Is God Necessary?
By Steven J. Grisafi, PhD.
Years ago, as I listened to a shortwave radio broadcast from Radio Netherlands, I heard the story of a young Japanese schoolboy who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He was sitting in his classroom at school one morning when suddenly all around him went dark. As he groped in the darkness to find his way he said to himself: Help me Buddha! Having been born and raise Catholic his words seemed very similar to me to what a Christian would say under such circumstances: Help me Jesus! Yet what struck me most at the time was that I knew no one, not even Buddhists, consider Buddha to be a deity. The Japanese schoolboy was appealing to the spirit of a great man, a mortal man.
One day as a graduate student I sat at a cafeteria table with some of my fellow classmates, all of whom, who were from Taiwan. As we ate our meal one of my friends commented that within his faith there was no God. He said this rather sheepishly, almost as if he feared reprisal for stating this simple fact. Such behavior may seem out of place to Europeans, and perhaps some others, yet here in the United States of America it is quite understandable. To anyone who questions the veracity of the Bible the most common response is to label any such person an atheist. Unless one is outwardly different in appearance and manner such as to suggest that one adheres to some eastern faith, to question the truthfulness of the tenets of Christianity is to provoke accusations of atheism and god-less communism. One will hear statements like: “There are no atheists in foxholes” or “You better hope you’re right”. All of this will come despite a complete lack of any indication that one actually doubts the existence of a deity. Talk show radio hosts in America speak not of Western Civilization, but of “Judeo-Christian” values. They make no distinction between the two, and ignore the contribution to our civilization from the pagans who were our ancestors.
Acknowledgment of the inaccuracies and half-truths of the Bible does not make one an atheist. One can find definitions of religion that sometimes do, and sometimes don’t, require an explicit belief in a deity to characterize a form of worship as a faith. In my opinion, it is in the best interest of all Christian faiths to acknowledge its error so as to reform its worship. The mortality of Buddha did not weaken that Japanese boy’s faith.