How God really “works”

A blogger at has a bit of Monday Morning “humor” that (perhaps without meaning to) gives us a good hard look at how God really “works”:

A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . One of the courses had a professor who was a vowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop.

Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting.” It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform.

The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

The Marine calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America ’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid stuff and act like an a$$. So, He sent me.”

Funny stuff, eh? I mean, what’s not to love? The assault victim was not only a college professor (i.e. educated and thus automatically evil), he was also a “vowed atheist” (gasp!) and if that weren’t bad enough, he was even a member of the ACLU (swoon!). The author left out “Darwinist,” but that was probably just an oversight. Wouldn’t every passionate American just love to go around punching out liberals, atheists, and educated people? This isn’t just a joke, it’s a wish-fulfillment fantasy.

Like all good fantasy, this one draws its power from making the setting seem as realistic as possible. What makes the joke really work, especially on the wish-fulfillment level, is the faithfulness with which it reproduces the way God behaves in the real world. Notice, for example, that at no point does God ever actually show up anywhere in the real world. He does not show up in response to the professor’s challenge, nor does He show up to tell the Marine, in the sight and hearing of the other students, to go up and punch out the professor.

Nor, in fact, does He show up in the war zone to genuinely protect the soldiers. If God did show up in Iraq, for example, to point out where the insurgents were hiding and where the IED’s were planted, not only would our troops be in a lot less danger, but the Marine would be able to point to God’s visible and verifiable activity in Iraq as a satisfactory answer to the professor’s challenge.

But God does not, in fact, show up in the real world, an absence that the Marine finds frustrating and infuriating. He seethes with inner rage and helplessness, because God consistently fails to behave as though He believed the same things the Marine does, and yet the Marine cannot confront God about this nor can he admit, even to himself, that there’s anything wrong with God’s behavior. To do so would be to cast doubts on his own faith and his own personal sense of salvation.

This frustrated and impotent inner tension is what drives the joke, of course. The author, and his intended readers, all know first-hand how the Marine feels. God’s behavior is clearly inconsistent with what they believe about Him, and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. They can’t even complain about it, because to complain about it, they’d first have to admit that it’s true, and that would be a denial of their faith. So they’ve got all this anger and frustration building up, and nowhere for it to go. What are they to do?

The Marine, in the story, takes the only available outlet: he makes the poor professor the scapegoat for his own inner turmoil, and lashes out violently against him. Many Christians feel the same way, though most of them (fortunately) are more self-restrained than the Marine in this story, contenting themselves with name-calling and nasty jokes (like this one) directed against whoever they decide should be the scapegoat this week. Ironically, after violently assaulting the professor for what he said, the Marine then self-righteously admits that the professor has a legitimate right to free speech, which his fellow troops are fighting to protect even as he, the Marine, is busy violating it.

But I digress. The main point is that the professor gets knocked off his platform–but notice, it took a real person do actually do it. Had the Marine not acted, the “work” (knocking off the professor) would not have gotten done. The real person did the work, and then tried to claim that God deserved credit for what was done.

This is the secret. This is how God really “works” in the real world: somebody thinks they know what God ought to be doing, then they sit there stewing about it because God’s obviously not taking care of the matter, then they jump up and do it themselves, then they claim that God ought to be given credit for having gotten the job done. A classic case of sock-puppet deity. Rather pitiful, really, but so long as God persists in failing to show up in the real world it’s the best Christians have to offer.

Mr. Anonymous And Probably Fictitious Marine, I salute you. You may have acted violently, ignorantly, and unjustly, but you at least gave us a clear demonstration of how Christians perpetuate the delusion that God actually does things in the real world.

87 Responses to “How God really “works””

  1. moskaudancer Says:

    Certainly the Marine was being a complete asshole. But so was the professor. He wasn’t giving logistical evidence to the nonexistence of God, as real (and truly educated) atheists do, he was simply mocking every monotheist in his classroom. Atheists like this give the rest a bad name. How will Christians, Muslims, and Jews ever accept our right to believe what we want to believe if we don’t do the same for them? Being an atheist isn’t about ridiculing people who still believe in God, because that’s never going to do anything but produce more hatred.

  2. hfreeman17 Says:

    OK, friend, then tell me what “real” person took the body of Jesus Christ from the tomb? And where is the very real body of Jesus today? Don’t go the Jesus-bones-route…that’s played, and proven false.

    Investigate the evidence for yourself.

    • Andrew Ryan Says:

      “And where is the very real body of Jesus today?”

      2,000 years later, it would be dust, if it ever existed in the first place.

  3. Mike Says:

    I found this article, and the point you made about a “sock puppet deity,” very fascinating. You acknowledge that the relationship most religious people have with God is dysfunctional, as “God’s behavior is clearly inconsistent with what they believe about Him.” This inconsistency causes suffering.

    I used to be a vehement atheist myself, until I realized that the world operates inconsistently with my beliefs about the absence of a higher power too. Only months ago, I would be barfing at the mere thought of my typing that last sentence, but after studying philosophies such as Buddhism and the Integral Nature of Reality as put forth by Ken Wilber. I do not believe in God as most Christians do: a separate entity, like an all-powerful human, who watches over us and “does things in the real world.” I see God as synonymous with “universe,” “Oneness,” “consciousness,” or “spirit.”

    Perhaps you’ll find these posts of mine interesting, if not relevant:

    Thank you for this insightful post. I will be reading more from here in the future. 🙂


  4. eggnogdog Says:

    Well done. Besides, atheists’ insensitive jokes are way better than pro-Jesus ones. Also, I dig your the Good, the bad, the ugly sidebar. Might want to add Bill O’ Reilly to the ugly. Zing =)

  5. xoctor Says:

    What a beautiful piece of clear thinking. Thank you.

  6. larrytheobserver Says:

    Hmmm. Professor challenges God to knock him off the platform, Professor is knocked off the platform. The mechanism used is immaterial. All the rest is interpretation, dodging, weaving, etc., to avoid the basic facts. At least that is how it looks to me.

    • cdj1122 Says:

      Then, my friend you are just as blind as the fictional “marine.”
      If there were the slightest evidence of any God creature any where all real non-theists would believe as well, and here would be no need for “Faith.” You need Faith precisely for that reason, there is no evidence, just the kind of frustration that this story illustrates.

  7. Pollywogs! » Blog Archive » A true story… Says:

    […] ‘A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan . One of the courses had a professor who was a vowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. […]

  8. adamssl Says:

    Admittedly I’m not in the Christian camp, but it seems fairly obvious that your post is the blogging equivalent of a forum troll. It seems little more than a cry for attention, to do whatever it takes to get in the spotlight.

    Here are my complaints with your argument…

    – The history of the joke is always based in a University environment. This re-telling simply sticks with the premise. That’s a primary method of humor.

    – It’s useful to use a professor as the antagonist for the reason that they ARE respected intellectuals. If you told the same story but with a gas station attendant cast as the antagonist it wouldn’t be as poignant.

    – You are right when you point out that many Christians inwardly feel anger / fear / humiliation. But honestly… how many groups are totally free from those feelings? Christianity isn’t the root of those feelings, it’s humanity.

    – You point out that God doesn’t take action, a person does. It’s actually not a good argument based on the current predominant dogma. The modern manifestation of Christianity has moved away from the idea of “God performing miracles”, and has moved to a “God works through us” mentality. My guess is in another 50 years it will turn into, “God works through technology”. But who knows. Christianity evolves over time to stay relevant in the lives for those that believe, and it will likely continue to do so.

    – Whether or not you believe in religion you should realize that some people *need* religion to give solace and meaning to their lives. It would be grand if everyone in the world was self-aware and self-assured, but that’s simply not the case. Especially when you consider military men and woman who are faced with death. Believing there is a higher power can give you the courage to wake up every day.

    – Continuing the above point, certainly the enemy also does this. Insurgents gain their courage from an Islamic-flavored God. So you *could* argue that if everyone didn’t have God we’d be better off since we wouldn’t have fighters fueled by religious zeal. But courage isn’t only for war-time situations. There are legions of people that gain a purpose in their life by simply believing in God, and it gives them the power to go about their day without suffering a nervous breakdown.

    Religion is useful. For thousands of years people have fought for the right to own their faith. And that is a part of “freedom”. But just like we should try to stop the religious extremist from forcing their faith on other people (whether they’re terrorists, or a high-school Christian zealot), we should also take a stand against people so vehemently opposed to the idea of religion that they feel motivated to take it away from the people that do believe.

    Instead of pointing out the faults of this misconstrued joke, your energy would be better spent trying to educate the masses on how we need get a grip on our political system to take power away from people that PUT us into these ridiculous wars.

    Admittedly the religious right was a primary factor in getting the current administration elected. But instead of arguing that religion should be recognized as obsolete, you should be arguing for people to understand how to recognize when their faith is being used as a very human tool to manipulate them. Even the Democratic party is guilty of this in the current run-up to the elections, with every candidate voicing their deep faith. The problem isn’t that people have faith. The problem is that it becomes a tool for manipulation.

    • cdj1122 Says:

      Are you thinking that the blogger created this stereotypical anecdote ?
      I suggest from your first five detailed “complaints” that you appear to believe he, or she, chose the protagonists and setting.
      I’ve heard or read that kind of apocryphal story for years and years and think it is just a variant of the kind of silliness that people write to lessen their rage and humiliation at the seeming injustice of a non-existent beings inaction.
      Other than that many of your observations are just as interesting as the original blog.

  9. krissnp Says:

    interesting blog.

  10. neilmckenty Says:

    One of my favourite sayings is that “God works through crooked lines.”

    So what’s the big deal about your fictitious scenario? When the marine conked the professor, he was simply doing God’s work. Got it?

  11. thejuggernaut Says:

    well, the lord never does “come down” and do stuff any more…. ( even if He does would he tell you? watch bruce almighty)
    and yes faith can work miracles…. It is your faith…. If many people believe in a singular theme, it may come true ( or become Mass hallucination) . In other words… you, the believer, are god.

  12. athelete518 Says:

    i strongly disagree, and yes, i am a Christian.
    Who are we to question the master of all creation? As a vowed atheist, the professor has no reason to just test God, and neither do the rest of us. also, its not like anything would come out of it if god did know him off the platform. i’m pretty sure he still wouldn’t believe or acknowledge God’s existence because he asked for a miracle. People who followed Jesus still doubted many times even after seeing so many miraculous things, why would a ‘vowed atheist’ get something out of testing God?

    • cdj1122 Says:

      If there were the slightest shred of evidence that some Sky Fairy existed you would have evidence and no need for faith. Think about it.
      It is a simple concept.

  13. albert Says:

    Funny, I thought moreso that Mr. Hypothetical Marine and Professor were demonstrating two aspects of human nature: reactionism and vanity.

  14. formula623 Says:

    You have to love the circular logic of it all, really.

  15. panoramia Says:

    I like it.
    I’m not an educated man (college of Life only, I’m afraid) but realise that most things I come up with as my own original thought have already been covered. However, I persist:
    “Can God DO anything in this world (universe)? Is it humanly (oops) divinely even possible?” I say not. The three oft-quoted characteristics of God work against Him, making Him impotent to create any form of change.
    Any takers?

  16. saintmel45 Says:

    do you know the pascal’s wager??? the belief of God has higher benefits than not believing even if the possibility of the existence of God is so low… so it is better to believe Him because of the benefits…

    pascal is so intelligent—but he is just that, intelligent… human intelligence has its own limits, and when logic ends, faith begins…

    • cdj1122 Says:

      That is so wrong, you should be more than one person. Pascal’s wager assumes that there is but the one god he believes in. However from the time the first chimpanzee wondered why it rained on his head there have been thousands of gods, hundreds of supreme gods, Jupiter, Zeus, Thor, Baal and so on, invented.
      What are the odds Mr. Pascal would pick the right one to place his money on ? Or that he would consider any of the others beyond the one popular in France two hundred years ago ?
      100::1, 1000::1, 5,000::1 ???
      No, if you were to Google Pascal’s wager and sort through the critics you would see how fallacious it is.

  17. ramsesabasiri Says:

    If you had read The Banjo Players Must Die, you’d have known that God is off designing women with bigger boobs and flashier Italian sports cars. That, apart from making notes for the next universe where good and evil will be replaced with brown and fuscia.

  18. taylorteach Says:

    Everything you’ve said here is just regarding Christians. But why is it not that we misunderstand what god “ought to be doing” rather than that God himself is mean, wrong, or non-existent?

    Either way, I appreciate your post.

  19. Ergo Says:

    Not to mention the blatant admission by the Marine officer that God can only do a limited number of things at any one given time–like humans! 🙂 So, god’s not all that he is cracked up to be; omnipotent? Nope. Sorry.

  20. mrsteel Says:

    he did a good thing
    God is not a person and God is not a matter
    unbeliably how stupid idea of God atheist have not believing in him
    on the other side, people who believe in God seems like thay don’t know what they believing they are just saying they are Christians when they are just followers of stroked path by church

    soldier made a difference, he got knocked off 🙂

  21. pujyboy Says:

    As a former marine I must say this article was a complete waste of time. You sound like a nerd who gets hot, sweaty, and mad at the simple thought of being hit because you have never been in a real fight.

    This was a dumb “joke”— if it can even be called joke. If you are right about anything in this entry it is that this really is a sick “wish-fulfillment fantasy” that some ultra right wing, bush loving, fundamentalist Christian neocon nut job thought up to masturbate to. I can honestly picture Anne Coulter getting wet over this. No marine I have ever met would pull this kind crap, it is a fairy tale for fucktards.

    This is such a dumb joke that if you can’t see the blatantly obvious contradictions without 2 pages of whiny explanation, you are retarded.

    If anything the joke should go like this:

    A United States Marine was attending some college courses after getting the fuck out because nobody has time to go to classes “between assignments” whatever the fuck that shit is. He had endured missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The missions are not complete you can’t win a physical fight against an idea, but nobody in the Bush administration gets that. One of the courses had a professor who was a douche bag.

    One day the professor tried to shock the class when he came in. He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform, and also make my tiny penis bigger. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.” The students attending promptly went to sleep, because they were hung over as fuck. You could hear snoring.

    Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting, and my penis is still tiny.” It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and pretended to drop his pencil. While bent down to pick it up, he delivered a nut crushing crescent punch to the professors’ wrinkly old testicles.

    The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence. The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

    The Marine calmly replied, “Because I payed for this class in hard earned money to learn something and you, like the lazy faggot you are, decided not to do your job today. Much worse things happen to marines who don’t do their jobs. Quit being a preachy athiest cunt and teach me something you faggot.”

    Then Jesus came riding in on a velociraptor and made the professor choke himself with his own hand and skull fucked him to death so all the students could have a good laugh.


    Honestly, why do you hate Christians so much? Who cares how people live their lives? Quit trying to prove to them that there is no god. It is, like the situation in Iraq, a fight that cannot be truly won. Instead, use your obviously decent intellect to convince us all of something worthwhile, like how the government wants to destroy our rights and put us all into FEMA camps.

  22. gasdocpol Says:


    Filled with outrage over 9/11 Americans wanted to hit someone. Bush/Cheney manipulated that outrage to sell the invasion of Iraq .

    Getting thousands killed needlessly and a trillion wasted to make billions for Bush’s rich sponsors and the loss of the international credibility of the USA are not my idea of God’s work.

  23. Martin Says:

    Well-written. 😀

  24. parafilm Says:

    Hey, whats this nonsense? It was a good story, and you are analyzing it to bits where it has lost its good point.

    Read this article:

    There is no heavenly God. God is what is our common notion of something more meaningful than life. Its a motivation factor ++.

  25. Trish Scott Says:

    “…God consistently fails to behave as though He believed the same things the Marine does.”

    Well said. Also like the sock puppet God image. I’ll be reading more here. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

  26. manashiori Says:

    that’s really insanely funny, pujyboy. i honestly laughed out loud. 😀 that was very well-written.

  27. Frida Kahlo Says:

    Interesting reactions to this post. I would assume that if folks wanted to read about something other than atheism, they would probably be reading another blog, pujyboy.

    Reality is frickin’ funny.

  28. yummymummy97 Says:

    Thought-provoking and well thought out. It’s comforting to see that American Christians are not all like the nutcases who have been visiting my blog recently.


  29. PalMD Says:

    Wow. I mean, wow.
    Mechanism is relevant…
    If any actor can fulfill God’s will, with no way to verify that it is in fact Gods will, then you’re right, mechanism is irrelevant because there is none.

  30. Skeptics’ Circle No. 68–never miss an episode! « WhiteCoatUnderground Says:

    […] 31st, 2007 by PalMD Among the features today is a look at violent God-ism, and HIV denialism.  Dont’ miss […]

  31. wailin Says:

    Interesting analysis here. The thing is, you’re just pointing out the contradictions and faulty logic of God, and people are getting all pissy about it. Personally, I’m agnostic.

    Oh yeah, being a former Marine doesn’t automatically make you right. Or former any branch of military, thanks for fighting and all but that doesn’t give you free reign to be a douchebag, Pujyboy.

  32. pujyboy Says:

    Do you want to get punched in the face for disagreeing wailin? Apparently I am prone to that sort of behavior.

  33. wailin Says:

    And so you threaten physical violence to someone on the internet that disagrees?

    Douchebaggery = confirmed

    All you’re showing is the “I’m right, you’re wrong, so shut up!” that has become cliche ammunition against Christians. Good on ya, mate.

  34. The Professor Says:

    Guys, don’t make me put on my listmom dress. It looks terrible on me.

  35. walterbean Says:

    You’ve made some very good points here. I love writing and talking about things that ruffle feathers. It makes life more interesting. I also like taking the opposite position at times just to get under someones skin.



    Your response was well written and articulate. Thank you for confirming the stereotype some have about the military and the type of people that join. You give the rest of us a bad name. I appreciate it.

  36. pujyboy Says:

    It was sarcasm wailin.

    I am not of the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality. If anyone, it’s the OP who is.

    I don’t care how people choose to live their lives. Religious freedom is one of the most important parts of the Constitution and I will always respect it.

    However, I don’t like pushy Christians telling me I’ll go to hell because I believe in evolution. I also don’t like pushy atheists telling me I’m stupid and illogical because I believe there is some sort of supreme architect responsible for the design of this universe.

  37. samueljames Says:

    I honestly don’t understand how this joke is more offensive or less innocent than the countless times that eugenics proponets and hardcore secularists have suggested that the world would be better if all the religious folk (emphasis on evangelical Christianity) would be eliminated. An atheist has told me personally (i can give you contact information upon request) that he doesn’t see what is wrong with removing all barriers to progress, even if that means the revocation of rights and life from Christians. I don’t see what there is here that is so uniquely extreme.

  38. Louis James Says:

    Nice post, but a US Marine is not allowed to attend college “between assignments”.

  39. pujyboy Says:

    I agree with you on that.

    I think maybe some atheists view eugenics as a good thing because only douche bags would support genocide. If people believe they are soulless animals who can live their life any way they choose because there will be no eternal repercussions, they are probably just going to be the biggest dicks they can, and then die.

    Hitler was a great example of this.

    Religion has been a source of much evil throughout history, but if it wasn’t religion it would just be something else, such as greed—which is what is fueling people like Dick Cheney and other supporters of the NWO today. I would go so far as to say that greed is, in fact, their religion.

  40. Len Says:

    ATTN Christians, please answer this question:

    Why won’t god heal amputees?

  41. sluggabohn Says:

    for saintmel45 regarding Pascal’s Wager:
    The part that Pascal didn’t mention is in which god to believe.
    In other words; “Ooooh! I’m afraid to die!! I better believe in god, just in case he’s real!! Now, shall I follow Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna…”
    Get the point?

  42. How God Really Works « A Time To Speak Says:

    […] How God Really Works Jump to Comments A critique of God acting through human agents. […]

  43. TheAbysmal Says:

    oswald spengler maintains that aetheists are people rejecting the existing religious dogma as no longer fulfilling its spiritual duty.

    although most self-professed aetheists represent more of a predatory, capitalist, materialist, intellect, hierarchical & amoral cross-section of the population. their mantra “anything for a buck.”

  44. pifflestick Says:

    I created an account just too tell you this. You sir, are a fool, and a angry one at that. Your talking about how this man misplaces his anger and hits the professor, and its true, he shouldn’t have hit the professor. But, your acting like a complete prick. Its people like you who freak out when a local school tries to sing “religeous” christmas songs at the christmas play! Also, you expect too much from God, you expect him to jump out of the sky and blast those Iraqi’s! No, God does not work that way, and he doesn’t come out on demand. Also, don’t make bastards look like scapegoats! Thats what all the atheist blogists do! “Oh, he was just showing God dosn’t exist” No, he’s making an asshole of himself and taunting every student who believes in God!

  45. gaysolomon Says:


    Not sure how you come to the conclusion that The Professor is angry.

    I am afraid that “angry atheist” is a tired old streoetype that simply does not apply to every atheist. Now – you would not want us to repeat an old steroetype and say that every fundie is an banjo pluck’n idiot…would you?

    The Professor’s point is that god(s)’ actions are not observable in the real world. This is not the construct of an angry atheist, but a realization that many thinking people have come to (believer and unbeliever alike). The existence of evil in the world, and god(s) who seem to do nothing about it is a genuine concern. A real puzzler.

    It is all well and fine to say that god(s) work in mysterious ways or to say that the god(s) ways are inscrutable to people, but these are non-answers. If god(s) are real (in other words we can see and measure the acts of god(s) then where is your evidence?

    Show me one bit of concrete objective evidence and I will confess my soul to Jesus this very minute.

  46. pujyboy Says:

    God fails to heal a lot more than cancer. Would it really make sense if he gave us everything we wanted and had us all living forever in a world-wide garden of eden? Life is a very short and simple test to see what and who we are before we get sent to, in my belief, and eternal happiness, an eternal pain, or a limbo where those who are not ready yet for either can either repent or hold on to their pride. What would be the point of heaven if earth was the same thing? Let me put it into perspective.

    I just started playing Bioshock. (great game BTW) Is Rapture city perfect? Fuck no, it’s a twisted hell hole of evil. But why do I choose to immerse myself in a game that is so full of evil and shocking images? Because it is an adventure. If I look up cheat codes to make myself invincible and to give myself infinite ammo and one shot kills, what is the point of playing?

    Now if heaven is the magical I WIN button, why will that be any fun? Well, whatever being created the universe will probably have something cool in store for me.

    People have such a hard time getting their minds around the concept of a deity. It really isn’t that hard. Everything that is designed has a designer, and this universe has a pretty amazing design. There are aspects of we will not grasp for millions of years and it will be a very long time until we figure it out completely.

  47. sluggabohn Says:

    I wouldn’t expect god, or santa claus, or whoever else you believe in to cure everyones cancer or “blast those Iraqi’s”.
    But how about if he could keep a 9 year old girl safe from being repeatedly raped by her father. And let’s not forget that if you believe the bible, god CHOSE that father for the little girl.
    Anyone who believes in the Abrahamic god, and willingly follows him is complicit in thousands or millions of cases of child rape.

  48. pujyboy Says:

    So, Sluggabohn, by if you are an atheist then I guess you helped Hitler run his concentration camps. You choose not to believe in God just like he did. Godless people are all evil now?

    Yea, I’m trolling… Meh. 🙂

  49. TheAbysmal Says:

    “Godless people are all evil now?”

    according to the followers of that old angry, paternal, tribal volcano god from the deserts in the middle east, anyone who doesn’t believe as they do is evil.

    you have good and evil, and you must align with good. So, divide the world into binary opposites, decide which is good, then destroy the other. It’s as simple as zoroastrianism.

    that’s why we have “good & evil” “us & them” “north & south” “yankees & rebels” “christians & mooslems” “white & black” etc etc etc

    ‘d be nice if once in a while, somebody remembered some of those sermons about accepting that good & evil are part of the big game called life, and making the most of it.

    we use god as an excuse the same way we use evolution as an excuse the same way we use genetics as an excuse.

  50. sluggabohn Says:

    If memory serves, Hitler was Catholic.

  51. sluggabohn Says:

    Besides, that war ended about 20 or so years before I was brought into this world.

  52. sluggabohn Says:

    Sorry to go off topic,
    Can someone tell me how to make my name link to my wordpress blog?

  53. PalMD Says:

    So, the old argument that atheists are eugenicists surfaces again. The unscientific and immoral ideas of eugenics are supported by both religious and non religious people.

    And yes, it would make sense if God “gave us everything we wanted and had us all living forever in a world-wide garden of eden” In fact it makes exactly as much sense as a God who is completely detached, a God who is mysterious, or a god who is arbitrary.

  54. TheAbysmal Says:

    exactly, PalMD

    eugenics is the attempt to breed out traits one finds aesthetically unpleasant. Like ethnicities. And in keeping with our belief that genes control everything, we try to keep the “good” traits, and eliminate the “evil” traits.

    it’s gross interference with the process of human development, and generally just silly.

  55. Ed Darrell Says:

    Sorry to go off topic,
    Can someone tell me how to make my name link to my wordpress blog?

    You’ll have to modify your profile to show the blog as yours. At the WordPress page, perhaps?

  56. badger1963 Says:

    Man, you have a pretty miserable set of commenters here. Lots of nice handwaving and refusal to acknowledge your point though. What struck me, however, is the another example of how conservatives have trouble being funny.

    The joke doesn’t end with a punchline, but a sermon. Take out the last paragraph and replace it with, “The marine said, ‘God works in mysterious ways, ” and at least it would have been a joke. I suspect that much humor really depends on the tension between two contradictory ideas, and the black and white thinking of fundamentalist and other conservatives can’t handle it.

    Maybe I should take a college course in humor from ‘an avowed atheist, liberal ACLU member’ proffessor.

  57. panoramia Says:

    Fascinating! A lot of anger mixed in with good nature in those comments, there’s hope for us yet?
    I’ve bashed out a few thoughts on why God is incapable of intervention in this mucky world. If anyone’s interested they are available:
    (Sorry, I don’t know how to activate a link either—cut and paste, guys. Good luck)

  58. panoramia Says:

    Okay, I just copied the URL from the “address-entry-box” in my browser (Opera) (I use an ancient Mac) and pasted it into the comments box. And it works!
    (Is this an act of God?)

  59. The bones of Jesus « Evangelical Realism Says:

    […] on Patron “Goddess”…panoramia on Patron “Goddess”…panoramia on How God really “works&#8…panoramia on How God really “works&#8…badger1963 on How God really […]

  60. evanthered Says:

    I would critique your conclusion by adding that ALL attributions of responsibility function the same way. Events occur, and historical work is applied to the subject matter in order to construct a responsible agent FOR the events to have been caused by. Admittedly, the marine’s assertion that God told him to push the professor is not only silly but a manifest lie. The thing is, unexplainable things happen to people, and God is a substance projected underneath these experiential events, for practical reasons. There have always been unexplainable things, so God persists, and surely will continue to do so. The “god of the gaps” theory postulates that this Divine Persistence is merely an artifact of our ignorance, which is quickly being replaced, through science, with understanding and knowledge. This betrays, though, an inaccurate portrayal of the scientific enterprise as wholly linear and wholly cumulative. Since this is not the case, God will probably always be an honest, viable option. The presence or absence of teleology can only be decided pragmatically.

  61. The Professor Says:

    Good thoughts. I would reply that, while this is true, it still makes a difference whether we are reasoning backwards (Y happened, therefore I believe X must have caused it) or reasoning forwards (if A happens in the real world, it would produce consequences C and D as well as B, therefore we can evaluate whether A caused B by looking to see whether C and D happened also). The difference between science and superstition is that superstition attributes effects to causes without being able to document an actual connection between the alleged cause and the observed effect (and often is unable to even suggest what form such a connection would take). Science, by contrast, not only proposes the cause, but works out how the cause would operate in the real world, in sufficient detail that we can objectively infer what observable consequences would result, and how the consequences would differ if the proposed cause were not correct.

    Attributing real-world phenomena to God can never rise above the level of naive superstition unless and until we can verifiably observe God literally showing up and acting in the real world.

  62. Day v. Dawkins, et al « Evangelical Realism Says:

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  63. hfreeman17 Says:

    Here’s a book and a site you might find interesting:

  64. gasdocpol Says:


    Post hoc ergo propter hoc and constructive dilemmas aside.
    Newton’s 2nd law of thermodynamics suggests to me that there IS a God. God makes things go from entropy to more order.
    I do not pretend to know much about the details and I suspect that Satan exists also and they are our parents (of course I cannot prove that).

    I was surprised to learn recently that only 50% of Americans believe in Evolution. There are no atheist politicians. The Bible was written when we had no idea of what an atom or germ was.

    If Jesus were here and saw what is being said and done in his name, he would probably be pissed off.

  65. chigliakus Says:

    “Newton’s 2nd law of thermodynamics suggests to me that there IS a God. God makes things go from entropy to more order.”

    Well then, since we never see “things go from entropy to more order” in the real world I don’t see how this suggests there is a god. I’m guessing you’re mistaking Earth’s biosphere for a closed system and therefore misapplying the 2nd law. 😉

  66. gasdocpol Says:

    Nah….There is tremendous order in the universe and life. In nature things have a tremenous tendency to break down and go toward more randomness. Given the complexity of the the universe and life, it seems to me that there must have been a creator . It seems less likely to me that it happened by chance. I cannot prove any of this.

    Alternatively, one could assume an infinate mumber of monkeys at an infinate number of typewriters and one of wthem will write all of Shakespear’s plays. You might prefer that.

    In any case, I do not claim to understand God in the detail that our theologians do.

  67. chigliakus Says:

    Vague hand waving about complexity and order, not sure if you’re talking about life or cosmology. Regardless neither life nor the order we see in the cosmos contradict the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Everything marches slowly and inexorably towards the heat death of the universe.

    The monkeys and typewriters analogy is flawed when applied to processes that aren’t completely random.

    It doesn’t take a theologian to understand God anymore than it takes a physicist to understand and properly apply the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  68. gasdocpol Says:

    Does the process of a fertilized ovum going to a fully develloped human being follow the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

    How about the two lbs of table salt and enough phosphorous to make a match, etc in the process of making a human being?

    I do not claim to know more detail about God than a theologian. Just because they claim to do so does not mean that they do.

  69. The Professor Says:

    Have you considered the possibility that the tremendous order you see in the universe is itself a property of the universe? If you think about it, it might very well be that the entity people think of as God is the universe itself. Or rather, reality itself (see the Patron Goddess link at the top of the page).

    A fertilized egg does indeed obey all three laws of Thermodynamics in the process of progressing from a single cell to a fully-grown adult. The Second Law does not forbid temporary, local increases in complexity, it describes the properties of the system as a whole.

  70. chigliakus Says:

    “Does the process of a fertilized ovum going to a fully develloped[sic] human being follow the 2nd law of thermodynamics?”
    Absolutely. The Professor already explained that you can’t look at the fertilized egg as a closed system, but allow me to elaborate.
    The blastocyst is increasing in complexity, and how can it do this without an outside source of energy? Well in this case the mother is providing (chemical) energy and nutrients.
    These nutrients and energy are obtained via food. At the bottom of the food chain are the plants, which are reducing entropy with energy obtained from the Sun.
    The heat death of the universe that I mention in a previous post happens when everything everywhere reaches the same temperature. The sun will not shine forever, as it burns its nuclear fuel the entropy of the earth-sun system increases and the 2nd law of thermodynamics is obeyed.

    The concept of God or Gods is not that complicated to understand, the theologians are not probing more deeply into God, but the subjective beliefs of men. See some of The Professors excellent blog articles for further elaboration on this point.

  71. gasdocpol Says:

    The only thing that I was trying to say is that I think that, given the complexity of life and the universe, I think that it is unlikely that it all happened by chance and it seems more likely to me that there was a Creator. I cannot prove this but I believe this.

    I think that we created God in OUR image rather than the reverse.

    I think that Evolution is not incompatable with having a Creator.

    That would seem to make me an Agnostic or a Deist.

    • Matt (New Zealand) Says:

      What do you mean by this?
      “I think that we created God in OUR image rather than the reverse.”

      I think to an extent you are right. We are told that God made us in our image but when we attempt to understand what this means we make incorrect assumptions about what being made in the image of God really means. For example, it would be incorrect to say that God has eyes, nose and mouth like we do. That would be an incorrect interpretation of what it means to be made in the image of God.

      This is helpful:

  72. Ed Darrell Says:

    Evolution isn’t chance. Check your dictionary: “Selection” is not listed as a synonym for “accident.”

    Given that life works, it’s much more likely that it arose through the process of evolution by natural and sexual selection as Darwin described it, than by magic from an arbitrary deity who can’t design.

    Laws of nature, or magic? I’ll take the laws of nature every time.

  73. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I think “deist” would fit pretty well with the things you are saying. Just to clarify, though: “just by chance” is the creationist version of what science says. What science actually says is very much the opposite of “just by chance.” There is tremendous meaning in the universe, and by understanding what things mean, scientists are able to unravel the complex and subtle interactions by which relatively simple processes combine to produce the results that have us so awed and mystified.

  74. from italy Says:

    by the way, the sentence told by the professor was really pronounced in a speech by Mussolini when he was a joung socialist

  75. Gideon Zee Says:

    Why is it that you believe God acts, if God acts at all, without and only without, the conscious decisions of humankind?

  76. Matt (New Zealand) Says:

    Regarding how God works.
    There’s a story in the bible of Peter needing some $ to pay the temple tax and Jesus tells him to go to the lake and look in the mouth of the first fish he finds. So he goes and find a fish and finds a coin in its mouth that is enough to pay the tax.

    We’d call that a miracle but I wouldn’t be surprised if earlier that morning someone was out in a boat and accidentally dropped a coin over the side.

    Is that any less of a miracle?

    It is so easy to think that if our laws of science aren’t being broken then God is not working. This is certainly not the case.

    Another example:
    Jesus tells a couple of his disciples that they’ll find a donkey tied up at a certain place and a certain time. The disciples go and find the donkey just as Jesus said. The donkey owner will tell you that he put his donkey there by his own free will but somehow he was doing exactly what God had planned for his donkey, without even knowing it.

    Referring to the story of the Marine and his professor:
    Is it any surprise that when you stand on your table and waggle your finder at God making stupid demands, that God ignores you?
    I know, its not the story itself but the point of the story that is important. The simple fact is that you will never understand a bit about how God works until you know a bit about God.

  77. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Hi Matt.

    The problem with “knowing a bit about God” is that, since God does not show up in real life, our only sources of “knowledge” about Him are the words and thoughts and feelings of men. Consequently, what we call “faith in God” is really “faith in men”—we’re trusting in men to tell us the truth about God. And unfortunately, these men contradict each other, themselves, and real-world truth, so that blindly trusting what they tell us isn’t even faith, it’s just gullibility.

  78. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Hi Gideon,

    You are mistaken in your assumptions. I believe the exact opposite: that “God acts” only to the extent that people think and say and do the things required to cause Him to “act.” I did not come to this decision lightly, but only as a result of years of experience and research, as a born-again, Bible-believing conservative Christian believer. This is not just an isolated case either: the evidence is consistent, universal, and enduring.

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