June 9, 2010

"God, baby, look how beautiful it is."

Last words spoken on a mountaintop, just before lightning strikes and kills a young woman whose boyfriend was about to propose marriage.
"I crawled to her... I did CPR for probably 15 minutes, and the whole time was trying her cell phone, but I couldn't get anything out....

"I put the ring on her finger while the EMTs were working on her...

"I picked that spot because she actually said she would like to get married there... She absolutely loved the outdoors."

131 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

Nice looking girl except for the nose ring or lip ring...

You'd think that her parents would have preferred another shot.

Michael E. Lopez said...

Dear god I think that's the worst thing I've heard all year.

chuck b. said...

This seemed too terrible to re-tweet yesterday, but it seems fine on your blog.

Fred4Pres said...

Well, that was obviously not meant to be.

kent said...

Evidently, God's sense of humor leans towards the inappropriately Lenny Bruce-esque.

Smilin' Jack said...

""God, baby, look how beautiful it is.""


You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses His name.--Exodus 20:7

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'm going to be sent to Hell. I'm a bad person.

My first thought was this song.

I'm sorry.

kent said...

I'm going to be sent to Hell. I'm a bad person.

My first thought was this song.

The only song capable of actually sending a person shrieking downwards to Hell, merely by thinking about it, is the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight." In fact, I --

... oops.

Richard Dolan said...

So, today's theme is fidelity and its opposite:

Richard and Bethany (the pro side); and for the con: Al and Tipper, Karenna and Andrew, Suzanne Corona (with hubby by her side) and Justin. Even the political stories have a theme/subtext of infidelity running through them: Kaus accusing Boxer of being unfaithful to core Dem values, and the unions attacking Lincoln for lack of faithfulness to their Beloved that she once sponsored but now spurns (otherwise known as 'card check').

Is this what feminism is reduced to -- seeing life through the lens of fidelity? Worse things could happen, I suppose.

Fred4Pres said...

I once was driving with the wife and kids from Aspen to Pueblo. During the decent over the divide, we hit thunderstorms than rained torents. But the lighting...oh my. The bolts were slaming down within 50 feet of the car. I have never seen lighting so fierce in my life.

The kids actually loved it. Me, not so much. I kept moving thinking that would be better than staying still and possibly being hit by someone or something that way.

Fred4Pres said...

More appropriate music.

The Crack Emcee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

"God, baby" has a sense of humor.

wv: "beatum" - quite appropriate.

prairie wind said...

So now he has a "constant companion in the wind." You'd think that with one horrible weather-related incident like this one, he'd be more careful about tempting tornadoes.

I would never marry a man who wanted to be romantic in the middle of lightning on a mountain top.

Paul Zrimsek said...

My first thought was all those early-'60s teen car crash songs.

george said...

Just more proof that if there is a god he is not worth worshiping.

miller said...

"Just more proof that if there is a god he is not worth worshiping. "

Well, yes, of course. I mean, if you are on a mountaintop during an electric storm and you become the best conductor for an electric charge from the earth to the sky - why, that's God's fault for making the universe in that way.

God, if he exists, should suspend the laws of physics so people can do foolish and innocent things.

Excuse me while I go out and jump from a building. I've always wanted to fly. If God exists, he'll give me wings.

SteveR said...

Having grown up in the west and being a geologist and hiker, the danger of being on a mountaintop in any type of dark cloudy weather, can not be overstated. Very sad.

Balfegor said...

So now he has a "constant companion in the wind."

Made me think of The Wind on the Downs. Anyhow, very sad. Especially to have her life cut off just before one of its small climaxes -- immediately before the marriage proposal.

MadisonMan said...

She should have fallen in love with a competent meteorologist.

MadisonMan said...

It occurs to me that this could be a good mystery plot. There is no evidence, for example, of what happened, really on the Mountain Top. Perhaps his last words to her were really Can you please hold this very long telescoping aluminum pole?

That's how I'd write the story.

Leland said...

"God, baby, look how beautiful it is"

Those last words are not far removed from the more basic last words:

"Watch this!"

The Crack Emcee said...

"God, if he exists, should suspend the laws of physics so people can do foolish and innocent things."

Like crossing the Red Sea, maybe?

Old Dad said...

A horrible story, but also a cautionary tale for flatlanders. If you can see a cloud, even a fluffy white one, get off the mountain.

former law student said...

What Steve R and Old Dad said.

My general advice is to avoid the big romantic gesture. No proposal announced on the Jumbotron at the ball park. No renting a horse and carriage. And no hiking to a clouded mountain peak. These play well in your head, but no so much in practice.

William said...

The plain facts are that the mills of nature grind on without any regard for our happiness or well being. But this is just way over the top and was done in very poor taste. In order for the drama to work the laws of physics should have some regard for the laws of aesthetics. This scene should be rewritten.

edutcher said...

How Bltzfk-ian! We can only hope God has set this up for a reason.

miller said...

...

God, if he exists, should suspend the laws of physics so people can do foolish and innocent things.

Old Irish proverb: God watches out for fools and children.

MadisonMan said...

It occurs to me that this could be a good mystery plot. There is no evidence, for example, of what happened, really on the Mountain Top.

I think that's the plot of "Tom Dooley".

DSDan said...

"My God, it's full of stars!"

ricpic said...

This scene should be rewritten.

That would necessitate literally thousands of rewritings in the future given that there are tens of thousands of fatuous fools waiting in the wings to repeat the same utterly oblivious behavior...over and over and over again.

John Stodder said...

When you're young, mountain tops are as spiritual as it gets.

Maybe they were stupid. But I can't judge them too harshly. When I was in my 20s, I almost fell off Half Dome, and, after surviving that, had to skitter off it as fast as I could to avoid a gathering storm. But it was sooooo beautiful up there!

In the grand scheme of things, are these kids really that much dumber than anyone born after 1970 who takes up cigarettes, anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car after more than one drink, or anyone who texts while driving? And in the annals of getting hit by lightening, you'll probably find a lot more middle-aged golfers or anglers than besotted couples.

On the other hand, I laughed at the "Lightning Strikes" link. First 45 I ever bought.

Bryan C said...

Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth;
And ere a man hath power to say "Behold!"
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 1, scene 1, 141–149

bagoh20 said...

Even in a thunderstorm on a mountain top, your odds of getting killed by lightning is pretty small. This is very unfortunate, but life would be quite dull without risk. The proposal was the riskiest thing planned on that mountain that day.

I would love to go out like that, but not at 25. That's the tragedy.

Blue@9 said...

This is just natural selection. If she had been as experienced a hiker as the article claims, she would have known not to stand on top of a hill when storm clouds are overhead.

I actually do have tons of experience summiting peaks, and it's pretty much the cardinal rule: Do not stand in exposed areas when storm clouds are bearing down on you. It doesn't even have to rain--you can tell from the clouds, the smell (ozone), and the electricity in the air.

Balfegor said...

In order for the drama to work the laws of physics should have some regard for the laws of aesthetics. This scene should be rewritten.

Pish posh. There is a lovely narrative sense of building tension, which then cannot be released in the real world, due to the unexpected tragedy. Think of that one scene in The Pianist -- best scene in the movie -- where the man has got the piano before him, and lifts his hands, and we hear the music he is imagining, but then see that he is only playing over the tops of the keys, because he daren't play audibly. The "companion in the wind" is the narrative or imaginative resolution to the narrative tension built up before the lightning strike. Dramatically, it's awfully bittersweet, in the same sense as "The Wind in the Downs", which I linked earlier, or (from the same war), Edward Thomas's In Memoriam:

The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again
.

It makes me feel like a kind of monster, like Karlheinz Stockhausen, but aesthetically, I think the whole narrative is quite good. And there are affecting details -- the ring on the finger of the dying (or dead) woman, the man's bitter satisfaction at being named as her fiance in the news reports. Possibly there is something a little mawkish in this, but I think the aesthetic effect is good.

Michael said...

Mountain tops in the warm weather months can be very dangerous. Storm clouds do not have to be directly above as lightening can strike miles from the source and often appears to have come from a clear sky. I have had one friend die as a result of a strike on a Tennessee mountain top and have frequently had to retreat from above tree line situations in the Rockies.

Gabriel Hanna said...

Well, I'm not inclined or qualified to comment on the aesthetics of being struck by lighting on a hilltop while being proposed to, but the physics of lightning is something else.

Pretty much everything you've ever heard about the rules of lightning strikes is wrong. People have been struck inside their houses. And it happens more often than you think; about 60 people per year are struck in North America alone.

Wearing metal, being exposed, on a hilltops--those things don't matter. The lighting has traveled several MILES over dead air horizontally in order to strike something--what does a few more feet vertically matter, or a few less ohms of electrical resistance? Most of the lightning precautions people recommend make as much sense as trying to survive a plane crash by waiting until the plane almost hits and then jumping into the air.

I have personally witnessed lighting originating from several miles away strike a tree at the BOTTOM of a hill covered with taller trees (and houses).

Freeman Hunt said...

That is very sad.

One question: Why would the man be listed as the fiance if he never got her answer? I assume she would have said yes, but what if she hadn't? Shouldn't you have to assent before you're considered engaged?

MadisonMan said...

about 60 people per year are struck in North America alone.

I think you mean killed. Struck does not mean killed.

Look at where people are killed (See here for '06, here for '07, here for '08, here for '09) and draw your own conclusions.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Madison Man:


I think you mean killed. Struck does not mean killed.


You're right, I did mean that. About 1000 people are struck and 60 killed, according to NOAA, (which doesn't have all that much credibility around here, I know. :P)

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm

They also recycle some of the lightning safety myths--which do no harm. They just don't do much good. If lightning has "decided" to strike your area, the only sure thing is Faraday cage.

traditionalguy said...

Lightening is enormously powerful and it will hit anywhere it choses. Man has little or no defenses and most advice is guesses. FYI, lightening often hits antennas of rubber tired vehicles, despite conventional wisdom that it does not. That is one marriage that will never take place. I hope the young man will not feel guilt for an Act if God. Sometimes no one is to blame.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Madison Man:

Look at where people are killed (See here for '06, here for '07, here for '08, here for '09) and draw your own conclusions.

The maps correlate with the frequency of thunderstorms--where I live in the Pacific Northwest we get something like two in a year.

former law student said...

Shouldn't you have to assent before you're considered engaged?

I'm guessing that she had even picked out the ring, and they were just waiting for the peak (sorry) moment for the actual proposal.

EDH said...

Can a metal piercing attract lightening?

As for a song, even though it was a different instrumentality of death, I'm sure the sense of regret and guilt are similar.

Last Kiss

Oh where, oh where, can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I've got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world...

When I woke up the rain was pourin' down
There were people standing all around
Something warm rollin' through my eyes
But somehow I found my baby that night
I lift her head, she looked at me and said,
"Hold me darling, just a little while"
I held her close, I kissed her our last kiss
I found the love that I knew I would miss.

Well now she's gone
even though I hold her tight
I lost my love, my life, that night.

Oh where, oh where, can my baby be?
The Lord took her away from me
She's gone to heaven, so I've got to be good
So I can see my baby when I leave this world

Ooooo....
Ahhhh....
.

Scott said...

A friend's boyfriend was out using the Weed Whacker in front of the motel he managed in Maplewood, MN, when he was hit by a lightning bolt. Cooked him like a hot dog. He was in ICU for a week before he expired.

The odds of being killed by lightning in any given year are 1:1/750,000 according to the government.

The odds of winning a Powerball drawing jackpot in any given year are 1:2,114,582

Scott said...

Oooops, the lightning odds are 1:750,000. Considerably worse, thank God.

EDH said...

Smilin' Jack said...
"God, baby, look how beautiful it is."

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses His name.--Exodus 20:7



Rather, I think it was that interminable hipster use of the word "baby" to address an adult lover.

Old Dad said...

Gabriel,

I'll bow to your expertise, but as a witness to many a summer monsoon in the Rockies, stay off the mountain. The exploding pine trees are spectacular, but you wouldn't want to be anywhere near.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Scott:

When I read in the news about What Is Going To Kill You this week, I always mentally compare it with the odds of being struck by lightning before I decide to worry about it.

The most dangerous thing a normal man (not a Steve Irwin type) can do is be unmarried. The most dangerous thing any normal person will do is get in their car and drive.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Some people just seem to attract lightening strikes also.

My FIL (first husband from Ohio) was hit on three separate occasions. Once while standing INSIDE the house in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Beth said...

MadisonMan, when my partner read this to me last night my first response was, "Well, he SAYS those were her last words." I went the suspicious route, too.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Old Dad:

as a witness to many a summer monsoon in the Rockies, stay off the mountain. The exploding pine trees are spectacular, but you wouldn't want to be anywhere near.

Well, no! The point I'm making is that if you are in an area with a storm, there's little you can do. That's totally different from going to, or not going to, a place with frequent storms.

As for the pine trees, lighting won't preferentially strike the tallest or the highest up or the most isolated.

What's interesting professionally to me is that no one who knows a lot about lightning understands how it works, despite hundreds of years of scientific interest. It's extremely difficult to experiment with lightning in a way that replicates what's going in nature.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@DBQ:

Some people just seem to attract lightening strikes also.

If your chances of getting hit are 1 in 750,000, it's pretty certain that SOMEONE is going to get hit a ridiculous number of times, just like someone wins the lottery. That it happens to be Roy Sullivan is just his bad luck, I think, and not anything about him.

Once while standing INSIDE the house in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Well, there you go.

PatHMV said...

EDH... according to Mythbusters, it would take a piercing the size of a door knob to attract lightning.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@PatHMV:

I saw that Mythbusters and I didn't think it was a good experiment. For example, the model head that got struck was never replaced with a new head. If one model head gets struck over and over, you can't tell whether it was the model head or the metal that was responsible. Also their van de Graaf setup didn't really resemble real lighting--they'd have had to put it hundreds of yards away or something.

ricpic said...

For a really thoughtful guide to lightning and how to improve your odds of avoiding a strike:

strikeone.com.au/avoid/avoid.htm

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That it happens to be Roy Sullivan is just his bad luck, I think, and not anything about him.


Nevertheless, I still wouldn't want to stand next to him during a thunderstorm.

We had an absolutely spectacular storm last summer. The lightening was striking constantly 360 degrees around us in the mountains surrounding the valley that I live in. It was awesome in the literal sense of the word.

Unfortunately, it also created some spectacular forest fires that went on for weeks.

Old Dad said...

Gabriel,

My data is purely anecdotal, of course, but the strikes were almost exclusively higher on the mountain rather than lower. And, come to think of it, you're absolutely right that it's not necessarily the highest or tallest tree that gets struck

Big Mike said...

Apparently she was used to hiking through heavy rains, including thunderstorms, and disdained taking shelter.

It works just fine, until it doesn't.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Old Dog:

My data is purely anecdotal, of course, but the strikes were almost exclusively higher on the mountain rather than lower.

I don't doubt you, but unless you kept very careful track you really couldn't say one way or another--and a lightning strike ON the mountain is more visible that one that doesn't hit the mountain.

But you get rain shadow from mountains and even low hills and perhaps the effect on thunderstorms is similar.

Scott said...

@Gabriel:

"The most dangerous thing a normal man (not a Steve Irwin type) can do is be unmarried."

I didn't know he was going to marry that stingray!

Which goes to show, be careful who you date. (I think arranged marriages would work as fabulously in the United States as they do in India, but that's OT.)

Old Dad said...

Gabriel,

That all makes sense. And truth be told, when the mountains are socked in, you can't see worth a damn anyway.

bagoh20 said...

The data linked above for the last 4 years shows only one fatality on a mountain top (a shepherd on a mule). I assume he was not proposing to the mule or that would be a creepy coincidence and would shake my agnosticism.

Most of the fatalities seem to be on flat land under trees, which is, of course, where everyone outside goes when a thunderstorm hits.

michaele said...

In my local paper, a story on the page following the lightning strike article was about a couple that got married in a shark tank. That could have had one hell of a rueful ending also.

bagoh20 said...

"
"The most dangerous thing a normal man (not a Steve Irwin type) can do is be unmarried."


Most creatures live longer in captivity. But some can't handle it. It must be something in the nature of "normal men" that makes them good for domestication.

Cedarford said...

kent said...
Evidently, God's sense of humor leans towards the inappropriately Lenny Bruce-esque.

traditionalguy - "I hope the young man will not feel guilt for an Act if God. Sometimes no one is to blame."

------------------
It is incidents like this that make one further question the existence of God. There just seems to be a cruel and random universe out there, and being "good and doing the right thing" - statistically - appears to have nothing to do with wealth, odds of having very bad things happen. Nor, statistically, does prayer affect corporial outcomes. Nor any manifestation of any immortal soul except by selected anecdote.
Faith and prayer just make the ride from birth to death a little more tolerable.

Even calling destructive and random events "An Act of God" anymore just seems medieval or Muslim. Archaic. Incorrect. Like explaining disease in terms of how one's flux's, humors, and skull bumps originate it.
Maybe we should drop "Act of God" from our legal jargon and replace it with "cruel happenstance" or "bad Karma" - which seems better than present Muslim or pre-industrial civ Christianity worldview of everything is God's doing.

To me, though, the biggest thing that fuels agnosticism is Hubble and astrophysics discoveries. We see a vast, entirely random universe with no structure anywhere not explainable by physics, or theory backed by discoveries... Just an ever faster expanding bubble of energy and matter that will burn out and dissipate in another 10 billion years.
Where the so-called "sheep" of shepards Jesus and Mohammed are insignificant specks in a galaxy which itself is no more significant in the universe of galaxies than a grain of sand in a Sahara of sand.
No where is there any sign of a higher intelligence at work since the Big Bang. Nor is man designed to go out into true space. Nor likely to leave our solar system except as post-human long-lived machines.

garage mahal said...

I mated for a fishing guide in the Keys when I lived in FL, and as a newbie from Wisconsin I asked him once as a thunderstorm was rolling in w/ lightning [it rains every day in the summer, twice, like clockwork] if he'd ever been hit by lightning. He said "yea, quite a few times". *gulp* He says he can always tell he was going to get hit because the line on his rods would start buzzing a few seconds before the *poof*. Never heard that buzzing, but I did see a lemon shark damn near take his arm off trying to get it off the hook, right after it regurgitated it's guts into its mouth. Never trust a shark. It's one of the very few fish I've seen, that once out of water, will try and reach over and bite you.

Here is me on the left, with Capt Bill with a nice cuda.

Cedarford said...

As a hiker, we always follow boy scout training. Get off water ASAP if you are in an open boat when a storm approaches. On a mountain, grab a tarp then ditch your aluminum frame backpacks, canteens off the trail and get low and shelter off the high points until the T-storm w/in 5 miles goes away.

It doesn't always happen before a strike, but if you ever are out in the open anywhere and smell ozone or the hairs on your body stand up or your skin tingles, you flatten down on the ground - because that is sign of a growing ground charge.

Oh, and not that it appears to do any good, but pray.

bagoh20 said...

"No where is there any sign of a higher intelligence at work since the Big Bang"

This is a leap of faith that supports atheism not agnosticism. An agnostic as I see it, would not assume to know what universe creating intelligence would look like or even that human-like intelligence is a characteristic of a god.

AC245 said...

according to NOAA, (which doesn't have all that much credibility around here, I know. :P)
...
They also recycle some of the lightning safety myths--which do no harm. They just don't do much good.


Gell-Mann Amnesia.

Chip Ahoy said...

Misquote. Her last word were actually, "God, this piano wire sure works well with the kite in this heavy wind."

danielle said...

there really should be an 'Althouse ponders God' / 'Althousian superstition' tag

Revenant said...

God, if he exists, should suspend the laws of physics so people can do foolish and innocent things.

Also known as the "God just can't be bothered" explanation for natural disasters. :)

Anyway, if God existed he wouldn't have to "suspend the laws of physics" to prevent people from being hit by lightning. He would have to intervene in the world, but that's something most religious people believe he does regularly.

Eric said...

I picked that spot because she actually said she would like to get married there... She absolutely loved the outdoors.

This is why I don't go outdoors. The universe is just waiting for you to lower your guard.

Lem said...

OT..

Ooops... If you own an Ipad you may want to take a look at this..

miller said...

"Also known as the "God just can't be bothered" explanation for natural disasters. :)"

Actually, no.

This is known as the "people do stupid things and then blame God when things go exactly as predicted."

Blaming God for natural disasters or using it as proof He doesn't exist is a different argument.

They might be related, but they are not the same.

Pogo said...

Unless the world is perfect, there is no God.


"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

Revenant said...

Unless the world is perfect, there is no God.

Not an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving one, obviously. That doesn't rule out gods who lack one of more of those traits.

Quaestor said...

Rousseau is mostly to blame for today's societal ills. The ANWR drilling ban, anti-nukism (yeah, I know, but it's my neologism), global warming hysteria, the organic food delusion, PETA, the Sea Shepherds (I don’t like Japanese whaling, but I’d like to see those arrogant fucks on the Discovery Channel get sunk) and the insane half of the population of Sedona, Arizona (home of the Harmonic Convergence, if you care to remember that crap) are the direct result of two hundred years of Romanticism. Enough! Let’s move on, people.
I hate to admit this (and I’ll be considered a monster by some folks here) but anyone who get zapped by lightning while rhapsodizing on the “beauty of nature” kinda deserves it.

wv: gamoti (n) a very disgusting flavor of Italian ice

Pogo said...

"Not an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving one, obviously."

The world is real = God does not exist!

El Pollo Real said...

"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"

Oh, Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making one movement to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have lost all Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against that earth which Thou didst come to save. And the wise spirit that tempted Thee would have rejoiced.

Revenant said...

This is known as the "people do stupid things and then blame God when things go exactly as predicted."

Exactly as predicted? Predicted by whom, exactly?

Obviously if you stand around predicting that everyone who goes hiking on a mountain in cloudy conditions will get struck by lightning you'll eventually be right about somebody, in the sense that a stopped clock is right twice a day. But "getting struck by lightning" is neither an expected nor a likely outcome in this situation, which is why you're an asshole for calling the dead woman "stupid".

If a person dies in a car crash do you call them a moron for choosing to use cars? That's a heck of a lot more dangerous than what these people were doing.

former law student said...

If a person dies in a car crash do you call them a moron for choosing to use cars?

Average people get killed in car crashes all the time. Our gut feel is that someone who dies in a freak accident must be a freak.

Revenant said...

The world is real = God does not exist!

Is it your position that something can't be real unless it allows for bad things to happen to innocent people? That has the amusing logical consequence that heaven can't be real. :)

Pogo said...

No. My position is merely that:
The world is real ≠ God does not exist.

Revenant said...

No. My position is merely that: The world is real ≠ God does not exist.

Well, thanks for sharing that.

My argument was "innocent people die horrible deaths" = "no all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God exists". That is only equivalent to "the world is real = God does not exist" if you believe both of the following:

(1): God must be all-powerful, all-knowing. and all-loving, AND

(2): The world cannot be real unless innocent people die horribly.

You claim to not believe (2). Ergo your claim that "The world is real ≠ God does not exist", while interesting, is off-topic and non-responsive. Nobody is claiming that "the world is real" means "God does not exist". Your own confusion is telling you that people are saying that, but we aren't. :)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord in Vain.

bagoh20 said...

"Unless the world is perfect, there is no God."

Or imperfection is what makes it perfect. You know, like an antique. The world is quite old. The imperfection is how we know it's the real one and not a fake.

Revenant said...

The notion that saying "something like "God, baby, look how beautiful it is" is "taking the Lord's name in vain" is a modern invention. What the commandment means is that you must not invoke God's name falsely. A statement like Lott's only violates the commandment if she didn't really think the view was beautiful.

Christy said...

Once upon an Independence Day, I was canoeing the Nolichucky River with my own True Love when an afternoon thunderstorm blew up. We found ourselves in a small gorge. Cliff to the right, cliff to the left. I clambered up into a slight dent in the side of the rock, pressing myself as far in as possible. True Love found a less salubrious spot near the water. The storm passed quickly. As I gathered courage to look around, I spied a huge spider 5" from my left eye and immediately dived from the side of the cliff. I figured I escaped death twice - once from lightning and once from diving into unknown waters.

God is a random number generator.

Night2night said...

In the face of an unexpected, sudden death I don't think there's a lot to say, other than I'm sorry to the surviving family members. As to God, I've always found it curious why we believe the existence of random horrors visiting us argues for or against the existence of God, or why we think his desired ends would coincide with our own. In the end calling, or not calling, upon God in a minute of need or wonder will do little to preserve our mortal shell. Nor, for that matter, do I believe an insistence upon an anthropomorphic God make his existence more or less likely.

traditionalguy said...

Revenant...The astronomers using Hubble and other satellite based instrumentations now tell us that our Milky Way has 200 Billion stars and is one of 200 Billion galaxies of 200 Billion stars apiece. So what is man that God is mindfull of him? And how do you feel we should deal with the Creator Spirit of such a universe? Denial there is a Creator God by men and women using their magnificent minds living in their magnificent, if temporary, bodies seems to be a rather weak way to relate to that God.

El Pollo Real said...

The astronomers using Hubble and other satellite based instrumentations now tell us that our Milky Way has 200 Billion stars and is one of 200 Billion galaxies of 200 Billion stars apiece.

Those numbers are dwarfed by the number of infinitesimally small atoms making up those 200 billions.

Penny said...

""God, baby, look how beautiful it is.""

"IT" is quite extraordinary.

A shame we need to deal with the details that follow...

Revenant said...

As to God, I've always found it curious why we believe the existence of random horrors visiting us argues for or against the existence of God

Well, I think the existence of random horrors visiting us argues that the universe is a somewhat random and horrible place. That in turn argues against there being a benevolent and all-powerful being behind it all, for the same reason that a toddler's play room filled with black widows and rusty nails argues against the thesis that the toddler's guardians are loving and competent.

A.Worthing said...

@Michael

> Dear god I think that's the worst thing I've heard all year.

Horrible, with just enough beauty to make the horrible that much worse.

I hope she is in a better place now. i hope his heart is healed as painlessly as possible.

Revenant said...

our Milky Way has 200 Billion stars and is one of 200 Billion galaxies of 200 Billion stars apiece. So what is man that God is mindfull of him?

Well, if I may be permitted to quote myself from this very thread:

Also known as the "God just can't be bothered" explanation for natural disasters. :)

Sure, maybe the reason horrible things happen to good people is that the universe is a big place and its creator has more important stuff to do than worry about who's getting hit by lighting on mountain #82721 of world #3 of star #72,845,172,941 of galaxy #105,924,841,294. That's an entirely reasonable response to the "problem of evil". Its only flaw is that the god thus described doesn't match the God of the world's major monotheistic religions. It also means that when someone says "you shouldn't commit murder, God has forbidden it", a reasonable response is "well odds are he's got more important stuff to deal with than who I kill". :)

A.Worthing said...

DBQ

Don't completely beat yourself up. Its gallows humor and it is part of human nature.

My grandfather (on my father's side) was probably an atheist. i remember thinking, when he died, "he is probably in heaven now." and then immediately afterward, thinking, "he's probably really surprised it exists, though." inappropriate humor is just how people cope sometimes.

And as sorry as we feel for this man and his girlfriend, we should note that they shouldn't have been up there, and they certainly shouldn't have been standing on top of the mountain. I won't insult them, but we should not emulate them.

(btw, if a person is hit by lightening once, they are actually extremely likely to be hit by lightening twice.)

roesch-voltaire said...

Storms can come up very quickly in mountain climes; I been caught more than a few times by the unexpected lightening storm and must admit and as we stood and watched the fearful scene we were inspired. And note that there was another couple near by that came to the rescue so they were not alone in taking their chances. Still it is a tragedy of the highest degree that makes me wonder more about fate more than aesthetics.

Revenant said...

i remember thinking, when he died, "he is probably in heaven now." and then immediately afterward, thinking, "he's probably really surprised it exists, though." inappropriate humor is just how people cope sometimes.

I have said for years that the worst part of being an atheist is that we're the only side of the "life after death" argument that can't look forward to saying "I told you so". :)

Sixty Grit said...

Yo yo dieting is one way to be hit by lightening more than once. Lightning, however, is a different story. I try to avoid both kinds.

WV: canetali - One way to avoid lightening is to leave the gun and take the canetali.

Night2night said...

@Rev

Yeah, well of course, but my problems with reaching your conclusion (there is no God), are two:

1.) We assume life's complexity arises out of a set of random events which (to me) seems about to me about as improbable as the existence of a loving deity does to you. Given the prerequisites I don't think it's unreasonable to postulate an organizing "first principle", if you will.

2.) We demand this omniscent, omnipresent being think in terms which are transparent to us, and reflect the values and concerns of our mortal sphere. Given the enormous differences in scale, power, and focus, if we accept the possibility of issue 1, this seems one, highly unlikely, and two, awfully constraining if our notion of God is to reflect what the term means (regardless of which monotheistic tradition you may believe in).

I guess my point is we simply don't have the tools to determine this one way or the other, without a certain degree of faith, whether it's either for or against.

Dead Julius said...

Wow, what a shockingly sad story.

Jason said...

"Look how beautiful it is! Now watch this drive."

RLB_IV said...

I am suprised that no one mentioned that Althouse and Meade were married on a mountain and survived to tell the tale. Are they blessed or was it random chance?

Freeman Hunt said...

The Problem of Evil

This is an article intended for regular people, not a scholarly article, so it's not too long. If you want to know how Christian philosophers address the problem of evil, this will give you some idea.

And if you think that the problem of evil is a good argument against the existence of God, you should read this to find out the other side of the argument.

Revenant said...

FYI, Freeman, the link you provided requires registration to read.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Bush was president for 8 years and did nothing about lightning.

Fred4Pres said...

It is Bush's fault. I am sure of that.

A.Worthing said...

I always find it amusing when atheists act as though it is a novel argument against God to point out that either there is evil in the world, or bad things happen to good people. You know, because people of faith had no idea that either of those facts were true and thus should be shocked and shaken from their faith by it. *rolls eyes*

The whole thing is more than a little tedious. I believe in God, and some of you don’t. I could honestly care less what you believe. And I certainly ain’t gonna bother trying to convince you otherwise, because it isn’t likely to happen. Either you can reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of God, or you can’t, and its really more of a matter of what is going on in your heart, something not given to direct reason.

And how small minded this debate really is. For instance, let’s instead make up a new story. Its 1884, in the Austrian Alps, and Fitt Pƶlzl, is at the top of one of the mountains when lightning kills her, just before her boyfriend had a chance to propose to her. Awful, huh?

By the way, what was that boyfriend’s name? Alois Hitler. That is right, Fitt, known by friends and family as Klara, was destined to be the mother of Adolf Hitler. So in that alternate reality a single lightning bolt saved something like 6 million lives. But let’s say you just don’t like the collateral damage—why should Klara and Alois suffer when Adolf is the bad egg? Okay, so do you think it would be any less horrible to hear of a baby being struck by lightning, or trampled by a stampeding bull or whatever? Sure it turns out to be baby Adolf Hitler, but Klara and Alois don’t know that their son is destined to be a mass murderer. All they see is their innocent cute little baby dead and the atheists going, “see, that is proof that doesn’t exist, because God would have rescued baby Adolf.” Little do they know.

Of course that seems like a bit of a catch 22 for God. He can kill the baby destined for mass murder and get angry denunciations for allowing a baby to die; or he could take a hands off approach and then get blamed for the holocaust that happens. But it at least highlights to everyone here how shallow our thinking is, admittedly including my own.

If you suppose there is a God who is omniscient and omnipotent, then He knows things you cannot possibly know. How can you possibly pretend to judge his motives, his decisions, etc. when you know so little compared to Him? Which is not to say you should then just take it all on faith. that’s your decision. But its more than a little idiotic and arrogant to say, “no omnipotent and omniscient God who is good would allow this”—seeing that we do not, indeed cannot, know the full effects of that bolt of lightning.

Mind you, if this would-be fiance was here right now, I would never make an argument so insensitive to his feelings. He is entitled to put his lost love on a pedestel, etc. But to be strictly logical, the atheists pointing to this as some kind of proof that God doesn’t exist are not being, well, logical.

A.Worthing said...

btw, ann, it appears this thread has been spamjacked. if that is a word.

Ann Althouse said...

About Meade and me on the mountain, if you go back to the wedding post, you'll see there was a nice lightning-attracting tower there. It made it less scenic, but we survived.

Freeman Hunt said...

Craig is extraordinarily well read in philosophy. He is a philosopher and one of the leading scholars of the kalam cosmological argument.

Your first few objections appear to be more about incompleteness. But this is a layman's article and not exhaustive, so I think that's to be expected. That's also why you would expect him to say things like "most philosophers agree." (And he is right that he problem of evil isn't much of an argument anymore in contemporary, scholarly philosophy. Unless someone comes up with something new on it, it's been pretty much defeated. You only see it touted in popular literature these days.)

This argument fails for the usual reason, that being that if God is omnipotent and omniscient, anything which is not logically impossible for him is possible for him. Craig's example of a hurricane resulting from the flapping of a butterfly's wings fails because a being with God's alleged traits would (a) know that the hurricane would result and (b) be capable of preventing both the hurricane and any other bad effect of the wing flapping. In short, Craig's argument fails because it assumes God is a limited being.

You seem to be misunderstanding the argument. He's saying that we may see something and assess it as a great evil whereas God might see that that thing leads to an enormous good. (Our perceived evil being represented by the flapping wing.) Because God is not limited and we are, He is in a position to truly assess good and evil in the world while we aren't.

You are also making too many assumptions about the nature of God's omnipotence and omniscience. That is a complicated philosophical question, not a simple one, and you have to define your terms. There is much philosophical debate about them.

2. The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil.

This is just flatly wrong; faith has no effect on truth or probability.


Again, you appear to have misunderstood this argument. He's not saying that having faith affects objective reality. He's saying that by Christian doctrine you would expect the co-existence of good and evil.

As for the full scope of evidence, Craig obviously cannot address all of it in that little article. He's written books on it. So have others. If you'd like to read his scholarly articles, you can go here.

Swinburne's probabilistic argument for the existence of God is highly regarded if you care for that. (It's kind of dry.) Brian Davies Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion is an excellent introduction to the issues contained in this, and his anthology is good too.

There's a lot of serious philosophy out there on these topics. There's been an enormous surge in it over the last twenty-five years or so. It's one of my favorite subjects to study.

Freeman Hunt said...

Oh, and I'm sorry the link required registration. I didn't know that.

Freeman Hunt said...

He's not saying that having faith affects objective reality. He's saying that by Christian doctrine you would expect the co-existence of good and evil.

More specifically that that undermines some of the assumptions inherent in the improbability argument. For example, the argument assumes that the goal of an all-loving God would be for us to be happy, but that is not the assumption under Christian doctrine, and if you reject that assumption, the argument weakens. (Obviously one could write a whole lot of background as to why you would reject it, and many have, but I think Craig does a good job summing it up as best one can in a paragraph to fit in the article.)

Freeman Hunt said...

Also, a minor point, Craig is not a Creationist.

Revenant said...

I always find it amusing when atheists act as though it is a novel argument against God to point out that either there is evil in the world, or bad things happen to good people.

You've got that backwards, I'm afraid. It isn't a novel argument; it is a very, very OLD argument that the people insisting that the Christian God really exists have never been able to offer an adequate response to.

You're approaching this from the point of view of "the Christian God exists, and atheists keep trying to prove he doesn't". I would phrase it as "you expect people to believe your god exists, but in two thousand years of trying you can't come up with an rational explanation for how his existence is reconcilable with the world around us".

There are other theistic religions -- e.g., Shinto or certain forms of Buddhism -- whose beliefs about divinity can be reconciled with the existence of horrible suffering in this world. It is just that yours can't.

Freeman Hunt said...

it is a very, very OLD argument that the people insisting that the Christian God really exists have never been able to offer an adequate response to.

Your first part is true; your second part is not.

Revenant said...

By the way, what was that boyfriend’s name? Alois Hitler. That is right, Fitt, known by friends and family as Klara, was destined to be the mother of Adolf Hitler. So in that alternate reality a single lightning bolt saved something like 6 million lives.

That's an interesting hypothetical. Let me point out some of the most obvious flaws:

(1): Your scenario assumes free will doesn't actually exist ("destined to be", etc). If free will doesn't exist, the only accepted defense for the existence of human evil is invalidated.

(2): Nobody would need to die for Hitler to not be born. Infertility is an option, as is arranging for a different sperm cell to fertilize the egg.

(3): As noted above, this sort of counter-argument ("it would have been worse otherwise") fails because it assumes the Christian God is a limited being. You set up a false choice between (a) kill the mother, (b) kill the baby, or (c) allow the Holocaust. There are an infinite number of alternatives, most of which don't require killing anyone.

(4): Your argument further assumes that people are a means to an end rather than an end in themselves. There are moral arguments in defense of that, but no Christian ones.

Most importantly,

(5): God didn't do this. Once we've established that God is willing to allow mass-murder when he could have struck the murderers dead, it becomes implausible to turn around and say, in response to Lott's death "well for all you know she or her descendants might have done something bad".

How can you possibly pretend to judge his motives, his decisions, etc. when you know so little compared to Him?

That is a defense, yes, but it isn't a rational one. It is the same as saying "even though the available evidence strongly suggests I'm guilty, there is secret evidence that I'm innocent, but I can't tell you what it is". The rational thing to do when a person adopts that position is to believe them to be guilty.

Freeman Hunt said...

Rev, are you arguing that God, if he exists, should intervene to prevent, no matter how slight, any experience of pain?

Or are you arguing that God should interfere if the experience of pain would reach a certain degree?

Or are you arguing that God should have created a universe in which pain does not exist at all?

Just want to clarify to make sure I'm addressing the right argument.

Revenant said...

Craig is extraordinarily well read in philosophy.

Then I'm afraid I can't think of an innocent explanation for his denial of the existence of well-known philosophical arguments.

He is a philosopher and one of the leading scholars of the kalam cosmological argument.

Yeah, I was reminded of that when I Googled him. It explains a lot about his style; he has dedicated his career to defending circular reasoning. :)

Your first few objections appear to be more about incompleteness

Yes, that's why I was saying that it wasn't a good presentation of the Christian argument. It
relies too much on the audience already being convinced that God's existence makes sense.

And he is right that he problem of evil isn't much of an argument anymore in contemporary,
scholarly philosophy. Unless someone comes up with something new on it, it's been pretty much defeated.


I would say that if you think the argument has been "defeated", you're not as widely read in philosophy as you would think. I would say that the main reason it isn't seriously debated anymore is that there aren't any new arguments on either side.

You are also making too many assumptions about the nature of God's omnipotence and omniscience.

There is only one kind of omniscience. As for omnipotence, I'm assuming the "able to do anything which is not logically possible" variety.

You seem to be misunderstanding the argument. He's saying that we may see something and assess it as a great evil whereas God might see that that thing leads to an enormous good.

No, I get that. But the same objection applies: it assumes God is a limited being, yet Craig assigns him credit for creating the universe and the rules it runs under. Besides, deliberately killing an innocent person because in the long run you think it will make things better is recognized as an evil action by most religions and philosophies.

Again, you appear to have misunderstood this argument. He's not saying that having faith affects objective reality. He's saying that by Christian doctrine you would expect the co-existence of good and evil.

What he said wasn't that Christian doctrine contains explanations for the co-existence of God and evil, but that those doctrines "increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil". It is certainly true that Christian apologetics has explanations for why evil and God co-exist. But those explanations are either true or false; they have no effect on the *probability* that God and evil can co-exist. Craig is really just offering a mix of the Argument from Authority and Argument from Popularity here.

Revenant said...

Or are you arguing that God should have created a universe in which pain does not exist at all?

I'm arguing that the existence of pain, suffering, death, misery, et al, is inconsistent with the omni-trifecta (-powerful, -scient, and -benevolent) of the Abrahamic religions. The subsection of the "problem of evil" dealing with suffering that has non-human causes.

"Shouldn't have" implies I think a god created the universe, which of course I don't. :)

Revenant said...

Your first part is true; your second part is not.

The second part is a matter of opinion. Yours and mine differ.

Freeman Hunt said...

There is only one kind of omniscience.

This is incorrect. Some hold that it means knowing everything in the past, present, and future. Others hold that the future does not yet exist, is determined by free will, and is therefore unknowable.

As for omnipotence, I'm assuming the "able to do anything which is not logically possible" variety.

I'm assuming you mean "able to do anything which is logically possible." Am I correct or do you hold to the Descartes variety where God can do anything at all, including the logically impossible?

I don't agree with either definition. I would add that God cannot do anything which would contradict God's nature. Being immaterial, for example, God cannot jump rope. God cannot, because he is all-powerful, create an object too heavy for God to move. Etc.

But the same objection applies: it assumes God is a limited being, yet Craig assigns him credit for creating the universe and the rules it runs under.

The same objection would not apply. The whole point is that something that seems really terrible to us may not be so.

And why do you think this assumes that God is a limited being? Limited by logic? By God's own nature? If that's the case, those may be entirely permissible under a working definition of omnipotence (see above).

Besides, deliberately killing an innocent person because in the long run you think it will make things better is recognized as an evil action by most religions and philosophies.

God is not a person. God is not in the same moral category as a person. Therefore a person murdering a person is not equivalent to God allowing a person to die.

It is certainly true that Christian apologetics has explanations for why evil and God co-exist. But those explanations are either true or false; they have no effect on the *probability* that God and evil can co-exist.

I already addressed this. They challenge the assumptions (such as happiness being the ultimate goal) that underlie the problem.

I'm arguing that the existence of pain, suffering, death, misery, et al, is inconsistent with the omni-trifecta (-powerful, -scient, and -benevolent) of the Abrahamic religions. The subsection of the "problem of evil" dealing with suffering that has non-human causes.

I think that you would expect to find all of those things in any possible material world. If we are to interact with the material world as material beings, pain seems a good and necessary thing. People who cannot feel pain are at great risk of injury. So, is the thought that it might have been better had God not created a material world? That's a matter of opinion, I suppose, but I don't think so. I think most of us are glad that there is a material world.

Or should we expect God, if God exists, to create a material world, but then intervene in its laws constantly so as to prevent any pain, suffering, death, whatever? Then the world would have no reason, no order. Would an orderless world be better than an ordered one?

Also, there are, perhaps, many good actions that may only be performed if certain evils exist. If I am to show tolerance, I must have something to tolerate. If I am to overcome temptation, I must be tempted. If I am to be brave, I must experience fear. Etc. Perhaps the total evil in the world is at the perfect optimal level at which to induce the greatest possible good.

Your thoughts?

Revenant said...

Your thoughts?

Run to more than 4096 characters. So here's the "abridged" version. :)

The same objection would not apply. The whole point is that something that seems really terrible to us may not be so.

That doesn't make sense. The death of an innocent person remains terrible even if it ultimately leads to wonderful outcomes. If someone told you "I murdered my wife for the insurance money and used that cash to save a hundred starving orphans" you're not going to say "well, the murder wasn't really so terrible then". Under most moral system it doesn't even make the murder morally acceptable.

God is not a person. God is not in the same moral category as a person. God is not a person. God is not in the same moral category as a person. Therefore a person murdering a person is not equivalent to God allowing a person to die.

Two points:
(1): If this is true then morality is subjective. Whether or not it applies to depends on who you are. This doesn't conflict with the problem of evil, though, so that's ok.

(2): If God's behavior cannot be judged by our moral standards, then it can't be claimed that God is good. "Good" describes position on the human moral scale. Admittedly, though, this avoids the problem of evil by eliminating the "God is omnibenevolent" aspect. God, described thusly, is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnifnordian, where "fnordianism" is the incomprehensible trait that God really DOES possess in place of benevolence.

I already addressed this. They challenge the assumptions (such as happiness being the ultimate goal) that underlie the problem.

You didn't address it. Yes, I get that Christian doctrine challenges certain assumptions. That has nothing to do with the probability of God and evil being able to coexist. In order to improve that probability using Christian doctrine we would need to know the probability of Christian doctrine being correct is nonzero.

I think that you would expect to find all of those things in any possible material world.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion, but it doesn't count as an argument. :)

People who cannot feel pain are at great risk of injury.

People who cannot feel pain are at great risk of injury because pain is the way our bodies evolved to signal that we are injured. Our distant ancestors needed an undeniable and extremely unpleasant "you're injured" signal because they were little slimy things swimming around the the ocean and incapable of reasoning. But pain is a really stupid way to inform a thinking being that something bad has happened to it -- it can actually *kill* people who would otherwise have survived, in fact. Which is why the things humans build use less catastrophic means of signaling damage.

Or should we expect God, if God exists, to create a material world, but then intervene in its laws constantly so as to prevent any pain, suffering, death, whatever? Then the world would have no reason, no order.

Only if God is an unreasoning and chaotic force, which rules out omnibenevolence. Furthermore, if we assume that God can't plan far enough in advance to be able to avoid "intervening in its laws constantly" then that rules out omniscience, omnipotence, or both.

Perhaps the total evil in the world is at the perfect optimal level at which to induce the greatest possible good.

I think that sounds like utilitarianism. Anyway, thanks for the feedback. :)

amba said...

I would love to go out like that, but not at 25.

Me too! Imagine going out like that at 98.

Maybe it can be arranged.

If the lightning is just not that into you, there's always pneumonia.

(Think what the Greeks would have made of this: Zeus desired her. So now she's a constellation.)

amba said...

My sister-in-law the Episcopal priest has no problem with the problem of evil, a.k.a. theodicy. She says, "God cannot be both all-good and all-powerful? All-good, OF COURSE!"

amba said...

You absolutely must follow DBQ's link. It's the companion story to this one -- the inverse, somehow.

For those too busy to follow links: (spoiler alert) This park ranger in Virginia survived seven lightning strikes . . . only to shoot himself at 71 over an unrequited love.

amba said...

Traditionalguy: something for you about Hubble, and the universe it has revealed to us.

You can’t unsee those images, and they pose a challenge that, while not “humanity’s final exam,” is at least its GRE. Even when we’re not consciously thinking about it, which is most of the time, the Hubble’s-eye view is now the deep background of everything we do. I think we’ve barely begun to process what that implies for our lives and purposes.

On the other hand, having these images, and having them be ours—to put on our coffee mugs and mouse pads if we want—is helping us do just that. It’s so grand out there, and so gorgeous, and somehow, as negligible as we are—just a mite on a mote—we’re entitled. The atoms of our bodies were made in furnaces like those; we’re looking at a show of the forces that formed us. The eyes and brain to see it all are among its most improbable creations. It’s hard not to conclude that the Hubble is serving a re-ligious function—in the original meaning of the word, “to reconnect” to one’s source—for humanity’s next phase, for people who aren’t religious as well as for those who are.

amba said...

I am suprised that no one mentioned that Althouse and Meade were married on a mountain and survived to tell the tale. Are they blessed or was it random chance?

The minute I saw this post, I suspected that was what attracted Althouse to the story.

amba said...

OT: the current verification word:

aness = a female asshole.

Freeman Hunt said...

I have been trying to find time to reply to this, so we'll see how fast I can type while the kids take their naps right now. :)

Under most moral system it doesn't even make the murder morally acceptable.

But we aren't discussing murder.

(1): If this is true then morality is subjective. Whether or not it applies to depends on who you are. This doesn't conflict with the problem of evil, though, so that's ok.

God is not just another who. God is not the man down the street. God is in a different moral category. If, for example, roaches infest your kitchen, and you exterminate them, have you or the roaches acted immorally? No. The roaches were being good roaches, doing exactly what roaches do, and you were being a good man, doing exactly what men do. You are in different moral categories.

(2): If God's behavior cannot be judged by our moral standards, then it can't be claimed that God is good. "Good" describes position on the human moral scale.

Again, this only works if God is just another human. You're applying the morality that should govern human relations to God. God is good, but God is a good God. God is not your good buddy down at the pub.

Additionally, just as a parent, in order to be a good parent, might allow a child to experience pain in order that the child might learn something, I am totally unconvinced that a God, in order to be good, must prevent our experiencing any pain. In fact, I don't think that would be good at all.

Also, God's perspective is infinite. Ours is finite. Our pain, no matter how extreme, may very well seem, on an infinite scale, to be almost as nothing. If our souls are made to endure forever, and our existence here is just a tiny speck of time, it is, perhaps, just as likely that we might be grateful to have experienced pain in this life. We may be gaining that which we cannot now perceive.

But pain is a really stupid way to inform a thinking being that something bad has happened to it

I don't agree with that opinion. It seems to me most excellent and effective.

Only if God is an unreasoning and chaotic force, which rules out omnibenevolence. Furthermore, if we assume that God can't plan far enough in advance to be able to avoid "intervening in its laws constantly" then that rules out omniscience, omnipotence, or both.

You would have God plan the universe that that there appear to be the possibility for pain, so that we might derive its great goods, but that such pain would never actually materialize? I think that is illogical, and even if logically possible, I don't see how God would be under any moral obligation to do it.

I think that sounds like utilitarianism.

You'll have to expound more on that if it's to be an argument.

In sum, your argument seems to be based on the idea that human beings are entitled to never experience unpleasantness, that that unpleasantness cannot possibly offer any benefit, and that if there were a good God, God's good purpose would be to keep us happy at all times, sort of the way a master might be with a pet. But I don't think that any of those principles are obvious. I don't think that our relation to God is to be as pets to a master, and it seems obvious that great calamity offers experience for the expression of great good.

So I think it comes down to our disagreement in assumptions. I think that your assumptions place too much importance on man's pleasure and avoidance of pain, but, as an atheist, this is probably logical. However, I think that from the perspective of believing in God and in an eternal life, these assumptions are contraindicated. That is, if the Christian faith is correct, I don't think, by the ideas outlined before, that there is any contradiction between a good God and the existence of pain or evil. In fact, I think their existence necessarily follows.