I am going to have to stop reading the news one of these days, I think. What it brings me, day in and day out, is a bitter harvest of suffering and misery, gathered from all the world over, and it is getting to be more than I can bear.

Anyone who is looking for good reason to doubt the existence of a caring, personal, and omnipotent God need look no further than the heartbreaking story of little Abigail Taylor, who is only six years old. This innocent child was playing in a country club’s kiddie pool when she sat upon its drain; the suction of the powerful motor pulled the poor girl’s intestines out through her bottom. Astonishingly, she survived. She has now had to have what remained of her intestines removed, and will have to be fed intravenously for the rest of her life.

The problem of why a caring God would permit men to wreak evil upon one another is a difficult one, and believers often rely on a clever loophole: that for Man to have been “all that he could be”, he had to be created with free will, which in turn permits — to God’s measureless sorrow, of course — all the brutality that in infinite and sanguinary variety has been the principal feature of human history (a great deal of it committed, of course, if not directly in religion’s name, then with the willing complicity of its churches).

But what divine Plan, what sacred Purpose, required that a sweet child of six, a laughing little girl, must be eviscerated alive, disemboweled in utter agony as she splashed and frolicked on a summer day? How could an omnipotent God, who notes the fall of every sparrow, and sustains every drop of the gentle spring rain, and who loves us as his own children, allow such a thing to happen?

Oh, I nearly forgot: God’s ways are mysterious; it is not for us here below to presume to understand the workings of His transcendent wisdom.

No. This simply will not do. Look at that innocent child, that harmless, laughing little slip of a girl, and think of what she has just been made to endure, and what her life will be like. If she has any chance whatsoever for amelioration of her misery it will be by the hand of Godless science, perhaps in the form of breakthroughs in tissue regeneration, or transplantion, or alloplasty. But the hand of God? It has done its work already, thank you.

How can anyone imagine that such a monstrous Being exists — either one who could have prevented such horror, and did nothing, or who inflicted it with malevolent purpose — without shuddering in despair at the prospect? Are we prisoners of a vicious and omnipotent sadist? Is Almighty God insane, a brutal and cackling psychopath? Have we died, and this is already Hell?

No; I’ll have none of it. Abigail, sweet child, this was a horrible, horrible accident, and my weary heart aches for your suffering, and for the devastating sorrow of your poor parents. And if anyone ever tells you that God spared you for a purpose, spit in his eye.


  1. eugene says

    Welcome to my camp, that’s why I turned into atheist when I was teen.
    But at the same time, I guess numerous theologians in Judaism, Christianity and Islam will
    point the book of job (the most interesting part in bible to myself) as explanation.
    And those in Hinduism and Buddhism will argue this under concept of Karma.

    But for myself now, only science and our sympathy will make better world happen
    under our hands.

    Posted July 6, 2007 at 12:25 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ve been pretty solidly in this camp myself for a long, long time, actually; I have tried, on many occasions over the years, to give religious teachings a sympathetic reading, but at this point I’ve pretty much had it.

    I like very much your closing remark:

    …only science and our sympathy will make better world happen
    under our hands.

    Though English is not your native tongue, those are eloquent words.

    Posted July 6, 2007 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm: I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Posted July 7, 2007 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Dennis.

    Posted July 7, 2007 at 1:19 am | Permalink

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