Does American Idol cares more about starving children than God does?

May 3, 2007 at 10:32 pm 39 comments

The Bible clearly teaches that God is in control of the world. He is a sovereign God.

Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness. The world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.

Psalm 50:10
For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.

1 Corinthians 10:26
for the earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.

If this is the case, then God is responsible for the fact that:

Starving ChldrenEVERY FEW SECONDS
A CHILD DIES OF
STARVATION

After watching American Idol’s Idol Gives Back program where they raised almost $70 Million dollars to help children around the world, I wondered if they were doing more for children than God. At that moment, I was glad I didn’t believe in God because God would have to be held responsible for doing nothing about the tens of thousands of children who die each day.

Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Yes, I am evil and if I had the power to save every one of those children I would. “How much more” should God?

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , .

Militant Atheism: Good or Bad? Christianity: Believe first, answers will come

39 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Epiphanist  |  May 4, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Better God owns it than George W.

  • 2. nullifidian  |  May 4, 2007 at 8:15 am

    If they aren’t concerned primarily and in everything they do with glorifying a god, then they should be put to death and burn forever.

    Apparently.

  • 3. Mike  |  May 4, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Even if man was primarily responsible for the Fall, which could be debated, this poses huge problems for theodicy (attempting to reconcile belief in an omnibenevolent deity with injustice, suffering, and evil.) I depart from most of my friends when I say that this can in no way glorify or bring honor to God. Yet evangelicals who hold a hard line have to admit that this kind of situation (thousands starving to death every few seconds) does bring honor and glory to God. They may say that it is a “great mystery” why God allows such a thing to happen, but if you say something like that you have to admit that God is “allowing” it in oder to be glorified by it. Other evangelicals would say that were so horribly sinful and depraved that we (those kids in the picture above) deserve it. To me this is not only an horrendous position, it is completely unjustifiable.

  • 4. Heather  |  May 4, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Mike,

    You’re making some good points.

    **They may say that it is a “great mystery” why God allows such a thing to happen, but if you say something like that you have to admit that God is “allowing” it in oder to be glorified by it. ** Yes. And not only that, if this suffering is a ‘great mystery’ and thus we lack understanding, how can we then understand God’s love? Or justice? When we say that God is good, we are doing so based on a definition of ‘good.’

    **Other evangelicals would say that were so horribly sinful and depraved that we (those kids in the picture above) deserve it. To me this is not only an horrendous position, it is completely unjustifiable.** Yup. The whole call of a Christian is to do what God does, and love as God loves, and pursue justice. So if those kids deserve to die, then we can in turn jsutify not trying to reduce poverty, murder and a lot of other social ills.

  • 5. cragar  |  May 4, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    What a great blog to stumble across today. I pretty much agree with the few posts I have read so far. I will catch up on the archives!

  • 6. Karen  |  May 4, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Yes, I am evil and if I had the power to save every one of those children I would. “How much more” should God?

    The way I heard this justified in conservative evangelical churches was that Satan is the “king of this world” and has been given dominion over the earth, and therefore all the evil and injustice and horror is his fault.

    Kind of a “devil made me do it” explanation, and it’s just about that big a cop-out if you examine that idea critically. For instance, fundamentalists and evangelicals will tell you that god does not intervene to stop the devil and his cruelty, because if he did, we’d somehow all be “forced” to believe in god and we wouldn’t have free will. Which makes absolutely no sense, to me – at least not anymore (I bought it for years).

    Here’s the salient quote on this topic, IMO, from Greek philosopher Epicurus:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

  • 7. Todd  |  May 4, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Suffering. It’s not a pleasant subject to discuss, but a necessary one. Suffering plagues our world. In its many forms it affects us physically, psychologically and emotionally. Suffering. It’s not a pleasant subject to discuss, but a necessary one.

    A dictionary defines suffering as the state of anguish or pain of one who suffers; the bearing of pain, injury or loss (The New International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary).

    Suffering plagues our world. In its many forms it affects us physically, psychologically and emotionally. Whatever its manifestation, extended suffering can crush the body and spirit.

    Suffering falls on the just and the unjust. It afflicts innocent victims. This uncomfortable fact makes it difficult for us to reconcile such obvious unfairness with the existence or fairness of an intelligent divine being.

    Some are so disturbed by this state of affairs that they try to remedy the situation. They devote much of their energy to performing charitable works aimed at relieving undeserved suffering. They long to make the world a more just and equitable place to live.

    But, commendable as these efforts are, good works don’t solve the world’s problems. It appears that our efforts to stop suffering at best only delay the inevitable. And nobody, it seems, has a believable explanation of why so much human misery persists.

    What is the answer? Why is suffering so indiscriminate? Why isn’t it meted out only to those who deserve it? Why do the innocent suffer from actions and events over which they have no control and often cannot foresee?

    Thinkers and philosophers have weighed in on the issue for years, but they have failed to provide a satisfying rational answer.

    The Bible view: Realistic and encouraging–

    Let’s examine the causes of suffering from a biblical perspective. God’s Word is the key source that can help us discover the reasons people suffer. The biblical view of life is realistic and encouraging. The Bible explains why pain has always been with us and why it will remain, at least for a time. At the same time the biblical view is also encouraging, especially when we expand our thinking to see life in terms of God’s plan and His purpose for mankind.

    Jesus Christ tells us that His mission includes the offer to us of an abundant life (John 10:10). Psalm 16:11 tells us that “at [God’s] right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The Bible also reveals how God will lighten our burdens and how relief will one day come to the whole world. It also tells us of a time even further beyond when suffering will completely disappear.

    But that is not the condition of humanity in our age. Jesus understood that suffering is an inextricable part of this physical life. He reminded His followers, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33, New International Version).

    Suffering won’t go away—yet

    Suffering strikes rich and poor, religious and irreligious, small and great. In this life virtually everyone will experience it.

    Disease and health problems seem to strike most people at some time or other.

    In centuries past common diseases caused immense suffering. But in spite of advances in medical science that have greatly lengthened the average life span, we know we will still die. Rather than having our lives cut short by the killer diseases of earlier years, now many of us will expire at a greater age from such debilitating afflictions as cancer or heart disease. Many will lose their mental faculties long before their bodies wear out.

    In poorer nations, suffering and death from diseases that are largely preventable still cut an enormous swath of misery and despair.

    Barbarity is responsible for much mental and physical suffering. Nothing reduces man to brutal cruelty more quickly than war, and man is always fighting his fellowman. A few decades ago historians Will and Ariel Durant wrote that in 3,421 years of recorded history “only 268 have seen no war” (The Lessons of History, 1968, p. 81).

    Where suffering is a constant–

    Suffering exacts its greatest toll on people in poorer, backward countries. In many countries people struggle simply to have enough to eat. Current Events magazine observes that the hunger never ends: “Approximately 800 million people—most of them children—suffer from the effects of constant hunger,” and “35,000 children each day die as a result of conditions that can be linked to a poor diet.”

    “… You have the poor with you always,” said Jesus (Matthew 26:11). This is depressingly true not only in pockets of poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America, but virtually everywhere. What makes the existence of the abject and underfed more tragic is that much of this kind of suffering is avoidable.

    Political ineptitude, corrupt leadership, war and rapid population growth that outstrips food supplies fuel hunger and starvation. Inefficient farming methods and inadequate transportation and food-delivery systems are factors that contribute to chronic shortages and manmade famines. Conditions beyond human control also play a part.

    Starvation and disease are problems that will worsen even if short-term relief measures are successfully implemented. Jesus foretold a time of unprecedented trouble in the “last days” that will include widespread famine. He prophesied of “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7).

    Pestilence—disease epidemics—often accompanies famines. When destructive earthquakes strike, particularly in poor nations, a ravaged infrastructure prevents the flow of food into the afflicted areas. Disease and hunger soon take their deadly toll.

    Although wars make the headlines, the number of deaths from armed conflict is small compared with those who die from disease. According to some estimates, AIDS kills 10 times as many in Africa alone as die in wars worldwide.

    Man willfully spreads suffering–

    Although the toll of suffering from food shortages and disease is monumental, raw greed brings yet more suffering.

    Slavery, for example, is an ancient and supposedly obsolete institution, yet it remains a cancer in many countries.

    Current Events comments on the numbers: “… More than 200 million slaves live in the world today—more than at any time in history.” Time magazine reports that “tens of millions of people around the globe, including children as young as six, are working in bondage—in dangerous and degrading conditions that often involve 18-hour workdays, beatings and sexual abuse.”

    Many more, although not held against their will, live in virtual slavery, trapped by economic circumstances and long work hours while eking out a meager living. Such conditions crush the human spirit. Imagine a life bereft of joy, an existence in which people never enjoy such simple pleasures as the sound of beautiful music, the fun of good humor, the feel of a new garment or the comfort of a secure roof overhead.

    Greed takes a deadly toll in hundreds of more subtle ways. Advertisers hawk products that can ruin our health and eventually kill us. Entertainment promotes selfish, arrogant lifestyles that focus on short-term pleasure even as they ultimately destroy personal relationships and ruin opportunities for long-term happiness. Some businesses, manufacturers and governments poison the air, land and water with toxins that threaten health and safety. The list goes on and on.

    Will the picture change?

    When Jesus Christ came to earth two millennia ago, He saw His share of misery. He witnessed the plight of outcast lepers, widows in need and people with debilitating mental disorders. He reacted with compassion to alleviate misery.

    Jesus’ concern and compassion were evident when He wept openly as He approached Jerusalem for the final time (Luke 19:41-44). He could foresee the anguish that warfare would bring on the beloved city and its people in A.D. 70 when a Jewish rebellion would result in Roman armies laying siege to the city, with horrible consequences.

    He proclaimed that part of His mission was “to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). Such a time has not yet occurred for all mankind, but God promises He will bring an end to suffering (Revelation 21:4).

    God is a just God, a God that allows mankind to willfully choose their destiny; but they are corupt–they choose the opposite of God’s original plan. But God made a way for our wickedness to be made clean: by Christ, the cross, and his resurrection. God is not blame, but the depravity of man. To God be the glory.

    That’s why I’m a Theist!

  • 8. Rebecca  |  May 4, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Todd,

    Did you get that comment from here? -> http://www.gnmagazine.org/booklets/AS/

    Are you the original author of that article?

    Just wondering?

  • 9. Heather  |  May 4, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    **God is a just God, a God that allows mankind to willfully choose their destiny; but they are corupt** That’s not really the definition of ‘just,’ though. Justice is confirmity to what is right, and no one would argue that letting someone deliberatly choose corruption that harms others is just.

    And you can say God is not to blame, but the depravity of man. Except that comes across as blaming the victim — for instance, the children who would die in a region struck by a drought. Would you really be able to face them and say, “Well, you’re to blame for this, because of your own depravity. But God is still good.”

  • 10. pastorofdisaster  |  May 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Todd sez “especially when we expand our thinking to see life in terms of God’s plan and His purpose for mankind.”

    “Man willfully spreads suffering–”

    “God is a just God, a God that allows mankind to willfully choose their destiny; but they are corupt–they choose the opposite of God’s original plan.”

    All I can say is wow. I should know by the fact that the author of the article is unable to use inclusive language that their God suffers from compassion fatigue. I guess God will get to compassion sometime later after some grand eschatological bloodbath. I haven’t read that volume of the Left Behind series yet.

    I find this line of thinking (especially in regards to the suffering of innocents) repugnant. Sucks that you were hit by a Tsunami, I guess you shouldn’t have sinned so much.

  • 11. Robin  |  May 5, 2007 at 3:10 am

    I wonder if the money will do any more good than the Live Aid debacle… it’s not a lack of money or food be gathered to help, it’s the warlords that steal it before it can get to the people who need it.

  • 12. arrgjonsmad  |  May 5, 2007 at 5:49 am

    GO TOD! thats my Bible teacher at school. Peraty kool, huh!?!?!

  • 13. arrgjonsmad  |  May 5, 2007 at 5:52 am

    pastorofdisaster,

    you should probly read that again… and slower. then you can point out the flaws! and do take your time, you wouldnt want to say something stupid like i would have!

  • 14. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 8:36 am

    Good one, Rebecca. Most fundies parrot each other and are incapable of original thought….which is why they are fundies.

  • [...] posted our last post on his blog asking for answers from his friends to the question of suffering. Here are a few of [...]

  • 16. Robin  |  May 5, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    It’s not pretty, but here it is:why evil persists in the world: The sins of the fathers are visited on the children. Not because God is punishing, but because for every action there is a reaction. I’m not sure how much God interefers with the creation put in motion. But, I do know that it is a law of physics that for every action there is a reaction. I think most relgions of the world, including the occult ones agree. You reap what you sow, what goes around comes around, the love you make is equal to the love you take, etc.

    As for the natural disasters… mother nature is a b*tch.Iif it were God doing retirbution, I think it would rain rocks on the Capitol building!

    Evil is the destructive force that breaks down… the trouble is we see the world on such a microscopic level, and we are trained to see endings in 30 minutes. Sometimes cycles take generations to complete. We have not come to the end, so we look at present sufferings and judge God. What if creation is a process and not a one time event. Science accepts evolution. Why must God conform to what we think he should be? The thing is, when we think of God, we think of a man. We create him in our own image. We assign him attributes that we imagine or wish for, then judge him. Well, even philosophy and science cannot answer origins, and yet we expect spirituality to have all the answers and judge it when it does not meet our expectations. There are some mysteries. Get over it.

  • 17. pastorofdisaster  |  May 5, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    arrjonsmad- I understand the need to applaud your “Bible” teacher. That is admirable. If you would have presented your own individual thoughts on suffering then I would be able to respond to those also. Maybe when you’ve formulated something on your own you could share it here.

    I can read it slower and still get the same point. We have to wait for a not yet moment before suffering is eleviated and that all suffering is humanities fault. Neither of which I believe is completely Biblical (even if you pull out the depravity arguement). Although, I do think that I was a bit too flippant in my last post. For that I apologize. Neither of us is stupid.

    Peace

  • 18. arrgjonsmad  |  May 5, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    my bad. I come of as a gerk sometimes. and if i made it seem like i was calling you stupid, my deepest sorrys. No one is stupid, stupidity is just a talent for misconception.

  • 19. Karen  |  May 5, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Todd, I think what your copy-and-paste, sans-attribution (that’s not good practice) exercise comes down to is Epicurus’ option #2 –

    Is he able, but not willing?

    If that’s the case – god is able to stop the cruelty, but not willing due to what pastor disaster (heh) called “compassion fatigue” – then we have to reach Epicurus’ conclusion, i.e.:

    Then he is malevolent.

    Rather than imagine a malevolent god, or an ineffectual god, I have simply concluded that god is a man-made concept, dating from the time when humans first developed consciousness but had no understanding of the world around them.

    Anthropormorphizing nature, and inventing a hereafter to help minimize the fear of death, made all kinds of sense for those early people.

    The problem with a god-concept now is that we’ve outgrown the need for it to make sense of the universe, but many of us still cling to it for emotional reasons. Here’s what Sam Harris said about this in his with Andrew Sullivan:

    Rather than pick over the carcass of Christianity (or any other traditional faith) looking for a few, uncontaminated morsels of wisdom, why not take a proper seat at the banquet of human understanding in the present? There are already many very refined courses on offer. For those interested in the origins of the universe, there is the real science of cosmology. For those who want to know about the evolution of life on this planet, biology, chemistry and their subspecialties offer real nourishment. (Knowledge in most scientific domains is now doubling about every five years. How fast is it growing in religion?) And if ethics and spirituality are what concern you, there are now scientists making serious efforts to understand these features of our experience-both by studying the brain function of advanced contemplatives and by practicing meditation and other (non-faith-based) spiritual disciplines themselves. Even when it comes to compassion and self-transcendence, there is new wine (slowly) being poured. Why not catch it with a clean glass?

  • 20. Heather  |  May 5, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    **Why must God conform to what we think he should be? The thing is, when we think of God, we think of a man. We create him in our own image. We assign him attributes that we imagine or wish for, then judge him. ** I wouldn’t say we give God attributes we ‘imagine.’ We’re told that God is all-powerful and all-loving, and then we have to try and equate that with children starving due to a famine or lack of rain. All we have is our limited viewpoint, for something that seems to easy to solve — like making it rain. IT’s not that we’re going by what we ‘think’ God should be, we’re going based on what we’re told God is.

    I agree that every action has a reaction, and much of the world’s problems today come from historical behavior. If I were a mother, and went out and murdered somebody, that would have repercussions on future generations, such as that family and my children, and maybe even my grandchildren. That answer definietly works, so long as an all-powerful God is not in the equation. But when he is? That makes God seem incredibly uncaring, to not step in for someone who is suffering for something that is not his/her fault. Simply because I decide to murder someone, why does an all-powerful and all-loving God let the person get murdered? You can say free will here, but the other person would choose not to get murdered.

  • 21. layguy  |  May 7, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Again your logic is flawed. Just because someone raised $70 million for aid does not prove that man cares more about the poor.

    Two points:

    1. I wonder what the collective total Christians have raised for aid programs around the world.

    2. Look at the cause of poverty/famine. Most times it’s caused by wars and politics. People are displaced and mistreated because of mans activities – not God.

    The Bible says that God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. Imagine how much it breaks His heart every time a child stops breathing cause of the pathetic actions of man.

  • 22. Heather  |  May 7, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    **The Bible says that God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground. Imagine how much it breaks His heart every time a child stops breathing cause of the pathetic actions of man.** Then why doesn’t God step in to rescue the child, if man is incapable of doing so? The child is suffering through no fault of his/her own. When one says that someone/something is all-powerful and cares about everyone, we have ideas of what those adjectives mean. It’s a little hard to apply those, then, to children who starve to death.

  • 23. Karen  |  May 7, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    2. Look at the cause of poverty/famine. Most times it’s caused by wars and politics. People are displaced and mistreated because of mans activities – not God.

    Really? Tell that to the victims of the Indonesian tsunami or the Pakistani earthquake or any other horrible disaster that’s officially called (for insurance purposes) an “act of god.”

  • 24. agnosticatheist  |  May 7, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    layguy,

    It is true that Christians do a lot in aid programs around the world. How does that make up for the fact that much of the starvation is caused by droughts etc. All God has to do is LET IT RAIN!!!! Not so hard for someone who controls the weather, is it? Come on…. Pray for rain… Find someone else who will agree with you on it and it shall be done, right? Pretty easy actually. Easier than moving a mountain.

    aA

  • 25. Jai  |  May 8, 2007 at 3:19 am

    So… if somehow the Christians of the world, or… better yet, all the Muslims, Jews, and Christians of the world stepped up their food collection, fundraising and distribution efforts and ended world hunger, but still children died from lets say, war (child soldiers die every day in many African nations), would God not be just because he allowed that form of suffering to happen? Or murder? Is God unjust because he allows any suffering at all? A perfect world without suffering is one where we indeed have no free will. So, if each of those children that die from (war, famine, murder, natural disaster) go to heaven immediately upon death, is God unjust for not allowing them to continue live in this world where suffering exists, or because he allowed them to die in such a horrible way? God usually gets blamed for injustice because he condemns some to hell and allows other to go to heaven. So, if we say that all the adults in these situations have had time to choose their eternal destiny (see depravity arguments already made), but children, who have had no time to make such choices automatically go to heaven, he is still unjust because he doesn’t allow children to live in a world where they will continue to have some form of suffering (if not hunger then disease, murder, etc. etc.)? Or, is God unjust because he allows any suffering at all?
    Please don’t misunderstand, if your argument is that Christianity (or insert religion here) hasn’t solved world hunger yet, and the church isn’t doing enough to end it, then I totally agree. But if you’re saying that God is responsible for suffering because on the one hand he allows people to make choices, but on the other hand, that buys with it a fallen world that has suffering, then I guess you can say he is responsible for the suffering in the world. But you can’t necessarily say he caused it directly. I believe the fallen world was made by original sin, and made worse by individual sinners (of which I am one). I’m saying suffering is a global problem of the human condition, not any one person’s fault (i.e. you didn’t get hit with a tsunami because you didn’t believe). So, my $0.02 is that and end of suffering would necessarily entail the end of the world as it stands, so are you simply saying God doesn’t exist because the an imperfect world still does?
    If Christian charities do a lot for starving children doesn’t that at least indicate some caring for the children of the world? Couldn’t his “refusal” to step in and “let it rain” as you (aA) put it be a consequence of our own actions for increasing global warming?

  • 26. Heather  |  May 8, 2007 at 4:26 am

    Jai,

    **So, if each of those children that die from (war, famine, murder, natural disaster) go to heaven immediately upon death, is God unjust for not allowing them to continue live in this world where suffering exists, or because he allowed them to die in such a horrible way?** You have no guarentee of this, though. And the danger in this argument is that it can make abortion look like a ‘good’ act, since the child would immediatly go to heaven and miss on all the suffering.

    **A perfect world without suffering is one where we indeed have no free will. ** What about the free will of those who suffer from others? Such as a woman who is raped? Her free will is overriden by the rapist. Same with someone who is murdered, or sold into slavery.

    **Couldn’t his “refusal” to step in and “let it rain” as you (aA) put it be a consequence of our own actions for increasing global warming?** But that still leaves many suffering for something that they did not cause, and it’s along the lines of blaming the victim.

  • 27. Jai  |  May 8, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Karin,
    **You have no guarentee of this, though.** Absolutely correct, I don’t have any guarentees, but I’m just pointing out the contrast between God being called unjust because doesn’t let everyone in to heaven (depravity was discussed earlier), and He being unjust because of suffering in the world. Good call on abortion.

    **What about the free will of those who suffer from others?** Exactly my point, for a world without the posibility for suffering to exist, nobody can have free will, because free will allows us the possibility to inflict suffering on others.

    *along the lines of blaming the victim…* Again, I believe the original sin caused the fall of creation (read: imperfect universe), which results in suffering (on some level) for everyone. Isn’t death itself a form of suffering? So… blame Adam, not the victim.
    I was just pointing out that some “acts of God” are possibly within our control (ala reduction of greenhouse emissions), although the effects from such control are not necissarily immediate.

  • 28. Heather  |  May 8, 2007 at 10:31 am

    **but I’m just pointing out the contrast between God being called unjust because doesn’t let everyone in to heaven ** I think it was more along the lines of being unjust for torturing people for an eternity.

    **Exactly my point, for a world without the posibility for suffering to exist, nobody can have free will, because free will allows us the possibility to inflict suffering on others. ** But that still doesn’t address the free will of the person the suffering is being inflicted upon. That person’s free will is being violated. And that’s where the ‘free will is the most important thing’ argument falls apart for me.

  • 29. Karen  |  May 8, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    But if you’re saying that God is responsible for suffering because on the one hand he allows people to make choices, but on the other hand, that buys with it a fallen world that has suffering, then I guess you can say he is responsible for the suffering in the world. But you can’t necessarily say he caused it directly.

    Jai, why in the world wouldn’t we say that god caused it directly? He’s GOD, right? Nothing happens without his express consent and approval – or do you not believe he is omnipotent? If he’s god, and you believe god is omnipotent and omniscient, then he set up the system for humanity, which included satan rebelling, and original sin and unimaginable cruelty and suffering.

    God planned and launched the system, frankly, and it sucks. If he wants to, he can call off this experiment anytime. But apparently he’s not all-good, because he lets the cruelty persist.

    So, with that, we’re right back to old Epicurus who said it best:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

    I believe the fallen world was made by original sin, and made worse by individual sinners (of which I am one).

    Right – blame yourself, that’s the proscribed remedy from the pulpit and I find it insidious. It’s not only a good way to tap into the self-loathing many people suffer from, but it’s also a way to keep people’s self-esteem low, their blinders on, and their submissiveness to authority intact.

    I’m frankly a pretty good, honest, kind and fair human being. But it took me YEARS and YEARS to admit that, to myself and especially to others. I was so cowed by Christian teaching about how depraved and dirty and sinful and miserable I was, it hugely affected my ability to be a happy person.

    I am so, so glad I don’t have to buy that junk any longer.

  • 30. Robin  |  May 9, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Ok, Karen, but there is still hunger and war and suffering inthe world. Who do you hold responsible?

    And you don’t buy into the Christian teaching of being dirty or depraved or sinful. Did you only think the things you thought were bad because Christians told you they were bad? In other words, do you currently have a sense of morality? And do you always keep to your own standards perfectly?

    My question is not a trap, nor am I asking to be snarky, I am just wondering if now that you have shed the shackles of being judged by others, do you judge still judge yourself? And by what measure do you judge? For many Christians is comes down to whether or not they are going to hell. For me it is seeing the thousands of ways in which I have fallen short of the ideal of brotherhood… times when i said the wrong thing and hurt someone’s feelings, or clearly chose the wrong course of action to gain an advantage. Do those sort of things bother you, too? Or did you only feel guilty in relation to god, who is no longer there for you to measure yourself by?

  • 31. Heather  |  May 9, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Robin,

    **For me it is seeing the thousands of ways in which I have fallen short of the ideal of brotherhood… times when i said the wrong thing and hurt someone’s feelings, or clearly chose the wrong course of action to gain an advantage. Do those sort of things bother you, too?** What about the thousands of things you’ve done right? For me, I use the experiences when I’ve done the wrong thing to try and make reperations and learn from them, so they don’t happen again.

  • 32. Karen  |  May 9, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Ok, Karen, but there is still hunger and war and suffering inthe world. Who do you hold responsible?

    There’s no one to hold responsible but us human beings, Robin. Hey, life sucks. There’s no doubt about it. People do good and they do bad – often in the space of five minutes. Some people try harder to do good than others, and they are heroes. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, trying to lead happy lives and help others when we can. A few are selfish and for one reason or another have made themselves immune to hurting people.

    And you don’t buy into the Christian teaching of being dirty or depraved or sinful. Did you only think the things you thought were bad because Christians told you they were bad? In other words, do you currently have a sense of morality? And do you always keep to your own standards perfectly?

    I follow humanism, which:

    … is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities.
    –from the American Humanist Assn.

    A humanist or secular sense of morality transcends any religious doctrine and easily pre-dates Christianity. There is all kinds of research into the source of ethics, from genetics to neurology to archeology and animal studies. Did you know that higher primates exhibit a great deal of altruism, have a moral code and have been known to drown trying to save group members who’ve fallen into the water?

    It’s likely that altruism and morality developed as human beings developed language and began living in groups. Helping someone in your group – being unselfish – ultimately turned into a benefit for you because your existence depends in large part on your group’s survival.

    Do I keep to my own standards? I certainly strive to. Am I perfect? Of course not! ;-)

    My question is not a trap, nor am I asking to be snarky, I am just wondering if now that you have shed the shackles of being judged by others, do you judge still judge yourself? And by what measure do you judge? For many Christians is comes down to whether or not they are going to hell. For me it is seeing the thousands of ways in which I have fallen short of the ideal of brotherhood… times when i said the wrong thing and hurt someone’s feelings, or clearly chose the wrong course of action to gain an advantage. Do those sort of things bother you, too? Or did you only feel guilty in relation to god, who is no longer there for you to measure yourself by?

    I’ll tell you, I’m much, much kinder to myself and to other people now than I was as a prudish, holier-than-thou believer. I definitely had a superiority complex as a Christian and so did a great percentage of believers I knew – though none of us ever would have admitted it publicly.

    Now, I’m much more apt to live and let live and I’m more likely to try and understand negative behavior instead of flatly condemning it as “being from satan” or something like that. Unless we understand the sources of poor behavior, we can’t do much to prevent it in future.

  • 33. Karen  |  May 9, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    I’ll tell you, I’m much, much kinder to myself and to other people now than I was as a prudish, holier-than-thou believer. I definitely had a superiority complex as a Christian and so did a great percentage of believers I knew – though none of us ever would have admitted it publicly.

    Let me expand on this statment of mine, in light of my earlier comment that I was cowed by the teaching of original sin.

    Can you be downtrodden by original sin and also feel you are superior to others? Well, I certainly did it. I knew I was filthy in god’s sight, and that was frustrating and debilitating. I think in that frustration and self-doubt, I lashed out by putting down those non-Christians who didn’t even recognize they were soiled.

    So yes, I was worthless, but at least I was forgiven and at least I was better than the people who weren’t. A sad, petty way to live, frankly. It’s odd how many dichotomies I was able to hold in my brain all at the same time. No wonder my head was ready to explode by the time I deconverted! ;-)

  • 34. Roger  |  May 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    Just been watching god tv now, found your site. These self-righteous young smug christians make me sick. Their so niave, can’t they see past the end of their noses?

  • 35. Roger  |  May 11, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Just been watching god tv now, found your site. These self-righteous young smug christians make me sick. Their so naive*, can’t they see past the end of their noses? – great site by the way!

  • 36. Jai  |  May 17, 2007 at 10:03 am

    **But that still doesn’t address the free will of the person the suffering is being inflicted upon. That person’s free will is being violated. And that’s where the ‘free will is the most important thing’ argument falls apart for me.** Free will is a necessity if you want to “blame God” for a world in which suffering exists (presuming he created it). If free will doesn’t exist, then blame the “creator” all you want. So… if free-will doesn’t exist, then God must be at fault (if you’re a theist), and the Grand Unified Theory must be at fault (if you’re a naturalist, skeptic, athiest, etc.). What’s interesting, is that many athiests invoke Hawking (who doesn’t believe in free will) for their basis for the origin of the universe, and then attempt to convince Christians that they are incorrect on the basis of a Hawking model universe! If Hawking’s model is true, whither the free will to change my belief? Why try to convince others at all?

  • 37. anonomous  |  February 18, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    i remember watching that show last year… i thought that was so sweet… they evenwent to americans…i am writimg a persuasive essay on this subject(not amerian idol but americans vs africans)for my english class… and i am protestesting about how wen should be helping our country first… soif anyone agrees with me… write a comment!!

  • 38. Keith Lopez  |  March 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I haven’t read all the comments in this thread so my apologies for repeating something someone else has posted, but if not here’s something to think about. Although through out history God has indeed and still does on occasion directly intercede in such things, but for the most of it he uses us to impact the lives of our fellow man. As some of the comments have mentioned scripture here’s one also “to love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, body, soul, and your neighbor as your self”. Do we all love God in this way and do we all love our neighbor as ourselves it is painfully obvious that we don’t or we wouldn’t have the problems in this world that we have. Murder, violence, greed, and so on. But God does use us to help the suffering, every time someone is up lifted when they find out they have cancer by a friend or family member God was there working through that person. Every time food is handed out through a food bank or relief aide God is there working through that person. Most times God is expressing his love for us through others. As for the cause for this suffering we have no farther to look than ourselves, the free will God gives us and the abuse of that free will is what causes the problems in this world. Some choose to do good others choose to do evil but I trust in God that all will give an account before him for every idle word that has come from our mouths and every action that is against him. He has given us all the chance to be redeemed from the life we have chosen to live on our own without him, redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ who paid the price for the sin in our lives the direct rebellion against God. The sin that causes such things as starving children is humanities fault not God’s our choices and actions cause these things. God is who we will answer to if we have caused these events or if we stood by and did nothing about it. You can also choose not to believe that God exist but that doesn’t change that he does. My belief that an on coming truck won’t hurt me if I am hit by it doesn’t change the reality that when it hits me I will be hurt and most likely killed by hit nor does not believing in God doesn’t change the fact that he is and always was. The same is for gravity me not believing it doesn’t change the fact that when Jump off a building gravity will be there to pull me to the ground. The evidence for God is there I challenge all of you to look for it with your whole heart. The bible says that whoever seeks God with there whole heart will find him. If we see a building or a painting to we question the fact that there is a painter or a builder no so why do we question that there is a Creator when we can plainly see creation.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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