Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God and Earthquakes

This morning I overfilled my water bottle, so dumped some out. But I dumped out too much, so had to refill, then spilled a little more as I closed the lid. And once again I found myself having that moment... the one I have when I take a hot shower, or get into my comfy bed, or drink water from the tap... that moment of utter appreciation that I have these luxuries. I tried to imagine life on the streets of Port au Prince or along the coast of Chile and how the amount that I slopped around getting my bottle filled might have been a day's ration. Then I started calculating all the people who have died recently. There has been what seems like an unusual number of natural disaster casualties in the past year and half.

And suddenly the words of my youth echoed in my ear, "Earthquakes in one place after another!" (Luke 21:11). "Food shortages!" (Matthew 24:7) "Pestilence!" (Luke again). AAAAAGH!

Despite my many years of atheism, the beliefs from my years growing up as a Jehovah's Witness reared their heads like the horns on a certain "wild beast" and made me jelly kneed. For a solid minute, I thought ruefully of my disdain for a higher power and pictured my distress as I watched God take back the world with flames and screaming. Just as I had always pictured it as a child.

But then I got petulant. I considered this kind of god that would create beings just to torture them while they lived, only to kill them in the end if they don't believe in him, when the whole time he has refused to reveal himself. (I guess I should add "openly" for those Christian folks who feel God reveals himself if you just look hard enough.) Well, screw him. If he exists, I don't care. I have no interest in a creature who's less humane than I am. I'd rather die than live under his rule... even if the earth is transformed into a paradise. It'd be like sucking up to the horrible boss to get promoted, only to find yourself miserably working for the bastard on a daily basis. Who needs it?

Then I got my sanity back and remembered that natural disasters have always happened and have been a convenient source of fear that religions have strategically used to rope in the unsophisticated sinner. If, in fact, natural disasters are increasing in power, it's most likely due to climate shifting. Which bring up a higher power of another sort... Earth. But you'll have to check in with Lovelock to get the low-down on this idea.

I need a rest from considering powers beyond my control. It's exhausting.

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