Let’s play Who Gets The Credit?

When looking for silliness to dismantle, one of my first stops is Mark Shea’s blog.  That well just never runs dry.

So I went there this morning to find a letter he posted from a priest by the name of Niall Sheehan who was talking about a surgery he had to remove a cyst from his brain stem.  I’ve recopied the letter here with slight changes: when he talks about something that came from humans, I highlight it in blue, and when he talks about something which was not conceived or done by humans (leaving only god, if you’re religious), I highlight it in red.

It has been awhile since I last wrote to you.

The neurosurgeons successfully removed the cyst from my brainstem and so far so good.

I had the operation – which lasted nine hours – and has left me with a Blofeld scar running the length of the back of my head. But a week later I developed complications; an infection akin to meningitis. So spent the whole season of Lent and more in hospital pumped full of antibiotics.  It was from my hospital bed I heard the shock of Pope Benedict’s resignation and the excitement surrounding the election of Pope Francis.

Double vision has been a problem, hence my inability til now to contact you.  In addition, my energy levels are very low.  Like a car battery that cannot hold its charge, I’ll probably fall in a heap after punching out this email to you.

I asked the neurosurgeons what was it.  Apparently the ‘cyst’ was ‘inflamed tissue’.  To be honest I don’t care.  I have another MRI in late May but God willing that it is the end of it.  The operation, the consultant told me, was very dangerous and that if anyone has had the operation (I suppose in the UK) then I am the second.

So here I am, still, thank God.

In my head I planning to join the Down and Connor pilgrimage in July to Lourdes, if I get the green light following the MRI in May.  God willing, I will get to fulfil my promise to return and hear confessions, without nodding off.

While in hospital I was able to listen to the complete audio recording of The Lord of the Rings on my iPod.  To be honest, looking back, I feel exactly like Frodo.  Having faced Mount Doom, I find myself now back in the Shire that has been scarred by Saruman’s fear and pettiness – particularly the machinations of the visigoths across the world and my own Weathertop melancholic weariness.  So the road goes further on… So please keep me in prayer, but one of thanksgiving.  Lest I forget I have passed through fire and death, in the hand of another.  Christ is risen, yes, Christ has truly risen!

In gratitude,

Fr. Niall Sheehan

The irony throughout this post is just phenomenal.  After benefiting from, and praising, the exact same medical technology that confirms that people don’t rise from the dead, he throws it all to the wind with “Christ has truly risen!”

Praying to the same god who conceived of cysts, inflamed tissue, scars, infections, meningitis, double vision, and more, clearly would not work on it’s own.  Why should it?  At best, you could say god invented all those terrible things only to torture us into bartering for their removal with our worship.  So he goes to the doctor, where trained professionals use the products of human intelligence to counteract all of god’s afflictions.  And yet, who gets the credit?

And sure enough, Niall Sheehan can’t wait to get out of the hospital so he can return to kneeling at the feet of the same god who thought cancer was a good enough idea to leave in existence.

Believers will call this backwards way of thinking “hope”.  Frankly, there are plenty of outlets for hope that don’t require us to submit to dogma or to sacrifice common sense at the altar of faith.  And I think it says a lot of religion that it can cause people to gloss over the inversion of reality that is kissing the hand of the architect of infection while calling it “hope”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.sherman.501 Sean Sherman

    I like this color-coded idea so much because I need to use it on someone. I’ll give you the credit.

  • http://IAmDanMarshall.com/ Dan Marshall

    What Sean said… this is brilliant. I am almost in tears from the dear Friar’s cognitive dissonance.

  • Glodson

    If only the guy had a god to pray to who, by virtue of being all-powerful, could have removed the cyst without cutting open the guy’s head. Or even just prevented it from forming in the first place. If only.

  • Baby_Raptor

    What an offense to Lord of the Rings. Hell, that’s even offensive to Sauron…A lot of bad shit can be said about the guy, but petty? Not something that comes to mind.

    • Glodson

      I do wonder what he means by “I find myself now back in the Shire that has been scarred by Saruman’s
      fear and pettiness – particularly the machinations of the visigoths
      across the world and my own Weathertop melancholic weariness.”

      Well, I have a few guesses that range from charitable to the assumption that this guy is a complete douchebag.

  • islandbrewer

    Poor neurosurgeons getting short shrift. Then again, it’s just brain surgery – not like it’s rocket science.

  • http://twitter.com/wildcatterry17 Terry W.

    So shouldn’t the words “email”, “hospital bed”, and “God” be highlighted in blue? Since they are also things that came from humans?

  • http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/ Clint

    You seriously have no idea that in Christian theology demons are the ones considered to have “conceived of cysts, inflamed tissue, scars, infections, meningitis, double vision, and more”?

    • Glodson

      No. Not really. That’s not a good theological claim. Typically, the blame in theodicy is “the fall of man.” Or “mysterious ways.” Or maybe a little bit of soul making.

      The problem with blaming another supernatural entity is that it naturally forces the issue even more directly. Why isn’t an all powerful god preventing this force from inflicting suffering to his creation? Even the inaction leads to troubling implications about the character of god. If a demonic cause is the source of an illness, why does god fail to act? Is he powerless or apathetic? Or was this part of his plan to allow suffering to be done by a proxy supernatural being?

      Most theodicy I know doesn’t make the appeal to demonic forces. It makes for a poor argument for a loving, but all powerful god.

      Finally:

      I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.—Isaiah 45:7

      • http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/ Clint

        “No. Not really. That’s not a good theological claim. Typically, the blame in theodicy is ‘the fall of man.’ Or ‘mysterious ways.’ Or maybe a little bit of soul making.

        Whether it’s a good theological claim depends on whether or not Scriptures teaches it. Also, if you would carefully read what I quoted, you would realize I’m just talking about who was directly responsible for it, and not the overall issue of the problem of evil.

        “Most theodicy I know doesn’t make the appeal to demonic forces. It makes for a poor argument for a loving, but all powerful god.”

        Well now you know of one.

        Finally on Isaiah 45:
        http://www.tektonics.org/gk/godevil.html

        Nice laziness there on your part with using one of the oldest English translations in use today and not digging deeper.

        • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.kohler.338 Andrew Kohler

          “Nice laziness there on your part with using one of the oldest English translations in use today and not digging deeper.”

          I was unaware that the age of the translation has any bearing as to its reliability or truth claims. Was there no one at the time of this translation who had proficiency in both English and Hebrew? I looked at the link which explains that the verse could be translated as “peace and adversity” instead of “good and evil,” hence perhaps alleviating God’s responsibility for moral evil but not God’s responsibility for suffering. Nor does such a change in translation alter the fact that evil exists despite the alleged omnipotence and omnibenevolence of God.

          One would think that if the text were divinely written, or even divinely inspired, it would be rather less ambiguous, and that God would have found a way around the vexations of translation.

          “Also, if you would carefully read what I quoted, you would realize I’m just talking about who was directly responsible for it, and not the overall issue of the problem of evil.”

          I do not see that there is an appreciable difference between the overall issue of the problem of evil and the direct cause: whence come the demons? Do they not exist within the omnipotent God’s creation? This seems to be like focusing on the responsibility of the hired hit man instead of the person who placed the hit.

          • Guest

            “I was unaware that the age of the translation has any bearing as to its reliability or truth claims.”

            That was merely symptomatic of him not digging deeper, and I proved he hadn’t with my article.

            “Was there no one at the time of this translation who had proficiency in both English and Hebrew?”

            Yes, so it just means the KJV translators made an error with that specific verse.

            “I looked at the link which explains that the verse could be translated as “peace and adversity” instead of “good and evil,” hence perhaps alleviating God’s responsibility for moral evil but not God’s responsibility for suffering. Nor does such a change in translation alter the fact that evil exists despite the alleged omnipotence and omnibenevolence of God.”

            It’s actually saying he’s responsible for punishment, not suffering there.

            “One would think that if the text were divinely written, or even divinely inspired, it would be rather less ambiguous, and that God would have found a way around the vexations of translation.”

            Yet we have evidence that makes it clear. Sorry all the work of study isn’t beamed from heaven too.

            “I do not see that there is an appreciable difference between the overall issue of the problem of evil and the direct cause: whence come the demons? Do they not exist within the omnipotent God’s creation? This seems to be like focusing on the responsibility of the hired hit man instead of the person who placed the hit.”

            I didn’t say there was no appreciable difference. It will, of course, make the subject come up. I was just declining to discuss that next question and am sticking to the topic of the role of demons in natural evil.

          • http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/ Clint

            “I was unaware that the age of the translation has any bearing as to its reliability or truth claims.”

            That was merely symptomatic of him not digging deeper, and I proved he hadn’t with my article.

            “Was there no one at the time of this translation who had proficiency in both English and Hebrew?”

            Yes they did have proficiency, so it just means the KJV translators made an error with that specific verse.

            “I looked at the link which explains that the verse could be translated as “peace and adversity” instead of “good and evil,” hence perhaps alleviating God’s responsibility for moral evil but not God’s responsibility for suffering. Nor does such a change in translation alter the fact that evil exists despite the alleged omnipotence and omnibenevolence of God.”

            It’s actually saying he’s responsible for punishment, not suffering there.

            “One would think that if the text were divinely written, or even divinely inspired, it would be rather less ambiguous, and that God would have found a way around the vexations of translation.”

            Yet we have evidence that makes it clear. Sorry all the work of study isn’t beamed from heaven too.

            “I do not see that there is an appreciable difference between the overall issue of the problem of evil and the direct cause: whence come the demons? Do they not exist within the omnipotent God’s creation? This seems to be like focusing on the responsibility of the hired hit man instead of the person who placed the hit.”

            I didn’t say there was no appreciable difference. It will, of course, make the subject come up. I was just declining to discuss that next question and am sticking to the topic of the role of demons in natural evil.

        • Glodson

          Whether it’s a good theological claim depends on whether or not
          Scriptures teaches it. Also, if you would carefully read what I quoted,
          you would realize I’m just talking about who was directly responsible
          for it, and not the overall issue of the problem of evil.

          If it isn’t a good theological claim, then why even consider it?

          Further, what?! In your original post, you said:”You seriously have no idea that in Christian theology demons are the
          ones considered to have “conceived of cysts, inflamed tissue, scars,
          infections, meningitis, double vision, and more”?”

          Inflamed tissue is caused by the body’s response to damaged cells, or a pathogen. Both are living things, things that god supposedly created. So you are making the claim that demons either created the pathogens that cause this, or body’s response to damaged cells. In a sense, they altered god’s creation for their own purpose.

          So, what bit of Biblical lore backs you up?

          Well now you know of one.

          You’ve not even made a passable claim with theology. What verses back up your claim? I am dismissing your claim directly. There is nothing in the mythology that supports the claim that evil exists apart from god’s creation by the intervention of demonic forces. Nor do you give any cogent response as to the implications about the nature of god that would force.

          This is a part of theodicy, a part of the problem of evil. The answer of ADemonDidIt is one that many savvy apologists would steer clear of as it creates more problems than it solves. It creates a clear conflict of the morality with the power of a god who stands idly by while another supernatural force, created by him as well, produces evil.

          Don’t you see how problematic that is for a loving god?

          Nice laziness there on your part with using one of the oldest English translations in use today and not digging deeper.

          Excuse me while I laugh uncontrollably. No matter how you slice it, god is claiming to be the source of it all. The point and counterpoint. Look at the other passages in the link. They all lead to the same conclusion. God is the cause of it all.

          This makes sense in terms of the mythology. When YHWH was conceived, he at the qualities of a typical Mesopotamian god. He was callous and cruel, and threatened people with natural disasters. As man gained more control over the land, in terms of the development of civilization and developments of agriculture, the needs for a god changed. Since man was learning how and why the floods came, and how to deal with this, the Wrath of God had to change.

          In many mythologies, we see this shift. The god becomes less capricious in the myths, and begins to show more of a concern for morality. This is the shift we see in the Christian myths.

          Further, wouldn’t a disease be an adversity? Did god create the bacterias? Viruses? The genetic disorders? The body’s response to pathogens? The healing process of the body which leaves scar tissue? How our eyes work? How the refraction of light works? How lenses work? The bacteria that causes meningitis?

          Who created the vaccine for meningitis?

          • http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/ Clint

            “So, what bit of Biblical lore backs you up?

            You’ve not even made a passable claim with theology. What verses back up your claim? I am dismissing your claim directly. There is nothing in the mythology that supports the claim that evil exists apart from god’s creation by the intervention of demonic forces. Nor do you give any cogent response as to the implications about the nature of god that would force.”

            I wasn’t pretending that I offered a full scale argument for my assertion. If one wants that, they can read what I wrote at

            http://cognitioscriptura.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-fall-before-genesis.html

            and the article in footnote 1 specifically before you get back to me on this subject.

            “Don’t you see how problematic that is for a loving god?”

            No because of my metaphysics.

            “Excuse me while I laugh uncontrollably. No matter how you slice it, god is claiming to be the source of it all. The point and counterpoint. Look at the other passages in the link. They all lead to the same conclusion. God is the cause of it all.”

            No they don’t once we get into the metaphysics of good and evil under classical theism. But I’m not going to derail the thread with that topic.

            “This makes sense in terms of the mythology. When YHWH was conceived, he at the qualities of a typical Mesopotamian god. He was callous and cruel, and threatened people with natural disasters. As man gained more control over the land, in terms of the development of civilization and developments of agriculture, the needs for a god changed. Since man was learning how and why the floods came, and how to deal with this, the Wrath of God had to change.

            In many mythologies, we see this shift. The god becomes less capricious in the myths, and begins to show more of a concern for morality. This is the shift we see in the Christian myths.”

            If you’re going to whine about my assertions without the full arguments, this is the way to do it.

          • Glodson

            No they don’t once we get into the metaphysics of good and evil under
            classical theism. But I’m not going to derail the thread with that
            topic.

            Too late. Already derailed. And now you want me to read your blog to continue with your bad apolegetics? Fine. Whatever.

            Taken from below:

            Yes they did have proficiency, so it just means the KJV translators made an error with that specific verse.

            And with this? “Amos 3:6, Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”

            And with this? “Lamentations 3:38 “Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?”

            And with this? “Jeremiah 18:11 “Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you.”

            And with this? “Ezekiel 20:25,26 “I gave them also statutes that
            were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I
            polluted them in their own gifts…”

            That’s is a lot of errors. God created the problems. He created this adversity. Basically, only be trying to claim that evil used here is only in the moral sense can this be said to make sense. But that’s not the problem of evil. That’s not the issue.

            Cysts, disease, scar tissue, the things we call evil here in the problem of evil are ills. It is the problem of evil not because these occurrences are evil themselves. It is evil to have the ability to stop them at a whim and fail do to do so.

            You never answered the question. Did god create the bacteria? Did god create the healing process that leads to scar tissue? Did god create the cells that turn cancerous?

            If you’re going to whine about my assertions without the full arguments, this is the way to do it.

            No, I said you haven’t presented any evidence. Again, let’s look at your original claim.

            You seriously have no idea that in Christian theology demons are the ones considered to have “conceived of cysts, inflamed tissue, scars, infections, meningitis, double vision, and more”?

            What theology? You’ve not explained this. I actually explained the evolution of the God figure which fits in terms with the evolution of mythology. This is how gods change over time as the needs of mankind change. This is a part of history. We see this as myths shift. It happens in multiple cultures. It is easy to understand.

            See? I am actually trying to articulate a point with the limited space here. You are just saying stuff.

            So answer the questions. If demons are responsible for scar tissue, did they create the body’s healing response? If demons are responsible for double vision, did they create the optic nerves and muscles responsible for controlling the eyes? If they created meningitis, did they create the bacteria? Who created the vaccine for meningitis?

            Why do you believe this to be the case? Why do you think your loving god sat back and let them create these problems? Why did your loving god create the demons?


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