Thought for the Day - John Bell - 17/12/2012

If I were an atheist, the killings in Sandy Hook would have confirmed me in my belief that religion was a fatuous, sentimental and dangerous distraction.

If there is a loving God, where’s the evidence - particularly when innocents are massacred, and the dawning potential in children finds a hellish end?

If I were a parent, I would probably hug my children tighter today and feel an uncanny empathy for mothers and fathers in Connecticut who are dealing with an unimaginable grief.

If there is a loving God, where’s the evidence?

It’s evidence, to some extent, which people are now looking for: evidence of the derangement
of the gunman; evidence as to whether or not he was in a relationship of animosity with his mother or with the school; evidence of how he had managed to get into premises presumed to be secure; evidence of whether violence in films or video games encourages susceptible people to commit murder… not that such evidence will ever eradicate or mollify the pain of loss.

But where is the evidence for God?

There isn’t much really. And I don’t believe that the horrendous nature of Friday’s killings is made palatable by well intentioned nostrums such as:
‘These things are sent to try us,’
or ‘Suffering breeds good character,’
or, most insensitively, ‘This is the direct consequence of sin’

No, there isn’t much evidence of God if we are looking for the missing piece to make sense of the jig-saw puzzle of life. God is not the instant answer to our quick request.

Instead, three times in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures we find people of faith having to deal with infanticide - the slaughter of innocents. And in the collection of poems we call the Psalms we find repeated unanswered questions Why? When? How long? and Why?… it’s a vocabulary not for piety, but for pain.

And then -as Christians believe- God comes in Jesus, flesh of our flesh, to share the pain, the uncertainty and the insecurity of human life, to enter into solidarity with all who suffer, and to bring to the mystery of unmerited agony the bigger mystery of unmerited love.

And all this because nowhere does any religion profess that God made the world perfect. Instead we believe that God made the world good. And love, only love can make it better.

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