The heavens declare the glory of God, the earth is less secure . . .
In a post on Japan's recent earthquake, "God's Love, Delivered," my cyberfriend Malcolm Pollack noted nature's apparent indifference to human purposes:
The hideous indifference of Nature! Again it yawns and extends a finger, shearing us away en masse, and I think: "we are nothing".Despite the title of his post, Malcolm doesn't actually make an explicit point about God, though perhaps "Nature" stands in for "God" here. In an "Addendum," Malcolm notes that one reader objected:
To me, G_d is synonymous with the Explanation for Everything; for you, He is an angry, immature old man.Actually, the deity in Malcolm's post seemed more bored and indifferent than angry, and not necessarily a man, but possibly Mother Nature. At any rate, Malcolm demurs that he doesn't believe in the sort of angry-old-man God inferred by the reader, but then explains his reason for the post:
I've been re-reading the Bible and the Koran over the past few weeks. That's the sort of "God" I'm referring to here; and it's the one that most people believe in, and that they think of when they use the word "God". It amazes me that people are capable of the cognitive dissonance required to witness natural disasters like this, or the awful earthquake in Haiti that killed and maimed multitudes of the innocent faithful, square it somehow with the idea of an involved, active, personal God who is nevertheless infinitely loving and merciful, and then keep coming back for more. It just boggles my mind [in the same way that it boggled Voltaire's mind after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755], and I can’t help remarking on it from time to time.Hence the post "God's Love, Delivered." Malcolm states that he finds the belief of many people in an "active, personal God who is nevertheless infinitely loving and merciful" to be mind-boggling since it appears to run counter to all the evidence. Well, I have a simple, quasi-psychological suggestion that might help unboggle the mind:
People want to believe that life has purpose, and the apparent indifference of nature only serves to reinforce that need to believe, and since purpose is identified with the intentionality characteristic of persons, then people believe in a God who is personal.I think that this helps to explain why so many people maintain theistic beliefs. Whether such a God exists or not is, of course, another issue.