Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In Which I Am Enlightened by Athiests

I recently read Why, God? by Maureen Dodd, of the New York Times.   Ms. Dodd invited Catholic priest Kevin O'Neil to share his reflections on why horrible things (like the tragedy in Newtown, CT) happen if there truly is a god.   I found Father O'Neil's response to be honest and insightful, and I highly recommend reading it, even if you don't believe in God, because it's about being a decent human being, not just about this "God" guy.

I appreciated the article itself, but when I began to read the comments, I had a sort of awakening.  Surprisingly, the comments that made the biggest impression on me seemed mostly written by atheists (I'm a Christian.), but I really appreciated the open dialogue and wanted to share some parts (pieces of them) here. 

Jeo:  ...To ask why God would allow, or even create, such horrific evil is to abdicate our own responsibility for creating it and to set about correcting it.

Trumpit:....Human beings must endeavour to make life worthwhile and to protect and cherish it.  I agree that we need to help our fellow man and minister to him in his time of need. minister to do that - just be truly caring; I guess like Jesus was... 

Grant Wiggins: Then why talk of God at all? Why not, instead, talk of our moral obligation to one another and the strength and comfort that come from exercising it? To talk of God and prayer is thus arguably a diversion from the moral doing that is our calling as truly human people. ...To believe too much in this unknowable God may well be causing too many of us NOT to act - and that would be the greatest sin of all.

Lee:  ...Expose yourself to the pain of another's suffering and love them and be with them in love... That is where we find our divinity.

Joe Sabin:  I remember learning, many years ago, we were told the man was given free will. That free will was the greatest gift from God. We had the choice to do as we would. We can do good, we can do evil, we can do nothing; and everything along that continuum. I think the problem we have today is too many people choose to do nothing.


My take on it is that we should stop waiting and praying for God to fix things and start praying to stop being selfish, self-absorbed people and start thinking more of others and how we can answer God's calling for us to take care of things around here!  

Maybe "God's will" is in giving us all the tools we've needed to be Christlike, and he's been waiting forever for us to figure it out. (Poor guy--How frustrating!!)  Or (I love that this philosophy doesn't leave atheists off the hook) whether you believe in a God or not, can you really just sit back and say, "Well, there's good and there's evil in the world; what am I supposed to do about it?!

I believe that God is here, in each one of us. We have the will. Instead of walking around people with mental health issues,  (for example) shaking our heads, laughing, or thinking, "There but for the grace of God go I," we could think, How can I be a better human being?  How can I make a difference for this person or his/her family today? At the very least, we can stop going on about our lives like we don't have any control over what happens. We have not only control, but a moral obligation to recognize the suffering of others and do something about it, somewhere...anywhere.

Honestly, I don't know why this is suddenly "clicking" for me. Of course, I've always been interested in making a difference in this world, but mainly because it just feels good.  Now, though, I feel like I've been slacking! I hadn't felt responsible for making a difference, before, and now I feel like I need to do a better job!

Are you shaking your head at me? Rolling your eyes, maybe? Regardless of your beliefs, I'm curious:  Are you thinking, "Duh, Barb! What took you so long to figure this out? This is a no-brainer!" Or maybe you're wondering if the Wisconsin cold has begun to affect my brain? 


p.s Another great article on this subject is Giving Up God. I highly recommend it.


  1. Obviously the atheist asking the questions are not out of line. In fact, what I see them asking are the same questions that God could be asking. Why are Christians looking to God for the answers when it is only obvious that humans need to be looking at our society rather than finding blame with God.

    So, how long can we ignore the things around us that we allow other humans to do and yet blame God when we do nothing?

    What is the old joke about the flood victim on their roof telling the boat captain "no thanks" for the rescue, he was waiting on God to rescue him, sends away the helicopter, etc, etc

    Then when he drowns he asks God why he didn't rescue him and God says, 'I sent a boat, I sent a helicopter,,.......what else did you want me to do ?

  2. Great post. I appreciate the honesty of so many, stop using crutches and make a difference.


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