“Christianity is a Pro-Death Faith”


ObjectorJohn W. Loftus

Objection:

“So Christian apologist, I put it to you. Why didn’t God do anything about the Black Death pandemic? Be reasonable here. Why? This is but one example. There were many other pandemics. I argue that Christianity is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter who dies, or how many, or what the circumstances are when people die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being burned to death. It doesn’t matter. God is good. Death doesn’t matter. People die all of the time. In order to justify God’s goodness Christianity minimizes the value of human life. It is a pro-death faith, plain and simple. I argue that Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die. Or, you can prove me wrong.”

On the contrary, it is written “Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your sting?  O Hades, where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54b-56)

I say that God did in fact do something about the Black Death pandemic—something which science could never do.  Namely, He took death upon Himself on the cross and defeated it once and for all.  Rather than dismissing the tragedy of death, Christianity faces death head on.  It teaches us that death is a great evil and entered the world through Original Sin which subjugated the world to corruption, dissolution, and ultimately bodily (physical) death.  Furthermore, it teaches that human beings perpetuate the cycle of death and dissolution by means of their own personal sin.  We see this played out in the environment through pollution and the overuse of natural resources, we see this on an international scale in the form of wars, acts of terrorism, human trafficking, and a host of other evils, and we see this played out in our communities in the form of substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, divorce, theft, greed, abortion, gluttony, and many other evils.

However, the Word of God, by Whom and for Whom all things were made, would not sit back and watch as His beautiful creation destroyed itself but saw fit to humble Himself, taking on flesh, in order to redeem—to save, renew, heal, and restore—the Image and Likeness of God in man and to unite all of Creation to Himself: thus, bestowing upon all of Nature the gift of incorruptibility, eternality, and freedom from pain, suffering, loneliness, and death.  For, as St. Athanasius pointed out:  “it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption.  For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practiced on men by the devil.  Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.”  According to Christian Theology, it is unthinkable that God, in His goodness, would sit back and do nothing to save His creation.  It is because of God’s goodness and love that He sent His beloved Son into the world to save it.  As St. John states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15).

The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil.  A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value.  Physical events simply happen; they just “are.”  Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of).  When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings.  He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all.  Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope.  No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.

Conversely, in the face of death, Christians have metaphysical grounds to believe that death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and a restored world.

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13 thoughts on ““Christianity is a Pro-Death Faith”

  1. Though I may appreciate the capitalization of the word, “Atheist,” it’s totally unnecessary. “Atheist” is not a proper noun.

    Weird capitalization aside, your argument is incoherent and affirms the very claim you were trying to dispute. Rather than discuss such epidemics as the Black Death in a rational, observable context, you revert to this claim that Christianity has somehow abolished death ultimately. The claim you are refuting, however, is speaking specifically about human, scientific death, which you indeed elected to ignore.

    Christianity is a pro-death religion, and it appears as though you may be experiencing some serious cognitive dissonance as you try to reconcile the world you see with the imaginary characters of your old Bible.

    1. Thank you for your comment . . . Captain Zorg. In point of fact, I was not discussing Black Death from a medical or empirical standpoint–although, I do admit that would have been fascinating. The claim I was refuting was the notion that Christianity is a pro-death religion or that Christians don’t give a damn about death because God didn’t do anything to “save” those who perished during the Black Death. The implicit claim here is that God isn’t truly good or loving because he allows evil and doesn’t do anything to stop it. The Christian answer to this question inevitably leads to the cross and the incarnation. My aim was not to prove the truth of the incarnation or prove the existence of God; rather, I was simply refuting the notion that Christian Theology teaches that God allows evil to transpire but never does anything about it.

      Proving the existence of God and the reality of the incarnation is an entirely different matter.

  2. Matthan, the pro-death aspect to your faith is that YOU will dismiss the pain and death of thousands, millions. That YOU do not care that they die. That YOU will still exonerate your God from allowing it no matter what happens.

    All you can do is say Jesus died for them/us. But that’s like telling someone who’s in excruciating pain and about to suffocate in his own blood, “hey, it’ll be okay since I just bought an insurance policy to help with your bills.” You see, that does nothing for his pain.

    1. I think that misses the entire point. It’s not that Christ’s death alleviates the pain of someone, rather that it gives purpose and hope to one who is in pain. What is the point of trying to stop someone’s pain if in the end there is no point to life? If there is no hope in life, then stopping someone’s pain is a mere delay in the inevitable. With Christ’s death and resurrection, however, there is a point to trying to stop someone’s pain, which is what the Church has attempted to do since its foundation.

      As for why God allows pain, you’re still ignoring everything he’s saying. For one, the atheist has no legitimate complaint about pain. The best you can do is hope to show that pain is inconsistent with the existence of God, but of course it’s not as that argument has been put to rest. After all, if God stopped one pain because it was too severe, then we would simply complain about the next level. At some point, God would have to eradicate all pain, meaning He’d have to eradicate all free choices, meaning we wouldn’t be rational or in His image, meaning we couldn’t love. In order to eradicate pain, He would have to eradicate us.

      1. I think that misses the entire point. It’s not that Christ’s death alleviates the pain of someone, rather that it gives purpose and hope to one who is in pain. What is the point of trying to stop someone’s pain if in the end there is no point to life? If there is no hope in life, then stopping someone’s pain is a mere delay in the inevitable. With Christ’s death and resurrection, however, there is a point to trying to stop someone’s pain, which is what the Church has attempted to do since its foundation.

        That’s it? Really, that’s all your omnibenelovent omniscient omnipotent god can do?

      2. Is that the entirety of your reply? As I stated, the argument you’re presenting is the logical problem of evil. By all accounts, the logical problem of evil has been dealt with handily. In fact, it’s hard for me to think of a contemporary philosopher who still uses it (at least, a contemporary philosopher who is educated on the issue). The existential problem of evil is still an issue, but not the logical problem of evil. Please, feel free to study up on this issue. A good place to begin is Plantinga’s God, Freedom, and Evil

    2. John, before I respond, I’d like to tell you that I’m extremely honored you took the time to respond to this post. Thanks. However, I’m deeply troubled and a little baffled that you believe I don’t care whether or not people die. Of course I do–in fact, I believe death is a horrendous evil. Having worked with the homeless population in multiple cities across the US for the past four years, I’ve seen my share of pain, suffering and death. I’ve also done my part to help save lives and alleviate the suffering of others. One thing which has encouraged me over the years is seeing Christians give of themselves to help others who are hurting and in need. In fact, this is exactly what Christ did throughout his ministry–he healed the sick, raised the dead, and ate and drank with those who were lonely and outcast. Modeling this life of “self-giving” and “service” to others is exactly what Jesus commands us all to do. So, I do believe we are called to help alleviate the pain and suffering of others, to the best of our ability. Thankfully, while I can only treat the symptoms, Christ has defeated the sickness (sin and death). Blessings!

      1. Oh, I do understand you care for people. There’s no doubt about that. you care more than God does since he does nothing! It’s only when considering their suffering and deaths in comparison to defending your God you don’t care.

        Take care.

    1. You read it, yet you keep bringing up the logical problem of evil. I can get arguing for the evidential problem of evil or even the existential problem of evil (Protestant philosophy has done little to nothing to deal with these issues, at least not in an intellectually satisfying way). Not only do you bring it up, you act as though there is no response to it.

      You say God does nothing, but as Josh has pointed out, the ultimate solution to evil is the cross. That qualifies as “something.” Furthermore, you didn’t deal with what I said, namely that if God stopped one specific type of evil, it would lead to an infinite regress where He would have to stop all kinds of evils, requiring us to simply not exist.

      Look, I get it, you hate Christianity. That’s your schtick. You can say, like thousands of other atheists, that you used to be a Christian, studied it, and so on. What makes you somewhat unique is that you were a minister and studied under some decent apologists. But your credentials mean literally nothing when making an argument; only the argument matters. And as it stands, you keep creating strawmen and then don’t deal with the actual objections put forth to you.

      Also, I’m Joel, not Josh. You may want to correct that on your response on your site.

    1. Ah, a cop out. “Well, you’re a Christian, so you’re ignorant. Until you admit it, you’re stuck in your ignorance.”

      I understand you’re attempting Socrates’ “The wisest man because I realize I know nothing.” But I really think you’re misinterpreting it. But hey, since your post allows you to have a cop out to avoid rational conversation and you can just say, “see, you don’t get it or understand, you’re ignorant!” have at it. You’ve simply proven that atheism destroys anything intellectual.

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