God and Delusion

Last night I watched a PBS Masterpiece Contemporary called (I think I have the title right) “God on Trial.” In essence it was the story of a group of Jewish Auschwitz prisoners who decided to put God on trial because He broke His covenant with Israel by not protecting and blessing the nation as He said He would.

If it weren’t for the death-camp setting, the story would have seemed rather silly to me. Here were several Rabbis, one who supposedly had memorized the Torah, but they didn’t really get the fact that Israel broke the covenant and God fulfilled the clear warnings He gave, should they do so.

At one point, one of the men brought up that possibility, but the discussion turned to why “good Jews” were suffering for the sins of the “bad ones,” defined as those who no longer had faith in the Torah. As it turned out, I guess they found God guilty (I fell asleep near the conclusion, but woke up to see the end), yet as the German guards hauled off the group designated for the gas chamber, the man who instigated the trial said something like, Now that God is guilty, what are we supposed to do? And the answer was, Pray and believe in the Torah. They then began quoting a passage from it, and continued to do so as they marched to their deaths.

So this morning, I started reading a book called The Dawkins Delusion? by Alister and Joanna Cullicut McGrath ( InterVarsity Press). Apparently atheist Richard Dawkins in his book The God Delusion, which the McGrath book is clearly answering, is most critical of what I’ll call the Faith Factor.

God is a delusion—a “psychotic delinquent” invented by mad, deluded people. That’s the take-home message of The God Delusion. Although Dawkins does not offer a rigorous definition of a delusion, he clearly means a belief that is not grounded in evidence—or, worse, that flies in the face of the evidence.

A faith such as “God on Trial” depicted the Jews of Auschwitz having.

The McGrath’s make an essential point:

Dawkins is right [about this point]—beliefs are critical. We base our lives on them; they shape our decisions about the most fundamental things. I can still remember the turbulence that I found myself experiencing on making the intellectually painful (yet rewarding) transition from atheism to Christianity. Every part of my mental furniture had to be rearranged. Dawkins is correct—unquestionably correct—when he demands that we should not base our lives on delusions. We all need to examine our beliefs—especially if we are naive enough to think that we don’t have any in the first place. But who, I wonder, is really deluded about God?

Well, I already know the answer, because I read the Book—the one written by the All-Knowing Creator God. Anyone who puts God on trial and finds Him guilty, or absent, or dead is deluded. I could have said, anyone who puts God on trial is deluded. The idea that we can judge God shows our delusion.

It doesn’t help that those who judge God and find Him wanting then turn around and profess faith in Him or His Word. It is the biggest delusion of all.

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 11:05 am  Comments (9)  
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9 Comments

  1. “the one written by the All-Knowing Creator God.”

    Just out of morbid curiosity, you think your god actually authored the book? Most Christians I know only go as far as to say the men who wrote it were inspired by god.

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  2. Here we go, Becky. I’ll stay quiet. If I can. Have at it.

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  3. Hey, Morsec0de

    You’ve asked a great question, and I don’t think it’s morbid to be curious about such things. I’d actually think it rather morbid NOT to be asking the big questions of life.

    When you ask did God author the book, I assume you mean the Bible, right? Defining author the way we do in a modern sense: a person, sitting down with a pen, word processor, etc, then no, God himself did not sit down at a desk somewhere in Palestine and write each word of the Bible.

    BUT, and this is critical to understand:

    When you contrasted God as author with “most Christians only say the men who wrote were inspired by God” you are actually setting up a false contrast because of the possible definition of “inspired.” I’m an author and I’ve written five books that were definitely inspired by God in the modern sense. Inspired meaning: ideas about God influenced what I (the author) created.

    But the word inspired in the ancient sense means SO much more than that. It literally means to give breath to, as in life’s breath. The Bible claims this about itself “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” 2 Timothy 3:16 So to say that God inspired the Bible really means that He literally breathed His word into the minds of the men who wrote it. And as such, the Bible is the inerrant, reliable word of God.

    Hope that helps!

    never alone.

    -Wayne

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  4. Becky – terrific post! My husband and I have been pondering many of the delusional mindsets that seem to be rampant today. So many people today are simply raging against God and all of the principles that He has shared with us through His word. I am going to pray that your words here reach many for Christ!

    A-men!

    Kim

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  5. I agree that it’s delusional to put God on trial, as if finite man could try the huge God who created the universe that we can’t even see the end of, let alone understand.

    At the same time, I think God says that we can try him, in the sense of testing to see if he’s faithful.

    Taste and see that the Lord is good, the Psalmist tells us.

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  6. Wayne, thanks for that good explanation.

    And morsecOde, I’ll reiterate what Wayne said by quoting another section of the Bible:

    21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
    – 2 Peter 1:21

    It’s interesting to note that one theology source (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) says the doctrine of the Bible is the cornerstone of evangelical theology. Here’s the summation:

    It assures us that what Scripture says, God says. We may therefore say that this doctrine serves as the point of connection between the canon of Holy Scripture and the God who is its author;

    I think this point may explain why evangelicals hold to the Bible so stridently. Would that we’d learn to hold to it tenaciously but graciously—a tricky balance.

    Kim, Nicole, thanks for adding your views to the discussion. I appreciate your active participation! 😀

    Becky

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  7. Sally, interesting point. After some thought (about 30 seconds worth—no real study on my part) I see the two as opposites. I mean, if I put God on trial, I am elevating myself to the role of judge. The book of James says there is one Lawgiver and Judge, and who am I to judge my neighbor? Let alone, judge God!

    Tasting of Him, though, that’s an act of faith. You don’t drink water if you think it’s poisoned or eat bread you think will make you sick. You drink because you think the water will satisfy your thirst and you eat because you think the bread will keep you from starving. But it’s an act of faith. Until you drink, until you eat, you don’t know experientially if what you think to be true actually is. Neither do you truly believe until you act upon what you say (that from the book of James also). So the tasting is actual accepting and the result is the God confirming His goodness. In other words, people don’t taste of Him and find Him to be wanting.

    Well, that’s my take on the issue anyway. 😀

    Becky

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  8. Christians.
    Christ died on the cross for your sins. How do you repay him? By wearing crosses around your neck. Why would he want to come back to a world where there are a couple of 2 BILLION people sporting a reminder of the worst experience of his life. AMDG

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  9. smilingcynic, that’s an interesting point, one I’d agree with if I didn’t know from the Bible some of what Jesus thinks.

    First, when He was on the cross, He was thinking about us, and called it “joy”:

    fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,(Heb. 12:2, the first part of the verse)

    Second, because He suffered such a cruel death, He is now “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9). It’s the same idea as a mother suffering the pain of childbirth for the sake of that coming baby — only to a far more intense degree.

    Finally, we’re called to identify with Him and His death and resurrection. That’s what baptism is — a picture of us identifying with Jesus’s death and burial, then with His rising to new life. Again Hebrews helps us understand with a reference to something from the Hebrew people’s history when that which was “unclean” was put outside the camp: “So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”

    I might also add, for Protestants, the cross is empty as a symbol that Jesus didn’t stay there as a dead man, but has risen and is alive today, waiting to return to reign as King.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    Becky

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