Yet again, I have encountered the angry atheist on social media! I get this often, and I’ve stopped really trying to get into a debate, since only face-to-face would do. It very often comes completely out-of-context as a comment on any article that addresses Christians about justice, forgiveness, judging, world politics, an atrocity, current news… well, very little that does not stir them into a frenzy of “HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IN A JUST GOD WHO LETS ALL THESE AWFUL THINGS IN THE WORLD HAPPEN?”
Or words to that effect.
I shall not get into ‘freewill’ here – too long! Many books out there to read on the matter, and many, many theological debates have occurred (that I am sure you could find on YouTube easily too, though I haven’t looked). Nor am I going to offer any defence for God. Those who try just end up being very inadequate defence lawyers for an unfathomable Creator, and quite frankly, I believe God can do it himself, when and how he chooses; in the words of Bono: “Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady!”
At the same time, I have started watching a great BBC3 documentary series about excluded children – those who have been sent to a ‘special school’ for bad behaviour, and how they might be helped. Often there is a reason for disruptive behaviour in a child. One child was a model pupil who then started getting very angry with everyone, defying teachers, and getting into fights. Obviously, something had changed her, and as it turned out, she had lost both her mother and an older sibling in the same year. Clearly she was hurt and angry with the universe, and was lashing out.
Even before seeing this documentary, I had found myself, in the most recent online debate, asking one of these angry atheists if by any chance their anger with God was personal, and qualifying that it was not meant to be patronising, since reading that question via social media, it may well come across that way. I just got more anger, and others weighed in too.
Now I have often been asked just why I get so angry at the mention of the name of Thatcher. It is a problem for me; my wife can often be heard telling someone who doesn’t know “NO! Don’t mention her! Don’t get him started!!” I have been asked if it’s personal, and I have honestly answered that there was an element of it: she was the instigator of the ‘new era’ of prosperity, where everyone would have equal chance to get a fair slice of the pie, if only they were willing to work for it. Without labouring on all the lies we were sold, my own experience was of venturing out into self-employment and working every hour I had, applying my intellect and skills, and ended up with nothing more than some debt and a loss of self-esteem. Two further ventures into ‘hard work’ yielded the same results. It’s all a big con, and the ‘Protestant Work Ethic’ (whatever that may be to you, go figure) certainly does not apply here. In recognising my personal involvement, I was able to divorce that from my genuine righteous anger at the injustice around me, and empathise with the millions of hard-working poor (I’m now part of the non-working poor but maybe my book will change that). I was even able to reach a cathartic moment where I could forgive the person of Thatcher and seek forgiveness for my own hatred. All humans are valuable and worthy of loving, even politicians and billionaire bankers! Maybe even Islamic Jihadists too?
I’ve realised that anger against her gains nothing, especially now she’s long out of power, and dead too. It’s the whole ethos of the free market that needs to be railed against. Gordon Gekko summed up how we allowed that old thing that was called a sin in days of yore to become a mantra for life. In all the “we have taken a sin and rebranded it” ranting, greed seems to be the last one thought about, when it should be the first!
[Yes, I know Gekko is a fictional character, but literature, poetry, music and cinema is often the vanguard of truth in a world blinded by its own insanity]
SO: if you’re feeling angry at an ‘uncaring God’ in this universe, do two things: First, try to see if there is anything too personal that is clouding your judgment and making you boil over a bit too much – get a counsellor to help you if you can; seriously, you might be surprised at what burden(s) you could remove! Second, don’t stand yelling and shaking your fist at the sky – if you do see injustice in the world and atrocity committed, get angry with the perpetrators, not the big man in heaven. He didn’t do it.
Grace be with you.