25 Reasons We Don’t Live in a World with a God (Part 7)

Do we live in a world with a god? It doesn’t look like it (part 1 of this series here).

Let’s continue our survey with the next clue that we live in a godless world:

14. Because not even Christians take their religion seriously

Christianity makes bold claims: that prayers are answered. That God protects his own. That Jesus heals disease. It’s one thing to blithely support these claims, as some Christians feel obliged to do, but it gets messy when those claims crash into real-world facts.

Take, for example, the claim that Jesus miraculously heals disease. A New Zealand church put up a billboard in 2012 that said, “Jesus Heals Cancer,” but if you’re advertising an important claim, belief is not enough. You need the evidence to back it up, and the government authority in charge of advertising unsurprisingly concluded that the evidence wasn’t there. One observer objected, “As the mother of a three-year-old boy who has spent the past 18 months fighting against leukemia, I find the above billboard offensive and upsetting.”

Most Christians expect a cultivated person to have the decorum to avoid actually testing Christianity’s claims (even if they’re begging to be tested). The problem arises when someone doesn’t have the good taste to resist that temptation.

In another example, a Pennsylvania couple let their two-year-old child die of bacterial pneumonia in 2009 when they chose prayer instead of medicine. Knowing first hand that prayer doesn’t heal, they did it again with another child in 2013.

Contrasting a similar series of preventable childhood deaths in Oregon with the national motto “In God We Trust,” an American Humanist article made an incisive observation. In response to Oregon’s removing laws protecting parents who reject medical care for their children in favor of prayer, it said,

[These changes to the law are] 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.”

Think about a church steeple with a lightning rod. The steeple proclaims that God exists, and the lightning rod says that it can reduce lightning damage. Which claim has the evidence?

In its early days, some saw the lightning rod as interfering in God’s divine plan. If God wanted lightning to burn down a building, who was Man to interfere? When an earthquake hit New England in 1755, one pastor concluded that it was God’s punishment: “In Boston are more [lightning rods] erected than anywhere else in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.”

Possibly even more ironic than a church with a lightning rod is a Popemobile with bulletproof glass (necessary after the 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II). Christians’ actions speak louder than words, and they make it clear that in any situation where you expect God to step in, you will be disappointed.

Do Christians really believe in heaven? Ian McEwan neatly contrasted seeing a loved one off at a funeral versus seeing them off on a cruise ship. When you wave to friends on a cruise ship, you know that you’ll see them again. No one thinks that they’re going away and never coming back, though at a funeral, people might be sobbing uncontrollably. The priest can offer comfort with “You’ll soon see them in heaven,” but few really believe it.

In perhaps the most extreme collision of Christian faith with reality, one man filed suit against Satan in U.S. district court in United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff (1971). The plaintiff charged: “Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff’s downfall.”

Christians must laugh at this like the rest of us do, but why would they if indeed the Dark Lord causes people real injury in the real world? This is like the movie Oh, God, where God-believing people couldn’t believe that God (played by George Burns) would actually show himself. People are so comfortable with zero evidence for the most important person in the universe that they balk at the idea of real, convincing evidence.

Robert Price* used Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life to illustrate taking the Bible literally vs. taking the Bible seriously. Warren said that the Noah story is literally true. But what about the self-contradicting inconsistencies in the story? What about its unscientific claims? What about the cruelty? These don’t trouble Warren, who cheerfully imagines God saying about Noah, “This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile. I’ll start over with his family.”** And by “start over,” he means murdering millions of people by drowning.

Warren takes the story literally, which means that he’ll assure you that it happened. But he avoids taking it seriously so that he needn’t lose sleep over the illogic and the violence.

You can just believe that Tinker Bell will get well, but there are standards in the real world. A real god who wanted to interact with us would provide real evidence. Christians’ weak support for God in the real world make clear that they know that we don’t have it.

To be continued.

* Robert M. Price, The Reason-Driven Life, pp 105–6.

** Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 71.

I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father,
expects or requires no worship or praise from us,
but that He is even infinitely above it.
— Benjamin Franklin


Image via Courtney Carmody, CC license


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  • Halbe

    The funeral examples are really good. One would expect deep sorrow and mourning at the funeral of atheist uncle Bob, and a cheerful party at devout Christian aunt Betty’s funeral. Or even a cheerful party at both: uncle Bob is finally getting the ultimate justice he deserves and so is aunt Betty.

    • Doubting Thomas

      Little are you aware that Uncle Bob made a death bed confession and is now in heaven while Aunt Betty, one wild college night, took it up the butt. Mourn accordingly.

      • Halbe

        Uncle Bob now has eternal fun in heaven playing poker with Jeffrey Dahmer, while Aunt Betty has to settle for eternal philosophical discussions with Anne Frank while being roasted over the fires of hell. Not sure how to mourn…

    • RichardSRussell

      FWIW, in New Orleans they really do whoop it up after a funeral. I appreciate the consistency, even if I think they’re nuts.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    I’ll bet NOT ONE SINGLE church in the whole world has ever paid for insurance… cause that would like be betting against god.

  • Jim Jones

    A Texas Bar Sues Local Church Over Lightning Strike!


    (Snopes say not true).

    • I think I heard a similar story with the bar replaced by a cathouse.

  • skl

    “Do Christians really believe in heaven? Ian McEwan neatly contrasted seeing a loved one
    off at a funeral versus seeing them off on a cruise ship. When you wave to
    friends on a cruise ship, you know that you’ll see them again. No one thinks
    that they’re going away and never coming back, though at a funeral, people
    might be sobbing uncontrollably.
    The priest can offer comfort with “You’ll soon
    see them in heaven,” but few really believe it.”

    Maybe even Jesus didn’t believe in heaven.
    Because the bible says “Jesus wept” when he was told of a friend’s death.

    Trivia: Someone told me it’s the shortest verse in the bible.

    • Halbe

      Of course Jesus wept. “No one comes to the Father but by me.” So, Jesus knew his friend would go straight to hell.

      • skl

        Maybe he cried because his friend wasn’t going off on a cruise ship.

        • Greg G.

          Jesus brought the guy back, though.

          John 11:35 is the shortest verse in English (maybe it should be qualified as “most English versions”) but 1 Thessalonians 5:16 is shorter in Greek.

      • TheMountainHumanist

        Yeah but Matthew says the people in graves came out like zombies when Jesus was killed.

        • Bob Jase

          And apparently they’re still around somewhere because there is no account of them returning to their graves.

        • al kimeea

          Windsor Castle?

    • JP415

      Maybe Jesus was chopping onions at the time. There are many possible explanations.

  • Castilliano

    To be fair, I have met Christian’s that let the horror of Noah’s story stun them, even lead to worry or a sense of their moral dissonance. The flood isn’t a bad talking point with them, especially if they see themselves as reasonable people because there’s no reasonable counterargument.

    It’s the rationalizations of the others that disturb me: “God has the right to kill us (and on a genocidal scale!),” is one of the most inhumane thoughts ever, while “They (babies, puppies, & all) deserved omnicide” is a runner-up, vying alongside Nazi propaganda. I have to imagine that one’s moral integrity could not survive such mental contortions. Humans are reduced to ants by such awesomeness…right? *blech*
    “Yahweh is good” as a presupposition leads to such a horrible, circular, agenda-driven, humanity-demeaning definition of good that it undermines empathy, reason, and all that really is good in our world.
    (I guess I had to vent a bit there…)

    • Halbe

      Reasonable people immediately recognize The Flood for what it is: a myth. If you think it really happened you’re by definition completely delusional. However, even as a myth it is terrible. WTF is the moral of the Flood story?

      • JP415

        Noah’s Flood is probably the craziest story in the Bible. The logistics of getting all the animals into the boat, feeding them, disposing of waste, and so on would be impossible without constant divine intervention. And then there’s the problem of getting all the animals to and from the Ark—Kangaroos and Penguins and what not. When I hear fundamentalists try to explain away all the difficulties (“The animals went into hibernation so they wouldn’t need to eat.”), I just laugh.

        • Way easier to just describe the before and after and then have a poof of magic in between. God can do that, right? I wonder why he never does.

        • Kodie

          No! This is the idea that made sense to people at the time. Pairs of animals they could think of boarded the boat, and that’s that. The cartoon children”s book versions with giraffes and lions and elephants weren’t even mentioned. But…. obviously, or else why would there be odd animals pictured in those books instead of horses and cows and ducks and dogs and cats. There is a huge problem getting all the animals on the ark and feeding them and scooping them and oh god the smell. You know those luxury cruises where they have no plumbing all of a sudden and people have to poop in the hall? And that’s like, 5 days:


          The only reason to try to make the Noah story plausible is insanity. If you need this childish fairy tale to be true, you are insane.

        • Chuck Johnson

          The fundamentalists minds go into hibernation so they don’t need to think.

      • ephemerol

        There are probably many reasons why it was included in the Jewish texts: perhaps it was too well-known to be left out, it explains why there are three races and rainbows, etc. The moral of the flood story is that the worshipers of the right god survive, and everyone else is SOL, so make sure you’re worshiping, and make sure it’s the right god. This must have been a common interpretation for Jews in antiquity given how often the Hebrew texts explain disasters as divine punishment for theological infidelity.

        In the Christian texts it takes on a distinct air of fearmongering.

        Matthew 24:
        36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

        • Halbe

          You have a point, but still The Rapture / Second Coming is not a completely indiscriminate killing of all life on the planet to “reset” creation, like The Flood. Probably the takeaway from the Flood story is (as you say): “Our God is very powerful and He is not afraid to use His power in brutal ways if you disobey His rules.”

        • JP415

          Well, I don’t know about weeping, but the whole “gnashing of teeth” issue can be solved quite easily.


        • TheMountainHumanist

          I always found that weird…I have never seen a person literally gnash their teeth…not even sure what that would look like?

        • Greg G.

          They give lessons when you arrive. If you have no teeth, teeth will be provided.

          My mother told me I had a birth defect. I was born with no teeth.

        • JP415

          An evangelical website has this to say:

          When a person hits his thumb with a hammer, he will commonly squeeze his eyes closed and grind his teeth together hard. The weeping and gnashing of teeth in Scripture, however, is much more dreadful, partly because it lasts for eternity.


          So, after an eternity of teeth-gnashing (tooth-gnashing?), your teeth would be worn down to nothing by erosion—unless there are dentists in Hell. Or maybe the damned just subsist on protein shakes or something.

        • Kodie

          Of course there are dentists in hell. I don’t think they’re there to fix your teeth though.

        • TheMountainHumanist

          Interesting that we only read that from a sect dedicated to proving the bible is infallible 😉

          “When a person hits his thumb with a hammer, he will commonly squeeze his eyes closed and grind his teeth together hard.”

          Literally has never happened.

      • I wonder if a moral isn’t the point. Rather, it’s a just-so story. “Hey, y’know how some other tribes look a little different and talk funny? I wonder why that is.” The Noah story explains that.

        • Halbe

          Not sure. The Tower of Babel story explains that as well, without the genocide. The indiscriminate drowning of all life on earth except a chosen few should convey some moral I think. I will try to look up what out friend Luke Breuer had to say about it some time ago. I vaguely remember something about Stalin and Hitler being the consequence of us not taking the moral of the Noah’s Flood seriously.

        • Kevin K

          Oh dear. I’m afraid if you’re looking for a coherent and logical explanation of some point of (any) theology, Luke is not the place to go.

        • Halbe

          Of course, but just in this case he buried an interesting viewpoint somewhere deep in his walls of text.

        • Keep in mind that, even if Babel was such a story, that doesn’t mean that the editor(s) were at liberty to drop a competing story. Heck, they had two separate Noah stories, and they kept both of those! (And 2 creation stories, and 2 Ten Commandments stories, and even 2 Goliath stories.)

      • Bob Jase

        LEARN TO SWIM!

      • Chuck Johnson

        “WTF is the moral of the Flood story?”
        The moral is that everyone needs to be very devout and obedient to the local religion or they will be in big, big trouble.
        How can you have missed this moral ?

      • Kevin K


        Seriously. That’s it. The entire thing is about rainbows.

        • Bob Jase

          I thought Lucky Charms & leprechauns were about rainbows.

        • Kevin K

          Well, it is. But they stole it from Yahweh.

        • Well … it’s actually about bows. You know, the kind that shoots arrows to kill people?

          God hung up his bow (it’s gay-hued, but that’s probably a tangent) in the sky so that everyone could see it to verify that no, he wasn’t going to shoot you with a flood again.

        • Kevin K

          He used the bow to break open the dome of the sky so the waters would rush in. Kinda like punching a hole in one of those above-ground swimming pools that were popular in the 1970s.

        • Bob Jase

          Dumbass god didn’t know how to create windows.

        • RichardSRussell

          “Every Time You See a Rainbow God Is Having Gay Sex” —bumper sticker

    • Yes, I’m amazed at God’s apologists who excitedly tell us that we’re not worthy of life and that God can squash us in any way he wants simply because he made us.

      And Christians wonder how atheists find negative traits within Christianity…

      • Bob Jase

        Dog gives us free will but we can’t choose to use it or he’ll torture us forever because its all part of his unchangable plan.

        • OK, now my brain hurts.

        • Kodie

          No, Bob, that’s your soul.

        • RichardSRussell

          I’m re-reading Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here (last encountered in high school back in 19-mumblety-2) because of its relevance to current events (or, as Stormy Daniels would phrase it, “current affairs”), and early on there’s a reference to the protagonist’s home town, the fictional Fort Beulah, Vermont, as comprising about 10,000 souls in 20,000 bodies. I had undoubtedly passed right over that bit of snark the 1st time thru, but it sure resonated with me this time.

      • RichardSRussell

        God can squash us in any way he wants simply because he made us.

        Every mom I know feels the exact same way about her babies.

        • Nothing says love like, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!!”

        • TheMountainHumanist

          Sadly a Cosby quote 🙂

      • epicurus

        God gave a pretty disappointing answer to Job after God allowed the devil to kill Job’s family and torture Job just as a fun bet. Basically that we are worms and have no right to question anything. Beats me what lesson there is in the story- that God’s a heartless trickster that can’t be trusted? – maybe even the holocaust might have been another bet along the same lines.

        • Bob Jase

          Only psychopaths are truly created in god’s image.

        • JP415
        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yeah, he acted like a prick who knew he was wrong but was too defensive to admit it. It’s unfortunately an easy behavior for me to recognize.

        • TheMountainHumanist

          The answer to Job was very much South park: “Whatevah — I do wha’ I wan’!”

        • al kimeea

          The same weekend an entire state was praying for 14 trapped miners, someone in a trailer park “knew Jesus was listening” when their numbers won the Powerball lottery…

          bonus woo – a famous psychic was live on-air and declared the miners were alive before the tragic result

    • Lark62

      I have a friend whose daughter just gave birth to her first grandchild. The daughter named him Noah, in part because she really loves animals. My brain did three backflips.

      Out loud I said “Congratulations.” There’s a time for everything.

      But I’m still shaking my head at the utter cluelessness.

    • TheMountainHumanist

      “The Bible says killing is bad…except in the places where it says killing is good.”

  • Michael Neville

    one man filed suit against Satan in U.S. district court in United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff (1971).

    The case was dismissed because the plaintiff had not included written instructions for how the U.S. Marshal could serve process on Satan.

    • Dang! It’s always the fine print that gets you, right?

      If they’d gotten that right, Satan would be serving 10 to 15 in San Quentin (though I imagine he’d be pissed once he got out).

    • JP415

      “Satan and His Staff!” Are the staff regular employees or independent contractors? In any case, I admire the guy’s attention to detail.

      • Just because you got poked with a pitchfork doesn’t mean that Old Scratch himself was on the other end of it. He’s like Santa–he’s got lots of little helpers.

        • JP415


      • Otto

        Sounds like a bad porn movie

  • RichardSRussell

    Hypocrisy is the saving grace of religion.

  • Michael Neville

    Not only don’t Christians believe their dogmas, they can’t even agree on what they don’t believe in. I can’t think of a single dogma which all Christians accept. Christians can’t even agree on how they’re redeemed. The Calvinists claim there’s a divine lottery where it doesn’t matter what sort of life you live or how firmly you proclaim your faith, if you lose the lottery then you lose forever. Other Christian sects hold that if you merely profess faith in Jesus then you’re getting harp lessons in the afterlife.

    • Bob Jase

      Every believer knows that only their version of Christianity, no matter how many times they’ve changed it, is the only true one.

    • Halbe

      The RCC now more or less states that anyone can enter heaven by living a good life, even atheists. However, “a good life” is dogmatically impossible for lgbt+ people and for “fallen women” (sluts) that have ever even considered to have sex without the express purpose of getting pregnant within wedlock. And of course no heaven for anyone that has come within 60km of a “fallen woman” (slut) that has even contemplated abortion. Oh, I almost forgot: men that ever touched their willy when not peeing are not welcome either. So, in short: RCC heaven is empty.

    • Max Doubt

      “Other Christian sects hold that if you merely profess faith in Jesus then you’re getting harp lessons in the afterlife.”

      If the Harp Twins are teaching, I’ll be professin’ faith like nobody’s business!.


  • quinsha

    We had a wake when my father died. A mix of atheists, fundamentalists, and Catholics.

  • Kevin K

    Of course, the fine folks from ISIS would agree with you. That’s why everyone is obliged to convert to Islam (mass-fuck-murder branch).

  • I’ve got to agree with Franklin. What would need with prayer or worship?

    • TheMountainHumanist

      by definition..an all powerful god should have neither desires nor needs. If an entity does…it is not god.

      • I’d agree. What could it want? It’s perfect to begin with.

        • TheMountainHumanist

          Which I guess would mean that..given the universe exists…no god is possible.

        • At least “God”, with the usual features. They aren’t interested in any lesser.

        • Bob Jase

          Well Yahweh is perfect and Jesus is perfect and the Holy Spook is perfect – all that perfect has to be annoying to one another.

        • God has multiple personalities. That explains a lot.

  • eric

    Warren takes the story literally, which means that he’ll assure you that it happened. But he avoids taking it seriously so that he needn’t lose sleep over the illogic and the violence.

    Your logic is flawed because you’re assuming Christians aren’t so bloodthirsty as to believe the story and yet sleep soundly/happily while contemplating the murder of billions of sinners. But historically there’s pretty good evidence that official church policy was bloodthirsty, and that historical peoples didn’t see this as a problem. Instead of murder and hellish torture bothering them, they reveled in the thought of watching it being done to people they didn’t like. Prior to the 20th century, watching the torture of sinners in hell was considered a benefit of being in heaven. This horrific bloodthirstiness is now downplayed in public, but I expect it’s still there in a lot of Christians’ minds.

    Some relevant quotes:

    Aquinas: “In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.”

    Augustine: “They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints’. . .
    knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost.”

    1960s Catholic Truth Society pamphlet: “What will it be like for a mother in heaven who sees her son burning in hell? She will glorify the justice of God.”

    Peter Lombard, 12th cent. Bishop of Paris: ““Therefore the elect shall go forth…to see the torments of the impious, seeing which they will not be grieved, but will be satiated with joy at the sight of the unutterable calamity of the impious .”

    Lastly, a quote about Martin Luther: ” When questioned whether the Blessed will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest tortured answers, “Not in the least.””


    So, there’s the riddle to how they can take it seriously yet sleep soundly. Many Christians take the torture and murder by God seriously…and look forward to the day when they can have a front row seat at it.

    • Ficino

      That’s how they roll. People of good heart have to join to stop them.

    • Otto

      God is Love

      • TheMountainHumanist

        God is a neurochemical reaction?

        • Otto

          Why yes, and all those holy men reveling in the eternal agony of others proves it.

    • TheMountainHumanist

      Does that ticket include popcorn?

  • Chuck Johnson

    Many Christians do take their religion seriously (emotionally), but don’t take it seriously (intellectually).
    It’s that compartmentalized mind thing again.

  • TheMountainHumanist

    “Because not even Christians take their religion seriously”

    I have often heard people say they want to follow the commands of Jesus.

    My response: So you plan to give away all you own except staff and/or sandals and wander the land as a hobo?

    Then I watch them drive away in their HummVee

    • Greg G.

      I have often heard people say they want to follow the commands of Jesus.

      You don’t see many one-eyed, one-handed Christians, either.

      • TheMountainHumanist

        i have seen a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater


        • Greg G.

          Do you remember the scene in Star Wars where Luke and Leia are about to swing over the shaft and Luke shoots a stormtrooper who falls and screams? The scream was recorded by Sheb Wooley about forty years earlier.


          I think BobS mentioned this in a comment.

        • TheMountainHumanist

          Yeah the famed Wilhelm Scream….I think it has been in every Star Wars movie and most Indian Jones ones.

      • Bob Jase

        Hmmm…apparently only pirates follow the commands of Jesus.

    • sandy

      And of course you must hate your mother, father, brothers and sisters if you wish to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus, what a nice guy.

      • TheMountainHumanist

        “well now when the Bible says words…..they do not mean what the words say if the words are inconvenient”

      • Bob Jase

        Jesus hated his father – self-loathing deity that he was.