Pastor Dave

Why Did God Create Athiests?

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So ..... this has shown up twice in the last couple of days on my facebook feed, from two different people, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

 

There is a famous story told in Chassidic literature that addresses this very question. The Master teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.

One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”

The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs and act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that god commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”

“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”

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So... I like that. Probably mostly because it is personally flattering. I would caution, however, that lack of belief in God does not prevent people from having purely selfish reasons for helping.

Atheists often help out of a belief that by helping you they help themself, by bettering their community and generally making the world a nicer place for them to live in. Atheists also sometimes help you to hurt their enemy, due to a belief you are participating in a zero-sum game. Atheists will also sometimes help you to set you up for a con. 

I have found that these things also apply to believers, of course. People are complicated and weird.

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42 minutes ago, mererdog said:

So... I like that. Probably mostly because it is personally flattering. I would caution, however, that lack of belief in God does not prevent people from having purely selfish reasons for helping.

Atheists often help out of a belief that by helping you they help themself, by bettering their community and generally making the world a nicer place for them to live in. Atheists also sometimes help you to hurt their enemy, due to a belief you are participating in a zero-sum game. Atheists will also sometimes help you to set you up for a con. 

I have found that these things also apply to believers, of course. People are complicated and weird.

All of this recently confirmed in my Philosophy class. 

 

When asked by I would help someone in a hypothetical situation I replied because I would feel good if I help them.

 

WOW!  Did my professor go nuts....sort of accosting me that to come to (that one sentence on the fly answer) - I probably am a believer in Ego Ethics.   This being my very first Philosophy class of my life - I had not clue what she was referencing (I didn't know we had types of ethics)...I sort of thought it was like a standard where everyone either joined in or didn't.  THAT was wrong and apparently in her view I stepped in a cow pie patch remotely listing any thing affiliated with Ego Ethics as it is a "no no" concept in her world. 

 

After coming home to check and see if that was anything I wanted associated with me (I felt by her reaction I must be a borderline Psychopath)   :blink:....it did not seem all that extreme to me.  Some of it fit.   

 

All of which is to say - upon my crossing over inadvertently into WHY people do good - how they come to be moral...I discovered every suggestion  you made had proponents and opponents.  Additionally, I found some stuff on line later that day from Richard Dawkins noting that we are moral for the same reason we biologically develop other tendencies. 

 

All interesting stuff. 

von

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22 hours ago, Pastor Dave said:

So ..... this has shown up twice in the last couple of days on my facebook feed, from two different people, so I thought I'd share it with you all.

 

There is a famous story told in Chassidic literature that addresses this very question. The Master teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.

One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”

The Master responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs and act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that god commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”

“This means,” the Master continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”

 

 

I find myself being irritated by this type of open mindedness.  Along the lines of -- Maybe you're not a totally disgusting abomination."  Gee.  Thanks.

 

:mellow:     :sigh2:

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36 minutes ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

 

I find myself being irritated by this type of open mindedness.  Along the lines of -- Maybe you're not a totally disgusting abomination."  Gee.  Thanks.

 

:mellow:     :sigh2:

 

LOL Jonathan,

I think the reason I posted it is because of the truth of it. Many folks perform acts of kindness out of a sense of religious duty or obligation. That can't be said for athiests, although meredog did make some good points.

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Interestingly enough...I have never been able to come up with an example wherein I failed to receive if I give.   

 

Maybe there is such a thing thing but I have yet to pin it down.     If so, that is consistent with or without church/religious affiliation.     Pastor Dave thanks for turning on the think motor;)

von 

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13 minutes ago, VonNoble said:

Interestingly enough...I have never been able to come up with an example wherein I failed to receive if I give.   

 

Maybe there is such a thing thing but I have yet to pin it down.     If so, that is consistent with or without church/religious affiliation.     Pastor Dave thanks for turning on the think motor;)

von 

 

Von,

Yes, the New Testament does teach "give and you will receive". In the religious circles I am connected to it is known as a "spiritual law". Spiritual laws, in our circles, are said to work for everyone just as natural laws, like gravity, work for everyone.

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1 hour ago, Pastor Dave said:

 

Von,

Yes, the New Testament does teach "give and you will receive". In the religious circles I am connected to it is known as a "spiritual law". Spiritual laws, in our circles, are said to work for everyone just as natural laws, like gravity, work for everyone.

BRAVO!   I appreciate the inclusive approach. ;)     Universality....commonality....good ways to promote conversation, dialogue & understanding.... thx!

 

von

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On 3/11/2018 at 9:42 AM, VonNoble said:

THAT was wrong and apparently in her view I stepped in a cow pie patch remotely listing any thing affiliated with Ego Ethics as it is a "no no" concept in her world.

I told you they were complicated and weird. For future reference, the correct response in that situation is "Clearly our understanding of the subject differs. Perhaps this is because I am not a teacher and you are not a good teacher. Should I look into that?"  

You did say you don't need the grade?

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30 minutes ago, mererdog said:

I told you they were complicated and weird. For future reference, the correct response in that situation is "Clearly our understanding of the subject differs. Perhaps this is because I am not a teacher and you are not a good teacher. Should I look into that?"  

You did say you don't need the grade?

You certainly hit it right!  I got a good laugh at the retort.... :thumbu:

 

And “no” the grade is not an issue.... although I am about a whisker away from apply for regular admission (which will add this class to my GPA).... again not a problem.   Thanks to help from the Forum.... I am doing okay.

 

I did a note to self that wasn’t the best teaching technique I have ever seen.   Too.... I have off days as well.

 

i was happy to see your response.... made mine feel normal enough :D

von

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6 hours ago, Pastor Dave said:

 

LOL Jonathan,

I think the reason I posted it is because of the truth of it. Many folks perform acts of kindness out of a sense of religious duty or obligation. That can't be said for athiests, although meredog did make some good points.

 

An insult disguised as a compliment, is still an insult.  We must consider the cultural/Scriptural back drop for this particular insult.

 

Psalm 14:1 King James Version (KJV)

14 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.

 

 

Psalm 53:1 King James Version (KJV)

53 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

 

Really?  Atheists are not so bad?  They can even be a good example for the pious?  The context itself can be seen in the "clever" question.  

 

"One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”   The intent is clear enough.  Why did God create them?  The clever student might have been asking why God created fleas.  The clever response from the "Master" is not a compliment.  It deepens the insult.  Even these corrupt, abominable people can be a good example.

 

Which part of any of this, is not defamatory?

 

:sigh2:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate that a priest and Levite walked right by a man in need, but a Samaritan was the good neighbor who helped. I guess the moral of the story is that being a religious person doesn't make you good (Luke 10: 25-37). Or as that saying goes; "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." Compassion is not a characteristic exclusive to Christians.. 

Edited by Dan56

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14 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

Which part of any of this, is not defamatory?

The part that Pastor Dave said. His words actually stand as a direct refutation of the simple, literal interpretation of the Bible verse you quoted. That interpretation says that we do no good, but his words say that we do.

If you look at Psalm 53, you get a greater context for 52:1*. In that context, the words seem less like a general statement of fact, and more like a hyperbolic lamentation of a specific situation. No one is good and everyone is vile. If only God would fix it.

According to what I've read, Psalm 53 was originally Psalm 52:2+, and still is in the Jewish texts. My conclusion is that the renumbering was done to intentionally change the apparent meaning of 52:1 by pulling it out of its explanatory context. And it didn't work on everyone.

The obvious analogy here is that you are looking at debate between an Orthodox Jew and a Reform Jew, and judging the Reform Jew by the words of the Orthodox Jew. 

 

 

*Also, it is a song. Songwrites are known to put emotional impact ahead of accuracy. Its kind of their thing.

Edited by mererdog

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1 hour ago, mererdog said:

The part that Pastor Dave said. His words actually stand as a direct refutation of the simple, literal interpretation of the Bible verse you quoted. That interpretation says that we do no good, but his words say that we do.

If you look at Psalm 53, you get a greater context for 52:1*. In that context, the words seem less like a general statement of fact, and more like a hyperbolic lamentation of a specific situation. No one is good and everyone is vile. If only God would fix it.

According to what I've read, Psalm 53 was originally Psalm 52:2+, and still is in the Jewish texts. My conclusion is that the renumbering was done to intentionally change the apparent meaning of 52:1 by pulling it out of its explanatory context. And it didn't work on everyone.

The obvious analogy here is that you are looking at debate between an Orthodox Jew and a Reform Jew, and judging the Reform Jew by the words of the Orthodox Jew. 

 

 

*Also, it is a song. Songwrites are known to put emotional impact ahead of accuracy. Its kind of their thing.

 

 

The point of this story, as recited by Pastor Dave, is that the "Master" is praising Atheists.  No.  He's not.  He is deepening the student's insult by building on it.

 

The person generally referenced as "the Master" is the Bal Shem Tov -- Master of the Good Name.  The founder of the Hassidic movement.  I used to have Hassidic friends.  I know what Hassidim think of Atheists.  It is deeply part of the culture -- and expressed by Psalms which are quoted to prove the point.

  

Yes.  Hassidim also disdain Reform Judaism.

 

 

*Also, it is a song. Songwrites are known to put emotional impact ahead of accuracy. Its kind of their thing".       Yes.  It's a song.  Bigots intent on spreading defamation -- through music -- are seldom concerned with accuracy.  

 

I am not insulting Atheists.  Atheists are not insulting Atheists.  "The Master" and his "clever student" are insulting Atheists.

 

In case it needs to be said -- Pastor Dave is also not insulting Atheists.  It is clear to me, that Pastor Dave thinks that "the Master" was making a compliment.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jonathan H. B. Lobl

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1 hour ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

"The Master" and his "clever student" are insulting Atheists.

That is one interpretation. It is not the only interpretation.

This reminds me of a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric. I am told by a Muslim-hater that the Qur'an says atheists must be killed. He references many Muslims who agree with him. My Muslim friends tell me that is a misinterpretation- that the truth of the words is more complex than a simple literal reading can produce. 

One side sees hate in the words and one side sees love in the words. The same words.

An outsider hears only one side, and judges the words based on that. When he hears the other side, he dismisses it, not realizing that he is now siding with his enemy against his ally- using the orthodox interpretation of the terrorist Muslim to brand the liberal Muslim a heretic.

I get that Hassidic Tradition has its understanding of the words. But traditional understandings are often inaccurate.

People grow and their opinions change. Words heard are only half-remembered. Books are burned. The myth of the dead hero is tailored to suit the desires of the living who claim his legacy. The truth becomes lost in interpretation of bullet points.with buried context.

It doesnt stop us from being certain in our beliefs about history, though. We are, after all, complicated and weird.

Edited by mererdog

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17 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

 

An insult disguised as a compliment, is still an insult.  We must consider the cultural/Scriptural back drop for this particular insult.

 

2 hours ago, Jonathan H. B. Lobl said:

In case it needs to be said -- Pastor Dave is also not insulting Atheists.  It is clear to me, that Pastor Dave thinks that "the Master" was making a compliment.

 

Thanks for the clarification Jonathan. When I read the first one I thought maybe you had changed your mind about me. LOL

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7 hours ago, mererdog said:

That is one interpretation. It is not the only interpretation.

This reminds me of a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric. I am told by a Muslim-hater that the Qur'an says atheists must be killed. He references many Muslims who agree with him. My Muslim friends tell me that is a misinterpretation- that the truth of the words is more complex than a simple literal reading can produce. 

One side sees hate in the words and one side sees love in the words. The same words.

An outsider hears only one side, and judges the words based on that. When he hears the other side, he dismisses it, not realizing that he is now siding with his enemy against his ally- using the orthodox interpretation of the terrorist Muslim to brand the liberal Muslim a heretic.

I get that Hassidic Tradition has its understanding of the words. But traditional understandings are often inaccurate.

People grow and their opinions change. Words heard are only half-remembered. Books are burned. The myth of the dead hero is tailored to suit the desires of the living who claim his legacy. The truth becomes lost in interpretation of bullet points.with buried context.

It doesnt stop us from being certain in our beliefs about history, though. We are, after all, complicated and weird.

 

 

My Hassidic friends taught me a few things quite well.  Better than they knew.  This is not a Humanistic Jewish story.  Not even Reform or Orthodox.  This is Hassidic humor.  I'm going with my own understanding on this one.

 

Your Islamic example is an interesting one.  My mother has three regular Home Health Aides.  Two of them are Muslim.  They are kind, loving women, who would never harm anyone.  For all that, I don't think either one of us should plan a vacation in Saudi Arabia.  It would be suicide.  The Muslims who do think that Atheists should be killed are running the show there.  In fact, Saudi Law conflates Atheism with terrorism.  The penalty for terrorism is death.  Do not expect them to parse out the distinction, between Atheists and agnostics.  If you go there, the government will kill you.  They will do so in the name of Allah and Islam.  

 

:mellow:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, Pastor Dave said:

 

 

Thanks for the clarification Jonathan. When I read the first one I thought maybe you had changed your mind about me. LOL

 

 

Never.  You're a gentleman.  We have friendly conversations.  Not arguments.     :)

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On 3/11/2018 at 11:53 AM, mererdog said:

I have found that these things also apply to believers, of course. People are complicated and weird.

 

I started reading your comment and thought to myself, I know Christians like that as well.  I'm glad you added that to your statement.  Yes people are complicated and weird. Well said my friend.

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Greetings to you all my brothers and sisters,

 

First, thanks Dave for sharing that story.  

 

I think that the main point we should take from this whole discussion is that people have all sorts of motivations for doing good as well as evil.  Some have ulterior motives (such as getting in brownie points with our Creator or making ourselves feel good).  Others do these things out of pure instinct.  As our brother mererdog would say, people are complicated and weird.

 

In solidarity,

Rev. Calli

 

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