Saturday, February 14, 2009

If You Were God, Would You Conspire With the Devil and Wager an Innocent Man’s Suffering?

The Bible blames God for this in the notorious Book of Job. In a nutshell: a righteous man named Job enjoys a good life. He’s wealthy and has a large family. One day Satan visits God. (huh? God tolerates the presence of The Evil One, ruiner of mankind? Well if you say so…)

So God says to Satan, “You’ve been roaming around the world, have you seen my boy Job? No one like him anywhere. He’s blameless and upright, he worships me, fears me and he shuns evil.”

Satan says, “Sure he’s blameless, he has everything. Let's take it all away and we’ll see if he still worships you.”

And God says, “The bet is on.”

So all of Job’s livestock (his source of wealth) are killed or stolen, and then his seven sons and three daughters are killed.

Through all this tragedy, Job says, “the Lord gave and he took away”. And he doesn't blame God for complicity. A remarkable man.

Satan goes back to have another sit-down with God. God says, “See, I told you. You incited me to ruin him without reason, and still he obeys.”

Satan says, “Well let’s strike his flesh and bones with pain. I’ll bet he curses you then!”

So poor homeless childless Job suddenly notices that he's covered head to foot in sores so painful he takes to scraping at them with a broken shard of pottery. He’s so reduced that some visiting friends don’t even recognize this once great man. When they do they weep at his agony. Job cries, “If my anguish and misery could be weighed, it would outweigh the sands of the seas. God’s terrors are marshalled against me!”

At one point God, inside a storm, engages Job in a gabfest that pretty much goes like this for several chapters:

Job: “I’m not worthy.”
God: “No, you’re not.”

Now in the end, God gives Job back his health, his prosperity, and ten brand new children.

Question: if you were Almighty God, would you make a wager like this with the devil to gain bragging rights? “Look at Job, we utterly ruined the bastard, yet he still follows Me. So there!”

Once again, the Bible diminishes God to the level of a playground bully.

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