Are we ready to take on the responsibility we once gave to God?

June 25, 2007 at 1:22 am 21 comments

PovertyA belief in God alleviates humans of many responsibilities. As Bono said in his speech at the February 2006 National Prayer Breakfast:

… But the one thing we can all agree — all faiths, all ideologies — is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.

For those of us whose belief in God is rapidly fading, we are coming to the realization that there may be no God to be with the poor. There may be no God to help victims of natural disasters. There may be no God to help the victims in Darfur. There may be no God to hear the cries of children starving in Africa and other parts of the world.

We can no longer sit back and believe God will take care of these individuals because he so loves the world. We can no longer sit back and believe God is compassionate and kind to the less fortunate. For me, the realization is setting in that it’s really up to me. I can no longer shun the responsibility by conveniently believing God will pick up the slack. Am I ready for this? Are you ready?

- The de-Convert

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

The book that made me doubt my Christian faith Science’s Overlooked Problem

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. religionandatheism  |  June 25, 2007 at 6:31 am

    The problem you raise is actually one that has exercised theologians and philosophers for thousands of years. It is called “theodicy” or “the problem of evil” – that is, why do bad things happen when God is supposed to be all-good and omnipotent? You might be interested in a debate between several leading public proponents of belief in God as well as athesists. The title is “We’d be better off without religion”. You can find it here, including the podcast: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/03/wed_be_better_o.html

    Hope that helps!
    TH, http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com

  • 2. HeIsSailing  |  June 25, 2007 at 6:36 am

    I know Bono said that to be comforting, but it really makes God’s involvement irrelevant, and pointless. What good is a God who is with the squatter in a cardboard box slum….and they continue to live as a squatter in a cardboard box slum? I don’t get it. Like I hinted at in my last article, if God “in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives”, then God desperately needs our help.

    But concerning his Bible quoting, it is obvious to me that Bono has absolutely no idea what he is talking about.
    “You know, the only time Jesus Christ is judgmental, is on the subject of the poor.” Huh? (Matt 23:13ff, etc)

    Fortunately, his comments concerning our involvement in Africa make much more sense. We must be involved as a matter of justice and equality, and not charity. And while that may be correct, that ain’t Biblical either (1 Cor 13:3).

    Sorry for such a cynical reply.

  • 3. stellar1  |  June 25, 2007 at 9:38 am

    I think the point of this post is being missed. I spent so much of my life believing there was a god who cared for the poor, the weak and those who were served injustice by humans. I no longer believe such a god exists. There is no unseen hand working good to compensate for the evil of humans.

    In this case, how much more should we now work good? How much more should we struggle as humans to help other humans?

    I truly believe that if we were capable of pooling the assets of all humans in the world, we could work miracles. We could feed every mouth, cure every disease, and rid the world of war. The problem is that humans are distracted by trivial things like mythologies and power struggles.

    But if humans were capable of ridding themselves of all of those distractions, we could do more than any god we ever created.

  • 4. agnosticatheist  |  June 25, 2007 at 9:45 am

    HIS,

    Here’s Bono’s full speech:

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/bononationalprayerbreakfast.htm

    That video was the Christian edit.

    aA

  • 5. agnosticatheist  |  June 25, 2007 at 9:59 am

    stellar one,

    I truly believe that if we were capable of pooling the assets of all humans in the world, we could work miracles. We could feed every mouth, cure every disease, and rid the world of war. The problem is that humans are distracted by trivial things like mythologies and power struggles.

    Wow. This is a very powerful statement. You absolutely hit the nail on the head on the purpose of this post.

    aA

  • 6. societyvs  |  June 25, 2007 at 11:06 am

    I guess it’s a bad time to be a Christian again? Damn me.

    “For me, the realization is setting in that it’s really up to me. I can no longer shun the responsibility by conveniently believing God will pick up the slack” (Aa)

    I totally agree! If this is how faith looks to you then I agree 100% – trash it – it’s useless and ineffective. It is up to us to get involved – and to not shun our responsibility to the poor and hurting on this planet. What we do with these ideas makes all the difference.

    “We must be involved as a matter of justice and equality, and not charity. And while that may be correct, that ain’t Biblical either (1 Cor 13:3).” (HIS)

    And you get this ideal from i Cor 13:3? It’s seems obvious to me Paul’s mentioning something he actually does and compares it to being a loving person. Nowhere within that passage does he say giving to the poor is ‘bad’…actually his point is ‘it profits HIMSELF nothing to do this without care/compassion/love’. Nowhere in that passage does he say it also does not profit the poor.

    “I truly believe that if we were capable of pooling the assets of all humans in the world, we could work miracles. We could feed every mouth, cure every disease, and rid the world of war” (Stellar)

    I agree 100%. This is exactly what needs to happen before the tide turns and we find this continent in the same ruins we see in other parts of the world. That being said, we are the richest nation in the world – but via getting there we stepped on so many countries/people groups – thus the problem is made worse. Least we can do is make things ‘right’ again.

    ‘How the f*ck do you figure, that I can say ‘peace’ and the shotguns will cease’ (Ice Cube – Endangered Species)

  • 7. stellar1  |  June 25, 2007 at 11:18 am

    societyvs,

    I wonder if you have ever come across people who have the attitude of “to hell with the rest of the world…it ain’t our fault they are poor and hungry”?

    I have encountered this many a time in middle America. Most time these people have never been out of their own state, much less the nation and have no idea about how America’s foreign policy and international relationships impact the rest of the world.

    This saddens me because it is like a spoilt rich kid turning his nose up at a beggar because the poor person was on the sidewalk where the rich guy wanted to walk. The beggar is seen as an inconvenience and an interruption to an otherwise charmed existance. This is how I see many Americans in regards to other countries.

  • 8. Heather  |  June 25, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I also think that stellar1 made a powerful statement, because it’s sobering to think of how much the human race could accomplish if it were a unified goal to eliminate poverty, to eliminate the diseases and just make the world a better place.

    I’ve seen posts where theists have said the first mistake in trying to accomplish this is to look at man, since man is flawed and fallen. The problem with that is that one pretty much gets what one expects out of an experience. If you live life with 100% certainty that man is fallen and selfish, you will see that daily in your life, and almost not encourage the human race to become better.

    I tend to picture God, when people start looking at Him/Her/It, going, “What are you looking at Me for? I gave you the tools already — so go fix it.” It’s much along the lines of what Soceity said. Faith should not give one an excuse to ignore the suffering, or say, “It’s all in God’s hands.” Faith should rather be used to ask a higher power for strength, and then dive in and see how much good you can accomplish.

  • 9. Slapdash  |  June 25, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I am with HIS on this, and I’ll take it a step further. It’s not just that God’s involvement is irrelevant and pointless. It’s this: if God really is with the poor and downtrodden, why the hell is he sitting back waiting for us stupid humans to fix the problem? We are obviously falling down on the job, big time. The image in my head is of a God wringing his hands, crying over the cardboard box man, yet inexplicably doing nothing to change that guy’s circumstances.

    Why God’s apparently preferred method of operating is through humans begs the question of God’s character – and existence – altogether.

    I know of no loving parent who would sit by and let their kid fall through a patch of thin ice and drown because the parent had entrusted the kid to an (inept) babysitter. The loving parent wouldn’t cluck their tongue and say “well, golly, I did just lose my kid to that ice, but gee, maybe the babysitter has finally learned the lesson that he’s got to be more responsible!”

  • 10. Stephen  |  June 25, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Bono presumably had in mind the example of the great Hebrew prophets and Jesus Christ. They demonstrated that it isn’t good enough just to “look out for #1″; we’re also expected to relieve the distress of widows, orphans, the poor, and the marginalized.

    Human beings constantly need to be reminded of that fact. We’re all intrinsically self-centred, concerned first and foremost for our own welfare. “Charity begins at home” is the motto of many wealthy Westerners.

    If you genuinely care about the poor and marginalized people of the world, then Jesus Christ is an ally — not your enemy. Instead of telling people to renounce faith, you should encourage them to practise it.

  • 11. HeIsSailing  |  June 25, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Stephen sez:
    “If you genuinely care about the poor and marginalized people of the world, then Jesus Christ is an ally — not your enemy. Instead of telling people to renounce faith, you should encourage them to practise it.”

    I think it is entirely possible to strive for the moral example set by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount, to be convicted by his character and to admire him as a model to acheive for ourselves.

    What is the point of faith once we have accepted this?

  • 12. societyvs  |  June 25, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    “I know of no loving parent who would sit by and let their kid fall through a patch of thin ice and drown because the parent had entrusted the kid to an (inept) babysitter. The loving parent wouldn’t cluck their tongue and say “well, golly, I did just lose my kid to that ice, but gee, maybe the babysitter has finally learned the lesson that he’s got to be more responsible!” (slapdash)

    If the parent is all about ‘the lesson’ then the passage has validity – but if the parent is more about responsibility – then the ice would never be a hassle to either (they would see this as an opportunity to rescue/save the kid)…they would both risk their neck to do the right thing (again depending on their abilties to swim and deal with the situation).

    But I don’t see God as a lesson teacher perhaps but more calling us to our civic duty – to work with others for the ‘well being’ (salvation) of us all.

    “What is the point of faith once we have accepted this?” (HIS)

    Elaboration of those teachings is the point. I think we will find we are not called to selfish living in those teachings.

  • 13. notabarbie  |  June 25, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Great post and comments.

    It got me thinking about a lot of different things, but one in particular was that now that my evangelical, fundamentalist blinders are off, I find myself scratching my head over what “believers” say to validate their god. I’ve had my Christian friends tell me, just recently, how god worked it out so that they got a close parking place at the mall or that they got their over weight bag on a flight with no extra charge, etc., because they prayed and god blessed them. I want to say, “oh, so god heard your prayer and gave you a good parking place or a break on a fine, but he doesn’t hear and answer the prayers of mothers holding their starving children in their arms or the people praying on 9/11 to be rescued!? What kind of god is that? Someday soon, I’m gonna ask them that question.

  • 14. Heather  |  June 26, 2007 at 11:37 am

    **starving children in their arms or the people praying on 9/11 to be rescued!? What kind of god is that? Someday soon, I’m gonna ask them that question.** I always cringe when I hear someone saying, “God saved my life” when the other thirty people or so were killed. I understand the sentiment, and that the person is grateful, but what about the thirty people who died? What does that say about God’s attitude towards them?

  • 15. Jai  |  June 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Aa,
    Bravo for the post! I appreciate the post, and hope that it will spur everyone (Athiests and Christians alike) to care about the problems faced by the poor in the world. I appreciate that you recognize the responsibility that is placed “on your own” shoulders without a belief in God. On the flipside, Christians are commanded to care for the poor, and so your post hits home with us too. If God truly does care about the poor and is more focused on them (which I firmly believe), then we as Christians should want to focus our efforts there as well (commands notwithstanding, we should also use it as an effort to grow closer to God).
    Heather,
    God may care about a parking space for my mom (who happens to be hanidcapped), but I certianly don’t feel that he’s too worried about whether I (who am very able bodied) get to save 5 steps at the mall. By the same token, the proper attitude towards prayer (and affirmitive answers) I think is the attitude displayed by Daniel’s friends when they were in the fire. “Even if God hadn’t spared us, we knew that we could not bow down”, such that we let God be concerned with the outcome. As far as his attitude towards the starving Children,

  • 16. sonia  |  June 29, 2007 at 7:02 am

    very good point – i think you’ve hit the nail on the head why people have believed in God for so long – because they felt they had no agency so had to turn to the sky and beg and plead.

    this is precisely the question i now am asking myself.

  • 17. religionandatheism  |  July 1, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    Why people have historically and continue to believe in God turns on the question of what the word “belief” is supposed to mean. For the likes of Otto Rank it was a term relating to the experience of the numinous. The wide variety of interpreting what religious belief actually entails means that the over-simplified naturalistic explanations contemporary atheists tend to favour are often too limited.

    http://religionandatheism.wordpress.com

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Attention Christian Readers

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

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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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