception, has declared that Haitians are paying the price for an ancient deal they made with the devil. In a theology that makes a mockery of even the Charlie Daniels band, Robertson stated, according to MCT News, that Haiti had made “a pact with the devil.” He said, “Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it… They were under the heel of the French… and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story.”
This drivel, based on hearsay history and implicit racism, does not justify a loving, or even neutral, God. Instead, the Conservative deity is shown in his true colors: racist, supersessionist, arrogant, and uncaring. This is the deity behind the Religious Right. Some people castigate Pat Robertson for being outspoken and perhaps senile. I applaud him. He shows clearly what intellectual rubbish the Religious Right promotes. He simply has fewer inhibitions to admitting it.
In Job, there was a deal made with the Satan. The perpetrator of that deal was Yahweh. No answer is given as to why the innocent suffer. Job is a most profound book, wrapped in a childlike story of two supernatural beings trying to show each other up. If we look hard enough we can find the Religious Right in the book as well. Their voices are those of the “friends” that Yahweh ultimately condemns when he finally speaks from the whirlwind.
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