Struggling with Sept. 11

How do atheists respond to a National Day of Prayer and Mourning? Working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, that perspective isn’t something I run into every day. So perhaps I’m a bit naive.

But it seems like Lauren Sandler, the author of “Now More Than Ever: Witnessing hell has made me a born again atheist” on Salon.com, has jumped ship a little early. Now I admit that struggling with weighty theological questions is difficult. In the light of the terrorist attacks we can’t help but ask God why. And it’s a fair question to ask.

Of course you have to understand who you’re asking. Just because it’s a fair question to ask doesn’t mean you’re going to get an answer. Some people seem to think this is a startling, new question that makes belief in God laughable. But an entire book in the Bible is devoted to the subject of seemingly unjust suffering: Job.

The article also referred to a woman who said that God must not exist because God wouldn’t allow it to rain in New York, hampering the rescue efforts. That theology seems so half-baked to me. What kind of God do you believe in if he can allow such a tragic attack, and that’s okay, but if he pushes his divine luck and makes things a little worse, he’s out? Things are going to get worse, baby, you better figure what kind of a God you don’t believe in.

So many people seem to think God is something you keep in your back pocket and pull out at times like these. They seem to think God is a teddy bear that makes things all right when you’re hurting, and then you just put it away and forget about it. Some people seem to think God resides in their pocket and they somehow have control over God. They seem to have completely misunderstood the concept. Somehow they think God can only do certain things, they think that God is bound by our reasoning and our understanding. A God bound by our reasoning isn’t much of a God.

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