This article comes to us from Jim Wilson:
The Seventh Day Adventists are just one of the many wildly diverse denominations of Christianity out there today. They are one of the few denominations that holds to the original Jewish Sabbath and all of their teachings seem to have a very apocalyptic feel to them. The church grew out of a subset of the Millerite movement, which believed that the second coming of Christ would be October 22, 1844. Despite the awkward start, the Seventh Day Adventists have since grown into the 12th largest religious body in the world and the 6th largest highly international religious body (thanks Wikipedia!!)
They now have, among other things, a TV station, The Hope Channel, and magazines: Adventist Review and Adventist world (which I have had the pleasure of recently checking out). I was really struck by the August 2011 cover story of Adventist world, which will be the topic of my discussion. The article can be viewed here: http://www.adventistworld.org/article.php?id=1069.
The cover features a black and white photo of the mushroom cloud that formed over Hiroshima, Japan with the drop of the atomic bomb. The title is “The Hiroshima Miracle”. The story recounts how, in the midst of the horrifying death and destruction caused by the nuclear blast, all 20 members of the city’s Seventh day adventist congregation apparently were unharmed. This apparently is the titular miracle.
I scarcely even know where to begin with this. The bombing killed somewhere between 90,000 to 166,000 people. Many victims were evaporated into nothing very quickly, while many suffered horrific prolonged painful deaths. Many were permanently disfigured, and many were born with severe deformities as a result. Nothing surrounding this event should ever be called a miracle; it was part of one of the ugliest chapters in human history. I personally see the occurrence of events like the Hiroshima bombing as evidence against an omni-benevolent god watching out for humanity.
If a loving God was willing to help this small number of adventists survive this abomination, why not simply intervene on the entire City’s behalf, or better yet, prevent the events that led up to this and other wars from happening? It reeks of tribalism and arrogance to think that one’s in-group is so special that it should be immune from the death and suffering that surrounds them; to think that the all powerful master of the universe is watching out for them, while he shows complete lack of concern for the well being of the countless thousands who were killed and radiated.
This the same attitude that pervades other religions. To hear your average first-world believer talk, one would have to conclude that their God is so busy helping remove mustard stains, healing sinus infections, locating missing car keys, winning football games, and offering advice for minor life style changes that he is too busy to help anyone with real problems. It seems that if their God does exists, he is long past performing demonstrable miracles, like healing the blind or parting the red sea, and now reveals himself in ways that are subtle and indistinguishable from mundane coincidence.
This God is willing to help his first world faithful with the most trivial of concerns, but doesn’t have much to offer the starving, the impoverished, the AIDS and Malaria infected, the oppressed, the enslaved, amputees, and apparently the civilian victims of bombings that don’t happen to be Seventh Day Adventists!
We saw this same attitude happen in the wake of huge disasters like hurricane Katrina and the earthquake that devastated Haiti not that long ago. Believers saw the lucky survivors of these disasters as evidence of God’s miraculous intervention, while completely ignoring the fact that if this God existed, he could have prevented these disasters entirely. To make matters worse, some blamed the victims of these disasters for their misfortune. Pat Robertson accused the Haitian people of making a deal with the devil, “true story” and he and follow advocate of bigotry Jerry Falwell, blamed the September 11th attacks on America’s acceptance of homosexuality, feminism and abortion. The notion of a Devil that inflicts suicide bomber attacks on the innocent is completely inconsistent with the notion that a benevolent all powerful being cares about humanity.