Few Americans see the hand of God in natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. That is the good news and I do not have a problem with people who have a god concept that accepts and loves gay people and allows them to be openly gay, even be ordain ministers. I do not have an issue with a god concept that allows women to freely make their own decision concerning their health care or even whether or not to have an abortion. The list of things I do not take issue with about a truly "loving god concept" that is humane, continues and even though I do not believe the god of religion, any religion, exists, it is good news to me to read that the majority of people do not see natural disasters as a sign from God.
What's the bad news? Most Evangelicals are OK with being in a bad relationship or rather seeing such things as natural disasters as being "a sign from God" and that He is punishing people. I originally found this Public Religion Research Institute Poll results on God via Atheist Resource and while I will not say, as the author of that report on Atheist Resource stated, "that most Evangelicals are OK with God being sort of a dick", I will point out that it is like an abusive marriage, especially since many see Jesus as their first lover. Worse, for those who see God as a father-figure, this concept makes him a very abusive father.
Let us start with the first question in which 7 out 10 (56%) believe one can have a relationship with God and 4 in 10 38% believe natural disasters are a sign from God. A majority of White Evangelicals (53%) believe these natural disasters are a punishment from God. They make up 29% of the total poll, but still, that seems to be too many people in a very abusive "relationship". That is, if it is really a "relationship".
Why do I say this? Let us examine this concept from a real human relationship. When a man abuses a family member, be it his girlfriend, wife, or a child or a combination, most humans consider it a bad relationship. This abuse occurs in cycles. When it is good, it is really good and the man showers the female with "love", but the moment she does something to upset him he beats the crap out of her and then she is walking on eggshells to please him, while he says he is sorry and will not do it again. Except the tension builds and eventually he does it again.
The God of the Old Testament did this quite often, with natural disasters, of which Evangelicals attribute even today as "a punishment from God" and say, "It's a relationship". It is an abusive relationship the has the same cycle of abuse as the one above. Remember the flood? Same scenario: The people were misbehaving, making God mad, so he zaps all but Noah's family, with a "worldwide flood". Afterwards God is sorry and promises not to do that again.
However, the cycle starts all over again. Things were good and wonderful between Him and His followers and then a small group displeases him and he zaps all, but a few, with a volcano eruption in Sodom. Everything is good and fine again, after His explosive tantrum, including when Lot's daughters got him drunk and had incestuous activities with their father, because he was the only man around at the time. Incest is OK, but sodomy is not (Genesis 19)? Whatever.
There are many stories in the Old Testament like that, including the Elijah and the Bears (2 Kings 2:23-25), where children were making fun of "Old Baldy" and Elijah, in the name of God cursed the children and God sent bears to slaughter around forty-two children, just for being kids and making fun of someone. Although I do not recall God apologizing to the parents for killing their children, but both Elijah and God are happy again.
Despite all of that, this cycle of relational abuse continues throughout the Old Testament. Keep in mind, we supposedly have a "relationship with God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" and that Evangelicals call natural events a punishment from God, because we are "in a relationship". Thus we roll along to the New Testament. The world is so horrible, that God decides He will commit the ultimate sacrifice, so many Christians say at least. He tops the stories of Osiris/Horus and Vishnu/Krishna when becomes incarnate as "the Son" to make one last ultimate sacrifice by becoming His own son and has Himself killed for the sins of humans.
Now most people do not see the abuse in this. Granted, it was the humans who killed Jesus, but supposedly God ordained this act and allowed the humans to kill Him, as the son, for the sins of the world. Where is the abuse? Well, it could be said that God committed both murder and suicide all in one package, since Jesus was God incarnate, just as Krishna was the incarnation of Vishnu. Yes, I know the stories are slightly different, but there is a similar motif there.
Even so, God did not stop this barbaric sacrifice of the humans and Christians say that "God shed his blood for the sins of Man". During Communion in Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches, there are statements such as "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us". This goes back to the Passover story in the Old Testament, only this time, instead of a lamb's blood on the door frame (Exodus 12), we have the body and blood of Christ.
Now the Body of Christ is suppose to be "the Bread of Heaven" (manna from heaven motif) and the Blood of Christ is suppose to be the "Cup of Salvation". If one believes in transubstantiation, this gets worse. The bread and wine are truly of Jesus Christ. That is, the bread really is the body of Jesus Christ and the wine really is the blood of Jesus Christ. This practice goes back to the pagan ritual of Theophagy, where they literally ate and drank the body and blood of the sacrifice.
However, if Jesus is the son of God and God is Jesus, then, despite many Christians saying otherwise and playing a "shell game", God committed both murder and suicide, while the humans helped. Add to that, if one believes that "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son" and "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have have everlasting life" (John 3:16) and anyone who does not is condemned to be tortured for all eternity… It is a huge can of abuse and sadly I do not know where to begin with that one.
Therefore, let us return to the Public Religion Research Institute's poll.
A vast number of White Evangelicals (67%) see recent natural disasters as "the End Times" and one in five (18%) of Americans believe people suffer sometimes because they have doubts about God. I do not know much about Rapture Theology, but it seems to me a cruel and hateful idea that only a few will be saved and millions of others will be killed or rather suffer for all eternity. The idea of God is a human concept and there are millions of gods. What if you have the wrong god? How do you know if you have the right god? Do you really know for sure? Are you really sure? Supposedly you can never be sure if you are saved, therefore you continuously go up to the altar to be saved, even if you do not believe in Rapture Theology.
Add to that the idea that people suffer due to doubts about God. This is a mentally abusive idea to "keep people in the fold" that contributes to a fear of hell and of a deity. It simply is not true and nobody is going to suffer for disbelief. Even Bishop Spong stated, in a video I showed before in another article, that the idea of hell is a human concept, which was created by the Church in an effort to control people and not allow them to grow up, because you cannot control adults.
There are millions of people who do not share the same god concept and even millions who live without religion, questioning and doubting, yet they find meaning and happiness in family, friends, work, and even hobbies or activities not in church. We non-believers do not suffer or if we do have financial hard times or get hit by a natural disaster, it has nothing to do with doubt about a god. The small percentage who believe this need to learn about Economics and Science. Such a statement shows scientific illiteracy, something that seems to be a common thing among Evangelicals, especially those who play the game of "My God is badder, bigger, and better than your god".
However, if it were true, what does that say about your god? It says that He demands worship, love, and affection. If He does not get that, He will beat the **** out of you, via hell fire and brimstone. What sort of a father-figure, or relationship in general, is that? A very abusive one. The concept all the way around is mental anguish, fear, torment, right here on earth, instead of actually living a fulfilling life while you have one. The concept is pure psychological abuse that seems to leave a person full of hatred for themselves and others. How can one learn to love themselves if the person they are in a relationship with constantly tells them they are worthless, unworthy, bad, lower than dirt, and if you do not do as they say, you become sort of a punching bag? How can someone love themselves if they are perpetually being dehumanized, degraded, and are not given any dignity? Much less, how is such behaviour from a deity "love"? All of this seems to be in stark contradiction of 1 Corinthians 13. If God is love, then how can He do all of these things when, according to the author called Paul, love is suppose to "suffer long and is kind", not envious, parade itself, or even become "puffed up". The author continues to say that love does not behave rudely, seek its own, or is provoked. Love does not rejoice in inequity, yet this god-concept that punishes people seems to rejoice over horrors and is even happy when babies are dashed onto stones a rock (Psalm 137:9). I do not see this as love or even "saving grace" nor does it match up with "Paul's" statements concerning love, but rather it seems to perpetuate mental abuse and torture, right here on earth.
Well, thank the gods of Betazed that such a deity does not actually exist to actually do such things to people.
Spong concerning Hell: