Sunday, 23 May 2010

The atheist, the bear – and God

An atheist was walking through the woods. He admired the trees. He inspected the intricate designs of the leaves, and the way they carried the life-giving sap to the rest of the tree. He basked in the warm sunlight that powered the photosynthesis that gave the tree its life. And he breathed deeply, enjoying the oxygen that the tree had put in the atmosphere for him.

All put there by the impersonal, uncaring forces of evolution, of course. All that evidence of design and purpose and life and joy – he knew better than to trust what his eyes told him. Coz he was an atheist!

All of a sudden he heard a growl behind him. It was a bear! The atheist ran for his life, crashing through the forest. But the bear was catching up with him. If the atheist had really believed in survival of the fittest, he really should have gone to the gym more often. Maybe then he would have been fit enough to outrun this bear.

The atheist tripped and fell. The bear towered above him, paw raised to strike. The atheist was about to become a meaningless victim of the meaningless evolutionary differences between himself and the bear - just like the atheist had meaninglessly squashed a cockroach in his house the previous night.

The atheist called out: “Oh God, help me!”

Everything froze. Time stopped. A voice boomed from the heavens. “You’ve ignored me all your life. You’ve even spoken against me. And now you want to become a Christian?”

The atheist looked at the bear, frozen above him. He looked up into heaven. “No, don’t make me a Christian – make the bear a Christian.”

There was a pause. Then the voice from heaven said. “Okay. I’ll do that.”

Time started again. The bear paused and looked down on the atheist. Instead of striking the man, he brought his paws together. “For what we are about to receive…”


Matt said...

that's great Kamal! I love it.

Leroy said...

'evidence of design and purpose' - where? what evidence? It's evolution.
'trust what his eyes told him' - yep, nature is wonderful.

There are many times, good and bad, when people call out 'oh god!' - it's a cultural thing.

Everything froze. Time stopped. A voice boomed from the heavens. Whose voice? Thor? Odin? Krishna? Hathor? FSM?

Kamal Weerakoon said...


"It's evolution": so you agree that the atheist's desire to stay alive was a meaningless evolutionary misfire? As meaningful as the cockroach?

"Whose voice": why, the God of life - the Triune God of the Bible, who made this world as a place full of life and joy, and who came in the person of his Son, Jesus, to give us eternal life in his death & resurrection.

I stay alive because I am confident, not only in the existence of God, but of his goodwill towards me - which I know through Jesus, as proclaimed in the Bible.

Why do you bother to stay alive, Leroy?

Leroy said...

'so you agree that the atheist's desire to stay alive was a meaningless evolutionary misfire? As meaningful as the cockroach/" - not a very clear question or statement Kamal. Atheists desire staying alive because life is wonderful. What evolutionary misfire? Life is meaningful to humans, and elephants, and trees and cockroaches - to various extents dependent on their level of sentience.
There are many other faiths who are at least as convinced about their god as you are about yours.
I stay alive because I enjoy life, using my physical and mental abilities to enjoy nature. I don't need a crutch to give me reason.

Kamal Weerakoon said...

Oh - so you don't agree with Dawkins, that any sense of meaning or purpose is an evolutionary misfire?

We humans are wired for asking questions about meaning and purpose. It's not a crutch, it's a fulfillment of our human nature. One logically consistent answer - Dawkins' - is that this wiring is a 'misfire': something that evolution wired into us, that has no grounding in real reality. I think that view's tragic - but it's consistent.

Another view is that we're wired for meaning & purpose because we're created by a meaningful, purposeful being, who wants us to find meaning and purpose in himself. I put to you that this is also consistent with our observable human nature.

Or you could just close your eyes to the question, and refuse to answer it. Not a good use of your sentience, my friend.

Actually, you're a good example of what most people - including "religious" people - do: we enjoy the good things God has given us, and ignore God. At least you have the honesty to say it. Most religious people think they can satisfy God with their religious observances - including going to church. Have a look at Isaiah chapter 1 verses 11-15 to see what God thinks of that.

Incidentally, considering sentience - how can you be sure that humanity is the highest level of sentience? Again, it seems logical that we - and the rest of this highly ordered, life-giving universe - was created by a personal, relational being, to whom we are accountable. All faiths agree on that.

The next question is: how do we relate to this personal creator? The Biblical, Christian answer is: through Jesus Christ, who is God in human form. Especially through Jesus' death and resurrection, which is God taking into himself the consequences of people stuffing our faces with the good things he gives us while spurning him.