Every once in a while a post or a tweet grabs my attention and I simply cannot contain my response to 140 characters. This was one of them: “3 Strange But True Reasons Why God Doesn’t Feed All the Starving Children in the World” from the apologetics website “Not Ashamed of the Gospel”. This should be good, I thought. “Strange”, so they probably won’t be reasons I’ve heard before, and “true” so there must be some pretty good evidence to back these reasons up! Sigh. Wrong on both counts. And thus we have my second response post.
So, what are the strange but true reasons God doesn’t feed all the starving children?
Reason #1 : It’s Not God’s Responsibility to Feed the Starving Children of the World
Of all the times that I have read the Bible from cover to cover, I can’t think of a single Bible verse in which God makes a promise to feed all the starving children in the world.
So when somebody accuses God of being unjust because He has the capability to feed starving children, and He doesn’t, then it’s that person that has a misunderstanding of God.
All right, let me stop you right there, because I can think of two Bible verses off the top of my head that contradict this line of thinking. The first being…
Pretty. It continues:
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:26-33
This sounds suspiciously like, “God will feed all the starving children”, doesn’t it? Especially if they earnestly pray and seek God. I hardly doubt the author can say that those children must not have prayed hard enough or believed firmly enough.
This brings me to the second verse which contradicts Reason #1. Jesus himself promises to grant whatever prayers we ask for:
10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” – Luke 11:10-13
That sounds pretty conclusive to me. Of course it doesn’t use the exact words, “God promises to feed all the starving children in the world”, but it’s extremely close. How about one more, for good measure? Okay 🙂
21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” – Matthew 21:21-22
How many Christians pray every day for the poor? Yet nothing happens.
I can’t move on to the second reason without addressing this:
If God Isn’t Responsible For Feeding Starving Children, Then Who Is?
The answer is you and me. I can think of numerous Bible verses in which God instructs His children to feed the poor people of the world.
Of course he goes on to list said Bible verses. Here’s the thing — God is all-powerful. We are not. God has unlimited resources. We do not. Why in the world would he entrust the well-being of his children to his other children who can barely take care of themselves?! That would be like an absentee parent expecting the oldest child to take care of all the younger ones — I mean, they’ll do it cause they have to, cause they love their siblings and want the best for them, but it’s gonna be hellish, to say the least. Instead of ALL of the children being taken care of equally well by a responsible parent, each child will suffer to varying degrees.
This “reason” – that we are responsible, not God – is not answering the “why” here.
Q: “Why doesn’t God feed all the starving children in the world?”
A: “Because it’s our responsibility!”
But why is it our responsibility? It’s not answering the question. It’s shifting the blame and not giving a reason. It’s saying, because I said so. In this case, because the Bible says so. You will not get very far using the Bible to prove the Bible with an atheist.
Reason #2: God Isn’t Like Humans
Atheists make a mistake when they say things like, “If I saw a starving child and had the power to feed him and I don’t, then I am evil. That’s the same thing with God, He is evil because He has the power to feed starving children and He doesn’t.”
First of all, an atheist would never capitalize “He” for God. Blech. 😉 Secondly, I pretty much already addressed this when the author asserted it was somehow our responsibility, but I’ll repeat: the God you assert exists has the motive (all-loving), means (all-powerful), and opportunity (all-knowing/all-present) to feed all the starving children of the world. We do not. It’s not that atheists think God is evil. It’s just that this issue makes more sense if he didn’t exist, because the properties you assign to God do not jive with life as we know it.
God’s goals are different than our goals. His purposes are different than our purposes. His way of justice is different than the human way of justice.
Ahh, the “mysterious ways”. *Insert Twilight Zone theme music here*
Once again, this is not answering the question. This is wishful thinking. Cognitive dissonance. Mental gymnastics. The world doesn’t jive with the properties you assign to God, so there must be an explanation! Yet once again, you fail to give one.
Reason #3: God’s Justice is Coming Soon For All
While God does see hate crimes, rapes, and murders as sins, He also sees lying, cheating, and hating people as sins too.
So since God is a just God, then He’s going to have to give justice to all if He were to judge the world today.
That means that there would be a lot of people who would receive punishment for eternity for breaking God’s standards.
So instead, God is saving His judgment for Judgment Day. That’s when everyone is going to get judged for what they did on earth.
Okay, I think we went a biiiiit off topic with this last reason. We were talking about feeding starving children, remember? But I’ll bite – This is a cop-out.
There are plenty of instances where God delivers “justice” immediately in the Bible. Just off the top of my head, God smites: Noah’s contemporaries, Oman for spilling his seed, 42 children mauled by bears for making fun of a prophet, Sodom and Gomorrah. I could go on, but you get the idea. There are also plenty of examples in the Bible where God helps people immediately – all of Jesus’ miracles (including feeding and healing people), parting the Red Sea, manna from heaven, etc. Come on, don’t play coy – we all know that God intervenes heavily in people’s lives in the Bible.
So this “you have to wait til after death” thing is crap. Jesus didn’t say, “Ask and ye shall receive in heaven”.
Here’s the thing though, maybe we wouldn’t expect God to feed all the starving children if believers weren’t constantly thanking him for mundane shit like finding their keys, getting a promotion, or putting food on their table. Isn’t it weird how God always seems to “bless” people in first world countries more? Why can he feed us but not the people who need it most?
All of these (now debunked) reasons apply not only to starving children, but the problem of evil / suffering as a whole. You can try to apply these to someone being raped, or murdered, or tortured, or all three. Why doesn’t God help them? Any of us would immediately rush to someone else’s aid if we had the means and opportunity.
This blog post (3 Strange But True Reasons…), while it does include questioning Christians in its target audience, seems to assume these explanations have never occured to atheists before. On the contrary. Especially for ex-believers like myself who had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into non-belief by our own brains, we have wrestled with these questions and even accepted these answers at some point.
Where we start to slide into non-belief is when these reasons no longer satisfy us. They no longer satisfy the cognitive dissonance ringing in our brains saying, This doesn’t make sense!
We come to realize it makes far more sense not to twist ourselves into a pretzel for these half-assed rationalizations, and that the far simpler answer is… it’s just us out here. We do have to take care of each other because we are the only ones who can.
Update: The author of the original post responded to my critiques. Check out my response to a response to a response… Oh my!
To make a real difference in others’ lives, click here and donate, in honor of the one-year anniversary of Robin Williams’ passing, to one of his favorite charities.
For my first response post, check out It’s Not “The Message” We Object To, Trust Me… – A Response to Ken Ham.