Give the Football, Jesus

“This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.”

So Barack Obama’s god, a male god named Yahweh, who myth contends created the universe and sent his only begotten son (Jesus) to die for the sins of Obama’s congregation, sets before his worshippers no certain destiny. He created the universe so that his worshippers could make history, and it is, according to Obama, belief that their god has no definite plan that is the source of the worshipers’ confidence.

Not exactly something that should fill the faithful with confidence, it seems to me. Belief in a god or gods, if it is anything at all, is the need for certainty when everything else is uncertain. The idea that the people need to make their own destiny is disconcerting to those who pray for Yahweh to tell them what to do.

How will those Christians, Jews, and Muslims who believe Yahweh has worked out a destiny – revealed, albeit in murky phrases, in prophecies – feel about Obama interpreting the theology of the People of Book in this way? Many Muslims incessantly repeat “god willing” because they know nothing happens without Allah wishing it to. Kurt Warner, quarterback of the Phoenix Cardinals, after winning the conference championship, said that his team won because his “Lord up above…knew [he] was going do it” and, he added, he had to win it because of that.

Indeed, if Yahweh is omnipotent, if he is able to create the universe out of his imagination, then how can the future be uncertain? Why does he need human beings to shape a destiny? Don’t they need to simply realize that destiny by following Yahweh’s commandments? Would Yahweh allow human beings to make choices that in the end destroyed them and his creation?

If Yahweh made the universe and controls the universe he made, then Barack Obama is president because this is what Yahweh wanted. Everything that happens happens for a reason, Christians are fond of telling me. John McCain did not win because this was part of Yahweh’s plan. Donovan McNabb and Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Cardinals because Yahweh wanted Kurt Warner to win. Nobody knows beforehand what Yahweh wants. Afterwards we know, because if he had wanted things to be another way, then he would have made them that way. There is no uncertain destiny because Yahweh by definition knows all. History can never be something other than what it is.

Obama disagrees with those who believe Yahweh has a plan. Does he disagree with those who believe – as did George W. Bush – that Yahweh calls on certain people to realize his plan?

Obama’s position presents a logical problem for those who claim Yahweh is omnipotent. Yahweh must know what Obama and his congregation will do (even if he lets them do it, he still knows what they will do, therefore there is no uncertain destiny) or Yahweh is not omnipotent. If it is the latter, then it follows that Yahweh is a limited god. He’s not all powerful. He doesn’t control everything.

Then what – or who – does?

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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