If God's Not In Charge, It's Up To Us

Jan 12, 2021

Last June, Vice President Mike Pence wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, "There Isn’t A Coronavirus Second Wave." The day it was published, 779 people died from the virus in America.

Six months later, the vice president became one of the first people in the world to receive the coronavirus vaccine. On that day, 2,751 people lost their lives to COVID in the United States.

This is absurd.

Leaders who downplay the severity of the pandemic and behave recklessly in the face of it are the first to receive early access to top tier medical treatment.

What kind of universe allows this?

And what of God? If there is one, he’s apparently only saving some of us. Maybe Pence's piety did lead to his deliverance from the plague. But if so, why weren’t other pious Christians spared? Why didn’t Pence's God listen to them?

Maybe God’s not in charge. Perhaps there’s a spirit, an energy flow, karma, something else that explains this. After all — how does the quote go? — “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

How many people would need to be held accountable to bend the 2021 arc? What punishment could we even levy that would possibly be equal to so much needless death and devastation?

The writer Albert Camus described the gap between what we know and what we want to know as “The Absurd.” He wrote about absurdity as a philosophical system: humans want to understand the universe, but the universe is unknowable. Even hoping that things would get better in a metaphysical sense is what he called “philosophical suicide.” The universe is completely indifferent to us and our desire for meaning.

An utterly meaningless and indifferent universe may sound bleak. But to me, it makes more sense than a universe run by a God or force that’s apparently OK with some humans wildly profiting during a pandemic while others die in isolation, literally being strangled from the inside out.

At least in an "Absurd" universe, I don’t have to wait for enlightenment or meaning to come. There’s no higher being that explains the cruelty we’re all witnessing. It’s just people being terrible to other people. 

And it's people who must make them stop.

Commentator Jamil Ragland lives and writes in East Hartford, Connecticut.