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Do We REALLY Trust in God?

Is it really true that “In God We Trust”? With what do we trust him? It might indeed make Christians feel warm and fuzzy to see that motto on U.S. currency, but do they actually believe it?

Using prayer as a little extra insurance when times are tough is one thing. But who would pray instead of using evidence-based means? Who would pray for safe passage across a busy street rather than looking and using good judgment? Who would pray that God would fix a car rather than a mechanic? Who would pray for healing rather than use a cure proven effective by modern medicine?

That is, who would actually trust that God will take care of important things without some sort of safety net?

Indeed, the government has made clear that that’s not the way things work. In response to preventable deaths among minors within the Followers of Christ church, Oregon recently removed laws protecting parents who rejected medical care for their children in favor of faith healing.

As noted in the excellent American Humanist article “In God We (Do Not) Trust,”

It is tantamount to the state saying, “Sure, it looks great on a coin, but come on you idiot, it’s not as though this god stuff actually works.”

For atheists, “In God We Trust” on currency and as the official motto of the United States is one of those pick-your-battles things. It’s in blatant violation of the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”), but issues such as injury from faith healing are more important and deserve more attention.

But let’s look for a moment at what we discarded to make room for this motto. E Pluribus Unum (Latin for “Out of many, one”) was the de facto motto before the adoption of “In God We Trust” in 1956. That certainly showed those atheist commies which side of the theological fence we were on, but this came at a price.

One trait that is special about America is that we’re composed of people who came from all over the world to pull in the same direction to make a great country.

Out of Many, One. Which country would this motto fit better than America? Out of Many, One—a custom-made inspirational reminder of who we are and where we came from.

And we flushed it down the toilet in favor of “In God We Trust,” a one-size-fits-all poncho that could be worn by a hundred countries.

(This is a modified version of a post originally published 9/23/11.)

Photo credit: kevindooley

About Bob Seidensticker
  • OverlappingMagisteria

    The vast majority of theists, even the most devout, when witnessing a loved one collapse clutching their chest, will first call for an ambulance, then perform chest compressions, and only once the loved one is out of their hands in the care of professionals do they get down on their knees to pray.
    I think that actions speak louder than words and these actions tell us where their trust really is.

    • Ted Seeber

      And you know they aren’t praying during the chest compression exactly how? Ora et Labora isn’t just for Catholics, you know.

      I find some people- especially Christian fundamentalists for some reason- have a really narrow version of what the words “to pray” mean.

      Especially since that 911 call could be considered a prayer to secular authorities to send an ambulance!

      • Bob Seidensticker

        The smallpox vaccine rid the world of a disease that killed, in the 20th century, 500,000,000 people. And now, zero.

        Science delivers. Prayer? Not so much. Is there substantial evidence that it’s more than a placebo?

  • Gene

    It is so overwhelmingly obvious that NO ONE trusts their version of their god to do ANYTHING. That’s why we drive or fly to get somewhere instead of just asking “god” to take us there. And for those who say that I’m being facetious, I would say that they need to read their holy book once again and see what it says about all the wondrous things that their god did for ‘men of old’ who apparently relied on their faith to get things done. And while sentient beings see that holy book as a collection of myths and therefore understand that ‘trusting in their god’ is of no good effect at all, for those who actually ‘believe’ their book, it becomes a condemnation on their lack of true faith and true trust in their ‘god’ that they don’t just lie on the floor and pray for food, for shelter, for transportation, for an end to stormy weather, for miraculous cures to disease and on and on, ad infinitum. I would strongly support a change back to the unifying ‘E Pluribus Unum’ and away from the divisive slogan now on our monies. g

    • Bob Seidensticker

      “Ask and ye shall receive” (John 16:24). Sounds pretty clear to me.

    • Ted Seeber

      And in what way isn’t it faith when you trust the laws of aerodynamics to keep a several ton airplane in the air?

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Ted: I think the word you’re looking for is “trust”–that is, belief well supported by evidence.

  • machintelligence

    It sounds a lot like the story of Neils Bohr:

    A visitor to Niels Bohr’s country cottage, noticing a horseshoe hanging on the wall, teasing the eminent scientist about this ancient superstition. ‘Can it be true that you, of all people, believe it will bring you luck?’ ‘Of course not,’ replied Bohr, ‘but I understand it brings you luck whether you believe it or not.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      :)

    • Monimonika

      Forgive me if I’m missing the point, but is this like Lisa Simpson’s tiger-repellant rock?

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Well, obviously! America’s still here, right? And “In God We Trust” is still protecting us on all those coins, right?

        It’s just simple cause and effect. You definitely don’t want to mess with the supernatural dike that’s holding back all that evil.

  • nnmns

    It’s a terrible national claim. First a lot of us don’t think there is a god. Second many who do, as you just illustrated, don’t trust It. And finally it’s divisive. Anything that’s supposed to stand for the nation should be supportable by virtually everyone in the nation and clearly this is not.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      On a related issue, the pledge of allegiance, note the controversial ending: “one nation, under God, indivisible, with libery and justice for all.”

      Right before the word “indivisible” they put the most divisive phrase possible!

  • Ted Seeber

    I think what you are failing to see is that the safety net *IS* God’s Servants acting in Government.

    • Gene

      As anyone who had done reading on the variant usages of the word “faith” will realize, there is a HUGE difference between having faith in a totally arbitrary concept, such as “God”, and having the knowledge that certain scientific maxims will work this time you’re in the airplane as they have worked the last time you were in the airplane. So, while the word “faith” is used in both instances, their meaning is totally different. It is for this reason (the difference in meaning of a commonly used word) that non-believers must usually define all words to be used in a discussion with a believer before that discussion begins, since the believers quite often don’t know any definition of a word except in the context of their “faith.” g

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Gene: Good points. Christians seem to understand the weakness of relying on “faith,” so they claim that “faith” = “trust.” They hope that the rest of us won’t see the sleight of hand where “I have faith [read: trust] that the sun will rise tomorrow” and “I have faith that heaven exists.”

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Ted: What I see with the safety net is ordinary people doing what they think is best for their fellow citizens.

      God’s up in heaven on his Barcalounger watching the game on his Jumbo-tron, apparently too busy to get involved himself.

      Or, here’s an alternative approach that explains the facts quite well: there is no God, and humans have an innate (though flawed) desire to do good.

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