Atheists in Church: God is Watching

As my friends know, my wife Jen is a Christian and goes to church pretty regular. Check out my initial post, our Atheist-Christian marriage for some more background. Well today she invited me to church and I wanted to jot down my thoughts on part of the sermon.

Atheist in Church

I often say that we (humans) can be good for goodness’ sake when I’m discussion religion and atheism with friends. We don’t need gods to be good, moral people. If it could be proven beyond a doubt that there are no gods of any sort, I think you’d still have good people doing good things and bad people doing bad things. But today, Dennis said that God basically keeps a tally sheet and every time we do something good, we get a star beside our name (paraphrasing). He said, that we should never have to worry about trash in the parking lot because people would just pick it up on their own since God is keeping score. Why would a person setup and take down chairs at the TAAD center (local youth group thing) when hardly anybody was showing up? Well because he knew that God was keeping score. The impression I got from that bit of the sermon was that we should do good things because God is watching.

Does that mean that the people who think that God is keeping score would no longer pick up the trash from the parking lot or try to help teens if they no longer believed there was a God? Do they only do good things because they think God is watching?

I suspect that Dennis (the preacher) would say that no, people would still be good. If that’s the case, why do we need to invoke this idea of a cosmic score keeper to get people to do good?

Maybe he would say yes though… Christians do believe in original sin after all and that people are inherently evil.

If you’re a Christian, I’d really be interested in hearing your opinion on whether or not Christians are good because God is keeping score.

2 thoughts on “Atheists in Church: God is Watching”

  1. Hey Mike.. interesting thoughts. The Christian belief that I’ve seen pretty much across the board (and believe myself) is that God is our Heavenly Father. It’s deeper than intellect too. What i mean is, I don’t just KNOW God’s my dad, i FEEL that he’s my dad. When you’re a kid you do things to please Dad so that you’ll “be cool” with him. In a healthy family situation it’s perfectly normal for a kid to want to please daddy when he’s being a good father to him or her. I think it has more to do with the fact that God is our provider and that he continues to bless us with things we need and want in life, and he receives great pleasure in seeing his kids do whats right and “pick up the trash in the parking lot”. Ya know? I truly mean it when I say, I love God and I want to do things that honor him. The bible says God is love and when we show Love, we honor God. Thats my 2 cents bro… thanks for bringing it up though.. it’s thought provoking and we christians shouldn’t just try to tally up good points…

  2. Hi Mike,
    Today I was reminded that God collects every tear, bucause He cares for us. And that every time we learn something good from our personal struggles, and incorporate it into our lives, it is precious to Him, like a ‘child’s color picture’, outside the lines and imperfect, but precious to Him. I think that if the TAD Center was the theme of the message today, Dennis would have told a much bigger story, and explained more clearly that God recognizes men’s obedience (faithfulness) to their calling (or purpose), regardless of their perceived success (re: setting up chairs). God is a builder of persons, not a builder of buildings. People are built and matured through obedience and perserverance fueled by love. We keep tabs on our childrens first steps, first school day, etc. Eventually, through obedience, our children run, graduate, etc. God knows you, even though you don’t know Him. He has a so called ‘tally sheet’ for you, too, because He has a personal interest in you (each of us). In the Bible, we are told our works (deeds) fall into tow catagories: wood, hay, and stubble, or fine gold. One group is burned up, and the other is refined in the fire of God’s judgement. Motivation, that only God can discern, makes the difference. Deeds done out of love of God and love for others will remain, like gold, before God. The rest won’t make the so called ‘tally sheet’. And, yes, we will be rewarded for the (golden) deeds done in the body…

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