In an article I read this morning that bore the title “Why didn't God deliver badly needed rain?” the author asks clergy members why God didn’t send rain to put out the Waldo Canyon Fire despite the fact that millions of Christians were praying for rain.
Like I said in the original article, the answer seems quite obvious to me; either God doesn’t care or He doesn’t exist and it’s just another attempt by our species to make sense of some tragedy in our lives or in the lives of others.
Take this explanation for example:
Rev. Patty Walker works as sabbatical minister at First Congregational Church and chaplain at the Pikes Peak Hospice. She works with Springs residents facing life’s most daunting challenges, praying for deliverance from disease, from marital distress, from the clutches of death.
She prayed for rain. She remains, despite the dry terrain, encouraged by God’s answers.
“You can’t tell God how to respond,” Walker said. “Even though it doesn’t rain, it doesn’t mean God isn’t showing up. God has shown up in a million other ways.”
I read that and come to the conclusion that God didn’t show up. He didn’t bring rain and since God supposedly has a plan, then the suffering of millions of people around the globe are also part of God’s plan.
She also said:
“We have a very involved God,” she said. “I believe God is crying with people who lost their houses.”
Instead of crying, perhaps God could send some relief since it would be very easy to do since He’s supposedly omnipotent. He’s also supposedly omniscient so He would have known what was going to happen before it did and moved to prevent it in the first place.
In the book “The Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren makes some of the same sorts of claims as the minister above.
For example, in chapter 2 he says:
Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days of your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says, "You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!" [Psalm 139:16]
Rick also said:
God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates. Every plant and every animal was planned by God, and every person was designed with a purpose in mind.
Take a second and think about exactly what he’s telling you. He’s saying that God has a plan which not only negates the free will argument but also puts every evil thing ever done right on God’s doorstep. Hitler, cancer, the Japan tsunami, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, Stalin, the burning of witches, mudslides and everything else are meticulously planned and are all a part of God's master plan.
I honestly don’t understand it. If someone honestly believes that everything is done according to God’s plan, then why bother praying at all? Do they honestly believe that God is going to set aside His plan to accommodate them? Do they not see the contradictions in their argument? Even if they're praying for other people (which many religious people do) the same argument can be made - is God really going to change his master plan because you asked him nicely to help someone else?
Now if you set aside the idea of God changing his plans because someone (or several million like in the news story above) prays hard enough or realize that such an intervening God is most likely illusionary, then it suddenly becomes very easy to explain. There is no need to try to explain away the evil done in some sort of grand plan by a cosmic deity. There is no longer any need to try and explain how a grand plan fits in with the idea of free will.
You simply realize that crap happens and sometimes we’re at the mercy of chance and bad circumstance, making prayer an exercise in futility if you believe that it has any chance of changing the mind of an omnipotent, omniscient deity.