Re: [asa] "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God"

From: Merv <>
Date: Sat Jan 03 2009 - 13:01:16 EST

Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> What would an atheist find beneficial in Christian teaching? Maybe the
> ideas of love and forgiveness, because of Christ and the cross. I
> could see them teaching this to the weak-minded who need it, and
> couldn't get the message from atheism. How can you forgive someone
> you really hate, or how can you love someone you really hate? The
> answer in Christianity is Christ and the cross; don't know how an
> atheist could do it. Likely, they see no need for it. They'd maybe
> ask "why not just hate those who deserve it?" Jesus said to love and
> pray for our enemies; atheists probably say to hate your enemies.
That might be a bit simplistic & unfair to some of the more reflective
atheists today. To simply leave things at "hate your enemies" sounds a
bit like Nietzsche, and I don't think many of the modern atheists have
quite the stomach to go that far --at least not on public record. On
the other hand they (along with many of us Christians in our more
liberal moments) are tempted towards thinking along elitist lines of
"well --this is all good as a crutch for the weak-minded masses, so
let's just leave it be." (And the liberal Christian, may find this same
thought to be a troubling doubt against his own faith and therefore
entertains the thought that "perhaps I need to recognize my own
weak-minded need for this" --gritting his teeth and attempting to
believe it as if faith was no more than an intellectual effort.)

While it is certainly true and Scripturally recognized that the needy
and weak are the most favorably disposed to accept Christ's grace for
themselves, it is fatally problematic to think that the early (and
present) church leaders who do/did NOT deliberately stay intellectually
weak would privately nurture this elitist attitude in some corner of
their minds. That would squarely make them false witnesses.
...More comments below
> But in the case of an inmate who is released from prison and filled
> with hate for someone, I could see the power of the gospel helping
> them but not sure of an atheist positive message for them. Maybe the
> positive atheist message would be thought-control... dwell instead on
> the future and goals to achieve. But all this is about the weak
> minded, and inmates. The original article was about Africa.
> Africa- what's the problem? I think their number 1 problem is
> corruption. We also have corruption in the USA, but we also have
> prosperity to power through most of it. We also cleaned-up a lot
> through mob wars; fighting the mob. In Africa, it is crippling. I've
> heard the African government (in some country) not having 24 hr.
> electricity. Why? They need new generators. They get the money.
> Where does it go? To those in office, who use it for personal gain.
> It's hard not to steal when you really need the money and everyone
> else is doing it- it is ingrained in the culture. Would Christianity
> help this? Hard to say- as maybe the majority in Africa is
> "Christian," or close to it. But much of the Christianity is also
> crippling them because it is the name-it-and-claim-it version exported
> from America via TBN TV (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc.). They
> love to show the huge crowds in African crusades coming forward to
> receive Christ. I've heard from those who minister in Africa that
> many/most of these going forward do it repetitively. The evangelist
> loves it because it is a great fund-raiser (like McDonalds saying 10
> billion served; evangelists say 10 million saved last year).
> ...Bernie

One question that fascinates me (though it is purely academic since I am
or try to be resolved to act Christianly) is the "problem" of an
evolutionarily weakened population in which Christian inspired activity
would seem to go against straight-forwards evolutionary thought.
Problems in Africa are much more complex than simply stopping with the
label "corruption" --even though as you say. it is a huge problem.
Reading Diamond's book "Collapse" gave some intriguing insights into
genocidal situations that developed in Rwanda, and how overpopulation
was also an accumulated "fuel" that fed that travesty. If we as
Christians carry on our humanitarian work to make the world a better
place with better nurture for all -including (especially) the weakest,
the mentally impaired, ... (the least of these)... making it more likely
that less healthy genes survive and are passed along, then this
eventually degrades the gene pool according to evolutionary
understandings. Of course, setting policy using these considerations
rightly causes us to shudder and remember past and present holocausts:
abortion, eugenics, euthanasia, racism, and other evils that we rightly
reject. Our only business as Christians is to be faithful and let God
worry about the big picture, and yet maybe God has gifted us to an
extent that worrying about the big picture is part of our stewardship.
As Jimmy Carter observed long ago about impoverished countries, there is
a positive correlation between extreme poverty and the number of
children a family has (as their only form of security they may ever
see.) What kind of informed, loving, or even "tough-but still love"
approach can Christians take that recognizes Christ himself in ...the
least of these... (which more often than I care to admit, includes

Recent science fiction shows (like some Star Trek episodes -- but more
so in the Babylon 5 series) love to wrestle with questions like this,
and the writers --especially in the latter series are much more nuanced
in their incorporation of religion, and don't always take the
intellectually shallow route of easy dismissiveness.


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Received on Sat Jan 3 12:56:20 2009

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