Incurable God-Addiction

The church is the drug dealer

Last month the Gallup organization reported that, for the first time in America, membership is houses of worship had fallen below fifty percent. As Hemant Mehta pointed out, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people have become atheists; they may have dropped out of church but still believe in a god. Still, this confirms other data that indicate that the number of “nones” has been increasing, i.e., people who claim they have no religious affiliation.  


The grip of religion is slipping, and I suspect this may be traced to several causes:



·      Christianity has embarrassed itself with its embrace of high profile, greed-motivated TV preachers. It’s not unlikely that many folks were appalled that evangelical Christianity championed Donald Trump—almost granting him messianic status—when his despicable misbehavior has been so well documented. That’s really weird…and what a disgrace.


·      It has been claimed that “the Internet is where religion goes to die.” Well, not quite. Preachers, apologists, and Bible enthusiasts are well represented online. But atheism has a high profile as well, which could not have been predicted a couple of decades ago. There are so many atheist podcasts and blogs (such as this one), and famous atheists, e.g. Hemant Mehta and Richard Carrier, are easy to find. And that’s the key: easy to find. So people out there—even in rural isolation—who have doubts, who are inclined to skepticism—or simple curiosity—have easy access to information; it’s not hard to find penetrating criticism of religion. And then there’s the old-fashioned print media: since the year 2000, well more than 400 books have been published, explaining in detail the falsification of theism, Christianity especially (see the link below to the Cure-for-Christianity Library).


·      Shit happens—sometimes really horrible shit—in the wake of which religious answers to the problem of suffering fail utterly…unless your addiction to God is incurable. There is indeed one example of suffering—it happened seventeen years ago—that falsifies the idea that a good, caring, powerful God watches over the earth; this was the topic of my post earlier this week, Where Was God When This Happened? Part 3, i.e., the Indian Ocean tsunami that happened 26 December 2004. 


James A. Haught’s essay on this event, Why Would God Drown Children?, shows why Christian theology is destroyed by this calamity—and so many others like it throughout history.


[Where Was God When This Happened? Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.] 

Please give Haught’s essay a careful read, and bookmark the link; it should be shared widely. 


Just think about it: perhaps 80,000 babies, toddler, and children were crushed or drowned, from which Haught draws an unavoidable conclusion: 

                                                                                                                                                      “Surely, after this horror, more perceptive people will see that it’s bizarre to go to church and worship a god who presided over the drowning of perhaps 80,000 children and twice as many adults. Surely, they’ll begin to realize that the vast rigmarole of god-worshiping rests on a fairy tale unsuited for enlightened moderns.”                                                                                                                                                   

Of course, Christian clergy are front-line defenders of their versions of the fairy tale, charged with impossible task of making sense of it all, as Haught indicates:  

                                                                                                                                                                                    “…divines usually duck the question by declaring ‘we can’t know God’s will’ — although they claim to know his will on all other matters. (God’s will usually matches the prejudices of the holy man proclaiming it.)” Even the prestigious Archbishop of Canterbury “danced around the glaring quandary raised by the tsunami.” “Soon after,” Haught points out, “he wrote, ‘The question—how can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale?—is very much around at the moment.’ Without answering the question, he noted that ‘belief has survived such tests again and again’— and he said the tragedies actually spur more faith.”  

                                                                                                                                                                                 Well, yes, for the folks whose God-addiction is incurable; some people are scared even more if they assume the tsunami was God’s handiwork. For those who just don’t want to think about it, it’s swept under the rug, filed under God-works-in mysterious-ways. 


They’re afraid to think about it. A couple of days after the tsunami, a devout Catholic colleague commented how horrible it was, and I responded, “Yes, it would seem God overslept again.” Then I saw it: the terror, the panic in his eyes. I had said out loud what he was afraid to even think. His God-addiction was more fragile than he wanted to admit.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Even more appalling are the religious leaders who are quite okay with a severe, vindictive God who kills 80,000 babies, toddlers, and children. Haught quotes a few of them: 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A rabbi: “This is an expression of God’s great ire with the world. The world is being punished for wrongdoing.” No, this is awful theology. The “world” wasn’t being punished, but 227,898 specific people were cruelly killed.         

                                                                                                                                                                                   A Jehovah’s Witness: “…the tragedy is ‘a sign of the last days,’ fulfilling Christ’s promise that devastation will precede the time when believers will ‘see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.’” Christ promised this devastation? How sick is that! It’s more bad theology, grounded in ancient superstitions about a coming apocalypse. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     A Catholic Bishop: “…the tsunami was ‘a warning from God to reflect deeply on the way we lead our lives.’” So, the best God can do to “get us to reflect deeply” is to kill 227,898 people? Doesn’t God read our minds, answer prayers, and even manipulate our thoughts—as an all-powerful God is supposed to be able to do? Mass murder falls far short of being a moral tool for a God who supposedly loves the world.  

                                                                                                                                                                And a Christian spokeswoman: “... the tsunami was divine punishment for America’s ‘cloning, homosexuality, trying to make homosexual marriages, abortion, lack of God in the schools, taking Jesus out of Christmas.’”      

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haught calls it correctly: “What a bunch of imbeciles. Especially the latter: Why would a loving creator drown south Asians in a rage over American sins?” And he quotes secular observers who have no trouble spotting faulty, phony theology:   

                                                                                                                                             Kenneth Nguyen of The Age in Melbourne: “The random destruction wreaked upon our Earth by one tectonic shift fits uneasily with prevailing visions of an all-powerful, philosophically benevolent God. Sunday’s tsunami broke countless lives, hearts, communities. It would be little wonder if it ended up breaking many people’s faith too.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               John Scarp in South Africa, wrote in Cape Argus: “Natural disasters like this reveal the ultimate weakness of nearly all religions…The desperate attempts of religion to justify them as part of God’s plan simply reveal the delusional nature of religious belief.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       For those who don’t suffer from incurable God-addiction, such massive suffering can prompt reality-based thinking. How can it be that God was unaware of what was about to happen on 24 December 2004? If so, was he powerless to prevent it? The standard “feel-good” concepts about God unravel with just a little probing with such questions. As I have often pointed out, the church has been aggressive propaganda engine for centuries, and with the help of theatre and drama, i.e., worship, has sold belief in God as a key to eternal life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. This campaign of disinformation is accomplished by knocking the rough edges off the Biblical concepts of God—and there are plenty of rough edges in both testaments. There has been a lot of fine-tuning required to make the genocidal God of the Bible (Noah’s flood) sustainable. But how can the clergy and theologians not see that a 21st century tsunami looks a lot like Noah’s flood?     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Of course, the church has been finessing evil and suffering for a long time, but it’s too much to overcome, as Haught points out:  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “How could a loving creator devise hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, twisters and other people-killers? How could he concoct leukemia for children, breast cancer for women, Alzheimer’s for the old, and the like? How could he fashion cheetahs to disembowel fawns, and sharks to rip seals, and pythons to crush pigs? Only a fiend would invent all these vicious things.” 


Haught notes that King Lear probably had it right: “As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” Is that what God was doing?  

                                                                                                                                                                             Why not just remove God from the equation? People who are incurably addicted to God can’t do that. But here’s the challenge: unless these folks can explain precisely, exactly, what God was up to that day, 26 December 2004—unless they can account for his cruelty—without resorting to despicable theology and the “mystery” excuse, it’s time for intervention to break the addiction.


It’s time for reality-based analysis of the church’s role as drug pusher. It has practiced bamboozle on several levels:


·      Claiming to have the eternal life product; other cults in ancient world promised the same thing. But there is no reliable, verifiable evidence that a certain few of our species of mammals are somehow eligible to “live forever.” 


·      Eternal life can be won by magical thinking and magic spells, e.g., believe this, say that (Romans 10:9), eat this, drink that (John 6:53-57). New Testament authors didn’t agree on exactly what the right formula was. They played that old theological trick: making things up.


·      Which goes for their concepts of God as well. The ideas sold to the masses through worship and ritual—e.g., God so loves the world and Jesus the Good Shepherd—were carefully fashioned by ignoring so many Bible texts that depict a God and his Jesus whose behaviors fail even basic standards of morality. 


·      The Christian apologetics industry is big business, devoted to disguising the massive bamboozle; it works overtime to keep the flock incurably God-addicted.


Hundreds, even thousands, of gods once imagined by humans have fallen out of favor and been forgotten. The Christian God faces the same fate if he can’t do a better job of managing the world—and if his apologists can’t come up with better excuses. 




David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. His book, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, was published by Tellectual Press in 2016. It was reissued in 2018 with a new Foreword by John Loftus.


The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 400 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here.