IS GOD DEAF?


God is deaf

Art by ExChristian.net

In 2004, the World Council of Churches(WCC) established the International Day of Prayer for Peace. Each year since, on the 21st day of September, the WCC issues a call for all people of faith to lift their voices to Heaven in a tsunami of supplication for peace. This day of mass prayer coincides with the United Nation’s annual International Day of Peace established in 2002 to encourage all the world’s combatants to stand down, at least for one day.

Every year since the first Peace Bell tolled in Jisenji-no-hana, Japan in 1947 in prayerful remembrance of the horror wrought by the Atomic Bomb, Peace Bells peal and citizens pray in many countries on various days of national commemoration. The United Nations Peace Bell, gifted by Japan in 1954, rings out every year on Earth Day, its bell-cord blessed and presented to the U.N. by Shinto priests in 1990.

Today, one can find on the Internet thousands of sites offering prayers for peace from individuals, to interreligious foundations, to large religious organizations.

These are certainly heartwarming displays of compassion for all humankind by tens of thousands, perhaps millions of good people from many religions around the globe, but are they effective?

The number of conflicts in the world at any given time varies depending on the criteria used for defining the nature of a conflict. WarsInTheWorld.com calculates the number of periodic border clashes, international shooting wars, and internal struggles. By their measure, as of November 13, 2013, there were 60 countries at war, among most of which 490 militia-guerrilla, separatist, and anarchic groups were engaged in internal conflicts.

HistoryToday.com uses a different scale to determine the number of international conflicts at a given time. They do not include internal struggles, but calculate only the number of pairs of countries (conflicts between states) engaged in hostile acts. Their definition of “conflict” includes all aggressive acts such as full-scale shooting wars, gunboat diplomacy (threat by show of strength), blockades, and border closings. By this method, they calculate that the rate of growth of conflicts in the world has increased significantly since the end of World War II in 1945. During the Cold War, the rate of growth was 31%, and during the 1990s, the rate of increase reached 36% per year.

Clearly, intercessory prayer is powerless in reducing the level of hostility in the world.

Attempts at direct mediation by religious organizations have been few in number and relatively ineffective. The United States Institute of Peace cites only two conflicts where mediation by religious groups brought about a cessation of fighting; the first Sudanese civil war of 1955-1972 during which two million people died, and the Mozambique civil war of 1975-1992 which resulted in one million deaths. Both conflicts displaced millions of individuals and families.

The Sudanese civil war erupted again in 1983. Mozambique still holds on to a shaky peace after the Renamo guerrilla leader, Afonso Dhlakama, declared an end to the 1992 peace accord on October 21, 2013. As of this writing, some fighting has occurred, but it was limited in scope.

Even though economic and social conditions have improved significantly in the country during the two decades, peace appears to be breaking down. As of November 10, 2013, foreigners were leaving the country and guerrilla fighting has begun in central Mozambique.

One might rightfully ask, then, is it even possible to achieve world peace and social harmony when mass prayer, and secular and religious intervention have brought about such dismal results? Is there no path to world peace?

There is a path, but to take it, we must shift our focus. This is not to say that religious and secular mediation attempts should not continue. Indeed, these are all we have. So, where is the path?

True peace and social justice, as Socrates suggested in Plato’s Republic, begins within each individual. For there to be harmony and justice in society, there first must be harmony and justice within each citizen.

Yet, by nature, individuals are not given to harmonious relationships with everyone else. Because this fact was not lost on Socrates, he suggested that the rulers of society must propagate a religious, noble lie of such a nature that everyone would accept his god-given place in society and work in harmony with everyone else.

Socrates’ approach has never worked. Governments are not composed of benevolent philosophers, relatively few citizens would dare to change their religious beliefs for any reason, and many citizens are not religious at all.

Additionally, most conflicts today have little to do with religion. The Sudanese and Mozambique civil wars are over oil and mineral rights. The true root causes of armed conflict, then, are religious intolerance, economic disparity, greed, and insensitivity—also the driving forces of economic disparity—not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Currently, most of our efforts to bring about peace are reactive, and there seems to be no other way. I suggest that the proactive, long-term solution is to target the root causes by first concentrating on the children. Teach them, instead of exclusive, religious dogma, the greatest concept to which most people already agree but tend to ignore or forget; The Golden Rule.

A child is born neither Christian, nor Jew, nor Muslim, nor atheist, nor an adherent to any other brand of religious or philosophical order. A child is born a human being with an ability to learn, and from this raw material society builds her walls of nationalism and religious certitude.

M. Jefferson Hale, Beyond Paine, 2025: The Empathy Imperative, p7


 

— Max T. Furr is author of The Empathy Imperative, a novel featuring a trial of God in an ethereal courtroom where He is charged with creating evil, willful and harmful negligence, and with terrorism. His interrogators are a professor of evolutionary biology and a professor of psychology.

Is the god of the Bible amoral? Do true-believers believe that whatever their god does, he does because it is the moral and right thing to do, or are his actions right and moral because they are his actions? –A paraphrasing of a question originally posited by Socrates

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Think Always
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 18:37:16

    Yes, most definitely. I agree that the children, and the individual level are where our focus should be. I love your blog Max.

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  2. Max T. Furr
    Mar 08, 2015 @ 16:21:38

    Thank you, Think. I really appreciate that. You have so much of interest on your blog. I will be making comment on some shortly.

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  3. BroadBlogs
    Mar 10, 2015 @ 14:31:56

    I’ve often thought that wars fought in the name of religion were actually wars fought via the excuse of religion — with the real motive being greed or power or puffing oneself up.

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  4. Max T. Furr
    Mar 10, 2015 @ 16:38:06

    Yes, one hears all sorts of excuses to take fundamentalist religion off the hook, but unfortunately, to get people to kill each most often takes religion as the hook. I have no doubt that it is religion that drives the leaders of ISIL and groups like them, but the foot soldiers join for all sorts of reasons, religion definitely being one of them. There is no secular reason why people would fly planes into buildings, killing thousands along with themselves.

    While WWII was fought for politics/power/fame/greed–whatever was in Hitler’s twisted mind–most soldiers and sailors (most of them very good people) prayed before going into battle. Without religion, I believe folks would be a lot more uncomfortable with killing others for the benefit of some politician/madman.

    Here is another quote from The Empathy Imperative:

    “The greatest fear of mankind is not an eternal Hell, but an indifferent universe. We fear that we are truly alone in a cosmos that cares not a whit for us. We fear that on a scale of cosmological time, we may be little more than a momentary growth of lichen on an outcrop of stone deep in the cold northern regions, and that all of our prayers, tears, bobbing heads, and lamentations will not entice the universe to say, ‘I am here, and I love you.’ ” –M. Jefferson Hale, 2026, “Beyond Paine.”

    Hale’s point, of course, is that an eternity of nothingness is our greatest fear–that our selfness will simply wink out of existence, forever.

    Hard to contemplate as it is, I think that if most people were to adopt that view, the reluctance to go to war would be exceeding great. Of course I could be wrong and our inherited impulses to aggression and territoriality would demand the sacrifice anyway, but religion certainly does soften the prospect.

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  5. Kendall F. Person
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 09:10:21

    I enjoyed reading this essay very much. There is a funny story I would like to tell, but I will have to do so later today {the 2-part comment will make sense on part two – big smile).

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  6. Kendall F. Person
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 06:12:43

    On approx half of the now 20 original series, I invite a guest writer to collaborate. Generally the invitation is very specific I was planning for The Exorcist during the same time as the season opener, and written collaborations require a committed amount of time and communication and skyping, which i enjoy. But I never found the time to search out and invite ‘the’ collaborative written-word artists so, like i do the other half of the time, i went it alone. But the morning The Exorcist was set to publish, although i postponed for a day, you were in The Neighborhood viewing the photo essay, and left a link about a parallel post you wrote, I immediately followed you here, and right when I started reading, all the way through to the end, I said to myself “Now I find him,” {big smile}. I did not simply enjoy, but connected to how it was written. Not being presumptuous that you would have agreed, but it just made me smile that I found you anyway, and read this particular post. You are appreciated Max Furr

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  7. Max T. Furr
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 10:30:55

    I sincerely appreciate the kind words of such a fine writer as yourself, Kendall. You warm my heart this morning and make my day. Now I’m good for another several hours of writing :D. We are indeed brothers in our love for the written word and for reason over exclusive dogma.

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  8. M.M.J. Gregory
    Dec 30, 2015 @ 16:14:28

    This! This!
    To think of the few conflicts and wars that I know of is depressing enough, to see more listed one after the other on that website is too much to bear. Whoever maintains that site is stronger than I.
    Your point about our retroactive actions gets to the heart of the issue. We tear apart a fractured world and barely bother to put a band-aid on when we’re through because there’s already a new fracture ripping at society’s seams.
    The children, the children! To teach them, to love them. To do only those things would do so much. Yet even reasonable people cannot agree on what knowledge and love are. Will we ever?
    I don’t know, but I sincerely hope so. I put as much love and truth into the world as I can and hope for the best. I think many people do so, but so far our best is not enough.

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    • Max T. Furr
      Jan 03, 2016 @ 13:51:51

      Thank you, Madalyn for thoughtful comment. Yes. I fully agree. Were we all to cease looking to the stars for godly intervention, but take it on ourselves to place the highest priority on teaching our children the value of benevolent reciprocity and unconditional kindness, perhaps we could cross that bridge of understanding and see each other as brothers and sisters, seeking commonality.

      The greatest opposition to this is, ironically, the very thing most people believe to be a uniting force; exclusive religious doctrine. Yet religion, as taught to us by our parents and society, is so deeply ingrained in our emotional fiber that reason is set aside. I think Karl Marx was spot on when he opined that “religion is the opium of the people.” It is an escape from uncertainty both in our existence and in society, and yet it encourages our xenophobic nature. Our religion is the true religion. We cannot see that this belief is a mirror images of most others–that we are all the same, but appearing to be opposites. But, to realize that one’s beliefs are a function of happenstance of birth rather than truth, is to disavow that foundation upon which one has constructed his life.

      Such is the virtually unscalable mountain we need to scale.

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