||« Outlook on life
Almighty AbbaAuthor of this text: A.J. Mattill, Jr.
to Mark 14:35-36, Jesus knelt down in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed like
this: „Abba! Father! All things are possible for you. You can do anything.
Remove this cup of suffering from me; yet not what I will, but what you
„Abba" is an
Aramaic word meaning „father." More precisely, „abba" is a toddler's expression of warm intimacy with its father, somewhat like „dada,"
"daddy," or "papa." Thus „abba" is an affirmation
of the child's affection and love for, and trust in, its father. Hence when
Jesus called God „Abba," he was expressing his own intimate, loving,
and trusting relationship with God Almighty. For Jesus, then, and for
traditional believers ever since, God is a personal, supernatural, supreme,
conscious thinking being, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, an "Abba"
who hears and answers prayers.
1. Abandoning Almighty Abba. On
the other hand, many modern thinkers have found „Abba" to be an
inappropriate name for God, the supreme or ultimate reality. They prefer to
think of God as „all there is," or "creative power," or
"the force," or "the evolving universe," or "the ground
of being," or "life," or "life force," or "the
eternal one life underneath all the forms of life," or "the physical
laws which govern the universe." Hence when these persons use the word
„God" they do not mean Jesus' personal God. On the contrary, they mean
„ground of being" or one of the other definitions just given.
However, some nontheists
not only reject the traditional definition of God but they consider it confusing,
even dishonest, to use the word „God" for anything other than a personal God. Thus they don't call the supreme reality „God" but
„creative power," "force," or whatever. Otherwise people
will wrongly assume that the speaker conceives of God as they do, that is, as
Jesus' "Almighty Abba."
2. Arguments Against Almighty Abba. Now
we ask, Why have so many people abandoned Almighty Abba? There are many reasons,
but here we limit ourselves to three of the most important reasons:
Astronomers tell us that
we are living in a violent universe with crashing asteroids and meteorites, with
exploding stars, killer stars, cannibal stars, cannibalistic black holes, and
with colliding and erupting galaxies — all
without reverence for life on this or any planet in a hostile universe which
builds and destroys without purpose. Nothing in this ghastly waste of bat-blind
energy suggests an Almighty Abba. Rather, this violence is strong evidence that
the universe is governed by unfeeling physical forces and is therefore pointless.
As theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg wrote in his book, The
First Three Minutes, "The more the universe seems comprehensible, the
more it also seems pointless."
Would an Almighty Abba
create half of all known species as parasites feeding on the other half? Think
of more than twenty types of parasites afflicting sheep. There are even
parasites which parasitize parasites which are in turn parasitizing a host. And
how about ticks sucking the blood of their hosts and causing serious diseases,
such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease in man and Texas fever in
cattle? Having recently suffered from more than my fair share of tick bites, I find it impossible to love and trust a tick-making deity.
pain of animals and humans may well be the most serious of all objections to
Almighty Abba. Let us hear a few words of wisdom from philosopher John Stuart
Mill's nineteenth century essay „Nature": "Killing,
the most criminal act recognized by human laws, Nature does once to every being
that lives, and in a large proportion of cases after protracted tortures such as
only the greatest monsters ever purposely inflicted on their fellow creatures.
Nature impales men, breaks them as if on the wheel, casts them to be devoured by
wild beasts, burns them to death, crushes them with stones, starves them with
hunger, freezes them with cold, and has hundreds of other hideous deaths in
reserve, such as the ingenious cruelty of Emperor Domitian never surpassed. All
of this Nature does with the most haughty disregard both of mercy and of justice,
emptying her shafts upon the best and noblest indifferently with the meanest and
worst. Nature not only takes life, but it also takes the means by which we live,
on the largest scale and with the most callous indifference. A single hurricane
destroys the hopes of a season; a flight of locusts or a flood desolates a district. Everything which the worst men commit against life or property, Nature
perpetrates on a larger scale." Was Nature, then, created by a god we could call
affectionately „Dada," "Daddy," or "Papa"? I think
Parasites. Pain. „Honest to God!" There is no Almighty Abba.
Keep on Reading: Mattill,
The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional
Beliefs. Second Edition, 1995; and Mattill, Freethought Focus, 1998, both published by The Flatwoods Free Press,
Published in the Jan/Feb issue of the American
« Outlook on life (Published: 15-01-2004 )
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