Recently, I have read this article by atheist Emily Greene. It is titled, ‘I’m an Atheist – and No, I’m Not More Likely to Be a Serial Killer Than Anyone Else’. This atheist goes to Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA to listen to the Sunday school class taught by former President Jimmy Carter. President Carter taught his Bible lesson from Ezekiel 37, the Valley of the Dry Bones. He encouraged his listeners to take the dry bones of wood and turn them into homes through volunteerism for Habitat For Humanity.
She says, as an atheist, she is as compassionate as any Christian, as altruistic as any Christian. She complains, how many people misrepresent atheism. She says, ‘You Christians, you do good things for other people because you selfishly seek gifts from God. But we the atheists help other people without such selfishness, we are charitable for charity’s sake’.
Sam Harris says that atheists do charitable things from their inner motivation, unlike Christians who need external motivators. Christopher Hitchens criticized the work of Mother Teresa in India in a book he wrote with a vulgar title, ‘Missionary Position’. There are also books that claim atheists are more likely to be charitable than religious people.
I read this in the book 50 Great Myths About Atheism: “One thing does seem clear, however: atheists and other nonreligious people are more likely than religious people to give to charity, or to behave charitably, simply because they feel compassion or a wish to help for its own sake, but not because of religious doctrine and/or peer pressure.”We have atheists who claim that their atheism inspires them to do more charity than their Christian neighbors. Can atheism make us more charitable? Now,
In making moral arguments we can divide all atheists into hard atheists and soft atheists.
Hard Atheists: Hard atheists tell you bluntly the logical conclusions of atheism. Nietzsche comes to mind. Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher. His life was between the years 1844 and 1900. He bluntly said once we have killed God, there can be no such thing as morality. Then it is all about power. We settle all matters in life in terms of power, not ethics. French philosopher Michel Foucault extended Nietzsche’s thinking into sexual matters. In his famous book, History of Sexuality, Foucault said sexuality is all about exerting your power on others. So atheists like Nietzsche and Foucault made it clear that because there is no God, in all matters of individuals and of society, every thing revolves around power. There is no such thing as absolute morality.
Nietzsche actually said that showing charity is a sign of weakness, not strength. Why did Nietzsche call Christianity and Judaism ‘the slave religions’? Because these religions ask the masters to take care of the servants and slaves.
Hitler loved Nietzsche. For his 60th birthday, Hitler gave Mussolini a very personal gift: the complete set of the works of Nietzsche.(Barak Lurie)
North Korea is officially atheist. A recent survey showed that its prison camps are worse than Nazi prison camps like Auschwitz. prisoners are fed to dogs; most atheists will find this abhorrent but they cannot explain why this is evil based on their atheistic worldview. In Darwinism and naturalism, you’re feeding human animals to non-human animals. There is nothing more to see there.
Hard atheists also encouraged eugenics at the beginning of 20th century. They argued that charity maintains the useless at the expense of the strong. Not only should we stop showing charity to the weak, we should sterilize them for the greater good of the society.
H.L.Mencken was a famous American journalist and atheist. His life was between 1880 and 1956. H.L.Mencken wrote in The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, “It goes unquestioned, indeed, by those who preach the doctrine of charity the loudest. They know it would be absurd to argue that helping the unfit is profitable to the race, and so they fall back, soon or late, upon the argument that charity is ordained of God and that the impulse to it is implanted in every decent man. Nietzsche flatly denies this. Charity, he says, is a man-made idea, with which the gods have nothing to do. It’s sole effect is to maintain the useless at the expense of the strong. In the mass, the helped can never hope to discharge in full their debt to the helpers. The result upon the race is thus retrogression”
Please note those words: Charity is a man-made idea. It’s sole effect is to maintain the useless at the expense of the strong. It pushes the society into retrogression, not progress. Hard atheists like Nietzsche make it easy for us: There is no God, it’s all about power, charity is a man-made idea, nothing objective about it and it was created to maintain the useless at the expense of the strong.
Soft Atheists: then there is soft atheism. It is the soft atheism that makes our lives difficult. Soft atheists make things very confusing. They take all Christian virtues and say we can have them without God.
We can be loving without God,
We can be compassionate without God
We can be serving others without God
We can be charitable without God
There is no denying that we have a lot of generous atheists in our society. They donate to Red Cross, United Nations, Doctors without Borders; they volunteer to help people in need. Why do many atheists do charitable things? Correlation versus Causation. Atheism is the correlation, not causation for the charity of an atheist.Atheism by itself cannot motivate anyone to do charitable things. In his book Atheism Kills, Barak Lurie asks, ‘An atheist as an individual may do good things or donate to charities, but rarely (if ever) does he do so on behalf of his atheism. After all, what within atheism would prompt him?’
Atheism provides no motivation for charity. As David Marshall observes in his book The Truth Behind New Atheism, ‘Religious people are more charitable in every measurable way. People who go to a worship service once or more a week give $2210 to charity a year, while people who seldom or never attend average $642.’ So, Christians donate almost four times than the atheists.
We have atheists who argue that because charity has more survival value than cruelty, evolution moved our human species to favor charity. But survival value put us on a very slippery slope. Who determines the survival value? Nazis or their victims? Nazis said humanity’s survival value increases if we get rid of Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. A recent survey in Saudi Arabia showed that majority in that nation opined that prohibiting and punishing homosexuals has more survival value than allowing them.
Advocates of euthanasia says it is better for the society to get rid of elderly, non-working people. But if you are an elderly woman, or an elderly man who wants to live a few more years till you play with your grandchildren, euthanasia has no survival value. Smartans thought they would have more survival value if they got rid of disabled infants and children through exposure to natural elements or wild animals. Slaveholders thought having slaves to do all their work had more survival value.
So the assumption that we are evolved to be charitable because of its survival value is fallacious. So, for the atheist doing charity, his or her atheism is the correlation, not the causation of his charity. But for the Christian, his or her faith is not just a correlation, but the causation of his or her charity.
What makes a Christian charitable towards his or her neighbor? Let me present four things to you.
Image, Injunction, Imitation, Incentive
First the image of God: The Bible says all human beings are created in the image of God. We are valuable because the image of God is imprinted upon us.
A useless strip of paper suddenly becomes a $100 dollar note once the Treasury Department imprints its logo on it. All 100 dollar bills have equal value because all were printed with the same value by the treasury. In the Bible, God says, doing charity to one of his children is equal to showing benevolence towards God himself. In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus said the following words:
- For I hungered, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink;43. I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in; naked, and ye clothed Me not; sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not.’44. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, `Lord, when saw we Thee hungering or athirst or a stranger, or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee?’45. Then shall He answer them, saying, `Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.’
So, showing compassion to our neighbors is tantamount to showing it towards Jesus himself, God himself because God has put His own image on every human being.
Also, Jesus treated those ‘least of these’ as his brothers and sisters. There is a Relationship! Image of God also reminds us of our relationship to God. When I look at my son, I see some of my features in him, because he is related to me. I passed my genes to him, that is why, he looks like me. In the same way, the image of God upon us reminds us of our relationship to God as His creatures. Relationship, Image, Value, Significance and meaning: they all go together. My son is related to me, he carried my image, he is valuable, significant and meaningful to me. In the same way, we are related to God, we are made in His image, and that gives value, significance and meaning to our lives.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, Apostle Paul wrote these words:
1 Corinthians 13: 1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not charity, I am nothing.13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
All your degrees, diplomas, achievements mean nothing if you don’t have love. Love is the greatest ethic. Charity is the greatest virtue. What made love the greatest virtue? Because God is love.
So, God is love. We are created in the image of God. So, we should be loving. There is logical consistency in this argument. In atheism, charity is as evolved as cruelty. In atheism, charity has no intrinsic value. So, atheism has no logical basis for charity.
Secondly, christian charity is based on injunction. We are commanded to be charitable. In Matthew 22:36-40, someone asks Jesus, ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’
Jesus replies, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’
Christian charity is commanded by God. In Christian worldview, charity is tied with accountability. Jesus commanded us to be charitable and told us, we will be accountable for all the uncharitable and cruel things we do towards our neighbors.
When you realize you are not accountable to anyone, you are more prone to do cruel things. It is no coincidence that some of the worst human genocides happened under atheist dictators like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Jim Jong Un etc. These atheists thought because they were not accountable to God in heaven, they could to their subjects whatever seem desirable in their eyes.
Do you know how cruelly atheist Bolsheviks killed Romanov family? They poured sulfuric acid on the faces of children.
After cruelling killing Romanov family with acid and shootings, they bragged, ‘the world will never know what we did with them’
Shiro Ishii performed medical experiments on human beings. More than 400000 people were killed in his experiments. Joseph Mengele also did similar experiments on humans killing thousands of people in the process.
Romanov family killers, Shiro Ishii, Joseph Mengele felt no obligation to be charitable towards their subjects. So, in atheism, charity is not an obligation. In Christian faith, charity is an obligation because we are commanded by God to love our neighbors.
God commanded….that’s moral law. Charity is undergirded by moral law. In atheism, charity is not undergirded by moral law, because there is no moral law giver.
When I say, charity, you probably think of a nurse or Red Cross volunteer, but not a police officer. Right? But a police officer contributes to charity in his or her own way. The officer might be working to curb the crime in your community. The officer’s presence in your neighborhood will save you from the cruelty of a criminal. Moral law giver, moral laws and law enforcement are essential for charity.
Atheists say Christians were guilty of burning so many people at stake. They were so uncharitable with people who disagreed with them. Let us ask, Is it wrong to burn people who disagree with you? Is it always wrong to burn people who disagree with you? If it is always wrong to burn people who disagree with you, then you are acknowledging the existence of objective moral values, which point us back to objective moral law giver, God himself. So, to accuse Christians of bigotry and intolerance, atheist has to rely on the existence of moral law and the existence of moral law giver, God.
That’s all for now. Next time, we discuss the remaining two foundations of Christian charity. But the point is, Christian charity has a firm foundation in God, atheism provides no foundation for it’s charity. That is why atheism makes no sense.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you said, For God so loved the world. God is the source of love and charity. Thank you for loving us, dying for our sins on the cross and raising from the dead to give us the hope of eternal life. Open the eyes of our generation to see you as it’s Lord and Savior. In your precious name we pray, Amen.