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Author Topic: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does  (Read 9469 times)

Altair

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Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« on: August 11, 2015, 02:57:29 pm »
I stumbled across this on a Catholic website, and as one whose paganism is firmly rooted in the natural world, I was struck by it on several levels:

FORUM: Mother Nature Is One Unreliable Lady


http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady

"And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather, he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child"

...to which one immediate reaction on my part was: Is he nuts?? Has he read the Old Testament? Just off the top of my head (and I know the Christian bible poorly at best)--the story of Noah and the great flood, in which his god kills virtually all of humanity, not to mention the rest of land-based life; that's a "consistent Biblical message" of a god "rock-like in his steadfast love"??

I read this quickly, so I want to go back and read it more carefully to critique it fully, but I'd love to hear others' specific refutations or, for that matter, affirmations of what the author proposes.

And BTW, I *adore* the ad that the author references and dismisses as “just more tree-hugging extremism”--he might want to get right with his now environmentally minded pope on that bias. I posted something about this ad here at the Cauldron a while ago, but here it is again, for those who are interested:

The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Redfaery

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2015, 04:06:56 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178539
I stumbled across this on a Catholic website, and as one whose paganism is firmly rooted in the natural world, I was struck by it on several levels:

I don't worship Mother Nature, nor do many other pagans. He's starting from a false premise.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 04:07:15 pm by Redfaery »
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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2015, 05:00:48 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178539
I read this quickly, so I want to go back and read it more carefully to critique it fully, but I'd love to hear others' specific refutations or, for that matter, affirmations of what the author proposes.

 
My coffee hasn't kicked in yet, so I may be incoherent. But here goes.

Quote
The sea, which just seconds before had beguiled me with its serenity and beauty, had turned on a dime and almost killed me.


The ocean can't turn on a dime. It's suuuuper big. The only one in this story who turned was you, dude -- you turned your back on the ocean and it walloped you. As pretty much anyone from a coastal or island region can tell you, if you turn your back on the ocean, the ocean will not yield to your human butt. It will keep on ocean-ing, like it does, regardless of your presence. This is common freaking sense.

Quote
But this is precisely why the worship of these natural necessities is always such a dicey business, for the best one can hope for is to mollify these finally indifferent divinities to some degree through worship and sacrifice.


Right. Because your god has never asked for sacrifice to appease his fickle temper. Nope. Never happened. It must be some other Old Testament God I'm thinking of.

Quote
The entire Scriptural revelation comes to a climax with the claim, in the fourth chapter of John’s first letter, that God simply is love.


"Let the warriors clamour after the gods of blood and thunder. Love is hard, harder than steel, and thrice as cruel." --Jacqueline Carey, Kushiel's Chosen.

If you think that God being love means he's all rainbow farts and kitten hearts, you...really don't understand love. It can be just as cruel as hatred. More so, actually.

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As classical Christianity came to be questioned by some of the intellectual elite in the early modern period, the ancient worship of nature made an unhappy comeback.


No, I'm pretty happy in my nature reverence, thanks.

Quote
And this is why the Julia Roberts video functions as an effective antidote against all forms of nature worship. It vividly reminds us that when we make Mother Nature our ultimate concern, we are turning to an exceptionally cruel and unreliable lady. Though I don’t think this was her intention, Ms. Roberts is urging us to “look higher.”


Worshipping nature isn't a prerequisite for caring about our environment and the video wasn't about nature worship; it was about SAVING SOME PLANET FOR OUR KIDS.

As for turning to a cruel and unreliable lady...we shouldn't care about nature because she's "cruel"? Most of humanity is cruel and unreliable and honestly, they have less excuse, actually knowing the difference between kindness and cruelty. Nature doesn't knock you flat on your back because it's a dick; it does it because you turned your back on the ocean when standing too close the waves, like an idiot. Nature just is. Which is the POINT of the video: it doesn't CARE about us, no more than it CARES about the other animals that are part of it (actually it might care more about other animals because they tend not to moralize about doing their part in the ecosystem and I would guess that is, at the very least, less annoying than we are). We are simply one part of nature, and the thing is, when one species drops out of an ecosystem, nature can adapt. It might suck, and it might take forever, but it does adapt.

Nature also doesn't make arbitrary rules about how we should live our lives and then throw us into a burning afterlife if we don't follow those rules. The rules of nature are logical: disturb a hornet's nest and get stung; get between a mother bear and her cub and get mauled; travel to Yukon in the summer and become one big mosquito bite; turn your back on the ocean and get walloped. These rules are not made out of some capricious need to feel superior to us; they just are, just like nature is.

So if you ask me, Nature is waaaaaaay more reliable than the Abrahamic god of scripture, because at least her rules make sense and are consistently applied. There's no get out of jail free card with nature -- there are just the rules, and plain old dumb luck that might -- MIGHT -- circumnavigate the consequences of breaking said rules. But it's not a sure thing -- you can't go into the forest, poke a bear, then repent of your sins against the environment and expect the bear to be like "Oh, he repented, I guess I better leave him alone now." Actions have consequences. There are no cheat codes with nature.

And if you ask me that's a heck of a lot less cruel and unreliable than the alternative you're suggesting.
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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2015, 06:08:59 pm »
Quote from: Morag;178543
The ocean can't turn on a dime. It's suuuuper big. The only one in this story who turned was you, dude -- you turned your back on the ocean and it walloped you. As pretty much anyone from a coastal or island region can tell you, if you turn your back on the ocean, the ocean will not yield to your human butt. It will keep on ocean-ing, like it does, regardless of your presence. This is common freaking sense.

And by his logic his God must not love him either as his God neither stopped the ocean waves from doing their thing nor stopped him from turning around and standing there to be hit by a wave.
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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2015, 06:18:28 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178539
I stumbled across this on a Catholic website, and as one whose paganism is firmly rooted in the natural world, I was struck by it on several levels:

FORUM: Mother Nature Is One Unreliable Lady


http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady

"And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather, he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child"

...to which one immediate reaction on my part was: Is he nuts?? Has he read the Old Testament? Just off the top of my head (and I know the Christian bible poorly at best)--the story of Noah and the great flood, in which his god kills virtually all of humanity, not to mention the rest of land-based life; that's a "consistent Biblical message" of a god "rock-like in his steadfast love"??

I read this quickly, so I want to go back and read it more carefully to critique it fully, but I'd love to hear others' specific refutations or, for that matter, affirmations of what the author proposes.



Boy is this going to be fun!

Quote
They all have more or less the same message, namely, that nature finally doesn’t give a fig for human beings, that it is far greater than we, and will outlast us. Here are some highlights from the Mother’s speech: “I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years, 22,500 times longer than you; I don’t really need people, but people need me.” And “I have fed species greater than you; and I have starved species greater than you.” And “my oceans, my soil, my flowing streams, my forests—they all can take you or leave you.”


And yet, in spite of this, the earth still provides for most of our needs. Our food, our wood, our mineral wealth, the very water we drink. Nature does not have to give us anything, but still does so.

Quote
That nature in all of its beauty and splendor doesn’t finally care about human beings came home to me dramatically many years ago. I was standing in the surf, just off the coast of North Carolina, gazing out to sea and remarking how beautiful the vista was. For just a moment, I turned around to face the shore, and a large wave came up suddenly and knocked me off my feet and, for a few alarming seconds, actually pinned me to the ocean floor. In a moment, it was over and I got back on my feet, but I was shaken. The sea, which just seconds before had beguiled me with its serenity and beauty, had turned on a dime and almost killed me.*


Dude, stop hassling the sea. The sea is busy. How would you like it if someone came to your workplace and gawked at you. Leave the sea alone, it has work to do.

Quote
The ancients knew this truth, and they expressed it in their mythology. The gods and goddesses of Greece, Rome, and Babylon were basically personifications of the natural necessities: water, the sky, the mountain, the fertile earth, etc. Like the natural elements that they symbolized, these divine figures were fickle in the extreme. One minute, Poseidon smiles on you, and the next minute he sinks your ship; now Zeus is pleased with you, now he sends a thunderbolt to destroy you; Demeter can be a gentle mother, and Demeter can be an avenging enemy. And indeed, so it goes with the ocean, with the weather, and with the soil. But this is precisely why the worship of these natural necessities is always such a dicey business, for the best one can hope for is to mollify these finally indifferent divinities to some degree through worship and sacrifice.


Wait, are you suggesting that the gods want to be treated …... with respect? How dare they! Is it really that surprising that natural forces might not be easily divisible into black and white moral categories.

Quote
Biblical religion represents something altogether new, a fact signaled in the opening verses of the book of Genesis, where it is emphatically stated that God*creates*earth, sky, the stars and planets, the animals that move upon the earth and the fishes that inhabit the ocean depths. All of these natural elements were, at one time or another, worshipped as divine. So even as he celebrates them, the author of Genesis is effectively dethroning them, desacralizing them.


So all this capricious nature was created by God. Is it still capricious? If polytheistic gods are capricious because nature is capricious, why isn't God also capricious because nature is capricious?

Quote
Nature is wonderful indeed, he is telling us; but it is not God. And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather, he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child.


Surely you mean the love of an abusive spouse? I mean what other god would create a hostile, uncaring, capricious nature, and then demand that you love him for it. And then send you to hell to burn forever if you disagree with him. Or if you were unlucky enough not to have never heard of him. Or if you do not profess all your imagined sins and beg for forgiveness?

Quote
As classical Christianity came to be questioned by some of the intellectual elite in the early modern period, the ancient worship of nature made an unhappy comeback. One thinks of Baruch Spinoza’s blithe equation*Deus sive natura*(God or nature) and then of the many forms of pantheism that it spawned, from Schleiermacher’s “infinite” to Emerson’s “Oversoul” to George Lucas’s “The Force.” In fact, the return to the classical sense of divinity is on particularly clear display in the “dark” and “light” sides of the Force that play such a vital role in the*Star Wars*narrative. Though it can be used for good or ill, the Force is finally as indifferent to human beings as is Mother Nature.*


Indifferent? You mean it does not judge or punish people for trivialities like a healthy sex life? Or for not 'loving' it hard enough?

Quote
And this is why the Julia Roberts video functions as an effective antidote against all forms of nature worship. It vividly reminds us that when we make Mother Nature our ultimate concern, we are turning to an exceptionally cruel and unreliable lady. Though I don’t think this was her intention, Ms. Roberts is urging us to “look higher.”


So nature is a cruel and unreliable lady who does not:
1) Threaten people with eternal torment if they don't profess  their undying love for it.
2) Force you to constantly debase yourself before it.
3) Tell everyone that they are 'evil' and 'wrong' just because they were born.

What a bitch.

Altair

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2015, 08:01:41 pm »
Quote from: Yei;178548


So nature is a cruel and unreliable lady who does not:
1) Threaten people with eternal torment if they don't profess  their undying love for it.
2) Force you to constantly debase yourself before it.
3) Tell everyone that they are 'evil' and 'wrong' just because they were born.

What a bitch.


Hanging this here because I loved that last line, but really, responding to everyone:

THANK YOU for saving me at least an hour of having to compose an elaborate refutation that wouldn't have said things half as well or half as succinctly as you guys have.

This was really one of the more egregious examples of myopic pat-my-own-belief-system-on-the-back selective perception I've read in a long while.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 08:27:43 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178554

THANK YOU for saving me at least an hour of having to compose an elaborate refutation


I couldn't resist; I just tweeted the following 2 messages (though I don't expect a reply):

@frrobertbarron perplexed by http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady … - if mother nature uncaring, what is Xtian god who lets kids starve, bombs roast cities?

@frrobertbarron http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady … strikes me as double standard, esp. considering Old Testament, where god kills almost all in flood
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2015, 08:29:32 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178539
I stumbled across this on a Catholic website, and as one whose paganism is firmly rooted in the natural world, I was struck by it on several levels:

FORUM: Mother Nature Is One Unreliable Lady


http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady

"And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather, he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child"

...to which one immediate reaction on my part was: Is he nuts?? Has he read the Old Testament? Just off the top of my head (and I know the Christian bible poorly at best)--the story of Noah and the great flood, in which his god kills virtually all of humanity, not to mention the rest of land-based life; that's a "consistent Biblical message" of a god "rock-like in his steadfast love"??

I read this quickly, so I want to go back and read it more carefully to critique it fully, but I'd love to hear others' specific refutations or, for that matter, affirmations of what the author proposes.

And BTW, I *adore* the ad that the author references and dismisses as “just more tree-hugging extremism”--he might want to get right with his now environmentally minded pope on that bias. I posted something about this ad here at the Cauldron a while ago, but here it is again, for those who are interested:



Catholics usually view the Old Testament as a stage of development since long abandoned, and the beliefs about God in the Old Testament as primitive and sometimes misguided attempts to understand God, or so one of the more public Dominican Fathers here in Sweden present Catholic doctrine. It is therefore slightly unfair to bring the Old Testament up. Use that argument against the Evangelicals instead, since they are stuck in the early Iron Age. Unlike the Evangelicals, the Catholics have 'evolution of doctrine' (especially in the books by Cardinal Newman).

I don't like how this Catholic writer bashes Emerson. I like Emerson.

Altair

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2015, 09:27:22 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178556

It is therefore slightly unfair to bring the Old Testament up


I don't know about that. The author specifically references the "Creator God"; their creation myth is from Genesis, in the Old Testament. Seems to me, in making the claim that his god "is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love," he's conveniently picking and choosing from his sacred text.

Which would be fine, if he wasn't tarring nature-based religions wholesale for an alleged capricious character of our gods. It's a double standard.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2015, 09:37:43 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178563
I don't know about that. The author specifically references the "Creator God"; their creation myth is from Genesis, in the Old Testament. Seems to me, in making the claim that his god "is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love," he's conveniently picking and choosing from his sacred text.

Which would be fine, if he wasn't tarring nature-based religions wholesale for an alleged capricious character of our gods. It's a double standard.


Since the late 12th century and early 13th century, the Catholics are heavily influenced by Aristotle. By 'Creator God' Catholics normally mean Aristotle's Ultima Causa and Prime Mover. Catholics expressly reject a Fundamentalist interpretation of the three creation myths in the Old Testament (take a look at L'interpretation de la Bible dans l'Église: Allocution de Sa Sainteté Pape Jean-Paul II et Document de la Commision Biblique Pontificale from 1993. They are not Creationists.

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2015, 10:00:45 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178563
I don't know about that. The author specifically references the "Creator God"; their creation myth is from Genesis, in the Old Testament. Seems to me, in making the claim that his god "is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love," he's conveniently picking and choosing from his sacred text.

Which would be fine, if he wasn't tarring nature-based religions wholesale for an alleged capricious character of our gods. It's a double standard.

 
Isn't that the fallen world concept though? That earth was a paradise until Adam and Eve  allowed sin into the world, and that the capriciousness of nature (and evils of human nature) are our responsibility and our consequences and not God's?
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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2015, 10:11:03 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;178568
Isn't that the fallen world concept though? That earth was a paradise until Adam and Eve  allowed sin into the world, and that the capriciousness of nature (and evils of human nature) are our responsibility and our consequences and not God's?

Fallen world: Yes. Our responsibility: Yes. But Catholics don't view Adam and Eve as literal historical persons. Cardinal Daniélou rejected a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 in the 1960's: His Au Commencement. Genèse 1-11 is a good example of this standpoint. Unlike Presbyterians, Catholics don't believe in 'total depravity', and the world is viewed as essentially good (despite original sin, which is a wound on an essentially good world). Catholics are Platonists in this regard. Sin is viewed as privation, not an essence. The same applies on their view on grace. For Prebyterians, grace substitutes nature with another nature, but for Catholics grace makes the already present nature perfect.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 10:14:43 pm by RecycledBenedict »

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2015, 10:24:17 pm »
Quote from: FraterBenedict;178566
Since the late 12th century and early 13th century, the Catholics are heavily influenced by Aristotle. By 'Creator God' Catholics normally mean Aristotle's Ultima Causa and Prime Mover. Catholics expressly reject a Fundamentalist interpretation of the three creation myths in the Old Testament (take a look at L'interpretation de la Bible dans l'Église: Allocution de Sa Sainteté Pape Jean-Paul II et Document de la Commision Biblique Pontificale from 1993. They are not Creationists.

OK. If you took from my statement that I believe Catholics are creationists, then I'm not communicating clearly, because I don't. I was merely pointing out that Christians (of whatever stripe) don't get to ignore the Old Testament, unless they want to set aside the idea of their god as the creator of the universe (in whatever way you want to interpret the act of creation--fundamentalist, prime mover, whatever). In whatever way they choose to interpret their creation myth(s), those myths are located in the Old Testament. Am I wrong about that?

The key concept here is that Christians refer to the Old Testament all the time. To my knowledge, they haven't repudiated that text. They do, however--as this author does--pick and choose what they wish to emphasize. You don't get to do that to fashion your own god as "reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love," while simultaneously blasting other people's gods as capricious.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2015, 10:27:34 pm by Altair »
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2015, 10:37:38 pm »
Quote from: Altair;178576
OK. If you took from my statement that I believe Catholics are creationists, then I'm not communicating clearly, because I don't. I was merely pointing out that Christians (of whatever stripe) don't get to ignore the Old Testament, unless they want to set aside the idea of their god as the creator of the universe (in whatever way you want to interpret the act of creation--fundamentalist, prime mover, whatever). In whatever way they choose to interpret their creation myth(s), those myths are located in the Old Testament. Am I wrong about that?

The key concept here is that Christians refer to the Old Testament all the time. To my knowledge, they haven't repudiated that text. They do, however--as this author does--pick and choose what they wish to emphasize. You don't get to do that to fashion your own god as "reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love," while simultaneously blasting other people's gods a capricious.

 
Now you are much easier to understand. Yes, of course. Hindus, Jews, Christians and Pagans are alike in that all of them have to interpret Iron Age myths in some way or another. Pagans, Roman Catholics, Reform Jews and Hindu intellectuals have that in common that they prefer to interpret their myths in a spiritualizing way: allegorically, existentially, or something in that direction, but not literally. It is therefore very disobliging of the author we discuss to use a double standard.

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Re: Nature Doesn't Love You, Abrahamic God Does
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2015, 10:44:26 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;178568
Isn't that the fallen world concept though? That earth was a paradise until Adam and Eve  allowed sin into the world, and that the capriciousness of nature (and evils of human nature) are our responsibility and our consequences and not God's?


You're talking beyond my depth here, I'm afraid; I've already admitted my knowledge of the Christian bible is scant.

I understand that, in the Christian belief system, we humans were granted free will by their god. But do Christians (or some Christians) really claim--despite a universe predicated on an all-powerful god who has a plan--that everything bad that happens is the fault of the natural world (which he created) or human error (humans being made in his image, and god having granted us free will), and god has no hand in it; he only traffics in the good?

Well, yeah, it strikes me as rather contradictory, but if that's how your worldview is arranged, then you can view your god as unfailingly loving, while condemning other gods by denying them the same loopholes.

It still doesn't explain the "love" behind the totality of humanity, except for Noah and kin, being drowned by their god. Deliberately.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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