A Reason to Doubt God

Jason Micheli —  September 30, 2013 — 4 Comments

Skeptical BelieverThis weekend we’re kicking off a new sermon series, The Skeptical Believer: Making Peace with Your Inner Atheist.

Last week I solicited best-shot arguments for why we should NOT believe.

I’ll give a free copy of Daniel Taylor’s The Skeptical Believer to what I think is the best argument for doubt/disbelief…there’s still time. Lemme know.

I have received a lot of responses so far, some predictable, some ancient and intractable and others truly, profoundly (dare I say…Christianly?) moral.

This is an example of the third- and what I take to be the most compelling- kind:

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“Why someone wouldn’t believe in God?

My sister is profoundly mentally retarded.

She was born with a clef lip and palette.

She is 44 years old and still has trouble walking.

She still wears diapers.

And she is deaf.

And mute.

 

And she gets mad.

When she gets mad, she smashes her head into a corner.

And busts it open.

And it bleeds like mad.

Having known her, I know what I wouldn’t have known otherwise:

That there are multitudes of other people with similar conditions.

Nobody talks about caring for the retarded.

We all have sympathy for the sick child (and with good reason), but people like my sister are forgotten about by the mainstream (by God?).

People like my sister are made into jokes by callous people (“What are you, retarded or something?”).

My sister is cared for by an underpaid, overworked, and understaffed group of huge hearted people.

But, that’s an example, at least in my mind, of why someone would challenge the belief in God.

I’ve gotten over it, but it’s mostly by saying that I simply don’t get it.”

Jason talking:

I wish I didn’t need to make the point, but my time in ministry tells me I can’t repeat it enough:

If you feel the need to ‘explain’ this woman’s disability, ‘justify’ God’s purposes in it or, for that matter, say anything pious at all (eg: ‘God is with her in her suffering’)…

Then you’ve just made this ‘Reason for Doubt’ a ‘Reason for Disbelief.’

Jason Micheli

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4 responses to A Reason to Doubt God

  1. Not sure I understand your last point. Are you saying that there’s never a time or place for apologetics in the face of the kind of suffering your reader describes?

    • I guess I should’ve clarified the last point. I meant only that oftentimes Christians’ need to explain, defend etc winds up with a God who, even if he exists, is morally repugnant and not worth belief.

      • Certainly, the more deterministic one’s theology is (as in strict Calvinism), the more God seems that way.

        Regardless, that’s not a clarification, it’s a contradiction. Even if Christians “oftentimes” say foolish things about God in their attempt to explain suffering, the fact remains that sometimes things need to be said. And we’re not wrong to “feel the need” to say them. Sometimes, if we don’t say them, we’re shirking our pastoral responsibility.

        Not to mention conceding a great deal to our New Atheist friends, who love being morally indignant on other people’s behalf.

        • Perhaps, but in my experience I can think of many more instances when being with someone suffering was the pastoral need, not saying anything. It’s human to want to say things and understandable, but I tend to think the best, most Christian response to such suffering is silence. To suffer with.

          I think its best for Christians to resist explanation. In other words, I think in the attempt to make victims’ suffering understandable we often end up victimizing God. Turning God into a god.

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