I've written about my sister before and I'm going to again. While she and I have a good relationship and are quite close, her faith drives me absolutely crazy. My sister emailed me this morning to ask if I wouldn't mind donating some money so that she could go out, search for, and then feed homeless people. While I'm a big advocate of helping those who struggle or have little/nothing, before I would commit to helping her I had to ask if she was planning on just going out and handing out food or if she was going to preach to these people too. Not surprisingly she told me that she and her boyfriend where going to be handing out food but planned on turning these people onto god at the same time.
There are so many things offensive and blatantly wrong about what my sister is planning on doing and as such I politely told her that I would not be giving her any money if there was any preaching or "spreading the word" planned. After she went on a rant about how I was a hardhearted calloused individual who only thinks of himself we got into a discussion about helping those who are less fortunate or destitute.
The email conversation I had with my sister today demonstrated the arrogance and stupidity of faith. I asked the following questions (and will list her responses too). These are taken right from the email.
Me: Why does an omniscient and omnibenevolent god need you to feed people? Why does the creator of the universe not use the power in one of his fingertips to provide all starving people enough food and drink?
Sister: I don't think you understand how God works Scott. If there weren't poor and hungry people the people who have money, good jobs, and plenty to eat would be incapable of appreciating what they have. Being omniscient and omnibenevolent has nothing to do with people being hungry and homeless. When people either deny God, don't know about him, or turn from him God no longer looks after them and the bad decisions they make can cost them their jobs and homes.
Me: I understand completly how you and many others believe the Christian god works and being omniscient and omnibenevolent has everything to do with whether or not there are hungry and homeless people. The God you claim loves everyone and answers prayers has either allowed these people to remain destitute simply because they don't know of him, like him, or worship another god or is powerless to do anything about their situation. Do you not find it problematic that the god you claim created everything that exists from galaxies right down to quarks is either incapable of creating enough food for everyone to eat or chooses not to do anything about it? If you're being intellectually honest then you have to admit that the god you worship is neither omnipotent and omnibenevolent. Furthermore if he's omniscient then he knew before our universe was ever created that there would be hungry people and that you and your boyfriend would at some point try to feed them. Your god sounds like a royal prick to me.
Sister: Someday you'll have to answer to God for the things you say against him and you're going to regret these conversations. Anyways I don't know how else to explain it to you and even if I could I'm certain you'd just deny it because you don't want to be responsible for your actions. God loves all of us and uses us to do his work for him otherwise people would worship him simply because they would see he exists and that's not what God wants. He want's us to have faith, love Him, and fear Him so that we may do good in his name and open up peoples hearts so that they can come to know him too. Through feeding the homeless and hungry Steve and I are showing these people that while they may have abandoned God, God still loves them and wants them to know Him.
Me: Hey sis, are you really going to threaten me with Hell or some type of divine punishment again? We've gone over that crap a hundred times and I've demonstrated clearly to you that not only is punishment for not believing in something for which there is no evidence immoral and completely unreasonable but that punishment for disagreeing with someone just because they're more powerful than I am is wrong as well. Might does not make right under any circumstances. Just because your god can do something doesn't make it right or just.
To get to the crux of the argument however let us turn our attention back to the feeding of people who for whatever reason have no food, money, home, or combination of any of the aforementioned. Do you listen to yourself when you speak? Are you so arrogant that you believe speaking to homeless and/or hungry people (before you feed them) about a merciful, loving, and providing god makes sense? It's not only arrogant it's absurd and offensive. What you and Steve are planning to do is akin to offering an abused and battered wife protection from her husband by putting her under her husbands care and convincing her that he's really a nice misunderstood guy and if she just opens her heart to him he'll treat her better. Moreover if she refuses your offer you'll allow the beatings to continue and you'll blame her rather than the prick who administers the abuse.
If you want to feed homeless people without preaching let me know, I'll donate both my money and time by helping you shop for food and helping you hand it out. I refuse however to support preaching to destitute people not only because it's a form of quid pro quo but because there is still no evidence that shows anything you believe in is true or real. Additionally if the god you believe in exists I could never support his doctrine, system of punishment, or anything he's done or could do. Your god, if real, is a complete and utter ass plain and simple sis. You can spin it anyways you like and make excuses for all the things you know are immoral in the Christian doctrine but it's always going to be garbage.
Sister: Ugh! Your so negative sometimes. I don't understand why you can't just accept that some things are true whether or not you want them to be. God wants me to feed homeless people not only to help them but so that they can get to know Him at the same time. Its so obvious your angry at God for some reason but it would be a crime to spread that anger to hungry people by telling them the things about God say to me. It is because they are needy that they need and should want to come to the Lord. Why can't you just be happy that I'm helping people not be hungry? With you there's always a downside or you have something negative to say. I will also feed these people even if they don't want to talk about God just for your information.
Me: Me negative? Nothing could be further from the truth! You and I have helped plenty of people in the past without ever bringing god into the picture. Friends, family, and a number of people whom we did not even know have all benefited from our charity, both individual and combined and your opinion of me was much different when we clothed, fed, or helped house people. And yes your observation is correct. I am angry, very angry. Angry that you would use homelessness, hunger, or flat our destitution to squeeze in a conversation about god. As none of the things you believe to be true or accurate can be demonstrated as such you're taking advantage of people in various vulnerable situations and providing them with only false hope. Why not just go buy a bunch of food, pack up both the kids and your old clothes and then hand them out? Do you think the manner in which you're going about this is appropriate or acceptable? Sure feeding these people is a very good thing to do but is the preaching really ethical here? I know you're going to come back and tell us all how receptive everyone you helped was to god but I'd be willing to bet that many of them will simply be shinning you on, nodding politely, agreeing with you while hiding gritted teeth, etc. Why would they do this you ask? At one point in my life as you recall I too was destitute and took help from whomever would give it. I listened to preachers, motivational speakers (aren't they really the same thing) and a whole host of other people who spewed BS in an effort to make me a believer or contributing member to the "Bank of God" and I did so because I wanted a shower, something to eat, or a safe place to sleep. You've faced a number of hardships in your life too where you've admitted you've behaved just as I did and I'm willing to bet those you seek to help will behave just as we did. When you're desperate for life's essentials listening to people talk about crazy crap is easy when there's a meal or place to sleep attached to the sermon.
Sister: Scott I'm totally done with this conversation. You always have an excuse and all I did was ask for you're help in feeding people. If you don't want to help and ignore God's calling fine be that way, your loss. These people need food and God and both Steve and I plan on giving them both. You stick with your scientific evidence based religion and I'll keep trusting God and in the end you'll lose. You're so missing the point and stubborn you're hurting those that need your help.
Me: I'm happy to end this discuss sis because it's going in circles. I help plenty of people with the donations I make every month and tonight you'll provide many people with a good meal and those are thngs we should both be proud of. I only wish you would take a serious look at what you're doing. Sure you're not going to force anyone to listen to "Gods message" tonight but that's you're real goal and you know it. You're going to knock on doors and begin each meeting with mentioning god, food is secondary here and that's something I consider despicable and dishonest.
Has anyone else in this community dealt with this kind of crap with friends or family? Anyone here ever been destitute like I was and been forced to listen to this garbage? This entire conversation showed both the arrogance and stupidity of the Christian faith.