God Given Victory?

Introduction

Since the days of the Greeks and likely long before their pantheon even got started mankind has been appealing to supernatural forces for everything and anything. Be it an ancient culture performing human sacrifices to appease their deities and bring the rain their crops needed or a modern Christian praying that Jesus help them on their final exams. Human beings, it seems, are superstitious. But the very fact that we have always appealed to these supernatural beings for help should be a dead give away that no God deserves credit for victory, be it on the battlefield or in the classroom.

This is part of an ongoing series of hubs about the subject of believers giving credit to God for the strangest things, things that, as I hope to show, God has nothing to do with.

War, Uh, Good God

War and superstition seem to go hand in hand. Obviously there are a great number of folks in the military who maintain some kind of religious faith. I'd take this moment to point out that there are indeed atheists in foxholes however (one of my best friends is currently in Iraq and is also an atheist). Despite the atheists who bravely fight alongside religious military members it's easy to see how irrational superstitious beliefs could be beneficial to a fighting force. I can remember feelings of power and invincibility when I was a Christian during prayer. There is a confidence that stems from the irrational belief that the all powerful Creator of the Universe is on your side and that has served to give many soldiers a bit of a morale boost.

There are those that believe, however, that God himself is deciding who wins a conflict. Some years ago, before I realized I was an atheist, my Father told me that it was Christian soldiers who had won in WW2 and that they had done so only because of the prayers of the faithful here in America. Even then, still a drifter in between theism and atheism, I could see the issues in these ideas. Not only did I know for a fact that some of the soldiers MUST have been atheists but I also knew that the Nazis ALSO believed God was on their side.

Their belt buckles read Gott Mein Uns, GOD WITH US. Of course Christians will dismiss the idea that God could have ever supported the Nazis since so many of them were involved in horrible atrocities. I think they're forgetting how many atrocities God himself commits and condones in the Bible. The God of the Bible is not beyond committing genocide although Christians will be quick to point out that the Nazi's primarily targeted Jews for extermination and labor camps.

So was it God who decided WW2? Does God pick which countries are his favorites? We should also not forget that the Allies, in particular America, were far from blameless in WW2. We may not have sent millions to death camps but we did drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing primarily innocent Japanese civilians. We then rounded up Japanese Americans into internment camps. The Allies were less evil than Hitler to be sure but we did not escape the war without thousands of innocent lives staining our hands. This is about a mile away from the turn the other cheek philosophy of Jesus but it does fit well enough with the revenge-hungry win-at-all-cost attitude of the Old Testament God.

The idea that prayers, that God, won WW2, or any other conflict does something else which I find to be the most aggravating aspect of it for me.

The Sacrifice

One would think that Christians of all people would understand sacrifice. Millions gave their lives in WW2 to help win against the Nazis. If it was God that won the war than their sacrifice is completely meaningless. They gave their lives for nothing. It also means that God allowed each of them to die. After all if he was in control of the entire war, and apparently decided he liked the Allies better than the Axis, than he could have put a stop to the whole thing. Perhaps he could have dropped some fire and brimstone on Berlin long before D-Day even became necessary. Or perhaps a more fair and less Old Testament solution where the truly evil Nazis dropped dead suddenly.

What about events like the Civil War. History seems to suggest that God was on the side of the North, yet the South supported Slavery... but the God of the Bible ALSO supports slavery... at least he supported allowing the ancient Hebrews to have slaves, he even directly regulated who they could take as slaves (direct from the mouth of God slavery is condoned in Exodus 21 only 1 chapter after the famed 10 Commandments).

The sacrifice of so many for so few becomes so meaningless if God is the one deciding the conflict. What were they fighting for if God could have stepped in at any moment and defeated Hitler himself? Why would a loving God let such a monster rise to power? Of course apologists would just claim it was humanities fault for letting Hitler commit all those atrocities. I'd remind those folks that according to them the Jews are God's chosen people... if he's not going to look out for his own chosen than he's a more pathetic God than I thought (and that's pretty bad for those who've followed my other hubs).

Would a movie like GOD ON TRIAL, need to exist if God had done a damn thing about WW2? The answer, an obvious NO.

Smaller Victories

Despite the nonsensical and superstitious nature of this trend people all around the world continue to plead with magical and supernatural forces to rule in their favor on a host of things. When I was Christian of fourteen or fifteen I would ask God to get me a girlfriend or at least provide me the confidence to ask the girls I had crushes on out.

In a recent news story an atheist supposedly converted when his Mother won the lottery after praying about it. The truth is that most people who play the lottery probably pray about it. If I played the lotto even I'd probably lift a few tongue-in-cheek invocations to Joe Pesci (in honor of George Carlin of course). The fact that this event convinced this atheist just goes to show you that it doesn't take brains to be an atheist... of course I'd like to think it helps.

Sports teams are another place where this type of superstition is rank. I've never been a huge sports fan, although like most men my age during NFL season you will find me watching football come Sunday (anyone know if that damned lock-out is over?). Many sportsfans pray, cross their fingers or rub their lucky rabbits feet and hope their teams win. Even more sickening are the after-game interviews with overpaid athletes talking about how Jesus helped them win and gave them their talents. Forget genetics and all the hard work they did in training camp, it was a dead guy who got nailed to a piece of wood 2,000 years ago, that's why they won. The very idea seems OBVIOUSLY wrong in every way.

Of course every fan thinks God is on their teams side and the only person who doesn't have a say in it is, well, God himself. Could it be because there's probably no God or, if there is one, he just doesn't care about who wins American football?

As with war the idea that God decides the victor cheapens the efforts of those involved. The players, the coaches who came up with the game plan, etc. If a deity were really meddling in our affairs this way don’t you think we’d notice? Kinda reminds me of a movie I used to watch when I was a kid, btw don’t judge me, I was a huge Christopher Lloyd fan ;)

Conclusion

Victory is just another thing that people give credit to God for that God doesn’t have anything to do with. I see no difference between claims that the gods intervened in the Trojan war and God intervening in WW2. I see no difference between those that pray to Allah and win the lottery and those that pray to Jehovah and win the lottery. Which makes me wonder why after all these centuries the habit still persists. Superstition dies hard.

Thanks for reading, leave feedback below and as always if you have any other things that God gets credit for that I have yet to address in my other hubs on the subject let me know.

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Comments 9 comments

Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

I wonder if any believers will give their god of choice the credit for your ability to write this hub. You mentioned sports and this is one of my favorites. What happened to all those prayers and pleas from the losing team? Why were these ignored?

I haven't thought about Joe Pecsi's ability to get Sh*t done in awhile. Thanks for the reminder of that skit.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

Good Hub! Reading the rest of the series.

Being a theatre person, I used to watch the major award ceremonies every year. (Every actor prepares an 'oscar' speech, even long after they cease to be a factor) :)

I was always baffled by those that thanked god for winning an oscar. Any creator worth believing in has much more important things to do than worry about whether a human on earth gets their 5 minutes of fame because a group of humans thought they did their job well that day. . .

But just to be devil's (god's?) advocate. . .

"if he was in control of the entire war, and apparently decided he liked the Allies better than the Axis, than he could have put a stop to the whole thing. Perhaps he could have dropped some fire and brimstone on Berlin long before D-Day even became necessary. "

I don't expect 'magic' from a creator. And if the creator lives on a scale of 'forever', than the 6 years of world war II wasn't all that long. And the deaths? Inevitable. Everyone who fought in world war 1 is dead, whether the war killed them or not.

this will soon be true of world war II. The war did not change that reality.

Since we are here to die, preventing death is clearly not the goal of any creator.

As for the small victories, to misquote from an otherwise ghastly movie 'Bruce Almighty': "When we pray for strength, do you think god gives you strength? Or does he give you opportunities to be strong?"

just sayin. :)

Good hub

cheers


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

Very good!

I remember my Dad pointing out to me, when I was a child, the footballers praying and crossing themselves on the field.

As Dad said, then, why would God support any one team, rather than another?

Furthermore, if God really is there, then surely he has more important things to deal with?

And, really, shouldn't Believers get their priorities right, and pray for sick and starving children, rather than for victory in a game!?


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Anton

As always thought provoking stuff Anton, this in particular made me think,

"Since we are here to die, preventing death is clearly not the goal of any creator."

It's not so much the death that's the issue, but the suffering involved in those deaths. Soldiers and people in concentration camps suffered greatly in WW2. So it goes back to the problem of suffering that those who believe in an active miracle performing God (not so much you I'm guessing) have yet to account for. Especially in this case where some want to suggest their God directly intervened in the war.

@Stump

"Why were these ignored?"

Exactly. Were the losing team's fans just not faithful enough? Did they not believe hard enough and clap loud enough to bring tinkerbell back to life?

@Trish

"Furthermore, if God really is there, then surely he has more important things to deal with?"

You'd think so wouldn't you, cancer patients to heal, starving mouths to feed. While he's picking his favorite team the rest of his "children" are being neglected. It makes sense if there's no God, or if there is a God and that God is an incompetent in-compassionate buffoon.

Thanks for the comments everyone :)


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

"It makes sense if there's no God, or if there is a God and that God is an incompetent in-compassionate buffoon."

It also makes sense if god has a use or requirement for suffering.

If death is a natural part of life, then all must die. Injury, deprivation (air, water, food), disease, old age. This is the way we die. As death is necessary, one of these things will happen to you.

None of these are without pain.

Hence pain too is unavoidable in a living system.

Suffering is an emotional state. Pain is the body's warning mechanism that something is wrong.

Of course it is emotional, or we wouldn't pay it any mind.

'Bad' people use that mechanism, or the threat of it, to manipulate us. It's how we learn that they are 'bad'

Assuming that life is the only way to make souls, and that there is no magic, I submit a creator doesn't have a choice. If the creator wants souls, there must be life, death and pain.

Now, that we don't like this may lead us not to believe in a creator.

But it says nothing about whether a creator exists or not. Just that we don't like the creation.

I'm pretty sure most young children don't understand why their parents do nothing while a doctor administers a lumbar puncture (spinal tap).

I didn't understand the dentist when I was a toddler either.

If no creator, no reason to be upset at the suffering. It just is. The people that cause it, sometimes us, are considered bad to the people who experience it.

If a creator, we need to know a heck of a lot more before we can arrive at 'incompetent'.

We don't know enough to arrive at 'non-existent' in my opinion.

cheers


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Anton

"If a creator, we need to know a heck of a lot more before we can arrive at 'incompetent'."

Which is why I left in the possibility that this God just lacks compassion for human suffering. It seems a lot more likely to me that the Universe merely lacks a creator, at least one in the active super-natural sense that most theists mean. Can't rule out a deistic or unfalsifiable God however.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

"this God just lacks compassion for human suffering."

Or has tons of compassion, but needs the result more than needs us not to suffer. (dentist again. I'm sure it tore Mom up to have me shriek and hollar about the dentist, but she took me anyway. Good thing. I wouldn't have any teeth now if she hadn't)

Why I keep coming back to this is that I see a lot of people hold up the fact that suffering exists as evidence of no creator. It isn't. The existence of suffering only points to the fact that it is a feature of creation/reality. It causes reasonable and rational questions as to the nature of a creator, but says nothing regarding the existence of same.

I agree, though, most religions can't handle that paradox.

cheers


Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull 5 years ago from back in the lab again Author

@Anton

But if this God is a creator who actually cares about us at all one would expect less needless suffering.

I can think of no reason why it would benefit a deity to have children dying of cancer or getting molested or why any compassionate deity would include those as part of life for it's creation.

It isn't just religions that can't handle the paradox, to my mind no theist postulating a loving or caring deity can settle the dilemma, at least not without doing what you did, appealing to a sort of "Suffering must serve some greater need" argument.

The dentist analogy simply doesn't work in my opinion. While you may have experienced pain you also experienced the benefits as well. A child being tortured and killed by a kidnapper or dying a slow painful death from cancer has all the suffering with no one reaping any benefit and since no God has been established to exist any claim that such suffering benefits a God is baseless IMO.

I do agree that the suffering argument does not disprove most god concepts however I'd say it calls into question all those god concepts claimed to be directly interacting and claimed to be emotionally invested in humankind.


AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

"A child being tortured and killed by a kidnapper or dying a slow painful death from cancer has all the suffering with no one reaping any benefit"

Not the child and not in life, no. Someone else? After life?

Again, if you believe that we have an undying soul, the soul that suffers in life is experiencing this suffering for a vanishingly short moment of their existence.

Suppose I live forever, aware of a creator's plan to teach the nature of suffering to a living creature in order to develop a soul? I have finished my life, and now have a role in the afterlife.

If the creator asks me 'go to earth as a victim. Your suffering will teach new souls about themselves. It will teach them to abhor suffering. It will prevent them from causing it when they come to their responsibilities after death.'

'I'll see you in a few years' (translate: nanoseconds against infinity).

This is total fantasy, but in that context, I can make sense of it. Do I like it? I'm not fond of pain, myself, and even as I write it there is something missing, but . . .

"I'd say it calls into question all those god concepts claimed to be directly interacting and claimed to be emotionally invested in humankind."

No argument from me there.

cheers

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