That line comes from two movies: The Exorcist: Beginning and more recently The Rite with Anthony Hopkins. In the Exorcist prequel, Fr. Marin recalls an SS in WWII Poland saying that to him right before he executed some small children. In The Rite, Anthony Hopkins’ character, who is possessed (sorry if I ruined the film for you), ominously growls that line to the principle character.
Title explication aside, I got the inspiration to write this article when I read about how victims of the tornado stuff going down in
are turning to their faith for comfort in the wake of the disaster. I don’t necessarily blame them or fault them for doing so, as I can’t criticize someone’s grieving process. Alabama
So this is more about the nature of God’s presence among us. Most faiths believe that God is here with us, in some form of existence, and that he is constantly imposing his will upon the world. “If it’s God’s will,” you’ll often here believers say. Sometimes people pray for God’s favor, or for him to do stuff for us. When I got my current job after nearly 7 months of searching (apparently a BA in history and political science means little to anyone here in
, even with Summa cum Laude attached to it), my fundamentalist aunt proudly proclaimed, “see, prayer does work!” Columbus
At the risk of upsetting or alienating my theist readers, I’m going to have to say that I agree with the Nazi. God is not here.
Now before you get all incensed over that, just remember that I do believe in God. Although I have my doubts—more often than I’d like—I have faith that God probably exists. I can’t know for certain that he does, but then again that’s the whole thing with Faith: it’s a theological virtue that has nothing to do with knowing.
Be that as it may, I don’t believe that God exists in the way that is traditionally believed by Christians, the Catholic church included. I am a Deist, so I believe that although there is a creator of all things I don’t believe the notion that this creator constantly exerts his will. I believe that he created the universe and the physical laws by which it would govern itself, and that’s it.
This sort of answers the question of theodicy, that burning question in our hearts of “if God loves us so much then why does he allow us to suffer the evils of the world?” Why does God allow some to die but others to live? Why does God allow good people to suffer in unimaginable ways?
The short answer is that he neither allows nor disallows these things to happen. They just happen. They happen because he created the human experience and wants us to have that experience. I don’t think God wants us to suffer, but life isn’t all about unicorns and rainbows (yes Bowser, I linked to my own article).
So no, God doesn’t answer our prayers. I got the job because I was lucky. God doesn’t grant good things to the pious and horrible shit luck to the unfaithful. Actually, quite the contrary. Usually it’s the pious and virtuous who get shit on the most in life.
I don’t pray because I have nothing to ask from God. Just like everyone else, I was put on this planet to live my life the way I see fit. If I fuck that up then it’s my fault. If someone else fucks it up for me, well then that’s not my fault but it’s up to me to change it if I can. And if I can’t change it, then I have to cope with whatever shit hand that has been dealt to me.
God will not strike down my enemies. He will not help me win the lottery, and he won’t part the sea to give me a lifetime supply of free sushi (I am addicted to the stuff). He will not provide for me via earthly, temporal goods or money, and he will not grant me any sort of favor just for worshipping him. Good people die horrible deaths because that’s just what happens sometimes. Shit happens because he’s not here, or at least does not exist in the way that we imagine. It’s not that he’s apathetic, I’m sure, but more that he would probably rather let nature take its course.