Consider two father-and-daughter stories:
There was an atheist couple who had a child. The couple never told their daughter anything about the Lord. One night when the little girl was 5 years old, the parents fought with each other and the dad shot the Mom, right in front of the child. Then, the dad shot himself.
The little girl watched it all. She then was sent to a foster home. The foster mother was a Christian and took the child to church. On the first day of Sunday School, the foster mother told the teacher that the girl had never heard of Jesus, and to have patience with her. The teacher held up a picture of Jesus and said, “Does anyone know who this is?” The little girl said, “I do, that’s the man who was holding me the night my parents died.
Here’s the second:
There was a Christian father who had a daughter. One day she got sick, but her father did not give her any medicine. Instead, he prayed to God for her healing. Days had past, but still the girl did not get better, even when the father prayed more fervently and more frequently.
One morning the daughter could no longer walk, but the father kept on praying. Then she could no longer talk, but the father kept praying still. Soon, she could no longer eat or drink, and the father got really worried. He finally thought of brining his little girl to a hospital. But then he thought, “If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God, I am not believing what he said he would do.”
Then one day the little girl had difficulty breathing. The father was tempted to call the ambulance, but his faith and prayers kept the fear and doubt at bay. And then finally, the girl’s difficulty passed away. And so did she.
The Christian father finally called the ambulance. Later they discovered that the young girl had treatable diabetes, and that her difficulty in breathing could have been treated with insulin and fluids, preventing her death.
What’s the difference between the two stories? The first one is a glurge, a story that uses feeling instead of fact to prove its truthfulness. The miracle is intended to give goosebumps, and I’ve recently confirmed that in this regard it is quite successful.
This giddy feeling makes the reader want to believe that the story is true. Harley Allen, who wrote the song “The Little Girl” based on this tale, tried to find proof of its origins. Apart from the same story posted on different websites (and forwarded as part of different chain mail), he found nothing. “We don’t have a clue,” Allen said. “But if it ain’t true, it ought to be.”
I’m sorry Allen, the first story is not true. But I’m more sorry that the second one is. Dale Neumann, who once studied to become a minister, was recently found guilty of second-degree reckless homicide for neglecting to treat his daughter properly and relying instead on prayer.
At least if there were a heaven, the girl wouldn’t be alone: More children are dying because of prayerful parents.
Let’s go back to the first story (the fairytale). Consider why the father had to be an atheist. First, if he weren’t, Jesus apparition would be less of a miracle. This increase in miraculousness is the main reason the author made the father character an atheist.
You could also say that if the father were a Christian, there would be a more logical explanation: hallucinations are common especially when exposed to severe trauma.
But a second motive could have been to justify the murder, suicide, and neglect (of the daughter). It’s as if the author is saying that only a man without faith can perform these acts, that an atheist can be identified not by his capacity for reason, but his capacity for evil.
Now let’s consider the second story (the true one). During the trial, the prosecution called the father’s stupidity a selfish act of faith. However selfish, it was an act of faith. It was an act that only a man of faith could have performed.
A more rational father would have given his daughter proper treatment much sooner. I have yet to learn about an atheist who would have done otherwise, let alone do as the faithful father did.
In the two stories, which of the two fathers do you think acted because of their belief (or lack thereof)?
Now whether an increase in rationality and a decrease in irrationality (faith) leads to evil is the point of a future post. But do remember that in this case, the story about an atheist’s evil is fiction, and the one about a believer’s evil is fact.
Till then I’ll leave you with a quote from Voltaire, one of the greatest authors, revealing one of the saddest truths:
As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.