Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, July 19 2018 @ 07:28 PM UTC
God Has Helped Me, How Could It Not Be Real?
In Armin Navabi's book, Why There Is No God, the author attempts to explain away the notion that God sometimes helps people. He does this in two ways. First, by demonstrating that living in community and helping one another is not limited to the religious community. Second, he rabbit trails to notions of religious people causing harm and prayer causing harm. I won't deal with these last two as they are not germane to his original protest.
Navabi argues that "There is no evidence that God helps people." His remarks center around how people help others within their own faith communities. The implication is that God is not the one helping, rather it is simply your fellow man. But Navabi's argument fails to recognize the testimony of biblical figures who received help from God working providentially.
The Bible provides several examples of God sending a person to help another person. Sometimes it is moral support, as Aaron being sent by God to help Moses at the beginning of his ministry. Other times it was in battle with God acting to conquer an enemy that Israel stood no chance of defeating, by using another army to attack the enemy.
Throughout the Bible God's primary way of working in people's lives is through the contributions of others, rather than supernaturally. Of course, Navabi's argument would still stand when he points out that people helping other people isn't evidence for God's existence. It's just evidence of people helping one another. However, the Bible paints these pictures to demonstrate God's sovereignty in every situation. The proof of God's activity is not primarily in the supernatural, but in the natural, as he moves the hearts of people to help one another. This, I think, is actually much more important to God as when we act in this way we are fulfilling the design that he intends for us to live in loving, sacrificial communities.
Atheists do have some communities, but atheism lacks a set of principles for community that drive such communities to be built and work for the benefit of societies. There are some atheist societies that work to help others, but this is not the norm. Usually, atheists do not gather together like a church or ministry body because the worldview necessary to generate such behavior on a large scale does not exist within atheism as a philosophy.
Christianity is markedly different in that one of the key elements to right Christian living is the formation of relational communities designed to encourage the believer, and become an outlet for blessing those outside of that community. Jesus himself said that these things would be a sign that we are his true disciples. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). There is nothing like this in atheism. Some atheists may lay claim to this, but as a philosophy there is no set of teachings or doctrines, applicable and prescribed for all atheists, to act in community for the benefit of others.
When an atheist acts to help other people he does a noble thing. But his nobility is not evidence for God's nonexistence.