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.’”
ETA source: Tales of Hasidim Vol. 2 by Mar
I started reading this and was worried it would be something attacking atheists, or bashing religion, but this makes me really, really happy.
imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”
isn’t this how it goes, though? I mean…I don’t think there is a god, I’ve never thought there is a god, and therefore if someone says “help me” I’m like “ok, if I can, if I have the ability to do so, I will help you”?
If there is a god, that’s great, but I’d really like to have a word with them about some of the shit their groupies have pulled in their name over the centuries. But if someone says “help me,” there’s nobody here but me to do the helping, so it’s up to me to do or not do what I can. if I can’t, I’ll try to get someone or something else involved, because hey, this person needs help.
I have no god. I have never had a god. Sometimes I’d really really really like to know what it’s like to believe in a supernatural being, but I don’t, I never have and I’m pretty sure that barring the administration of heavy drugs I can’t, and I’m okay with that. Nobody needs a god telling them what to do in order to be a decent human being: that’s a manufactured need.
I grew up without religion – except in that my mother taught me the different mythologies, the judeo-christian ones among them.
I’ve never understood why a person would need a ‘god’ to tell them to do things which are kind and good and right. You should do them because the deeds are kind and good and right, not because you expect a reward.
Why Did God Create Atheists?
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