DOES GOD EXIST? DOES IT MATTER?
Harry Richardson is a long-time student of Islam and author of best seller, "the Story Of Mohammed - Islam Unveiled', http://thestoryofmohammed.blogspot.com.au
I came across a cartoon online. I thought it was very powerful and very persuasive. I also thought it was very wrong on a number of levels.
The cartoon has two people in it. One is a woman who is a Christian. I’ll call her Mary for convenience. Then we have a man who is an atheist. Again, for convenience, I’ll call him David.
The backdrop to the cartoon looks like the aftermath of yet another school shooting in the US. Mary and David are discussing the reasons for it. Mary looks stunned. “Why has God allowed this to happen” she asks.
“Because God doesn’t exist,” answers David. “Engage with reality and fix your [email protected]#king gun laws.”
Now before I get into this, I just want to say that I am not a Christian or an Athiest. I’m an Agnostic. God may exist, or God may not exist. I just don’t know.
So, I’m not taking sides here on ideological grounds. Also, I am not a “gun nut” in any sense at all. I have never owned a gun. I’ve never even fired a gun, other than an air rifle and frankly, I hope I never have to. On the other hand, I understand clearly the rationale for the Second Amendment in the US Constitution.
That said, let’s get back to this cartoon.
Now this cartoon is a terrible blow to a Christian. We have a situation where a group of children are lying dead and bleeding on the ground. Poor Mary is asking “why has God allowed this awful thing to happen.”
David then puts the boot in. He is totally brutal here and blames Mary and her ilk fair and square.
Not only does he tell Mary that her God doesn’t exist. He blames Mary, and by default, all Christians, for the shooting. “Engage with reality,” he tells her, “and fix YOUR [email protected]#king gun laws.”
Now, this is messed up on a number of levels. The first mistake in the cartoon comes from Mary. She is blaming God for this tragedy. She thinks that God, through his negligence, has allowed this to happen.
Christian theology is different to Islamic theology. Christians believe that the God of the Bible gave us free will. They believe God put us on the earth and gave us guidance. He told us what we should do.
Unfortunately, we ignored him and consequently, bad things have happened. A Christian can’t blame God for this, the fault lies with humans who have ignored his rules.
"Hmm, that's a nice pear"
Christians believe that God gave us commandments such as “Thou shalt not kill.” So, to blame the God of the Bible for this killing spree is somewhat unfair. Mary’s question should have been, “why didn’t this killer follow God’s instructions?”
However, Mary’s demeanour is very different to David’s. She is looking at God and asking why he has allowed this to happen. She is questioning her own belief system and wondering what has gone wrong.
David on the other hand isn’t questioning anything. Perhaps because Atheists don’t believe in God, they are prone to think that they themselves are God. Consequently, many of them have an unshakeable belief in their own analytical powers.
“Murder my opponents, install me as dictator and I will create a perfect society - I swear by Almighty Me.”
David lays the blame for this tragedy straight at Mary’s feet. By default, he blames all Christians for not fixing the gun laws.
David has a nice, simplistic fix and he has total confidence that when “his will is done” that everything will be OK. Just pass a law outlawing gun ownership and the problem will disappear.
Unfortunately for David, the situation is more complex than he imagines.
The first problem is, that there are millions of guns in America. However, only a very small number of gun owners are causing the problem. The challenge then, is to remove the guns from that small number of problem people.
David’s solution is to remove the guns from everyone.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much impossible. The only people who are likely to give up their guns willingly are the ones who aren’t causing the problem. You may get rid of most guns. People who really want guns however, will get hold of them somehow.
That is not to say that reducing the number of guns might not reduce the number of gun crimes. It may well do so. However, it is not a foregone conclusion as David supposes.
But let us suppose that we are successful and remove the guns from all the citizens in America. For sure, we will now see a reduction in the number of gun crimes. However, this comes at a price. The only gun owners now, will be Government employees such as police and armed forces.
Whilst this may not pose an immediate threat, there is the possibility that the Government will have bad intentions towards its citizens. Since this has happened repeatedly in almost every society on the planet, there is no reason to suppose that it couldn’t happen in the USA.
If the Government goes rogue, the impact on society is far greater than an occasional school shooting, however traumatic that might be.
"I'm sorry sir, it appears your living permit has expired."
Left wing governments in particular have a terrible record of tyranny. Tens of millions of bodies piled up in the last century alone.
Admittedly, there are some people who favour lax gun laws because they just like guns and shooting things. There are however, many people in the USA who understand that the reason for the Second Amendment is to prevent such tyranny. That is why they resent people who wish to disarm them.
Not all of these people are Christians however. It may even be true that a majority of supporters of the Second Amendment are Atheists, I would not be surprised. I just don’t know, so unlike David, I won’t be telling Christians that this is “YOUR” law.
Apart from anything else, this isn’t just a law, it’s part of the Constitution. Fiddle with that at your peril.
So, if we take a slightly cooler headed look at the problem of gun violence, and in particular spree killings in schools, one thing jumps out at us straight away.
Mass shootings in schools are quite a recent phenomenon. Forty or fifty years ago, they were practically unheard of. Yet gun ownership, as a percentage of the population hasn’t changed that much. Years ago, kids would even take guns into school to show to friends.
So what has changed in America that would lead to such a startling change in behaviour. Well, clearly, there have been many things that have changed in the last fifty years. Technology has brought many different ideas and points of view into people’s lives. Radio, television, the internet and now social media have plugged us in to a whole new set of ideas. Not all of these ideas are positive, to say the least.
There have been family breakups, violent movies and video games and a whole gamut of other factors which might have had an influence on people. For me however, the one thing which stands out, and I say this as an agnostic, is the decline of Christianity in people’s lives.
Kids who go into a school with the intention of shooting up as many people as possible have low odds of survival. They know this. Many of them will actually turn the gun on themselves at the end in an act of murder suicide.
So how is David’s secular law going to deter people from such a heinous act. Will the death penalty deter someone from a murder suicide? Of course not. People who grow up without a belief in an afterlife have no sense of accountability to anyone other than themselves.
They are restrained only by what they can get away with. For people in leadership positions, or kids wielding assault rifles in school, that is pretty much anything they like.
Whilst Christians can sometimes seem pious, smug and even hypocritical, I would much sooner live in a society of Christians than with people of any other belief system. Christianity imparts a sense of restraint and grace. It is this sense of grace which is totally lacking in David’s self-righteous order to Mary to “fix her [email protected]#king gun laws.”
The problem with Atheism is that there is no inherent Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There is no acceptance of any kind of absolute morality. Even if there was, there is no fear of a higher authority to compel people to abide by such rules.
That is where Christianity scores over Buddhism. While Buddhism has similar ethics to Christianity, it has no higher power to enforce the rules. That is probably why Buddhist countries like Laos, Burma, Cambodia and Thailand are all totalitarian in nature and backwards in terms of technology and social capital.
Thailand re-joins its Buddhist neighbours as a brutal military dictatorship
In Atheism, people are free to make up the laws as they see fit. Unfortunately, what one man “sees fit” is not always good for those around him.
The US Declaration of Independence is a document which has underpinned one of the most successful societies in human history. The USA is a nation which people round the world flock to when given a chance.
The Declaration of Independence is interwoven throughout with Christian terminology and principles. It states for instance that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These rights, in other words, sit above whoever may be the rulers of the day. They are endowed by a God. The God of the Founding Fathers was a Christian God. That is fine, provided the rulers happen to be actual true Christians.
For most of its history, the majority of people in the USA have held strong Christian beliefs. In the last fifty years or so, this has been changing and many Americans have been “losing their religion.”
The Enlightenment thinkers in Europe decided that God doesn’t exist. Whether they were right or not is something I just don’t know. There are certainly good arguments to support their case. As time has passed by, science has taught us far more about the Universe and explained things which seemed previously unexplainable.
However, the current scientific consensus is that the entire Universe just popped out of a spot of nothingness smaller than a pin head for no particular reason whatsoever. How and why could all the matter in the Universe simply pop out of such a miniscule spot? To believe such a thing seems to me to be just as fanciful as the idea that it was all created in six days by some mythical God figure.
The Enlightenment thinkers may have been right about God. Maybe he doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, they were so pleased with this discovery that they failed to think very deeply about the logical consequence.
They figured that if God doesn’t exist, then there is no point believing in him. At this point, they probably grabbed their wallets and rushed down to the local house of ill-repute.
Little wonder then, that this conclusion never received the scrutiny it should have. Strange as it may sound, there is in fact a very good reason to believe in a Christian God, even if he doesn’t exist.
Christianity provides a system of personal restraint. It holds us back from doing the things we really want to do. To cast off these shackles can be personally beneficial, certainly in the short term.
Unfortunately, this restraint is the glue which holds society together. Once society removes these restraints, our friends and neighbours start to do what they feel like doing. Some of them will feel like doing some pretty antisocial things and before long, we wind up with schools full of dead and bleeding children.
Furthermore, the Bible is full of deeply thought out wisdom. There is such a wealth of intelligent understanding in the Bible, and much of it is counterintuitive. Removing Christianity has removed our connection to this biblical wisdom. We now have all sorts of bizarre beliefs which are highly destructive to our way of life.
These beliefs have a habit of finding their way into law. Take the Same Sex Marriage laws. These were foisted upon us before most people had a chance to think through the consequences. Now that these laws have passed, we are finding that it is no longer possible to make any legal distinction between the sexes.
This promises to destroy women’s sport. It takes away the rights of women to have their own public toilets. It will undoubtedly lead to a myriad of unexpected and destructive consequences.
“Sorry girls, you can’t discriminate against me – lol!”
True Christians did not vote for these laws. They didn’t need to wrestle with the rights and wrongs of the legislation to know it was wrong. True Christians knew it was wrong, because the Bible said so.
The loss of true Christianity has greatly weakened the West. Marxists have always understood this, which is why they have always been so vehemently anti-Christian yet strangely enamoured with other religions (despite their professed atheism).
If the European peoples are going to survive, I think we are going to have to re-discover our Christian roots. This time, it may have to be a move based on logic and survival, rather than spiritual discovery. I think Jordan Peterson is doing a good job on pointing the way forward. He understands the importance of Christianity and is able to clearly articulate it in a way that more spiritual Christians never could.
This could be the beginnings of a re-connection with Christianity for the European race. It may sound strange coming from an agnostic, but I sure hope so.
The Bible itself contains a long and well documented history of societies and nations which rose up following God’s rules and then turned their back on God. As a result, their societies crumbled, they were invaded and the people were carried off into slavery.
“We wasn’t grooming them your honour, we wuz enslaving and raping them. An’ we ain't Asian eever.”
I would like to think that this time, things will be different but somehow, I have my doubts.