[Disclaimer: I pose the thoughts and questions below in all sincerity. These questions are not meant to mock or deride anyone's beliefs. I honestly want to have an open discussion about this, to find out why people believe what they do.]
This is something I often wonder about and maybe those who are relgious can help me out: If you believe in God, do you believe he is an interventionist God? For instance, do you think that prayer can cure illnesses, help rescue people from burning buildings or bring a lost child home? Or do you believe that God is just an observer; he made the world and now just sitting back and watching what happens with his invention?
So often when disasters occur, we see quotes like this:
"We prayed and spoke to those flames and told them they had to subside and to those winds and told them they had to subside, and they did....What the devil has meant to destroy lives and destroy property, God just turns it to where people turn to each other and help each other."
Which makes me wonder. If the power of prayer turned those flames back, then one would say that God is interventionist. If that's true, and he can stop winds and douse flames, then why didn't he stop the fires in California in the beginning, before people died and homes were destroyed?
In the aftermath of 9/11, you could hear many survivors saying that God led them safely out of the building. And I wonder, why you? Why did God lead you out of that building safely and not all those other people?
Every night, people quietly say their prayers before they go to bed. Every day in churches around the world, people pray to their God for world peace, for a better life, for a sick relative. But when you look at news stories like children being starved to near death by the people who were supposed to care for them, don't you think that if God could really answer prayers or intervene in lives, he would have stopped that abuse?
I understand that God, if is he indeed up there somewhere, can't spend all his time preventing car accidents and healing sick kids. But you would think that if he gave his son the ability to turn water into wine, he could give someone in Africa the ability to turn grass into wheat, saving thousands upon thousands of lives.
If God gave Moses the ability to part the Red Sea, then why can't he stop earthquakes and fires?
The fact that thoughts like this keep me awake at night lead me to believe that I may be an agnostic after all, and not an atheist.