09 May 2010

“And if there were a God, he certainly wouldn’t care about me!”

Religious 32 Comments

I have heard a variant on the above from several different atheists / agnostics. The comment has always been stated matter-of-factly, as if it were self-evident that any “rational” person would agree that an omniscient, omnipotent being would have much better things to do than to concern itself with the piddly goings-on at the tiny blue oblong spheroid revolving around a run-of-the-mill star in the Milky Way.

But that’s insane! You’re telling me if the Hubble found (a) a new quasar and (b) evidence of skyscrapers on Mars, that it would merely reflect our narcissism (“Ooooh, sentient beings just like us!!”) to focus on the apparent discovery of intelligent life?

There are two competing themes at work when it comes to evaluating the human race, and both the scientific atheist and the Christian incorporate both themes. I’m of course generalizing but here goes:

(A) The scientific atheist thinks there is ultimately no “reason” for us to be here, and no meaning to life. Officially, he endorses some variant of secular humanism and possibly even existentialism, because he senses that the pure Darwinian story leads to hopelessness and despair. But in moments of candor, he does admit that humans are worthless and disgusting.

(B) The Christian believes we are God’s children and that He considers us lovable, in fact infinitely so. We are the most special of His creations, the crowning jewel of the universe. The mysteries of Mother Nature are intriguing, and the properties of higher mathematics are amazing, but the relations of humans–especially their capacity for love–are far more profound and important. It is true, left to our own devices we are utterly depraved, but God rescued us from ourselves and showed us the path to come closer to what we are capable of.

As I say, the above worldviews are actually pretty similar, insofar as they view human beings. The one major difference is that the atheist doesn’t believe the entire universe, including humans, was created by an intelligent, loving consciousness, whereas the Christian does.

That’s kind of a big deal.

And when it comes to your evaluation of your own worth, if you think a God wouldn’t care about someone like you, then I have to inform you that you are simply mistaken. Knowing literally everything about you, God in fact loves you more than you can possibly comprehend. If you think that’s wrong, then you should reevaluate your reasoning, because He has told us that this is the case.

32 Responses to ““And if there were a God, he certainly wouldn’t care about me!””

  1. SirThinkALot says:

    Usually the statement is given as comparing us to ants in comparson to God, that is to say humans dont usually take the time to concern themselves with the affairs of ants, so why would God concern himself with our own affairs.

    I think the analogy isnt a good one though, its true most people, dont concern themselves with the affairs of ants, but only because we dont have the time and/or energy to do so. Since God isnt limited by time or energy, theres no reason God cant take notice of ‘ants’ like us.

    And that of course is assuming that size is all that matters. The defining characteristic of humans after all, isnt their size or streangth or speed, but their ability and capicity to reason. Who’s to say God doesnt have plans for us that involve an inter-galactic human civlization(like the Federation or Imperium).

  2. TGGP says:

    I came to something like that conclusion, but I remained a devout Christian:
    That’s a long rambling post, so 5th paragraph down.

  3. fundamentalist says:

    I can understand atheists thinking “if there were a God, he certainly wouldn’t care about me!” The only god they can imagine is powerless and totally univolved with the universe. Of course, one of the big problems with atheists is they lack imagination. You have to have the God of the Bible to have a God who cares about people. Even the Muslim God has little interest in people, and I’m not insulting Islam by saying that. That is orthodox Islam. Islam has no concept of God loving people. We are his slaves and nothing else. In Hinduism/Buddhism, we are figments of Vishna’s imagination, so there is no reason for him to be concerned about us.

    • atheist says:

      I think you’re dead on. I lack imagination, thus I cannot ‘see’ things that aren’t there, like God’s involvement in the universe.

      One of my biggest problems with religion is this:
      Assuming that there is a god, what reason do you have to prefer God to Allah and others? Cultural reasons are not good enough for me. Neither are things that some people came up with to describe their gods.

      I believe that there is no ultimate meaning of life. I have my own, personal one. My friends have different ones. Do you claim yours is better, just because it’s associated with religion, called ‘ultimate’, and shared by zillions of people? Not good enough for me.

      Finally, I was brought up to believe, but I ‘lost’ my faith. I accepted that some people believe and some don’t, and I don’t intend to change it. That’s why I don’t read religious/atheist blogs. So, please, stop the indoctrination.

  4. K Sralla says:

    Are you a universalist? If God loves everyone beyond measure, then Christ surely atoned for everyone’s sins, and he sends them all to heaven when they die. Why would he require faith in Jesus if he loves everyone? However, according to the full council of the scriptures, God does not love everyone. Although a shockingly harsh sounding thought, it is the clear declaration of the Bible.

    When John 3:16 says “God so loved the world”, in what sense do you think he loves the world? Does the world include the evil thugs who have butchered millions throughout history? The adulterous minions, or the maniac who savagely beats his wife?? Does the world in John 3:16 include those whom God foresaw from eternity past would murder his Son and never repent of their evil? No! That is a dreadful thought. God loves His own people who are called by HIS name. He does not love the tares who are sown into the wheat field by the enemy. His righteous indignation burns in Holy repulsion over unrepentant sinners who do not turn to Christ, or those who superficially nibble on his goodness, only to fall away and become apostate.

    Now, who are those who are identified as His own people? His people are composed of the whoseovers that will repent of their sins and believe on the Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. The rest are not redeemed, not forgiven, and ultimately will be thrown into outer darkness where there is eternal weeping and nashing of teeth. His people on the other hand, are loved with the deep, deep affection of Jesus. He guards his own like a shepard guards the sheep from the wolves, and He will never let anyone snatch them from his hand. He brings his own into the glories of Heaven where they will be surrounded by the peace and Holiness of the Almightly God forever and ever. In summary, here is the message of the NT: If you are one of those who repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and persevere in the faith, then glory awaits. If you are of those who do not, eternal damnation in Hell surely awaits.

    I bet you don’t hear that message too often in Church anymore! That is the message that rang through America and Western Europe in the 17th Century Great Awakening. That is the basic message preached by George Whitefield that almost persuaded no less a dignitary than Ben Franklin.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Can you give me some scripture to support this interpretation? The only one you gave me said God loved the world. Then the rest is your own logic. I’m not saying you’re wrong, just saying the only scripture you cite prima facie supports me. 🙂

    • bobmurphy says:

      His people are composed of the whoseovers that will repent of their sins and believe on the Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. The rest are not redeemed, not forgiven…

      So when Jesus on the cross said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,” He was referring to the people who had crucified Him but would later ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior?

  5. bobmurphy says:

    In summary, here is the message of the NT: If you are one of those who repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and persevere in the faith, then glory awaits. If you are of those who do not, eternal damnation in Hell surely awaits.

    BTW I agree with this. I’m just saying, God still loves the sinners who are cast into hell. In my understanding (which is not strictly Biblical but I think consistent with it), God gives you a choice: You can be with Him forever in paradise, or you can be alone left to wallow in your narcissism for all of eternity. If you make the latter choice, you soon realize that you are in hell compared to the other choice you had available.

    • Political Catechism says:

      Come on Bob. We all know you’ve seen Hick’s and Carlin’s routines. There’s something you’re not telling us.

  6. K Sralla says:

    So when Jesus on the cross said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,” He was referring to the people who had crucified Him but would later ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and savior?

    What do you think? If he forgave them *all*, then they would *all* be forgiven. However, it is quite clear from many passages that the only ones who are redeemed are those who repent of their sins and place their faith and trust in Christ. If someone holds a belief that Jesus loved everyone with a redeeming love, regardless of their obedience of faith in him, then that person is a universalist, not an evangelical. God does not damn anyone whom he loves. To suggest that he does so is a horrific thought, and makes no sense. Remember that the same John who wrote John 3:16 also wrote John 3:36. Now, please consider the parable explained by Jesus, recorded in Matthew chapter 13.

    Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. -Jesus

    In an attempt to make our faith in Christ sound more appealing to the masses, we must not compromise the core of the Gospel as proclaimed in the scriptures. In order for the good news to be really good news, there must be some bad news first. The bad news is that without Christ, there is no hope of forgiveness of sin and the reward of eternal life. God does not love (in any true sense of the english word) those who will not repent, and ultimately, the unrepentant will be justly judged and sentenced to eternal punishment for their unrighteousness.

  7. K Sralla says:

    Just one correction: The Great Awakening was 18th century, not 17th.

  8. Leo says:

    Have you considered writing a Christian/Austrian Economics book?

    • Political Catechism says:

      And just how value-free would that be?

      • bobmurphy says:

        Huh? I’m not proving the existence of God through economics, that’s for sure.

        I think my mom loves me. Oops, sorry, I forgot I like Mises, I shouldn’t have misspoken like that.

  9. atheist says:

    Please, blog about economics not religion.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Are you new to these here parts? I blog about religion every Sunday, and discuss econ 6 days a week.

    • Political Catechism says:

      Regarding economics, Bob has the capacity to obliterate the militant likes of Dawkins and Hitchens. As it happens, the latter has been superimposing his pathological hatred of religion into his appraisals of Marx and socialism.

      It would be an understatement to say that Dr. Murphy could hit two birds with one stone.




      • atheist says:

        I suppose he’s got the capacity to obliterate Stalin as well.

        Like I care…

        bobmurphy: Good to know. I just couldn’t understand why you write about religion on your ‘financial blog’.

        • bobmurphy says:

          Oops that was from the website redesign. I will change that; it’s supposed to be just “the personal blog of economist Robert P. Murphy,” as the top left indicates.

        • Political Catechism says:

          That’s the spirit.

  10. K Sralla says:

    Bob asks: Can you give me some scripture to support this interpretation (that God does not deeply love everyone)?

    Bob, do you see it now? Look carefully at what Jesus was teaching in the parable which I cited. The field represents the world, and he so loves the world because it belongs to Him, and His seeds that *He* sowed are in it. The reason God so loves the world is *not* because the tares are there, but rather becuase His seeds are planted there. It is certainly not love language that Jesus uses in this parable to describe the tares.

    The point of using John 3:16 to correct your presumptive categorical statement that (God in fact loves you more than you can possibly comprehend), is that John 3:16 is almost always the place in scripture where people seem to get the idea that God loves everyone deeply and unconditionally. Yes, he gives the unelect common grace as evidenced by the fact that he does not vaporize them instantly, and certainly in that sense His disposition toward unrepentant sinners could be thought of in a sense as being merciful, but it cannot be equated to the deep love he has for those who are his or who will become his by his particular regenerating grace and the gift of faith. Read the entire Gospel of John in narrative fashion and see if you don’t get a much stonger sense of message of the parable of the wheat and tares recorded in Matthew.

    • Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

      Here’s the basic problem: You’re taking Calvinism as a given, and that’s leading to logical leaps.

      Where does it say in the parable – or in Jesus’s explanation of it – that God doesn’t love the tares? I don’t see it anywhere. Shouldn’t we be careful of reading into Scripture things that it doesn’t explicitly say?

      Now, if we assume Unconditional Election, then the lack of love for the condemned does seem to follow. But, if we don’t, then it’s still possible for God to love those who end up in Hell.

      Personally, I’m more Wesleyan/Arminian as that goes, as I find it easier to reconcile with John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, and such. But, I also agree with Wesley that it’s often pointless – in fact, harmful – to argue about this point. On some issues, it’s best just to recognize our differences and go about our joint work of making disciples and teaching them to observe Christ’s commandments.

    • bobmurphy says:

      K Sralla, we’re moving in circles here. I am not denying that Jesus will judge sinners and cast them into hell for their evil ways, if they do not accept Him as their salvation. If you want to argue that Jesus loves His sons more than He loves the seeds of the evil one, then OK I am open to that interpretation.

      What I am saying, though, is that Jesus also loves even those who have been duped by Satan. That is the only interpretation I draw from Matthew:

      43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

      You’re saying the above passage means that Jesus commands us to love our enemies, even though He doesn’t?

      You also didn’t respond to the forgiveness part. I think Jesus clearly forgives the people who did not accept Him as their savior. Do you agree?

      • bobmurphy says:

        Oops sorry, I had missed your earlier response to the forgiveness stuff.

  11. K Sralla says:


    I appreciate your perspective very much. In fact, you interestingly cite Wesley, and I earlier cited Whitefield. Those two men are great examples of evangelicals (the co-founders of Methodism) who disagreed strongly on election, but who could still find fellowship in their main points of agreement on the gospel.

    That being said, here is my worry. I’m concerned that the perspective that “God loves every person on earth deeply and unconditionally” often laspes into a type of soft universalism that can subtley destroy the Christian gospel. A prime example of this is the case of our beloved Billy Graham. It saddens me that in his later years, he equivocated on whether faith in Jesus alone is the only hope for salvation. On a national stage, he several times clearly stated that he thinks many “good” non-believers go to heaven. That is anathema to the gospel as understood by evangelicals. If being a “good” person who does not believe in Jesus as Lord get’s one to Heaven, then true great commission evangelism is destroyed.

    When we hold too tightly to the idea that God’s unconditional love extends to everyone, it seems to me to be very difficult to reconcile how he sends men and women, boys and girls whom he loves “unconditionally” to Hell. Reasonably, he must not love each and every person in any real etymological sense “unconditionally”. Otherwise, one might imagine that he would have made sure they are all saved. For example, if one of my children were in a burning house, but they would not run out due to the fact that they were afraid their toys would burn up, and I did not run in to drag them to safety when I had every capability to do so, in what sense could I claim that I love my child unconditionally and deeply? As a loving father, I would say to hell with their free will, and save them because I love them unconditionally. That’s real love as I understand it.

    Here is how the the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews puts the issue: “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned”

    Here, the writer is using figurative language to make the point that the person who is taught the gospel, but does not repent and believe in Jesus unto good works, is *worthless*, and in the end will be thrown into Hell. This is exactly the same idea that Jesus was teaching in his parables of the Kingdom. Now, if someone is *not valuable* in God’s economy of salvation (no worth, worthless, of no value), how can we claim that such a person is loved deeply, fully, and unconditionally by him?

    • bobmurphy says:

      K Sralla, does Jesus want us to love non-believers who are on a highway to hell?

      If so, are you saying then that Jesus wants us to love people that He Himself does not love? He wants us to exercise more love than God has?

    • bobmurphy says:

      Also, your arguments from reason (vis-a-vis casting people into hell) certainly sound compelling, but I don’t see how your story is any more flattering to God. You are saying you can’t imagine a God giving us free will to decide to reject His offer of salvation, and yet you do find it perfectly reasonable that He would decide to love some of us, and hate the others, and cast the ones He hates into hell? And of course, it’s not even through anything of meritorious behavior that gets the one group to be loved and the other to be hated?

      Note that I’m not mocking your worldview, I’m just saying atheists (or even non-Calvinist theologians, for that matter) could just as easily use your “stands to reason” approach to show that the God you believe in is far worse than a human parent.

    • Lucas M. Engelhardt says:

      Confession: I cited Wesley because you cited Whitefield. Just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

      I think it’s true that there’s a fine line between orthodoxy and heresy. If we take “unconditional love” too far, we do end up universalist. (Actually, there was a time in college when I was trying to convince myself that universalism was true… mostly because I was at a largely Calvinist college, but I couldn’t reconcile Limited Atonement with my understanding of Scripture. Result: Universal, Unconditional Election. I never did convince myself. Fortunately, I discovered Robert Barclay’s Apology that presented an Arminian argument where the sinner doesn’t “save themselves”.) On the other hand, we can also run into problems the other direction. If we believe that God’s love is unconditional – but limited to the elect – we can end up with Antinomianism. If, instead, we treat God’s love as conditional, we can end up with salvation by works. Naturally, we don’t have to end up there – but, it is a danger.

  12. K Sralla says:

    Bob, here is why I quarreled with your post: When you wrote: “God in fact loves you more than you can possibly comprehend”, I contend strongly that your statement may *in fact* be misleading. The Pharisees quite possibly may have thought God directed deep and abiding love toward them in ways that he actually did not. We do not want to tell unrepentant sinners that God loves them unconditonally and deeply. This distorts the very definite emphasis that Jesus and the Apostles placed on God’s impending wrath toward unrepentant, unbelieving sinners. Unconditional love needs to be preached to the Church, still weighed down by the guilt of their past life of sin and rebellion, not the unpenitant.

    We should also dispense with the simplistic and unbiblical notion that God’s love is a one-faceted, one size fits all type of love for everybody, and that every person on earth recieves the same full helping of it. It is instead complex and mysterious, with many different hues, colors, and intensity. The same God who says “Esau I hated” (as quoted by Paul in the NT), also commands *us* to “love our enemies” as you rightly point out. How do we deal with this contrast? We can either contend that the God of the Bible speaks out of both sides of his mouth, or we can affirm the supremely rich and mysterious nature of God’s love, while also affirming that it is not dealt out in equal measure to all. Some recieve unfathomable blessing according to his sovereign will, and some recieve curse according to his sovereign and perfect justice. If we don’t teach this hard truth, we are not teaching the full council of God, and also risk distorting the Gospel.

    If you want me to fully exegete Jesus’s saying on loving one’s enemies I will, but I think I have said enough above.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Aww OK, thanks, I had forgotten about (or never really processed) the “Esau I hated” line. Thanks, that’s all I was looking for. I know Jesus said He hates certain *doctrines* in Revelations etc., but I hadn’t remembered God ever saying He hated a particular sinner. (Hate the sin, love the sinner, yay we’re all happy now.)

      Well I don’t know that I will ultimately agree with all you’ve said here, but you definitely have made me realize I need to refine my views. You’re right, my pastor right now is very big on, “Jesus died for your sins, you are forgiven, stop feeling guilty and realize God loves you.” I still think that’s basically correct, but you have shown it’s not as obviously Biblical as I thought before.

  13. K Sralla says:

    “but I don’t see how your story is any more flattering to God.”

    Firstly Bob, it is not *my* story. Blame someone else. Secondly, it is not *my* job to try and make God’s word sound “flattering”. The Gospel is an offense and stumblingstone to those who don’t believe. The Great Commission calls Christians simply to teach all things that Jesus commanded. At the same time, he also did not say to be a jerk about it. I’m sincerely doing my best to understand and teach that which Jesus and the Apostles taught (as recorded in the pages of scripture) with the same tone and flavor given by them in the ancient writings. If I’m wrong on some points (and I very well may be), it is that my own sin blinds me to the correct interpretation.

    “You are saying you can’t imagine a God giving us free will to decide to reject His offer of salvation”

    No Bob, I am not saying that. I can imagine it. He gave free will to Adam, and everyone since has been born with a will that is basically uncoerced. It’s just that after the fall, everyone’s uncoerced will is limited by our own inherited depravity and spiritual deadness. Calvinists do not deny that God grants a large degree of freedom to the will, only that there are certain boundaries and limitations present due to our own inherited sin nature.

    “the God you believe in”

    Bob, I certainly thought you and I believed in the same one. Read about Wesley and Whitefield.

  14. K Sralla says:

    Sorry Bob!

    I sent my last comment before I read your last one. Let’s agree that yours is an excellent ending point to this very good discussion.