Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Does God Care for You and Me?

Instinctively I have to, or want to, say "Yes, certainly God cares for me and everyone else (at least if he exists)". But why should I be so confident in that? Perhaps is it my background: growing up in a Christian family and inheriting that assumption. Not all religions would teach that about God. If Christian doctrine is a sufficient reason for you believing something, then no need to read further. But if like me you want something more, then join me in asking this question:

Is there any actual evidence that God cares for people in general, or Christians in particular?

I remember from my church-going days a proof given periodically by preachers of this. After preaching on God's care for his followers, the preacher would ask a question like this: "Is there anyone here who God has not provided for when you were in desperate need?" And of course no one raises a hand. Wow -- surely most people have been in some sort of great need during their lives, and if God provided for them then that's a 100% batting average on God's part. What more could you ask for?

There are a number of problems with this demonstration, and here is the big one that made me a bit uncomfortable even in much church-days. Say someone was in desperate need and God didn't provide. Well, he would die. And clearly there have been many Christians in desperate need of healing or something else to keep them alive, but didn't get it and died. By asking this question to the living members of his congregation, the preacher has effectively excluded anyone who could convincingly say "No, God didn't provide for me and I died." So if you exclude the nays, then it is not too surprising you will get 100% yeas.

The classic demonstration from nature that God must care for us is attributed to Jesus. Consider Luke 12:22-24: And [Jesus] said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!" Granted, we are more valuable than ravens. And granted, I have not seen any dead ravens. I am not sure it follows that God feeds them in their need. If so the population of ravens would have exceeded all other birds by now. Rather it seems more likely that ravens die of starvation or thirst when food or water are scarce just like other animals. That puts a pretty big hole in the argument that God cares for us by analogy to ravens.

Instead of discovering evidence that God cares for those in need, the opposite seems to be the case. There is so much needless suffering in this world, and so many untimely deaths. Here I am not addressing the problem of suffering; I just want to find some positive evidence that God cares for those in need. Anecdotes of good coming out of times of desperate need are encouraging, but have to be balanced by the innumerable times desperate need leads to tragic death. So I am at a loss in finding evidence that God cares for you and me.


  1. Is there any proof that would ever be sufficient for you? Before you try and answer that, you should ask yourself if you are qualified to universally define what 'to care for' means and then if it is appropriate for you to measure God against your definition... or anyone else for that matter.

    For me it is quite obvious that he cares for us more than we care for Him, otherwise we would not dwell so much on things like this and use our energy to further distance ourselves from Him.

  2. I am not demanding conclusive proof. I just want 2 things:

    (1) First that "God cares for me" is a meaningful statement. That is, there are two possible states: One in which this is not true and one in which this is true. The difference between these states is the difference between God not caring for a person and God caring for him. What would you say is a state in which God does not care for a person? If we cannot define this, then it is meaningless to say God cares for a person. For example, if it is defined so broadly that existence means that God cares for one, then God caring for someone is pretty meaningless.

    (2) If we can define God caring for someone in a way such that it is meaningful and valuable, how can we tell in fact if we are in the group that God cares for or that he doesn't care for?

    I am tired of meaningless platitudes about God -- I want our statements to have real meaning.

  3. I thought you were a non-theist? At what point will your blog take a different turn and focus on a non-theistic structure of living?

    As far as God is concerned, if there is one, what do we even know? What can we know? We are very quick to dismiss certain things if we cannot rationalize through it. But do we even have all the facts? Do we even understand the start to finish of it all to truly make sense of it.

    It seems like we often search for fingerprints of God throughout our lives, or the world, etc. But would we even recognize it? Or are we looking for something obvious? Something that eliminates the subjective faith aspect and forces it into an objective reality?

    How does one even create a criteria for whether a higher being cares for one another or not? What do we expect to see be revealed?

    Can anything be meaningful without 100% proof? It seems like that is what you want when it comes to finding this mystery being.

    Statements are only meaningful if you accept it to have value. No one can put "God cares for me" in a test tube. If you think God cares for you, some way, somehow, there will be some meaningful value that comes out of it. If you say God does not care for you, some way, some how, there will be meaningful value because of that conclusion.

    I'm sorry if this rant was a bit off topic. I was just typing whatever came to mind.

    Brandon M.