I can think of no phrase more intentionally demeaning to claim of another human than, “You are good for nothing!” Nothing. Nothing? How could anyone look their brother, mother, or daughter in the eye and utter such a degrading statement designed to diminish one’s worth based not on their actions, but solely on their beliefs? Yet, such words are spoken proudly every day by strangers, to strangers, about… strangers.
Many people shook their heads over comments made last week by the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue regarding atheists who, according to him, “stand for nothing, believe in nothing, and many are good for nothing.” While these words may appear to many as inflammatory, bigoted, or out of touch with modern society, I should point out that such a mindset in in fact firmly rooted in the Bible.
Of all the mail we receive by those unhappy with our books of illustrated Bible verses, Psalm 14:1 appears to be the most popular verse included with colorful notes of condemnation, disgust, and threats of violence. How wonderful it must be to be able to have such a conveniently pompous verse at one’s disposal, right out of the Word of God? How high must that horse be? After all, with God on your side, you can say anything…
But today, on the anniversary of Alan Turing’s tragic and untimely departure from a world that was so unwilling to make a place for him, I would caution those who make a habit of throwing Psalm 14:1 as some sort of proof of self-righteous superiority over billions of people with different beliefs… Don’t!
I’ve saved my commentary on this much-quoted Bible passage to accompany this illustration in our next book. For now, I’ll just end with a quote from the late patriot, genius, war hero, inventor, homosexual, and yes… atheist.
“Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” – Alan Turing, June 23, 1912 – June 7, 1954
I’d just ask – is there another single Bible verse more arrogantly oppressive and belittling than that of Psalm 14:1? (In fact, there are many…) As always, don’t blame me – it’s in the Bible! ;-)