Overview:

Prayer to open city council meetings. Christian Creationism in public schools. "In God We Trust" on the money. Conservative Christians seem everpresent, always looking for a crack through which to slip their religion so that public government supports it.

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What does it say about Christians’ faith that they insist on government help to support it? Doesn’t this cast doubt on the claim that God is omnipotent?

This is the next clue that we live in a godless world (part 1 of this list of 25 reasons we don’t live in such a world here):

7. Because Christians want help from the government

The U.S. Constitution is secular, and the separation between church and state is made mandatory with the First Amendment. Even if crossing the line weren’t unconstitutional, what would it say about the weakness of Christian claims that they need to lean on the government for support?

God is the most powerful being in the universe, and yet Christians want to protect him from honest criticism.

Despite the prohibition, conservative Christianity isn’t content to stay on its side of the back seat. Think of the accommodations it already gets: the President has been obliged to issue a proclamation declaring a National Day of Prayer since 1952, “In God We Trust” is the national motto, conservative voters punish politicians who aren’t sufficiently Christian (bypassing Article VI of the Constitution, which prohibits a religious test for public office), and the IRS has for years failed to revoke churches’ nonprofit status when they violate the Johnson amendment’s prohibition against politicking from the pulpit. Conservatives are continually pushing for Creationism and prayer in public schools, “In God We Trust” displays in government buildings, Ten Commandments monuments and manger scene displays on public property, the ability to deny service and government licenses to people their god doesn’t like, and prayer to start meetings in venues from Congress down to city councils.

Christians who value the rights that Western society grants us today—voting, no slavery, no torture, non-coercive marriage, freedom of (and from) religion, freedom of speech, fair trial, democracy, and so on—must remember that these all came from secular sources. Biblically based society would have none of these. Don’t think that Christianity is the foundation on which American democracy is built. It’s the other way around: American Christianity is permitted by the Constitution.

When Christian leaders push against constitutional limits on religion, they admit that Christianity’s arguments are so weak that they need to coerce the government to support their cause. A real God wouldn’t need such help.

Here are two bonus reasons we don’t live in God World.

8. Because of unnecessary physical pain

It’s easy to see the evolutionary benefit of physical pain. If you touch something hot, you pull away quickly and minimize the damage. If you touch something sharp, you learn to avoid that. If your leg still hurts after an injury, you give it more time to heal. If you’re climbing over rough ground in a way that scrapes your palms or knees, you adapt to protect yourself.

These examples are pain that you can do something about, but what about chronic pain? There’s no value in pain from cancer, migraine headaches, phantom limbs, and many other kinds of injury or illness. This kind of pain is gratuitous, and it doesn’t push the patient to take steps to avoid or reduce injury.

We don’t have to imagine something better because it already exists. Marsili syndrome is a genetic defect that eliminates chronic pain. People with this syndrome still feel acute pain—pain from a scrape or a burn—but the useless chronic pain is gone.

Evolution explains this nicely, but it’s not what you’d expect in a world with God. If God achieves some desired result through chronic pain, it sure doesn’t look like it. The burden would be on the Christian to back this up. Even if God does achieve some good through pain, he could achieve the same good without the pain. He’s omnipotent, remember.

9. Because God gets credit for good things, but he’s never blamed for bad things

God is the most powerful being in the universe, and yet Christians want to protect him from honest criticism. Praise for his good actions is fine, but we can’t condemn anything that we find bad. As if he were a sensitive teenager, we must tiptoe around the drunk driving accident that killed a family or the tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people. God is good no matter what he does (or allows to happen), and mankind gets any blame.

Whether you get what you asked for in prayer or you don’t, God’s failures to deliver as promised in the Bible are reframed as life lessons or tough love. “God is good” is assumed up front, and any evidence is shoehorned in or ignored. The worship of a real god wouldn’t need to reject troublesome evidence.

See also: When Christians Treat God Like a Baby

Believing actually led to the demise of my faith
because it caused me to expect God to do things.
– OnlySky columnist Neil Carter

CROSS EXAMINED After graduating from MIT, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, and he is a co-contributor to 14 software patents. For more than a decade, he has explored the debate between Christianity...