Franky, P.E.T. and the Problem of a Good God.


This is my 1 1/2 year old Basset Hound dog. His name is Franklin J. Loftus, Franky for short. Any dog lover knows that dogs have character, and so does Franky. One thing about him is that he loves to be with us wherever we're in the house. If we get up and go somewhere he just has to follow us. He loves to touch us and to lay down beside us. He also loves to play. When he wants to play he'll start bringing in one of his toys, then another, then another into the room we're at. Before long all of his toys will be where we're at, and he demands that we play with him, so we do; one toy at a time.

One other thing about him is that he loves to please us. He likes to make us happy. When we're happy, he's happy. And this is a point I want to make about the problem of a good God.

My wife trained him to potty outside with very few mistakes by having him in a comfortable cage while we were gone. He wouldn't go in his cage. She also bought plenty of toys for him so he had enough of them to chew on so he wouldn't chew on the couch or shoes. She was great at training him. We have only had to yell at him a few times. When we did, he voluntarily went into his cage. We didn't hit him, spank him, or pluck out his eyes. We didn't burn him, bust his jaw, or break his leg. We taught him gently (for the most part), and we punished him within reason just to let him know we were not pleased. That was enough.

There is a child rearing method known as Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) that has been around for a few decades. Children are not to be spanked, but loved. Discipline is done by taking away priviledges alone. Again, no spanking (which stands in stark contrast to the Biblical injunction "spare the rod, spoil the child")! If this method is done consistently and in love these children are well adjusted youths and adults. [Just read the reviews of the revised editon of this book if you don't believe me].

If something can show the barbaric nature of the Biblical God it's my dog Franky along with P.E.T. While I reject the Garden of Eden story as myth, even if it happened, just compare how God teaches humans and compare that to how my wife taught Franky, or how parents could raise heathy children. The punishments do not have to be so draconian in scope, especially if the goal is to teach us to do better. Just God's displeasure alone could be enough. Just taking away priviledges could be enough.

Christians will respond that we cannot conceive what it's like for a Holy God to be slighted in the ways we do, and that because he is so Holy he must severely punish any indiscretion, with an everlasting Hell if needed. Well, Christians are indeed correct about this, if true. I cannot fathom having to send my kids to hell for anything, and I cannot fathom having to pluck out Franky's eyes for anything he would do wrong to teach him to obey. But that's what we see in the Bible. So the Bible provides me a reason to reject it along with the God described in its pages.

No loving parent would punish her children like the way God does in the Bible, and no good dog owner would train her dog like God purportedly trains us. It does not make any sense at all, even supposing God is Holy. For if God is so damn Holy, then he also knew he would have to punish us if we slighted him in the ways we do. And if that's the case he should never have created us in the first place, because he apparently has a problem with understanding finite creatures like us!

Even if God created us anyway, then he should be at least omniscient enough to know our sins for what they are on our level. We simply do not intend to commit an infinte sin against such a God! It's impossible for us to do. If God is to properly judge us and he knows our inner motivations, then he should see sin for what it is to us, and then teach us to do better. Any parent or dog owner would. We do not expect Franky to obey like a responsible adult, for instance. We judge him based on what he is expected to do as a dog, and good parents of children do likewise. We humans do the best we can with what we've got. We need help. We need trained. We don't need the severe punishments God purportedly sends us. Since an omniscient God should know what to expect from us just like we only expect Franky to behave on his level of understanding, it seems we're smarter than God!

Can any Christian make sense of how God purportedly treats us when compared to how my wife trained Franky, or how any loving parent could train her children? I'd rather be treated like a dog in my wife's house than a human being in God's world! My wife is better than God!

16 comments:

Lynda said...

Cute dog!

My daughter was raised with the PET parenting philosophy. It works! Can't understand why god didn't figure it out first. ;-)

Lok said...

What a convenient way to show off your dog, you smart-ass.....................Just kidding, nice post.

Anonymous said...

You can't tell it from the picture, but he was very very happy! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Having gone to seminary, I'm a little surprised that you are apparently unaware that "spare the rod, spoil the child" is a quote by Benjamin Franklin, and not from the Bible.

Cute dog, though.

Benny said...

Maybe what he had in mind was this quote, which Google says is from Proverbs 13-24:

"He that spareth his rod hateth his son."

Anonymous said...

Travis, Benny, thanks. I used to know the Bible front and back with many of the best quotes memorized.

Next someone is going to say that the Bible never says God plucked out the eyes of anyone, and missing my point.

Justin said...

That was so cute...n Franky is such a cutie- pie too...It seems u both r having a gala time being Franky's teacher

Anonymous said...

You have a misunderstanding of God and the Bible. God is not about punishment, God is about love. In the beginning, God loved us and cared for us, we lived in heaven, the greatest of friends. But we turned against God. Even though we had it perfect, we did the one thing he told us not to do. This put a barrier between us and God, and a curse on human kind. Like it says in romans: "The wages of sin is death..." But God didn't leave us to suffer. Even though he did nothing wrong, he paid the price for our sins, did we what we deserved to do. Once we accept this gift, surrender to God and realize we were wrong, and decide to do things his way, then things will be how they used to be. We will get to be with God. Now, some people think the way to heaven is good works, but God is not about that! The truth is, we will never be good enough, we all have already screwed up. The only way to go to heaven is by having a relationship with God. He does not look at and count our sins -- he completely forgets them! When you accept Jesus in your heart it's like a fresh new start -- all he sees is you, a precious child the one he loves. And from there life is an adventure....... you continue to love God more and more, and dicover more and more what life's about and why you're here. Lose your pride. This is the truth.

Benny said...

If there is a God, He is neither loving nor caring. Holding people accountable for something they didn't do (the original sin) is not loving or caring. Allowing people to die every day from crime, natural disasters, disease, hunger, etc. is not loving or caring. Expecting someone to love you without ever showing a hint of yourself is not loving or caring. Instead of blindly believing in everything the Bible says, try to see if it matches up with what you see and hear every day.

José Solano said...


Now, now Zac. First you make insensitive and absurd suggestions and now you call me "brainless" because I bring this to your attention and seek some sincere apology from you. You also make no mention of the budding journalist’s vulgar comment on behalf of you.

I appreciate the sincerity of your wishing to be a caring humanist but it is good to put this into practice by weighing carefully potentially hurtful words and having the integrity to make a straightforward apology when it is called for. It makes no sense to exclaim, "My point in driving my car was to get to 12th street, not to run over the child." First deal with the problem and then consider what you wish to discuss, which, as I mentioned, has been addressed over and over again on this blog. I addressed it myself in a very direct way in my last comment.

Anonymous.

You make the astute observation that reporters do not need to ask these questions, the survivors of Auschwitz and other tragedies make them themselves. What mother with dying child in her arms does not cry out, "Why God? Why?" Or, Christ Himself on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And that’s what makes the insolence of this post all the more obnoxious. The corollary from a perhaps callous, "Christian" perspective would be to start preaching Christ to starving people in the hope of gaining converts.

You well point out Anonymous, that among the Auschwitz survivors some became secular and yet others became religious. That’s just how it is. And millions find great consolation in the time of tragedy, in the valley of the shadow of death, through the reading of the Scriptures and the fellowship of the saints. So be it.

Benny said...

Wrong thread, Jose.

Anonymous said...

"Before long all of his toys will be where we're at, and he demands that we play with him, so we do; one toy at a time."

He demands you obey. You have become the pet.

Anonymous said...

"character" "good" "love" "correct" "understanding" "better" and on and on.

Why should you care? Or better yet, why should I care?

Anonymous said...

Just wait until those P.E.T. "well adjusted youths and adults" run into the mass of people who are not well adjusted. They will be at a loss when the not so well adjusted do not respond well to having their priviledges taken away.

Gene Cook, Jr. said...

John, I didn't think that you could out do the "bird man" argument but I was wrong. ahahahaha

Anonymous said...

You seem so angry. Angry at the world? Angry at yourself? Angry at God who left you alone in the world? I'm not berating you, only wish that you could find true peace and happiness in this lonely and angry world. Good luck to you in the future. May you find Truth that you seem so desperate to find.