LTE Draft – Tenere84

An Opinion on Searching for God

I recently read George Yancy’s article, “Dear God, Are You There?”, and it caused me to revisit many of my memories as a freshman in high school and the religious struggles that came along with it. I once asked the very same question to the big man upstairs, that is, “are you here?” The answer would prove to be one of the reasons I am a staunch atheist today: nothing.

The conclusion I drew from Mr. Yancy’s article was that he seems to have a serious case of cognitive dissonance, or the state of having inconsistent thoughts. The mental gymnastics of acknowledging the horrors of humanity and still calling oneself a “hopeful Christian theist” who is simply waiting for God’s voice speak volumes to this fact.

The moments of good in this world, pleasant as they may be, are vastly overshadowed by the atrocities mankind has committed. The Holocaust is one of the most obvious examples. Ellie Wiesel was one of the outspoken survivors of this horrible event and has, along with many of his fellow victims, prayed desperately for answers as to how God could let it happen. Yet, as the prayers grew louder, the silence became ever deafening. The genocide of the Darfur people sixty years later may as well have been a “flipping the bird” response.

Regardless of these events, people still refuse to believe their ears and believe that praying will help solve our problems. There is no evidence to suggest that God has responded to our prayers, especially in times of dire need. However, whether it indicates that God is evil or nonexistent is ultimately irrelevant. The bottom line is that we are on our own in fighting the world’s biggest problems. Lacking the help of divine intervention does not imply that we are doomed, though; realizing our self-reliance may empower us to do more to fight the world’s problems. Despite what Mr. Yancy may think, secular mediums like politics may very well be what we need to help us.

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9 Responses to LTE Draft – Tenere84

  1. davidbdale says:

    That’s good writing, Tenere, and the style is most appropriate to reflecting on the original author’s musings. In other words, it’s disconnected from fact to the same degree as Yancy’s original. If I had to summarize the letter in one sentence, it would be: “I hope there’s a God who can make sense of all the senseless killing by humans who hate.” Does that about sum it up? And your reply would be: Too bad. Right?

    I want to suggest that you challenge yourself with some calculations the would run counter to your weighing of good and evil. Consider the cumulative weight of all the kind actions and cooperation that fill the days of any community against the greed and cruelty of the class or the individuals who hate and oppress them.

    I understand you want to consider the God you deny was flipping a big F U to his hopeful followers, but the part of you that thinks there’s a really big finger up there to flip deserves some consideration too.

    Yancy’s letter didn’t do much for me, but I’m more inclined to attribute his precarious balance between conflicting ideas as faith in the face of hopelessness than to cognitive dissonance. Of course it’s fun to speculate, and an essay like Yancy’s is good for that at least. One possibility you may not have considered, that God exists and isn’t evil but merely indifferent.

    What do you think, Tenere? Was that useful? Is it the sort of critique you expected, dreaded, were hoping for? I can imagine you responding, “There wasn’t a single bit of useful advice in all those paragraphs, Prof. What should I change?” Your post calls for a different sort of advice, I think: a recommendation to just give it some more thought. Make it deeper. You’ve got the tools.
    1. Please leave a Comment to indicate your reaction.
    2. Feel free to follow the Feedback Please technique to request more interference after you’ve made significant revisions. I very quickly learn to ignore students who do not engage in the recursive feedback process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenere84 says:

      You have some good points Professor Hodges! I agree that my claim about the weight of good and evil was probably too bold; I will reconsider. Also, I think your alternate take on the author’s motivations is interesting and worth consideration.

      One thing I am confused about is your interpretation of my claim. My claim has more to do with whether a god that responds to prayer (not just any generic god) exists. So bringing an indifferent or evil god into the question wouldn’t change my argument overall. But perhaps I haven’t defined god properly.

      In any case I may have made some errors so if you found any contradictions feel free to point them out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • davidbdale says:

        I’m certainly capable of misunderstanding, Tenere, but be sure to state your claim as a bold clear declarative statement. When you say:

        My claim has more to do with whether a god that responds to prayer (not just any generic god) exists.

        it’s unclear whether you mean definitively that “god does not respond to prayer.”


        • tenere84 says:

          Of course. My claim is that, due to the lack of evidence of gods that respond to prayer, we should stop relying on prayer and focus on solving the world’s problems by ourselves.


    • tenere84 says:

      And again, thank you for your criticism!


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