New York Times chooses the holiest week of the year to attack God
"The God-shaped hole" posits that humans are hardwired to seek meaning through a divinity. Certainly, no culture has ever been without a God — and that's true for Marxist cultures, which have sought to make a god of man, always with deadly results.
The most recent example of this comes from a guest essay at the New York Times from a very angry lapsed Orthodox Jew who insists that the world would be better if it "passed over" God. It's a sad, foolish essay, but one that the Times thought worth running on the holiest week in America.
Shalom Auslander (a name that roughly translates to "an outsider to peace") was raised in a very orthodox Jewish community that taught him that God was something so fearful that he lived his life in terror. Not surprisingly, he rebelled and became as fanatically anti-religious as his upbringing had been fanatically religious.
Auslander's fanatical hostility to God reflects a mind that never progressed beyond its childish understanding of the deity. He explains that, when he was a child, the rabbi at his Yeshiva taught his class that it was a good thing, when the plagues came, that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, necessitating the killing of the Egyptian firstborn to force Pharaoh's hand:
God, it seems, paints with a wide brush. He paints with a roller. In Egypt, said our rabbi, he even killed first-born cattle. He killed cows. If he were mortal, the God of Jews, Christians and Muslims would be dragged to The Hague. And yet we praise him. We emulate him. We implore our children to be like him.
If Ausland were more thoughtful, he'd understand that this justice for Pharaoh's killing of the Jewish firstborn in the year Moses was born. More importantly, the entire Passover narrative is a profound meditation about the nature of tyranny. A tyrant is unmoved by his people's suffering. They exist to serve him, rather than he existing to serve them. It's only when that suffering enters his own domain that he'll change his behavior, and even that change cannot be relied upon. When tyrants are involved, the innocent will always suffer.
Image: Michelangelo's Hands of God and Adam. Public domain.
Auslander never achieved a more mature look at the meaning behind the God of the Jewish and Christian Bibles. This was a God completely different from the pagan gods that held sway in the world since the dawn of time and that can still be found worshiped in the world's dark corners, as well as in Hollywood and every so-called "gender confirming" facility. The old gods were capricious, selfish, sexually obsessed, and intentionally cruel, and they required constant appeasement, often in the form of human sacrifice or cultic prostitution.
The Jewish God, who then became the Christian God and, sort of, the Muslim God, was different. He was portable, for He wasn't tied to a temple or a tree. Most importantly, though, He stood (and stands) for abstract principles of morality and justice. Follow the Ten Commandments and abide by Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, and you can be reasonably certain that you will be living the best possible life and have a part in creating the best possible community.
Other important differences between the biblical God and those other gods (including man as perfected through Marxist principles) are that He allows free will, that every individual is worthy because he is created in God's image, and that justice will inevitably be served, although we mere mortals may not understand that justice or even see it meted out in our lifetimes.
Auslander is correct that the Bible has stories in it that are mysterious and even troublesome. Jonathan Kirsch wrote an enjoyable book on the subject: The Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible. Those stories exist because the Bible is not just a book about God; it's also a book about the Jewish people, and they are very real, including being stupid, brave, greedy, moral, oversexed, foolish, and everything else that human beings — not gods — will be.
But for the New York Times' editors and Auslander, the Bible is nothing but a collection of stories about God being mean. And so Auslander dreams of "killing gods," which he identifies as "an idea I can get behind."
This year, something rare happened: the month of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter all clustered in the same month, with Passover and Easter overlapping completely. This is a time to remind ourselves of the blessings monotheism has bestowed on us (and yes, it's been a rocky journey because humans are imperfect), rather than to have a childish temper tantrum because God gave his creations free will and all the challenges that come with it.