Since being forced into the unemployment market, I have noticed an increase in people telling me to be thankful to God that I am still better off than others. Of course they know I am an atheist, but believers eagerly pounce on any opportunity to tell atheists that 'God' is great. I have even been told that the rough patch I am going through is God’s way of showing me he is the Almighty God, and he wants me to recognize it , go on my knees and accept him as God and only then would he make my path smooth again. LOL! OK, I won’t even go into the childishness of such a God, the morality of anyone who thinks such a God deserves to be praised or why God takes on the personality of his believers/creators. That is a story for another day. Now, let us not divert too much, the topic for today’s discussion is ‘Why “Thank God I am still better off than some” is a selfish prayer and attitude. Here is an analogy to get us started.
In a village, lives an all powerful king who has the powers to make all things happen. He is famed as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, he could grant every heart desire if he so wished. Villagers often gather in his golden palace to praise him, pray and give thanks to him.
The king’s golden palace has many pews; villagers are seated according to their ranks, with the most favored seating in the first row.
Those seated in the front pew thank him for the opportunity to cruise in private jets with him. Since they believe the more you thank him for favours you enjoy, the more favours you get in return, they also make it a duty to thank him for making them better off than those in the lower pews.
Those seated in the second pew thank him for the opportunity to go on rides with him in fancy cars like limousines. They pray that he elevates them to the front pew so they could cruise with him in private jets. They also thank him for making them better off than some other villagers.
Some seat on the third row and thank him for the opportunity to walk with him. They pray that he grants them the chance to ride with him in fancy cars or even fly with him in private jets. They also thank him for making them better off than others.
Some seat way behind and thank him for allowing them to have a seat in his presence. They pray that they get to walk with him, ride with him and fly with him. They also thank him for making them better off than other villagers behind them.
Some stand with no place to seat. They hustle to catch a glimpse of the great king. They thank him for at least giving them good pairs of legs to stand in his magnificent presence. They pray to him to elevate their rank to seat, ride and fly with him. They also thank him for making them better off than those behind them.
Some crawl to see the all powerful king in his golden palace. They thank him for blessing them with good eye sight to behold his magnificence. They pray to him to elevate their rank so they could stand with him, ride with him and fly with him. They thank him for not making them blind and for being better off than some others behind them.
And down and down the rows it goes, with everyone having one thing or the other to pray and hope for but never forgetting to thank the all powerful king for making them better off than someone else down the line.
One day, there was an accident that involved many of the villagers. Many of them were affected, some fatally, some very gruesome, some not as gruesome as the others. The accident had varying effects on the villagers. Someone who was in the front row was demoted to the fourth row, he could no longer fly with the all powerful king, he couldn’t ride with him, he couldn’t seat with him but at least he could still stand and see him, some other person involved in the accident was not that lucky, he lost his leg, so he could no longer stand on his feet to see the powerful king. Another one lost his sight, so he could no longer behold the powerful king, and with the tragedy came demotions to the back rows.
Suddenly a villager thought about all the changes and lost opportunities and asked why they couldn’t just ask their all powerful king who was after all omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent to make everyone equal.
Why did there have to be rows in his palace segregating people?
Why didn’t the king create a palace big enough to accommodate everyone equally?
Why must there be villagers who ride with the all loving king and those who cannot?
Why wouldn’t the king treat everyone equally?
Why must there be people who are worse off than others?
Why must the villagers thank this omnipotent God in whatever situation they are in?
Why couldn’t they pray to the king to make everyone equal?
The villager with the brain wave explained to everyone that equality would mean the segregating rows would disappear, everyone gets the same treatment and no one ever has to be demoted because there won’t be anything known as demotion. Accidents, economic recession and all other factors that could cause demotions could be erased with just a click of the king’s omniscient finger. So the villager with this brain wave wondered aloud why they couldn’t just ask their all omniscient king to make everyone equal.
The other villagers were taken aback by this suggestion. They wondered if that would actually be a good idea. The villager with the brain wave took it further and wanted to know why other villagers thought it was not a good idea to ask their all loving king to make everyone equal.
Is it because somehow they love being in the first row?
Is it that they love the privileges they have over others, because even if they are just in the third or fourth row, there is still someone they are better off than?
Does being 'favoured' somehow gives them a sense of privilege and power, which makes them aspire to be even better off than everyone else?
Is it that asking the king to make everyone equal would mean the loss of power, privilege and ego?
Would it mean the loss of pride they feel at being the most loved favorites of the king’s subjects?
Are these decent, noble feelings or just selfish feelings?
The villager with the brain wave suggested that if all the villagers chose to ask their king to make everyone equal, no one ever needs fear demotion or accidents which means everyone gets to benefit from the situation. But the villagers dismissed his logic as blasphemy and the rants of a fool.
Now, input this scenario with religious believers who sincerely believe that their God is all powerful, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, whom they claim love every of his creature. When believers find themselves in difficult situations, they often say things like:
“Thank God, for not making me one of those people that are worse off than me.”
“ThankGod I survived that accident even though some people died, some were disabled, but I only got off with a scar, thank you God for loving me that much”.
Hmmm…how much more selfish could that sound?
Ok, if you believe that this God is all powerful and answers all prayers, why not just ask him to remove all accidents? Why not pray to him to remove pains, diseases, inequality etc. Oh, please don’t tell me this all powerful, all omnipotent, all loving God who you claim created this magnificent universe in just 7 days, is still angry because Adam and Eve ate a forbidden fruit that made them discover knowledge!
Oh, this all powerful God is still so hurt by that fabled act of disobedience that even though he slept with the virgin fiancé of another man, to give birth to his son, who actually is himself, so he could appease himself for the original sin committed by Adam and Eve, yet somehow he is still so hung up about the eating of the forbidden fruit that he would continue to allow pain, suffering, hunger, accidents, diseases, children dying of cancers, children starving to death all because he still couldn’t find it in his all powerful, omnipotent, omniscient, all loving heart to forgive the human race for the original sin of Adam and Eve.
This omnipresent God will continue to visit the sins of the fathers upon the sons and on generations unborn because Adam and Eve gave in to the seduction of a talking snake to eat the forbidden fruit which he had commanded them not to eat?
Thus he has prepared an everlasting burning hellfire for those who do not worship him the exact way he wants to be worshiped. He keeps the furnace of hell burning , so he could finally throw everyone who did not thank him enough into everlasting hell fire, in the meantime he takes as much time as he wish for his famed second coming as he is still busy accumulating candidates for his burning hellfire.
Do you truly believe this God has a moral ground to stand on?
Do you think this egoist you are thanking for making you better off than others deserve to be thanked?
Are you taking moral lessons from such a being with such low moral code?
Ok, you lost your job, on your way home you passed a homeless person living on the floor of the train station and you thought well at least you are still not homeless. So you got home, knelt down and thanked God for making you better off than the homeless person. Does this God preen and pat himself on the back for being good to you?
Do you preen and feel like the favored child of this God, at least more favored than the homeless man?
Is favoritism a good thing?
Should a loving Dad, King or God practice favoritism?
Should a decent person demand favoritism?
Should a decent person not feel sad that even though they are in a bad situation, there are actually people who are worse off than they are?
Is it something to be proud of that we are better off than others, especially when it is not due to any fault of those worse off?
Each time you seat at your bountiful table, do you thank your omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent God for not making you one of the starving children in Africa?
Should a decent person who has a magical deity who could make all things right not be concerned about making this world a better place for all rather than thanking this God for making them better off than others?
Yes, it is good to appreciate our positions in life; it is good to be grateful for what we have and what we can do. I appreciate that I can see and admire the beauty of nature, that I am in good enough health to walk, skip and run around without aids. However I do think it would be utterly selfish of me to thank an all powerful God for making me better off than others, rather than ask my all powerful God to make others be able to enjoy everything I also enjoy.
"Thank God I am better off than others" is not a prayer of appreciation, it is simply another way of saying “Thank you God for making me better than others” AND THIS IS A VERY SELFISH ATTITUDE.