Disbelief or Anger?

A couple of days ago, I blogged about Lee Siegel's anti-religious diatribe in the current The New Republic on-line (registration required). I just re-read his piece, and found something I missed. I figured Siegel an atheist. He's not. He believes in God, but he's angry at Him. Very angry.

I wonder if a lot of atheists are actually just believers angry that they're not God.

In Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, we learn the absurdity of anger at one's creator. Can the Mona Lisa criticize DaVinci? Well, had DaVinci imbued the painting with free will, I suppose it could. But DaVinci, like you and me, could not give life to paint and canvas.

If you're angry at God, or you want to be God, or you think you're the god of your own life, think about this: something made you. Something provided the chemical conditions that allow you to exist. If it was nature, then you live at nature's whim. If it was God, you live at His. (And I'll give you hint--nature lives at God's whim.) Either way, you can't do anything that God or His nature prohibits. Getting mad is ridiculous. The universe belongs either to Him or it, not to us. We are simply transient guests.

Lee Siegel seems to hate the idea of innocent people dying for God's purposes. I can understand his emotionalism. In our narrow, human view, innocents are sacrosanct. But I have two big problems with the way Siegel chose to act out his anger.

First, if God did will Brian Nichols to kill four people and run to Ashley Smith to find God's purpose for him, who is Lee Siegel--or me or you--to criticize God? Those four people were God's creations. If I make a clay pot, I may break it. If I write a computer program, I may erase it. If God imbues a human body with a soul, he may recall the soul. It's as simple as that. Getting mad because God moved his chess pieces is like getting mad that an actress got a tattoo.

Second, if Brian Nichols acted on his own free will, freely killing four people and freely abducting Ashley Smith, then Siegel is guilty of declaring God guilty without a fair trial. The fact that Smith rethought his life in Ashley's apartment is a good thing whether some television critic thinks so or not.

Either way, our world is to God what a set is a play. We people are mere characters in a playwright's script. If He chooses to erase us, that's His business.

But the beauty of faith is found in the theatre's ghost light as much as it is in the play's curtain call. The four innocents Siegel is so upset over live on, just as every character ever portrayed on a stage lives on. Life may be too short, but it's an eternity.

Believe it or not, a Talking Points Memo is worth reading, agree or not. (Not coincidentally, Ed Kilgore wrote the interesting piece. Josh Marshall's still 0 for several million words.)

From the other end of the political spectrum, see World Magazine's blog on the Siegel story.