Should we end God's monopoly over the universe?

It should be broken into sections such as afterlife and space, then parcelled off to rival companies
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The Independent Online

Over the last couple of weeks the Christian church has been trying to answer the question of why God would have allowed the tsunami to happen. I would have thought the most obvious explanation is that he caused it on purpose. Because when it comes to globally devastating floods, let's be honest, he does have form. Maybe there's a social worker with him right now, saying, "After the last time, you promised this wouldn't happen again. Now you've let me down, you've let the Holy Spirit down and you've let yourself down."

Over the last couple of weeks the Christian church has been trying to answer the question of why God would have allowed the tsunami to happen. I would have thought the most obvious explanation is that he caused it on purpose. Because when it comes to globally devastating floods, let's be honest, he does have form. Maybe there's a social worker with him right now, saying, "After the last time, you promised this wouldn't happen again. Now you've let me down, you've let the Holy Spirit down and you've let yourself down."

At least last time he made a full confession, with lines such as, "I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens. Everything on earth will perish." I suppose if he was brought in for questioning he'd say he only signed the book of Genesis under duress. The devil had deprived him of sleep and refused him access to a lawyer.

The really cruel bit in the story of the flood is when it says, "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness had become ... So the Lord said 'I will wipe mankind from the face of the earth, men and animals, creatures and birds of the air.' " So the earth must have been full drowning animals, who were thinking "That's not fair. I can't help it if man's wicked, I'm an ostrich."

Trying a different theory, a bishop on Thought for the Day said with regard to God's role in the tsunami that we should get it in perspective because, after all, he does have a whole universe to run, not just Earth. As if God had a busy day stopping asteroids colliding with a planet inhabited by vegetable-based one-eyed giants the other side of Sirius B, then sat down for dinner and thought, "Oh bollocks - Earth. Do you know, it went clean out of my mind."

So maybe it's a staffing issue. He needs a team of assistants. Or maybe the bishop will suggest that in the modern universe a single monopoly God can't cope, so it should be broken into sections such as space, cosmic bodies, afterlife etc and parcelled off to companies such as Balfour Beatty.

The bishop added that the movement of tectonic plates was still a gift from God, with overall benefits to mankind, as it's only through such a geological process that there can be land on which we can live. They want it all ways, the clergy, don't they? Because the thing is - God's supposed to be all powerful, surely he can form some land without drowning everyone in the vicinity. You wouldn't tolerate an electrician who said, "I've fixed your lighting circuit so that shouldn't give you any more trouble. The only thing is, I couldn't do it without burning down the London Borough of Lewisham. Ta-ra then."

Maybe, when God created the planet, instead of making it whole he built it from a self-assembly kit with infuriating, unfathomable instructions. So he was sitting there going, "Insert tectonic plate C under outer-crust pinion D using mountainous volcanic sliding ratchet F. Maybe they mean push this bit. Ooh blimey, that's done it."

It can't be easy to insert rationality into a system that involves an all-powerful God and mass suffering for the innocent. But it's religion's good fortune that unjust tragedy seems to be its best recruiting agent. For example, at funerals, a vicar the family may never have seen before will implore everyone to "feel God's presence as Ada departs".

Maybe this opportunity should be put out to tender so other groups could bid for it. So a spokesman might turn up at the crematorium and say, "Ahem. On this solemn occasion - as Stanley leaves us for the final time, let's allow ourselves a moment to reflect on the progressive policies outlined in the Liberal Democrat manifesto. Anyway, I'm sure he was a nice chap. I'll leave some leaflets by the wreaths."

Now there seems to be a growth in the wing of Christianity that presents as a virtue the fact that its ideas collapse under rational scrutiny, and that wing was loyally illogical in its campaign against the TV showing of Jerry Springer - the Opera. For example, they complain that, unlike the theatre show, on television it could have been seen inadvertently by people who would then have found it offensive.

However likely that may be, it was less likely than the chances of coming across a full-on Christian show back in the Sixties, that I not only had to see, but had to take part in every single morning, known as "assembly". "Sun and moon bow down before him," we had to bellow, and who can imagine the punishment if you sang "Sun and moon actually operate according to the laws of motion," even if you could have got it to scan.

Then, every single morning, we had to bow our heads and thank the Lord for putting up with us and our sinful pathetic ways. So - if the Christian Voice movement really want a "level playing field", the Jerry Springer programme should be shown every night for the next 10 years. And every night, everyone in Christian Voice should have to sing along, while a teacher stands behind them, occasionally checking and saying, "Come on boy - sing. And let's hear you pronounce the F with a lovely bright ffff."

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