I don’t want to make light of the heartbreaking tale of the autistic boy who died recently during a prayer session on his behalf. The story is tragic, and while all the answers are not in, it doesn’t look like there was an intent to hurt the boy. Just a misguided desire to rid him of his evil spirits by a seriously dim-witted group of Christians.
However, this story is a good illustrative example of the types of situations which led me ultimately to my state of atheism. I thought I would share the reasoning. For the purposes of this discussion I’m going to assume there is a Christian God and that he is omnipotent and omniscient as most every Christian denomination would claim. Now some claim that God is not actively participating in the world. He doesn’t intervene. He may have in the past, or again in the future, but you won’t see God’s hand in the world we live in. I would claim that if that’s so, there is little reason to believe since he is irrelevant to our lives. True, there’s the whole heaven/hell afterlife thing, and maybe that’s reason in and of itself, but for now I’d like to concentrate on his role in our mortal lives. I claim that for God to have a role, he has to actively participate in the world.
So given that he has a role, can we understand it? Some would claim that you cannot comprehend the plan of God. It’s too complex and simply beyond our capability. If that’s true, then God’s actions are effectively random as far as we mortals are concerned. If we can’t comprehend any sort of cause and effect relationship, then what we do can’t influence how God acts. For all intents and purposes we are right back to God not interacting. Random actions are just as irrelevant as no action, albeit maybe a little scarier. So I would contend that God not only must act, but his actions must be comprehensible.
How then, can a situation like the news about the autistic boy have possibly come to pass. God is omniscient; he had to know what was happening. God is omnipotent; he had to be able to stop it. His actions are comprehensible, therefore there is some rationale why an innocent child was allowed to perish in his name. The only trouble is, I can’t fathom one. For me, it’s easier to believe this was just a sad and unfortunate confluence of several factors than to believe that a god had a good reason for this to happen. I understand accidents. I even understand malice and evil (or at least accept that it is out there). I don’t understand an all-powerful all-knowing being effectively playing dice with the world in which I live. This is a small part of why my life is simpler (to me) without a god in it. I accept that perhaps this isn’t true for your life, and I’m not trying to assert my view is correct. However, I do hope you found this thought provoking.