The ABERFAN TRAGEDY

Bruno McCartney

"Jesus loves the little children... tra-la-la..."

In 1966, at a place called Aberfan in Wales, a mountain of coal slag moved, became a landslide, and buried the local school. One hundred and sixteen children, some as young as seven, died.

As a young boy scout I had attended Holy Trinity Church. I remembered the vicar preaching a sermon about god being "omnipotent". That was a new word to me but I learned that it meant "all powerful" – capable of anything. After the Welsh disaster I approached that same vicar and asked him why god had allowed the Aberfan children to die. The vicar said, "It's not for us to question the ways of the Lord, my son," and he continued busying himself arranging silver chalices and things.

I came away thinking, "You don't know, do you! You can't answer my question." So I was left with this puzzle – "If god is all powerful, capable of anything, how come he did nothing while that mountain of coal slag shifted?" He could have diverted it. He could have stopped it altogether. Or if he wasn't quite "omnipotent" he could at least have delayed it a few hours till school was over. But he did nothing. He sat on his bum in heaven listening to the terrified screams of the little children, watching them suffocate and die.

And I thought, "No father, no matter how evil, could allow that to happen. So perhaps there is no god after all." That concept was infinitely more palatable than the thought that god did exist but that he was a despicable monster.

You see, Christians, you can't have it both ways. It's either the one thing, or the other. If you insist that god does exist and that he is omnipotent then you have to accept the fact that he is a despicable monster. Because would a caring father stand by doing nothing while so much as one of his children suffers? Please do think about it.

To say that I became an atheist on that day would be an exaggeration. Let's say, I became a serious doubter. But that day in 1966 was a turning point in my life. So for me, the year 2001AD in Christian terms, is the year 35 SA (Since Awakening) in my terms.

Later in life I started reading the Bible and I discovered that the thing worshipped by the masses as a "god" is in fact a monstrous abomination fabricated in the minds of savages. I learned that not only did "god" stand by doing nothing while children suffered, but he revelled in their suffering! He drowned children, he burned children, he ordered his assassins to murder children, he instructed them to capture pre-pubescent females and trade them as slaves. He tortured children with horrible diseases and boasted of it. He starved them to death. He set wild beasts onto children to rip them apart, limb from tiny limb. He forced parents to eat their babies, and to sacrifice them on bloody altars to glorify his wretched name.

I became an atheist. But I soon tired of intellectuals and their interminable waffling about the concepts of atheism. No one can disprove the existence of god, so why debate it laboriously and endlessly? Besides, you don't need quantum physics or a degree in rocket science to show that god has not only left the building, but that he never showed.

Just consider so-called "miracle cures". If there is a god, he has stood by over the millennia doing nothing while millions, nay, billions of children have died of starvation, of disease and plague – which incidentally he created. Quite apart from the children he personally murdered, god has maintained the role of passive observer while children drown at sea, burn to death, die of thirst, starve, freeze, and perish in countless natural disasters.

Last month, 2,200 devout christians were drowned when a tidal wave swept over an island off Papau, New Guinea (and since then we've had the Boxing Day Tsunami). You can be quite certain that every one of the faithful was begging god to save them, but god was asleep at the wheel. Even as I write, tens of thousands of children are dying horribly in Africa. And despite 1.1 billion Catholics praying this past four years for his recovery, the pope is still suffering, dying from Parkinson Disease. And yet "the faithful" are so naive as to travel to places like Lourdes in the futile belief that this same worthless god cares so much about them that he will intervene to cure their multiple sclerosis or their cancerous spleen. HA! In your dreams, morons!

"Nothing fails like prayer!"

What makes you think that god will act to save your failed kidneys while a few miles away, in the Phillipines, a ferry is sinking with 200 Catholic children on board? Meanwhile god looks on and picks his nose. Your precious god, your so-called "merciful father" can't be bothered to save so much as one terrified, drowning baby! Wake up, O ye faithful, give your brain a rinse.



Note: this essay was written four years before the Asian tsunami.

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