A recent blog posted by Deborah Mitchell, or TXBlue08, on CNN has caught my attention. Mitchell, who is a mother of teenagers, authors a blog called "Kids Without Religion."
In a CNN iReport, "Why I Raise My Children Without God", Mitchell explains that she writes the blog because she '... just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.'
In the first part of this series, I addressed her first point, God is a bad parent and a role model, then we looked at God is not logical and God is not fair. This week we'll consider God does not protect the innocent and God is not present.
God does not protect the innocent
Mitchell writes: He does not keep our children safe. As a society, we stand up and speak for those who cannot. We protect our little ones as much as possible. When a child is kidnapped, we work together to find the child. We do not tolerate abuse and neglect. Why can’t God, with all his powers of omnipotence, protect the innocent?
If God exists, then it is his desire to protect the innocent. However, as we go back to free will again, God will not force his will upon us. We have to do it ourselves. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children the U.S. Department of Justice says that 797,500 children younger than 18 were reported missing in a one-year period of time, resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day. That's a lot of children. From 1984 through October 2012, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 193,000 missing-child cases resulting in the recovery of more than 180,700 children, according to missingkids.com. That means that out of 193,00 missing children 123,000 are still out there. Couldn't we use a little help from God to assist us in finding the missing? The Bible says that God will give wisdom when we ask for it. Are there people praying for wisdom and guidance in this matter?
It is because God created us in his image that we care for the innocent. It is when we continually give into sin and snuff out the imago Dei, or image of God imprinted on our hearts, that we begin to take advantage of those who cannot defend themselves.
Mitchell asks if God in all of his omnipotence - meaning that God is all-powerful - will protect the innocent. Of course, but because of free will, God has limited himself. The reason the innocent suffer is because humanity decided that it knew better and sinned against God. It is up to those who love God and to those who have not completely caved to that sinful nature to defend the innocent.
The idea that God is omnipotent stems from some ideas in Christianity that there is no free will and that everything must fall in line with the will of God. This thinking also promotes that creation is inherently evil, according to my former professor Dr. Thomas J. Oord. Dr. Oord recently sent out a blog post about the omnipotence of God in relation to creation. He wrote:
Immense problems emerge from the idea God must rule and dominate everything. It directly or indirectly denies creaturely freedom and agency, for instance. It goes against our commonsense experience, which is that we possess freedom and agency at least partly our own ... Perhaps the chief problem with creatio ex nihilo (creation from nothing) and the omnipotence it requires is its implications for the problem of evil. To put it bluntly: The God capable of totally controlling others is culpable for all genuine evil. (Parenthesis mine).
The idea that if God is all-powerful, or omnipotent, he would protect the innocent is misguided. God often chooses to work in and through his creation. Therefore, it is our job to protect the innocent with God's help.
God is not presentHe is not here. Telling our children to love a person they cannot see, smell, touch or hear does not make sense. It means that we teach children to love an image, an image that lives only in their imaginations. What we teach them, in effect, is to love an idea that we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes, Mitchell writes.
How can we tell our children to love an image that we cannot "see, smell, touch or hear"? If God exists then we should be able to see, smell, touch or hear God as we search for him. There are many people who claim to have done this, for thousands of years. How can we discredit them? By declaring them all 'whackjobs?' By teaching our children that God exists only in our imaginations is denying them the blessing of faith, which is confidence of the things we hope for. It denies our children of assurance in things that we cannot see - those intangibles that create spark in living. Mitchell says that by teaching our children to believe in God then we are teaching to "love an idea we have created, one that is based in our fears and our hopes." This thinking, however, can also then be applied to other intangibles. What about the ideas of patriotism, love, compassion, freedom, the law and other ideas that we cannot see? Didn't the founders of our nation base their ideas of what America should be on the intangible ideas of freedom? Some of their ideas were based in fear that we were creating another Europe. So we could say that fear was a motivator in the creation of our country. Is that so wrong?
Fear, actually, is an excellent motivator in creating new ideas. However, there are varying degrees of fear, some healthy and some not. Healthy fear is the fear of adverse results if we ignore safety precautions or rules. We can also have a healthy fear of others, in that we respect their position. For example, I would never flash a fake gun at a police officer. He or she might shoot me and with good reason. I would also not be rude to my grandmother. First of all, she'd probably whack my head. Secondly, she is my grandmother. I respect her because she is much older than I and because she is worthy of that healthy fear. Often in the bible we see 'fear' used to describe our relationship with God. 'Fear' is often used in place of 'respect', or 'awe'. There is much discussion as to whether 'fear' is the correct meaning of how the word is used in the original documents.
If you look at fear this way, you can see that fear can also be a motivator in developing religion. In my religion, we see God as holy, or, as Merriam-Webster defines it, "exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness." As a result, we try to follow what the Bible says out of respect for our holy God. We also recognize that by not following God's commands we may suffer adverse results and eventually eternal punishment. But as one grows in faith and realizes God's goodness more and more, we follow these commands out of desire rather than fear.
If we base our lives only in what we see, we would have to throw out scientific principles, logic, philosophy, faith, love, hope and all of the other intangibles that make us who we are. For instance, I cannot see an atom, but because science has discovered the atom and says that it is there, I know that atoms comprise everything in matter. By believing that atoms exist and teaching my children that atoms exist, am I not teaching them to believe in something that they cannot see? Also, I cannot see the love that I have for my family. I feel it and see evidence of its existence, but I have never seen "love" floating around. By believing in love, and by teaching my children about it, am I teaching them to believe in something that is based on my own creation, my fears and hopes? Believing in something we cannot see is faith and as humans we depend on faith. If we lose it; if we lose hope, we die. This may not be a physical death at first. It starts as a slow spiritual death that eventually penetrates other parts of our being and can lead to physical death.
Next week we'll cover the last two claims, God does not teach children to be good and God teaches Narcissism.