For a while now I've been a member of a forum called CARM.org (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry... run by a Calvinist). On there I met a "Christian". I put "Christian" in quotes because they have officially rejected this title as of last week mainly because of their experience with other more fundamentalist Christians. This person I met was a Christian by virtue of believing Jesus is the messiah... but that's it. They reject the Old Testament entirely, they accept Evolution and the scientific age of the Earth and so on... in fact, they don't even believe Jesus's death was the reason for his being here... it was a consequence of his mission, which this person sees as essentially a missionary mission... to turn the ancient Israelites "back to God".
But that's not the point of this blog (and I don't want to get into their beliefs because they are a private person and what I do know beyond what's posted here I'm keeping confidential out of respect for them).
I was emailing back and forth with this person a while ago and we were pretty much just ranting to each other about the bigoted, fundamentalist assholes on that board. During this exchange they made an interesting comment to me:
"I think it's possible that God doesn't like the fundamentalists, so he's 'creating' [in the metaphorical sense] atheists to combat the fundies."
Now, ignoring the special pleading in this (and the obvious disregard for free will, which this person does believe in), it is kind of a funny thought experiment. Every single atheist is a tool of God to combat fundamentalism, Young-Earth Creation retards that God doesn't like. There are problems with it, of course, the main one being:
"Why can't God just snap his fingers and get rid of them? Isn't he powerful enough?"
One thing I learned back when I was Jewish was that God worked through people. There's this midrash about a man on the roof of his house in a flood. A boat, a helicopter, and (something else) come by to help him. He keeps saying to them "no, I'm waiting for God to help me". So they go on their way. The flood eventually overtakes the man and he drowns. When in Heaven, he asks God "why didn't you help me?" God responds "I sent you a boat, a helicopter, and [something else], and you rejected them." So God doesn't intervene in our world supernaturally. He uses humanity to do his work. (There's also "God helps those who help themselves".)
I asked this person about that issue, and the above Jewish midrash (that I had learned) was their answer.
(You know, I seem to remember an episode of Futurama where Bender met "God", and God's mantra was something about doing so little or doing things so sneakily it's as if you've done nothing at all. Anyone else remember this episode?)
For me, while I do think it's absolute hogwash, I do like playing "what if" games every now and then, and this is one I've been thinking about since, and, to me, it's, as I said above, a rather humorous thought experiment.