I was on YouTube recently watching a video. It was a parody of MythBusters. The myth to be busted? “Does God exist or not?”
So, like I said, I watched the video. It was absolutely ridiculous. Nothing remotely odd about that, though. I mean, it was meant to be comedy. And indeed it was good for a few laughs. I didn’t find it roll-on-the-floor funny but it did have its moments. It also goes without saying that it did have its moments where it totally lost me. But I knew what I was signing up for before I even clicked it, didn’t I? This is a world full of human beings. That means a world full of opinions. Trillions, maybe even quadrillions, of them. Heck, the zeroes could go a hell of a lot higher than just those. And that means there’ll be a whole host of those opinions that simply do not get along well with mine, not even in the slightest.
On a side note, if people genuinely understood this simple reality, the world would be a much better place to live in…
But anyway. I watched the video and, in the midst of whatever else, I could see the comedy. And naturally the video got me thinking as well. How do you, as a theist, watch anything with the words “God” and “exist” included anywhere and referring to each other and not find some food for thought? Now you have to think thoughts like why you believe what you do, why others don’t, what you would do when confronted with someone whose beliefs are totally opposite yours and generally how to live, not only with your own beliefs but with the countless others who don’t share them. Also, one couldn’t miss the fact that, in a video debating the existence of “God”, the focus was immediately and exclusively placed, not on the Olympians nor the Asgardians nor a general conception of the divine nor any of the ancient pantheons nor even Brahman or Allah, but on the Judeo-Christian God. He was the only one to make an appearance in the discussion. His story and Holy Book were the only ones on stage. (They even sent a bullet through a Bible.) Disprove Jehovah and you disprove any and all possible gods, it seems!
At the end of the video I was about to move on when I was seized by a sudden interest in the comment section. No way possible that there wouldn’t be a host of them, was there? Surely not on a video like this. And one never knows what one can find therein. I like reading through people’s opinions and reactions. Very often I see something I’d never seen before, or something otherwise useful to me on an intellectual level. So I scrolled down. But I was already mentally bracing for the firestorm to come.
Those comments, true to form, were a real wakeup call. They were funny in and of themselves, to be honest. And they were very interesting.
Once again I was reminded that many people, even without an overarching or structured belief in God, still have some very notable amount of respect for God. People who would not describe themselves as “religious” were upset or saddened by parts of the video. That was refreshing. And naturally you had people identifying as Christians commenting too. And just as naturally you had atheists tuned in as well.
The thing that jumped out at me most, though, was the sheer magnitude of disparaging remarks about Christians “triggered” by the video. Although, to be honest, when I read through the comments, those “triggered” Christians were pretty hard to find! Most of the comments by far were about how these people were looking forward to seeing a lot of these “triggered” Christians getting all upset about a video that just “disproved” their God. I mean the vast majority. Even more interesting, though, was the fact that I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. Quite a few of the people who left a comment noted just how high a percentage of what they were seeing was from people who were rubbing their hands in glee over the number of Christians they were supposedly about to see blow up. There were, to be sure, some of these “triggered” Christian folk around in the commentary section, but nowhere near as great a number as the other comments would have led you to believe. Not even close.
And that got me thinking: I’m a Christian. I certainly wasn’t “triggered” by that video. But isn’t it a bad thing that so many people expect it of us?
Isn’t it a travesty when so many people can claim to know exactly how we will react to something, and when that reaction is decidedly negative and a cause for even more ridicule leveled against us? Isn’t it a failure on our part when people can’t even respect us as people anymore, to say nothing of respecting our beliefs? I find it sad. The internet is full of things that don’t agree with the Christian view. Unfortunately it is also filled with Christians who react to those things in a way that brings even more ridicule their way. I’ve seen it. We probably all have. Many times what we see from Christians both online and in the physical world are not reactions that inspire our respect because here are people who understand what they’re about. Many times what we see is the type of reactions that make us do a facepalm and strike us as childish, emotional and indeed easily “triggered”. The result is that the Christian’s disapproval isn’t something to take seriously anymore. It’s something to be waited for with bated breath and then laughed at, like children in the playground teasing that one child because it’s such good fun to get them all riled up. It’s a source of entertainment. Or it’s a source of disgust. “Righteous indignation” is fine but isn’t there a point where it ceases to be “righteous” anymore? Aren’t we the people who claim to have a heavenly Father who is “slow to wrath” and “swift to bless”?
Is that any way to defend God?
Better yet, does God need a defense? Seriously. It’s something to really think about. We’re all tempted to defend God. For us, it’s a badge of honour, especially for those of us who claim to truly “know” Him and “love” Him. It’s perfectly fine to not want to see the name of God slandered or His image tarnished in any way. But is God some divine damsel in distress marooned at the top of a tall tower and guarded by a massive, vicious, fire-breathing dragon, and Whom we need to save by charging in with swords slashing and guns blazing?
And what does our defending amount to anyway? I learned something from a certain wise old master turtle while watching Kung-Fu Panda some years ago. He said, “One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.” I’ve never forgotten those words (though I have often forgotten how to apply them, or even to apply them any at all). Too many times our zealous defense of our divine-damsel-in-distress God wins for Him precisely the things we had hoped to save Him from — the mean old dragon chars us black and then proceeds to gloat over the unfortunate Prisoner with taunts and jeers and sharp ridicules that are actually worse than what would have been had we not decided to undertake such a rash battle charge. But that’s only natural. We’re defending the wrong god. The right God doesn’t need our help. He is no divine damsel in distress.
I’m by no means saying we shouldn’t feel zealous about the honour of our God. But zeal without wisdom, knowledge and understanding is pretty much the worst thing a human could possibly fall into. Both history and the Bible have proved that time and again. What I’m saying is this: God needs no defending. He is not waiting in the wings, hardly daring to breathe and mowing down His fingernails with His teeth in nervous anticipation of the moment we come to our verdict and announce whether He’s really real or not and whether, should He be finally and authoritatively pronounced “real”, He is actually good or evil. But I’m also saying this: God does defend Himself; and He uses us to do it! The only problem (for us) is that He doesn’t do it on our terms, using our methods. In fact, God downright refuses to defend Himself our way. He certainly doesn’t get “triggered” like we so often do. “My thoughts and My ways are not yours,” He tells us in Isaiah 55. And that’s also why so many atheists can feel as if they’ve “won” the argument, and why many agnostics remain agnostic. Because God is up to something totally different.
So what’s God up to? And how do we fit into it? Those are questions no one can answer with any certainty. Isaiah 55:8-9! But we’ve never been left without some information or without clues. And that’s what I’d like to get into now. Let’s consider a few things for a bit.