Tag Archive | atheism

Outgrowing God

Presenting God as father creates a few problems in modern conversation. What seems like a blanket of comfort to some, feels more like a wet blanket to others.

Bad Dads

The most obvious issue with the idea of God as father is the negative connotation that the title “father” often carries. For many, father is the sperm donor who disappeared when the pregnancy test results came in. He is the man who was always on his way but never showed up—plenty of promises, no delivery. Perhaps he is the tough guy who likes to talk with his fists. The workaholic who put food on the table but never spent much time there. The sloppy drunk. The disgusting pervert.

With so many broken homes and horrible fathers, presenting God as Dad doesn’t always warm people’s hearts.

King of Never Neverland

More complex, and harder to wade through, is the Overbearing Dad narrative made famous by the late Christopher Hitchens, well-known writer and proponent of atheism.

Nobody but a lugubrious serf can possibly wish for a father that never goes away. – Hitchens

God, then, is like an immortal leach sucking every drop of independence out of humanity, an insecure father who refuses to let his children move out, the eternal king of Never Neverland.

Admittedly, this sounds awful. As a new father, I understand my infant son’s need for his parents; he is hopeless without us. But I also understand that as he grows he will gain independence and no longer rely on his parents for anything. In fact—fingers crossed—one day he may be the one feeding us and changing our diapers as we fade into our twilight years. Complete role reversal.

It’s pathetic, and frankly awkward, when a parent perpetuates adolescence and childish dependence in a teen or adult.

For this reason, Hitchens’ analogy deserves consideration. If God is just an overbearing deity who derives worth from stunting the growth of humans, then yes, let’s move out of his basement immediately.

But the God Hitchens aimed to dismantle is described in the scriptures as the omnipotent Creator of all things, the first and the last, the author of life. The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus, “…he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” In other words, without Jesus everything falls apart.

If this God exists, how does one outgrow a need for Him? The very concept is foolish, like a starving baby refusing a bottle, or a terminal patient declaring independence from life support.

If the eternal God of the Bible truly upholds the cosmos and is the ultimate source of human sustenance, of course he “never goes away.” And of course we remain dependent on Him. There is no other response.

So, have we outgrown God?

Have our enlightened scientific minds finally freed us from the oppressive chains of pesky religion, thereby allowing us to become better people?

I don’t know. Have we sorted out racism in the 21st Century? What about the whole murdering each other thing? Is that still wrong, or is it simply the process of thinning out the herd, a little survival of the fittest to move us along the evolutionary food chain?
We are further from a “God-fearing” society than ever in history. Are we better for it?
Of course, none of this proves the existence of God, but neither does miscalculating the cosmic difference between an earthly and a heavenly father disprove his existence.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: Andrew Mitchell Photography

My Grandmother, The iPod

Facebook, I think, is the best way to tell the ones you know and love, or at least those you met once at a thing somewhere, how you truly feel, all in one fell swoop.

I do it all the time. It’s quite cathartic, actually. I also enjoy reading the musings of others, and recently a Facebook friend of mine, who also happens to be a family member, posted something that caught my attention.

Without directly quoting, it was something of an indictment on the blatant consumeristic frenzy that is Christmas, the way people turn into brutal savages, hunting down close parking spots and red-tag bargains.

My cousin pointed out that in 40 years people aren’t going to be thinking about the gifts they bought or received, rather the family members that have passed, or the moments that they wish could be relived.

I could not agree more. When some nut whacks a person in the face for the last copy of Transformers 2 on DVD, there is a problem. I mean, that movie sucked. And every year someone is getting trampled in the foyer of a store, or getting sideswiped for a parking spot. It’s disgusting.

“I want to show my family that I truly love them. I’ll do whatever it takes to buy them the perfect gift, even if that means shanking some fool in the line at Wal-Mart.”

Come on people.

As I thought further about the post, something else hit me. An underlying viewpoint came to the surface. My cousin is an Atheist. What does that have to do with anything? Nothing really, except for the context of the post itself. Going crazy over “stuff” is ridiculous.

Cussing people out over things that are going to break, wear out, or become obsolete is pointless. I remember begging my parents for gifts that I “had to have,” only to forget about them weeks later. What matters is family and friendship, people to share your life with.

But what are people? From an atheistic standpoint, at the end of the day, people are simply the result of spontaneous evolution, a collection of cells that have joined to make up what we now know as humans, the greater apes.

There is no creator. No intelligent design. Just billions of years of evolution at work.

Boiled down, we are products. Products of an evolutionary process. The “love” that we feel for one another is no more than chemical reaction, the way we have learned to respond.

In a way, we are consumers of one another. Time spent together, family parties, romantic evenings are just how we consume the product. Right?

Forty years from now my ipod is going to be an ancient artifact. My car will belong in a museum, my clothes long gone moth food. But what about my Grandma? If there is nothing after all this, if we are but a link on the evolutionary chain, does she really matter once she expires?

She was here. It was fun while it lasted and we will all sure miss her, but when she’s gone that’s it. She’ll go back to the earth she evolved from.

Does that sound right? Why doesn’t that sit well? Why does my comparing my Grandmother to an mp3 player make me sick to my stomach? I think it’s because we know better than that. I think deep down we know there is something more to this human experience.

It’s insane to clamor and fight over consumer goods that only bring temporary fulfillment.

But if we are just animals with an expiration date, evolutionary products to be consumed, isn’t it equally ridiculous to fight for love? Isn’t it a waste of time and money to develop medicines that cure disease and prolong life? Why cry at funerals? Every product has a shelf life, right? Are we any better?

I think so. I think you do too.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Photo Credit: lifeshots (Creative Commons)

Faith and Reason. Imagine That.

I recently watched a documentary covering an ongoing debate about the existence of God between a Christian pastor and a well-known atheist, filmed in bars and lecture halls (I’ll place a link towards the end.) It was fascinating, and one of the most candid films about faith I have seen. The pastor is Douglas Wilson. The atheist is Christopher Hitchens.

If you haven’t heard of Christopher Hitchens, you need to fix that problem. Like now. He is one of the most notable anti-believers of this generation. The dude is a rock star. He’s the author of over a dozen books, all of which continue to sell strongly even after his death; he lost a battle to cancer in 2011. Still, his influence only grows. There are websites dedicated entirely to his quotes. It’s remarkable.

Let me make sure we’re clear, I am not a Hitchens fan. I believe in the God he spent most his life trying to erase, but it would be foolish to ignore his words.

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