Thank God, Blame God?

Thank God, Blame God? January 13, 2012

I’ve long complained about the tendency of religious believers to thank God when things go well and blame others when they do not. And so I appreciated this cartoon in the New Yorker (HT Hemant Mehta):

Its relevance to the recent discussions about Tim Tebow and other religious athletes is presumably obvious.

On a related note, a friend sent me this:

To be clear, I have no objection to people giving thanks, or blame, to God, should they see fit to do so. But I do note some glaring inconsistencies in the way many do so, which suggests to me that they have never really reflected on what precisely they believe, whether or not they are being consistent, or what the implications are for how they depict God or affect other people with their religious language.

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  • Gakuseidon

    A joke I read once, similar to the cartoon in your post:

    The winner and the runner-up give speeches after a race.

    The winner goes up to the podium and says: “… And I thank Jesus for helping me to win this race!”

    Then the runner-up goes up and says: “Well, obviously I would have won if it wasn’t for Jesus…”

    I’ve always thought that sports players who get help from God have an unfair advantage. Shouldn’t they be disqualified, like drug users? In fact, players could be tested before a game on whether they are going to rely on their own merits to win or whether God is involved. If they are “God users”, maybe they should be disqualified.

  • Unfortunately I don’t think this would be surprising if we understood that what people really mean when they say “God” is “MY feelings toward MY world”:

    Thus when they are happy, they want everyone to be happy with them.And when they are sad, they want to attack whatever is available to attack.

  • If a Tim Tebow praises God after winning a game while being largely silent about this when losing, it doesn’t seem inconsistent to me at all.  I have heard this criticism before, and I am disappointed that you are echoing it.

    If a player is winning a game, he is being glorified.  Therefore, he humbles himself by giving glory to God in that moment.  On the other hand, if a player loses he is humbled by the loss.  No one is glorifying him and therefore there is no glory to share or deflect.

    • Trey

      So God gets a free pass. When the player wins – glory to God he made it happen, but when he loses God happens to work in mysterious ways and how can we humans understand his unfathomable ways. They sure are just making it up as they go along.

      • Why are you opposed to God getting a free pass after a ball game?  He wasn’t the one playing.

      • I suspect that Mike was acknowledging that attributing success to God is in fact just one way – couched in religious language – of expressing gratitude and being humble. It is much the same as saying one was “lucky” or “fortunate” and in many cases makes no deeper claim to religious significance nor to divine intervention.