I remember hearing the story of the Titanic in school. The part about the claim that God couldn’t sink it was always told with grim self-satisfaction. The message was clear: don’t challenge God, or He’ll show you who’s boss. We the believers were a superior group, and the people who had flippantly challenged God with an unsinkable ship had gotten what was coming to them.
The story itself is probably apocryphal, and to be fair, I don’t think that any of my teachers and rabbeim really thought that the Titanic sank just because of what one person said. They probably never really thought about it at all; it was just a cute story to illustrate a point and make us all feel righteous about our belief in God.
The implications of the story, however, are not flattering to God. God apparently gets upset when a mere human challenges His power. Upset enough to kill 1500 people in a fit of rage. This is comparable to a father who gets upset when his three-year-old proudly claims that, “Not even Daddy could break my fort!” and in a fit of rage smashes the cardboard fort and seriously hurts the children playing inside.
Why is it that so many people don’t realize that stories like this one portray God as a petty, vindictive megalomaniac?
I suppose I should just be happy that at least in the Titanic story, God is acknowledged as the Cause of the iceberg. Usually the disaster is attributed to bad luck while those who managed to survive praise God for the miracle of their rescue.