Atheist: Africa needs God

A London Times article by Matthew Parris:

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

Subtitle: Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset

A few excerpts:

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

In the city we had working for us Africans who had converted and were strong believers. The Christians were always different. Far from having cowed or confined its converts, their faith appeared to have liberated and relaxed them. There was a liveliness, a curiosity, an engagement with the world – a directness in their dealings with others – that seemed to be missing in traditional African life. They stood tall.

Read the entire article.

Perhaps the author will some day come to the conclusion that Christianity is not only useful, but true.

HT: Be Bold, Be Gentle

Grace and Peace

5 thoughts on “Atheist: Africa needs God

  1. Unfortunately, a big portion of Christian evangelism in Africa, specifically of the Catholic stripe, is also hurting the people there. Specifically the anti-birth control crowd is contributing to the spread of AIDS and venereal diseases.

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  2. geochristian

    There are moral as well as medical aspects to the African AIDS crisis. The ABC and SLOW/STOP campaigns encourage abstinence and fidelity, while also encouraging condom use for those who can’t keep their pants on (or have a spouse who isn’t playing by the rules). These programs are opposed by certain AIDS advocates who don’t want to hear about morality.

    For more on the very sensible SLOW/STOP campaign, take a look at http://www.christianitytoday.com/51236 .

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  3. a reader

    I am not defending the atheist’s unusual argument (I am a agnostic and I do think that bringing curiosity, hope and engagment to people, no matter where,requires belief in supernatural forces), but have you ever considered how much hubris and arrogance(not to mention self absorbtion and narcissism) there is in proclaiming that you or your religion(or any other obstinate belief) has the exclusive rights to “the truth”

    Explain to us that in a universe whose size,time and scope is almost incomprehensible to mere humans and a place where we have and probably never will have personal experience to every corner of it, how can anyone, any self- conscious species, on a small orb in the midst of a 14 billion year old cosmos, have the audacity or certainity, that they know “the truth” and it is all wrapped up water-tight in one religious faith?(or scientific fact?)

    No matter what religious belief, none of us have reproducible, tangible evidence to show by physical, objective methods what our particular belief actually look like . All these subjective qualities we believe and see in this supernatural realm, remain locked up in the individual minds of each of us and we have as yet no way to visibly compare notes so to speak to see if our visions are compatible,reconcilable or “in common”.

    As of now with so much unknown outside of our providence,we have no confident or testable method to say we are holders of “the asolute truth”

    Personal, volunatary religious belief is ok, but when one religion insists that only they are holders of the truth and through evangelical and missionary zeal try to impose these subjective beliefs on others, then this can be a form of cultural imperialism and just as subversive as any other form of forceful, poltical or ideological indoctrination.

    It may be done with humane or good intentions but it still in my view a condescending type of way of converting others to one way of thinking….a “monoculture”… which just like in ecological principles is not sustainable, destroys diversity and the ability to adapt to change.

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  4. geochristian

    Reader:

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll make an attempt to answer your objections.

    There is something called “truth.” There are going to be some worldviews that approach that truth more closely than others. For various reasons, I believe that Christianity approaches that truth more closely than other religions and philosophies, and so I seek to live in alignment with that. This doesn’t mean that there is no truth in Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism; or in science and philosophy. Nor does it mean that I have a complete command of truth. But I believe that Christianity explains the universe (physical and spiritual) in a way that conforms best to the universe as I see it, and I am willing to let others know about that by my life and words.

    To say that one has confidence in the basic truths of Christianity doesn’t automatically make one arrogant; it should make one humble.

    In regards to the “arrogance” of the proclamation of the Christian message: Christianity is an exclusive religion. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.” But Christianity is also an inclusive religion in that it is meant for all nations of Earth.

    In regards to our insignificant place in the universe, I’ll give a quote from John Piper (a well-known pastor and writer): “Sometimes people stumble over this vastness in relation to the apparent insignificance of man. It does seem to make us infinitesimally small. But the meaning of this magnitude is not mainly about us. It’s about God… The reason for ‘wasting’ so much space on a universe to house a speck of humanity is to make a point about our maker, not us.” (from Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ)

    I have served as a missionary overseas. I personally have never seen a missionary use coercion, psychological or otherwise, to convert a person to faith in Christ. I acknowledge that this has happened in history, but it is inconsistent with the free proclamation of the Gospel.

    I like diversity. I think that even if the whole world were Christian (which I don’t see happening) it would not be a “monoculture.”

    Thanks again for commenting.

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  5. a reader

    Thanks for your reply.

    I realize there are truths we have found in this universe, things that appear to be timeless and true probably everywhere but as in science even facts can be provisional and approximate because information may come about too change what we formerly believed was true. It has happened many times in our human history.

    Consider this: All the “truths” or truth, all the philosophies,concepts and conceits we have about life and the universe has come form only one source…that is from the minds of one species, on one planet in a unviverse that as I said is beyond our capacities to fully explore. We have no other input form other conciousness species, if they exist elsewhere, to make comparisons. My point is that it is arrogance, not humility to believe that the whole universe as large as it is is here just for us. That is like pre-Copernian thinking that everthing revolves around our existence.

    That does not invalidate our importance or self-worth, but puts things in a broader context and perspective, instead of we assuming we know the whole “truth” and it is wrapped up in our particular beliefs, limited to the confines of one planet.

    That is the strength I see in science…. that when done correctly… it is always open to revision where much of traditional religion is not open to change or adaptation.

    My understanding of life is that is based on adaptation to change. If life did not evolve to adapt to blological or geological changes then it probably did not survive. I think there is a lesson there for us when we insist that there are immutable ideas we have in our minds and cultures which are not debatable and open to revision..even our strong and cherished religious beliefs.

    As for my agnosticism, I am open to the idea that there may be some force or power that may be behiind all that we see, but I feel it would have to be much more sophisticated and reflective of the complexity of the universe then the ideas of God we have come up with so far. I believe that traditional religious ideas of God are incongruous and would inadequately represent a force or being who would be capable of “designing” such a extrodinary setting as we find ourselves a part of.

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