So far, as we’ve gone through this series of responses to Marshall Brain’s website “God is imaginary”, we’re seeing that he really likes to attack straw men, so much so that it is truly embarrassing that anyone would produce so many. But, when one has an axe to grind, straw men are easy targets because they don’t fight back. Proof 44 is really no different, except in where Marshall aims his ire, this time asking his readers to “think about a Christian housewife”.
Take one moment to think about a typical Christian and her “answered prayers.” For example, there is a Christian housewife in Pasadena who firmly believes that God answered her prayer this morning to remove the mustard stain from her favorite blouse. She prayed to God to help remove the stain, and after she washed it the stain was gone. Praise Jesus!
Yes, let’s think for a moment. Maybe that prayer to “remove the mustard stain from her favorite blouse”, was so that she could wear it to a job interview and make a good impression on a perspective boss after her husband either left her, was laid off, or has died. There are at least a hundred different scenarios that one could run through their mind as to why she would need that stain to come out, but guess what, they don’t really prove anything because they are simply any number of possible options. That one “answered prayer” that Marshall scoffs at, could be the start of a entire line of further answers. But Marshall continues,
There are tens of millions of true believers
in the United States who know
that God is personally helping them each day with their trivial prayers. They believe that they have a personal relationship with God, that God hears their prayers each day, and that God has time to reach down and remove the mustard molecules one by one. They believe it with all of their hearts.
I believe that God does personally attend to every aspect of my life that I submit to him. Sometimes the stains come out, sometimes they don’t, but we all have a greater problem than a mustard stain on our shirts and blouses. We have a problem with sin stains, stains that have corrupted the fabric of our lives and make us unpresentable and utterly offensive to a holy God. But God has seen to that problem by sending his Son to provide a means of cleansing the more important problem, but marshall seems to think that there is another one,
It makes you wonder: If God has the time and the will to answer these trivial prayers, manipulating the mustard molecules in response to a housewife’s prayer, then why is God ignoring the big, important prayers? For example, why isn’t he answering the prayers of the billions of people on this planet who are living in stark, abject poverty? It is when you think about this simple question that you realize how imaginary God is and how delusional
and completely self-centered Christians can be.
As I pointed out earlier, maybe the removal of the mustard stain that he reviles, could be the first step onto a path out of poverty, but Marshall fails to define what “stark, abject poverty” is and the reasons why a person could be living in such a state. People living in poverty doesn’t lead to the conclusion that God is “imaginary” or that Christians are “self-centered”, it simply proves that poverty, whatever that is, exists.
I have lived in an impoverished state with no lights and no running water and barely a roof over my head, something Marshall has probably never had to do. What living in such a state taught, after achieving an improved state in life, was to appreciate and care for what I had gained because I could fall into a worse state. But, Marshall digs his hole a little deeper,
One obvious question that any rational person would ask is this: If an all-powerful god is answering the housewife’s prayer, why does she need to wash the shirt? Why not hang the stained, wrinkled shirt in the closet and pray for God to clean and press it there? An all-powerful God could just as easily remove the stain in the closet as he can in the washing machine.
True, that appears to be logical, from Marshall’s perspective, but it’s not just the the washing machine that does the work, but the detergent and stain remover that she uses, but that is still no guarantee that the stain will come out. Marshall’s own myopia, something that he also accuses Jesus of, prevents him from seeing the entire picture. He chooses to focus on one part, failing to ask the right questions.
As I’ve discussed here and here about the issue of prayer, Marshall has shrunk God down to some kind of cosmic butler who focuses on one thing rather than working out the whole council of his will. If Marshall was really as concerned about poverty as he pretends to be, he would not be focusing on some hypothetical housewife from Pasadena, but the reality of the problem and potential solutions. This “proof” is nothing but a mask, a red herring and a straw man that doesn’t deal with the real issues, meaning that he can’t. Marshall seems to believe that people in poverty cannot be just as self-centered as some hypothetical woman. A person could be in poverty because they have put themselves at the center, believing that people should serve them, but that though would never cross his mind because that is a possibility that Christians have open to them because we believe that “self” is an idol that we have set up against the knowledge of God, but his bigotry would not allow such a consideration. That point alone say that “self” is the greatest problem, not poverty.