Thursday, October 16, 2008

Suing God?

Yesterday a lawsuit filed by Ernie Chambers, a Nebraska state senator, was thrown out because the court ruled that defendant could not be properly served. Why not? Well, the defendant in this particular case is God. Chambers filed his lawsuit seeking an injunction against God for causing natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes. While I realize that Chambers is not serious and that this is essentially a publicity stunt highlighting frivolous lawsuits, my mind as always turns to the technical.

First off, in terms of serving papers on a deity, all the court needs to do is hire a magician. In fact, I'd be happy to take the job myself. If the law specifies that the papers need to be retained by the defendant, I'd still be out of luck, but so long as the law only states that the defendant must see said papers we're good to go. You place the necessary papers into your containment structure, perform your conjuration, and you're good to go. Even if God doesn't show up physically you can still be pretty sure that an attempted conjuration would get his attention, and with the papers in the structure that's all you need. So the lawsuit could go forward.

The biggest problem, though, remains collecting on the lawsuit. If God doesn't honor it, what are you going to do? If the monotheistic model is fundamentally correct then you're out of luck because there isn't a force in the universe that's bigger than God. After all, you can't exactly send the sheriff out to arrest him. Even a magician is of limited assistance against a truly omnipotent being. On the other hand, if God is a more localized theistic deity I might be able to call him into some sort of containment structure and hold him there if he loses the case and refuses to pay up.

You wind up stuck in a bit of a loop, actually, given the contents of the lawsuit. If God is not really all-powerful and thus can be contained by a magician, it probably also follows that he can't be held liable for every natural disaster. However, if God is indeed omnipotent no magick in the universe could ever enforce a judgement against him. In technical terms, that means the lawsuit is pretty much doomed either way. If it's possible for Chambers to win he can't collect, and if it's possible for him to collect he can't win.

Maybe Chambers should try suing Satan instead. There are a number of Christian groups who teach that the devil is behind natural disasters and the magical procedure for summoning and binding demons, even very powerful ones, is much better understood.

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2 comments:

Michael C. Barnam said...

Such lawsuits stem from the fact that while in many states a person is required by law to purchase insurance to own and drive a car, and live in a owned or rented residence, an insurance company is not required to pay benefits to someone whose person or personal property was damaged by what is deemed “acts of God.” Acts of God is not only invokes extremely broad parameters but an agency which cannot be legally recognized and thus cannot be held responsible for or enter into any contractual obligations. Lawsuits against “God” seem frivolous but really seek to expose the absurdity of retaining this language in signed contracts recognized by a court of law. They also encourage the rewriting of contracts so that the obligations of every party entering into it are clearly defined.

Ananael Qaa said...

While this is a reasonable point about insurance and contracts, based on Chambers' comments he is trying to raise a completely different issue with his lawsuit. From the article:

Chambers, a 28-year veteran of the state Legislature, said his suit was designed as a reaction to colleagues who sought to prevent "frivolous" lawsuits.

"Nobody should stand at the courthouse door to predetermine who has access to the courts," he said. "My point is that anyone can sue anyone else, even God."


As for me, I just find it amusing to think about how one could go about collecting if God were found to be at fault. With the right magical technique it might not be completely impossible.