While the religious turn to prayer and God for strength during a crisis, where do atheists turn?
Blair Scott, an American Atheist board member, reaches out to others or relies upon himself, he recently blogged, criticizing the role of what he deemed to be an invisible God or gods.
“During times of crisis I do not plead, ‘God please help me!’ or ‘God give me the strength!’ I simply tell myself that I can do it or that I can make it through it.”
“Often I reflect on the fact that I’ve been in worse situations and fared just fine,” Scott shared. “I can also turn to my family and friends for help and advice. And in extreme cases I rely on the assistance of trained professionals, such as firemen, police officers, medical doctors, etc.”
Evangelist Ray Comfort, author of several books including My Friends are Dying and creator of Living Waters Publications, does not blame atheists for being skeptical when it comes to people finding strength in God during times of crisis, especially upon hearing stories of divine intervention juxtaposed with instances of major catastrophes and tragic deaths.
Like Scott questioned in his post, where was God during times of death, cancer, and other major crisis events? Was God picking and choosing when to help and when not to help? Were some people not praying hard enough?
“The root of the problem is that America portrays God as a Divine Butler,” Comfort told The Christian Post. “He supposedly comes running when we snap our fingers because we want a problem fixed.”
Atheist Scott chooses to gather his own inner strength during challenging situations. The long-time atheist described using logic, not emotion, to analyze every situation and figure out the best way to solve a problem and take control of it.
Though he admitted that at times, emotions did weigh out – “since our biology evolved to do such” – reacting logically was key, independent of prayer to a supernatural being or assistance from “invisible friends.”
“Prayer and gods do not cure our diseases or solve problems during times of crisis,” Scott argued. “Where prayer and faith help is calming the fears people have because prayer acts as a form of meditation and can have a therapeutic influence (even a placebo effect). Prayer and faith may give people the courage and emotional strength to continue, but they do not solve the problems that people face.”
Telling readers to give themselves credit where credit was due, the atheist noted that it was humans who solved problems, not a higher power.
“Why do theists give their gods credit for their own actions?” he questioned. For example, one woman in Tennessee approached Scott during a protest and told her that God had cured her cancer.
“I told her it was amazing that her cancer went away with prayer only and without any medical doctors, drugs, chemotherapy, etc. Of course then she admitted that she went through all that. But her god got the credit: not the medical science.”
Providing an alternative example, Scott wrote, “When someone chucks a grenade into your foxhole you do not pray that god gets rid of it: you grab it and chuck it back out. You may pray latter if you are a theist – but when your life was in danger you relied on your training and your instincts – you saved yourself.”
Though the religious would oftentimes attribute their turnaround to God, it was ultimately their own actions or the actions of others which brought them strength and power, he asserted.
Criticizing also those who actively prayed but were in “stagnant mode” during a crisis, Scott compared the religious with atheists, who instead of turning to an “invisible friend,” acted immediately and logically, turning directly to themselves or those helping them.
He advised his “theist friends, the next time a fireman pulls you out of a burning build, thank him – not your god. The next time a doctor cures your ailment, thank her – not your god. Give credit where credit is due.”
Comfort noted that while atheists and anyone else, for that matter, may find comfort in things that surround them or assistance from professionals, they ultimately “cannot find deliverance from the power of the grave outside of Jesus Christ.”
“Only [Jesus] has destroyed death and gives immortality to all who trust in Him,” Comfort emphasized. “That’s why I’m a Christian.”
Rejecting the “divine butler” perception that many hold, Comfort stressed that the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures is not the God that comes “running when I have trials.”
“He often leaves me in them,” the evangelist clarified. “Christians go through the same storms as the world. We get wet when it rains and we bruise when we fall. We get cancer and die, just like everyone else. The first eleven disciples were murdered. They didn’t get a deliverance miracle.”
“So why be a Christian? What’s the point?” The Way of the Master ministry leader posed. “Because His promise is for immortality. Death has been destroyed for all who repent and trust in Jesus.”