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Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

Hey God! It's me. Hope you're well. I just wanted to get back to you with a few notes. To sort of update things.

Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

Well, I have an internet connection, and I'll show the links. But I'm not putting on pants for this.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

It's a sphere first of all. Actually it's kind of a potato. And it's about 4.54 billionyears old, formed from an accretion of solar nebula.

Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

Yeah, this is a common Middle Eastern idea - the Egyptians and the Babylonians both had this notion of the ancient "waters of chaos" from which the universe was made. Really it was the Big Bang, which created all matter 13.7 billion years ago, give or take.

Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it? It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

Kepler's three laws of planetary motion pretty much covered it. Plus, people do bad stuff during the day all the time. So I don't see your argument here.

Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

Did it.

Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

We're working on that. I don't know how far we'll get, honestly. You can't always trust those TEDtalks. We know a great deal about why things die. But so far, we can't make anything live forever. Can you? Yeah, I know what you're going to say, but can you prove it? Let's just mark this as a tie... for now.

Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

Eratosthenes nailed it awhile ago. Now we have this.

Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

Here's the "How Stuff Works" page on light. It's pretty widely understood as a phenomenon. But it makes me wonder whether you know how it works. You're using a great deal of metaphorical language here... Kind of like the kid who gives a book report about how fun it was to read the book, but without mentioning the plot points. The Big Bang, the rotation of the earth, elctromagnetic radiation... You up on this, Big Guy?

Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

Easy there, grandpa. No need to get personal. We all know you're very, very old.

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

A link to weather.com is right on my desktop. So... yeah, I guess we got that covered.

Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

Here's NASA's infrared map of the entire visible universe.

Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?


This is a link to the Weather Modification Association.

Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?

NPR has a pretty decent map of the US electric grid.

Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

Current map of the precipitation of the entire world.

Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions, When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat...

Okay, there's a lot of stuff about different kinds of animals and their habitats, mating behavior and such. I don't want to go into too much detail here. None of this seems impressive. Discovery Channel craps out a new pile of shows on this stuff every season. I'm going to move on.

Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?

I don't want to be mean, but it's adorable that you believe in unicorns. Do you have posters?

Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?

Peacocks and ostriches. We have petting zoos, yes.

Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible.

Okay, okay... There are a lot of items in here that are only going to be impressive to a Bronze Age nomad. We're cloning shit now, and we've got footprints on the moon. I'm going to skim ahead to see if there are any parts where you start using words like "pulsar" or "genome."

...Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly...

That doesn't even exist.

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook?

Neither does that. Unless you're playing Dungeons and Dragons, in which case his alignment is Neutral, and he has 32 Hit Dice.

Look, God.  This does not of course completely destroy the case for your existence, or your justice. But it is worth pointing out that we answered most of your questions some time ago - to the extent that they weren't rhetorical or ridiculous, which many, many of them were.


And also, what kind of statement is this, really? You had some of the smartest people in world history explaining the problem of evil as the nonbeing that defines existence, as the necessary result of freewill, as a temporary flaw which becomes more perfect than perfect over time. But these were just people, explaining your words after the fact. I have different problems with their explanations. But you take the opportunity to speak directly on the subject, and out comes this, this garbage... This elaborate and petty rant about how much bigger and smarter you are. It's not an argument at all. It's a boast. A threat. And over the millennia we've sort of chipped it away.


Truly, I'm not trying to be a jerk, because I really want an answer, and I am heartsick, I am lonely and afraid, terrors are turned upon me, and I am a brother to dragons and a companion to owls, like absolutely everybody on this tumbling, horrifying and beautiful rock, so please reply if you can in a way that is not absolutely absurd...

Honestly, God:

What else you got?
(NOTE: I write a blog filled with this kind of insanity. Stop by. It's at goblinbooks.com.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow. Well-written, and yes, the problem of evil (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    2thanks, Paul Bibeau, Batya the Toon

    is perennial.

    I especially love this bit:

    Truly, I'm not trying to be a jerk, because I really want an answer, and I am heartsick, I am lonely and afraid, terrors are turned upon me, and I am a brother to dragons and a companion to owls, like absolutely everybody on this tumbling, horrifying and beautiful rock, so please reply if you can in a way that is not absolutely absurd...
    As beautiful (and poetic) as anything in the original!

    Anyway, I guess (if I were God) I could probably answer you with something like this:

    All right. So you guys are God now. Awesome!

    Go ahead and make a better world than I did the first time around.

    ;)

    Climate activists unite: we need a symbol. A name. A vision. Join the discussion.

    by Eowyn9 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 06:59:14 AM PST

  •  Yeah, but what about goats in labor? Huh? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    old wobbly, ZedMont

    Republicans represent both sides: the insanely rich and vice versa.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 07:06:39 AM PST

    •  Well, if you follow them around long enough, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor

      you'll know.  That doesn't seem like much of a cosmic test to me (and I realize your question was snark).

      It's ironic, but the existence of God would be much more believable to me if everyone just took off their holy masks and admitted that it was man, not God, who wrote the bible, and that man created God in man's image, not the other way around.  

      This diary pretty much does that for me.

      With all that nonsense aside, the existence of God could be pondered using our supposedly God-given reason to consider the question based on nothing but clues left in the natural universe, the existence of which is not subject to the plagiarism in ancient written words, but rather is self-evident.

      We still wouldn't know the great answer, but at least we could clearly see the great question without the blundering attempts at conjured imaginings from antiquity clouding our vision and warping our minds.

      And who the hell is Grover Norquist???

      by ZedMont on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 11:33:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Job is the one book of the Bible (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eowyn9

    that I honestly wish they hadn't canonized, and I'm not sure why they did.

    I mean okay, it's addressing the question of why terrible things happen to undeserving people, but it addresses it so badly.  So very badly that generations of Jewish commentators on the Bible have given us reams of speculation about who Job really was, and why it turns out he really did deserve his suffering, which ... strikes me as missing the point of the book entirely.

    That said ... this point-by-point attempt at a refutation of God's speech isn't any more convincing than the original speech was.  Having petting zoos doesn't mean we can make peacocks, and having the weather channel doesn't mean we can control the weather.

    •  I don't know if I'd agree that it addresses (0+ / 0-)

      the issue (of why bad things happen to good people), badly.

      It's an unsatisfactory answer, to be sure. But at least it acknowledges the problem. In all its injustice, complexity and magnitude. Job's "friends" (aka prattling know-it-alls) are blithely convinced that there is no injustice in the universe. Good people have good things happen to them, bad people have bad things, end of story. Much like many televangelists of today ("send us your money and God will reward you!")

      At least the book of Job acknowledges that there is a contradiction, a fundamental disconnect between "how things should be" and "how they are." And if the author of Job couldn't come up with anything more convincing for God to say then "I'm God, I know things you don't and who are you to question me?" -- well, who has really come up with an entirely satisfactory answer?

      With Christianity you get a new...well...not exactly an answer. But the concept that, though God may have created suffering, It is willing to suffer right along with the creatures that It created. Maybe not an ultimate explanation, but for me a good counterbalance to the "voice out of the whirlwind" speaking dismissively about mere mortal suffering.

      Climate activists unite: we need a symbol. A name. A vision. Join the discussion.

      by Eowyn9 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 09:02:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Acknowledging the issue is something! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eowyn9

        But yeah, there really isn't a satisfactory answer to why bad things happen to good people.

         

        though God may have created suffering, It is willing to suffer right along with the creatures that It created
        This put me in mind of a midrash that I heard once and would really like to find the source for it.  In a number of midrashim there is the recurring notion that God has a private space in Heaven where the angels can't go, and that He will sometimes withdraw there.  (This is all metaphor, of course, as it describes things that we can't comprehend anything like literally.)

        According to this particular midrash, during the couple-hundred years when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, God withdrew into this space.  And when the angels asked each other what He was doing there, one of them -- how it knew I can't guess -- said "Making bricks."

  •  Oh, yes, wanted to say, (0+ / 0-)

    this diary reminds me of a children's poem by Judith Viorst (especially the unicorns bit):

    It's a wonderful world, but they made a few mistakes.
    Like leaving out unicorns and putting in snakes.
    Like no magic carpets, no wishing wells, no genies.
    Like good guys getting picked on by the meanies.
    Like arithmetic, especially multiplication
    Like expecting a person to stay at home for one whole week with a
    Sitter while that persons mother and father take a vacation.
    Like needing to finish the green beans to get the dessert.
    Like everyone caring way too much about dirt.

    Like letting there be a cavity in a tooth.
    Like calling it a lie when all that this person has done is not mention part of the truth.
    Like raining on soccer games, and liver for supper.
    Like bunk beds where the younger person always gets stuck with the
    Lower and the older person always gets the upper.
    Like leaving out mermaids and putting in splinters and bee stings
    And wars and tornadoes and stomach aches.

    It's a wonderful world, but they made a few mistakes.

    Climate activists unite: we need a symbol. A name. A vision. Join the discussion.

    by Eowyn9 on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 10:05:35 PM PST

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