A friend asked me a few weeks ago why some people don’t believe in God. And why people leave the Church. “If they know, if they understand what the Church is, how can they leave?” Well, I don’t know that they do know, that they do understand and that is exactly why they can leave. But let’s look a little deeper and explore the benefits of denying the existence of God.
The first thing that comes to mind is that by denying God’s existence, we can also deny any claims He might make on us. No God, no Son of God, no Church. Christ claimed not only that God was His Father (I and the Father are One), but that He (Christ) is the Way, the Truth and the Life. So an obvious benefit of rejecting God is the simultaneous rejection of everything—and everyone—associated with Him. No pesky commandments, no annoying covenants or obligations, no bothersome blessings or curses. Man becomes the measure of all things, and not man as a community of persons united by family bonds of love, but man as a mere animal, no different from other animals, no worse and certainly no better.
But the rejection of the existence of God does not lead, some might say, necessarily to thinking of man as a mere animal. No? The Biblical account of creation tells us that God created the world and the animals to live in it, then created humans. The very words used show that the world and the animals were made while humans were formed in the image and likeness of God. God “breathed the breath of life into man and he became a living soul.” (See Genesis 2:4 and 2:7*.)
Of course, if you reject the very notion of the existence of God, you can ignore this creation story, you can ignore the whole Bible, thousands of years of Tradition and Scripture with its rituals and psalms and poetry and lessons. You can set out to create your own brave new world with yourself as its king. Only thing is, you’re likely to run right square into a few million other self-styled kings too, all intent on creating their own brave new worlds, and this is where trouble really starts.
You see, if we are only animals, evolving as a result of random processes (I’ll ignore for the moment that even the word “process” carries within it the notion of “order” or “direction”), then the first thing we realize is that there is no purpose for our existence. There is no purpose for any existence at all, for that matter, if things and people were not created for a purpose. If we just happened to happen as the result of blind chance, then we could just as easily, perhaps more easily, have not happened at all. And our survival depends, not upon working together to help one another, but upon looking out for number one, survival of the fittest and all that.
And this seems to be the real “benefit” of rejecting God and everything that goes along with Him: You can be your own god. You can decide what is truth and what is lie, what is good or evil, if there is any such thing; or that some people should live while others should die, and that is the “benefit” I find the most chilling. People become, not persons, but things. Things that either offer me some advantage or that merely get in my way. Things to be accepted or tolerated but not persons to be cherished. Things to be used if they are useful. And disposed of if they are not.
I wonder how Dr. Seuss** would feel now that his famous saying, albeit paraphrased, is taking on a sinister tone:
A person’s a person if he’s useful. Otherwise, he’s not really a person at all.
*Scripture quotation from the Douay-Rheims module for the free downloadable e-Sword Bible study software.
**I feel it only fair to point out that according to what I’ve been able to learn, Dr. Seuss, or rather, Theodor Geisel, was not pro-life and he didn’t like people using his line to promote the pro-life cause. It’s a shame. I used to like his books very much back when I was younger and had no idea that there was anyone in the world who would be anything other than pro-life. I didn’t know back then that there needed to be a pro-life view as opposed to some other view. How could you not be for life, I would have wondered. Truth be told, I still wonder. And I still don’t know the answer.
10 thoughts on “The benefits of denying the existence of God”
Nope, the Vatican does not accept Darwinian evolutionary theory. That is incorrect. The Catholic Church accepts that evolution may be a fruitful line of inquiry, not Darwinian atheistic evolution.
And as to the art housed at the Vatican, those pieces of art are the priceless patrimony of all mankind. Do you propose to do away with collections of art? Why? And do what with them?
PS: If the Church accepted Darwinian theory, I’d accept it too. Except for the fact that accepting atheism would mean no Church, so no need for me to accept anything the Church would say about anything, as I think I mentioned in my post.
The fact that you can’t seem to discern the difference between believing in evolution and accepting atheism shows pretty clearly how much of a grasp you have on the subject. They are entirely separate, and I know plenty of religious people who have taken their head out of their asses to read a biology book.
Speaking of taking your head out of its place of darkness, I hope you do that one day. Peace be with you.
” and not man as a community of persons united by family bonds of love”
I’m an atheist, and that’s exactly what I have. Family and community, while promoted by religions, aren’t exclusive to them.
“Only thing is, you’re likely to run right square into a few million other self-styled kings too, all intent on creating their own brave new worlds”
Not to mention a man sitting on a throne in flowing robes, inside a golden palace in Italy…
Golden palace? Have you viewed the Vatican closely? My own house is probably in much better repair. But then I’m sure you prefer your own version of reality, and you’ll accuse me of the same, I have no doubt. I’m glad you have a community and a family. But I don’t think it’s the community and family of which I was speaking (maybe I need to make that clearer in the post). I was speaking of the family of God and the community of members within that family. Mere animals have packs and herds, but I don’t think of them as families and communities in the same way as human beings, which I view as different from animals precisely because humans have something different about them, being made in the image and likeness of God. Take that away and you’re left with animals, pieces of meat viewed as such by other pieces of meat.
That’s what has been explained to me by my atheist friends who have tried to make me see that their view of humanity as animals evolved according to Darwinian theory (the one to which I object) is superior to the Catholic view of humanity. They tell me that abortion and euthanasia are perfectly moral because they don’t involve the murder of human persons. And the more I learn about Darwinian thinking, the more I understand why they think these things. But I do not accept these ideas and I do not want to travel down the paths to which they lead.
“My own house is probably in much better repair.”
And your house is filled with priceless art and antiquities too, I suppose?
“view of humanity as animals evolved according to Darwinian theory (the one to which I object”
And strangely, your vatican accepts the theory.
Obviously, your exposure to evolutionary theory has been insufficient for you to understand it. The most important mechanism of evolution is natural selection, a most non-random process indeed. No evolutionary biologist would describe evolution as a random process. Mutation is indeed random (the probable source of the misunderstanding), but it serves to produce variation from which the next generation is selected.
As for not having a purpose, I most definitely take issue with that. I find great purpose in my life. The difference is that you believe that purpose is imposed on the individual, whereas I believe purpose is what the individual chooses it to be. Indeed, I find the former version of purpose to be repugnant. Nor does my position make me my own god. The idea is ludicrous. Perhaps you should ask the pope why he lied about condoms doing nothing to stop the spread of HIV to Africans. He’s a mass murderer in my book. Being religious, no matter how pious, is no guarantor of ethical behavior, just as rejecting theism is no predictor of a lack of ethics.
But if you want to know what makes me an atheist, that’s simple – there is an absolute paucity of evidence in favor of the existence of deities.
I rest my case.
What do you mean you rest your case? He destroyed your post. You clearly do not know enough about evolution to form and present an opinion on it. Why not just respond to his post instead of ignoring it entirely, acting like it aids your point somehow?
He didn’t destroy my post. He did, however, make me yawn. Same old tired arguments, same old denial of truth. Same assertion that Darwin did more than assert opinion without presenting evidence. And yet his followers claim that his opinions are evidence and then claim to find evidence themselves to back up his claims. Doesn’t sound like good science to me.
But then I’m just an ignorant Christian, what could I possibly know? I personally don’t think evolution is something to believe in, it’s a theory to be proven and it has not been. I remain a non-believer in Darwin’s atheistic materialistic theory of evolution. I remain someone who accepts that some sort of evolution, as in change over time, has taken place. But I’m not given to the kind of pseudo-science that Darwin and his ilk represent.
Peace be with you, Zach.