God’s Off The Hook! We Let People Starve

I often run into the argument that people starve because we let them and so God isn’t responsible. At first brush, this argument seems to make sense because it does make some sense if you take God out of the equation. You can easily make the case that people starve because we don’t share resources well and/or we’re a selfish species.

I ran into this comment again today. Here’s what the original comment said:

Something that always amazes me, why don’t we ever ask, how come humans don’t feed all the starving children? We live on a planet with abundant resources and enough food for all. So how come some children still go hungry?

One problem is that people don’t like to look at the nature of human depravity and some of the horrors we are capable of creating and inflicting on each other. The conditions that create starvation are totally man made, but we never just say, “sheesh people can be outright evil,” instead we demand to know why God allows these things to happen. Some people then go on to try to argue that God must be evil for allowing it, for not protecting people from the full horror of the consequences of our own actions.

While seeming to make sense, this argument misses the point completely and attempts to redirect blame.

Of course people ask why we don’t do more as a species to feed people. The reason why this was brought up in the first place was because God was added to the equation. Let me illustrate why the above argument doesn’t make sense.

Imagine that the picture below included five other human beings who were sitting there eating hamburgers while this poor child looked on. These five people are well fed and they have constant access to more food but instead of sharing, they just keep eating.

Starved_girlYou could hang a red plaque above each of the hypothetically well-fed people in the picture and label them, ‘evil assholes’. I doubt very many people would argue.

Now let’s suppose that God enters the room, and he’s sitting with those five people. Does he get a pass? And if so, why would he get a pass?

By adding a sixth person, it doesn’t mitigate the essential point that no matter how many people are watching this child starve, each of them are equally to blame.

Now give the sixth person in the room (God) magical powers – he doesn’t have to produce the food. He doesn’t have to transport it. He doesn’t have to distribute it. He doesn’t even need to pay for it. All he has to do is will it into existence and this child could eat.

But instead, this deity continues to sit with the other five people while they eat their hamburgers and look on disdainfully.

That’s the point. That’s the problem of evil.

This is the circular reasoning that religion often employs – if something good happens, it’s God who should be thanked. If something bad happens, it’s our fault. No matter what, God would get a free pass.

It makes more sense when you take God out of the equation. At that point, you can make the argument that we’re the cause and we should be doing more to prevent starvation.

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62 Comments

  1. Oh! This was a great read. I have had the same feelings. Why is it that God is responsible for the good, but he isn’t to blame when some bad comes along? If he is supposedly around us then isn’t he just as much to blame as the rest of us? He sees it going on as we do. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Tying this back to your post “worthless things we call valuable”… The starvation of individuals around us exposes [our] the human heart.
    Why is it that companies find it easier to maintain an artificial market value on an item by dumping what they cannot sell rather than giving it away to those who are in genuine need of those items?

    Isn’t this the very reason we need the kingdom of God to be established in our lives and in the lives of those around us because mankind has never once gotten the governance of any society justly nor correctly.

    Why is God responsible for what we fail to do? Can He let us do something or are we the ones who have to “let”…

    The sovereignty of God does not mean He controls all that happens in the earth. [Yes, I know I’m going against what some Christians believe; but if this were true then God is also responsible for all that you say, which we know is absolutely not the case].

    All evil stems from the human heart/spirit. Only through Christ can a person’s heart/spirit be truly changed because what we’ve done is exchanged our rebellious nature for His.

    • Hello Ancients,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

      “Why is it that companies find it easier to maintain an artificial market value on an item by dumping what they cannot sell rather than giving it away to those who are in genuine need of those items?”

      I’m not sure. Some companies do give away the goods they can’t sell. When I worked in a teen center, bakeries and grocery stores would give their food to us if they didn’t sell immediately and we’d use that food to make meals for the kids.

      I know it doesn’t work that way everywhere but it’s a good start.

      “The sovereignty of God does not mean He controls all that happens in the earth. ”

      That’s an interesting view on God. What is he responsible for then?

      “All evil stems from the human heart/spirit. ”

      I agree with this sentiment.

      “Only through Christ can a person’s heart/spirit be truly changed because what we’ve done is exchanged our rebellious nature for His.”

      I disagree wholeheartedly with this one. We are capable of change and there’s no need to invoke a god to do so.

      • GC, I agree it’s a good start and many thanks to those who do give from what they have.
        I do believe the resources are available to eradicate hunger worldwide, and provide a sustainable means for ongoing provision for those currently unable provide for themselves.

        What is God responsible for-
        He’s responsible for training us reign with Him. Kings reign, and as such they need to have a heart of wisdom; they need to have a discerning, loving, compassionate and understanding heart so that they can govern and judge righteously. They need to know right from wrong.

        God is also responsible for honoring ALL His covenants with us IF we’ve honored the requirement(s). Eg. If you abide in me and My word abides in you, ask what you will and you will have it.
        See, many people ask, but they do not abide in the word, neither do they let the word abide in them.

        The things/gifts of God are first received in our spirits (God is a Spirit) which is then manifested in the spiritual. This may sound spooky but all it is, is dimensions [there are 7 Dimensions in the spirit/unseen world; 4 in our material world: length, width, height, time,]. Electromagnetism falls into the realm of unseen dimensions. You cannot see it, however you can feel its effect.

        How can a human being or a natural man change its nature?

  3. I actually agreed to IB’s first paragraph. But of course I doubt my comment will see the light of day.
    There are adequate resources to ensure everyone on the planet is fed. There is no need for the christian god or any other external supernatural force to be involved.
    But of course, this was not really the thrust of IB’s remark,now was it?

    I am beginning to believe James and the open-up-his-blog policy is about to go ballistic and will soon be swamped by non-christian commenters. John is already rattling James and Wally ( who is beginning to sound more befuddled and all at sea than usual and you are seriously pissing off Ufuoma. Good!

    Let honesty and genuine evidence prevail!

  4. God doesn’t directly help or hurt anyone (most of the time). When the poor are fed, it’s because we give them food. This doesn’t take God out of the equation. It’s something we’re expected to do. There are many places throughout the Bible (and I’m sure other religious texts) that say we are blessed when we help people in need. Likewise, we are responsible for the starvation of children. Jesus said himself that “The poor you will always have with you…” because, I think, it’s just human nature. We are a selfish species.

    Last summer I decimated a pineapple with my godfather’s assault rifle. At the time it was fun, but months later, I thought. “Someone somewhere might actually kill for that rotting pineapple if that’s all they could get to eat.” It’s just how we are. We take food, among other things, for granted.

    All this is not to say that (I don’t believe) God doesn’t directly help people. I do believe in miracles, but I also think that we don’t recognize them a lot of the time.

      • I could give you a few examples. I can’t prove that it was God, but it’s what I choose to believe.

        My cousin had cancer several years ago and things were not going well at all. He told my aunt that he was going to die, and somehow that got passed on to me, so I prayed, and very soon after things got better, and now he’s cancer free.

        When I was a baby I was diagnosed with a kind of Muscular Dystrophy that would kill me by age 3. My mom prayed like a crazy woman, and long story short, I’m 22, very alive, and still undiagnosed.

        Several years ago I was having serious loneliness issues. I thought I needed a romantic partner, so I prayed about it for 2 years or so. One night in October of 2011, I felt like I was going to lose my mind. I prayed and I said “I love you” for the first time, and I instantly felt loved and content.

        I’ve had so many prayers answered I’ve lost track. Like I said, I can’t prove that God was involved in all or any of them, but it’s what I choose to believe.

      • Honestly, I’m not sure I can. I was mostly addressing the argument that Christians give God the credit when good things happen, but don’t even notice him when bad things do. I don’t know why God allows bad things to happen. A lot of people try, and I think, fail to answer that question, so I’ll tell you what I think, but I don’t think this is a perfect or even completely sensible answer. It’s just what I choose to believe.

        The only possible argument that makes sense to me is that our understanding of time is different from God’s. Furthermore, while each individual person is very important to God, the fate of humanity as a whole is more important, and his ultimate plan is more important. I believe he takes care of every person in the long run, which makes some sense if you believe in the afterlife, but it doesn’t answer the question of why people have to suffer now. I believe that God’s kingdom will be perfect, and when it is finally established, no one will have to suffer, but that still doesn’t answer your question. It’s the best I can do.

  5. quick question: ‘Riddle me this, riddle me that, how would a Christian get banned from a Christian blog?” (sorry, I suck at the rhyming thing)
    answer: ask questions and raise issues that the grand-blog-meister is not willing and too insecure In his own faith to ‘allow’ on his blog.
    sad really. but he’s chosen to plug his ears and mind. -mike

  6. I think I hold God responsible for both the bad and the good that happen in the universe. I think that God allows starvation as well as abundance, and as brutal as this might sound; it’s really God’s life to take.

    Do I wish everything was bright, and good, and perfect..of course, but I think I have to recognise that God provided man with free will.

    Free will means that we can do whatever we choose to do – regardless of if that affects another person’s life or not. When someone dies, I recognise that whatever God’s plan is for them is greater than whatever life they might have lived on earth.

    I hope you try to understand where I’m coming from, but yeah…, have a wonderful evening

      • I think at the end of the day, I consider God benevolent. I think whatever He inevitably choose is for the greater good (even though it seems bad by all human accounts). Starving children brings out compassion, and even those left to die will find rest in God.

        As at now, that’s really the only way I can explain it. Can I prove the Christian God exists? No.. Although…, I do believe there is a fair amount of non-biblical accounts that support the resurrection of Jesus. Anyway, my point is, yes.. I do think that death can be a far greater gift than life on earth

        • Hi TCB,
          This is not consistent with Scripture or the true nature of God.

          1. God is light, and there is no darkness in Him. Ascribing starvation, sickness etc. to Him is not what Scripture teaches. Jesus came and healed all who were oppressed by the devil. Sickness, lack, etc. are oppression from the devil.
          Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

          2. Starvation on any account is bad. There is no purpose in starvation. It doesn’t glorify God.
          Pro 10:22 The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.

          3. You’re correct that God provided man with free will – free will to choose to feed, clothe, shelter, heal those around us.
          Mt 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
          Ro 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

          4. God has a specific plan and purpose for each person’s life, however most people never come close to fulfilling any of the things God has in store for them. Know this: the will of God mostly does not get done. We have to cooperate with Him to have His will come to pass in our lives.
          Jer 29:11For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.

          • I didn’t have to read everything you said to know that you did not read my comment. I said God allows, emphasis on the word “allows”, starvation.

            In Job, do you remember when the devil asked if you he could cause Job suffering. God said yes…meaning he allowed for it to happen

            Nothing on earth happens without God’s say so, so yes I do believe that God allows for starvation and hunger.

            • I read both your comments.
              You said you believed God allows both good and bad; which prompted GC’s question – is God benevolent etc.
              You said you believed He allowed starvation, etc. because ultimately what He chooses is for the greater good.

              My response is firm. That is wrong and unscriptural. Some Biblical reasons given.

              Why does God tell us to submit to Him, resist the devil and he will flee from you. God does not allow us to submit to Him, neither does he allow us to resist the devil. We have to choose to do these things on ourselves. ‘God is not in the drivers seat, you are, however you have to choose to take the directions He gives to you.’

              1. If nothing on earth happens without God saying yes – by your reasoning God allowed Cain to murder his brother.

              2. Persons who commit adultery – did they have God’s “yes” / permission

              3. People who are sick – should they take medication or go to the dr. By your reasoning, if they do so they’re trying to get out of the greater plan God has for them, so they should suffer until they learn or know what that greater plan is.
              Sounds absurd doesn’t it. It is. God doesn’t allow/put sickness, starvation, evil upon people.
              God is light and in Him there is no darkness.

              Regarding Job. A much misunderstood Book.
              Note – Job was before the Law, so like us, he was living during a period of grace.

              Job was righteous, blameless and upright before the Lord. However, just because a person is these things doesn’t meant they do not have root issues to deal with. Job was no exception.
              Job’s issue was self-righteousness brought on by fear, as is common among religionists today. The belief that one’s good works/sacrifice is what makes them acceptable to God.
              Why did Job live in constant fear, making sacrifices every morning for his children just in case they sinned?
              Faith is what pleases God.
              Fear is the opposite of faith. fear is in fact faith in the adversary; and is one of the avenues the devil uses to gain an inroad into a believers life.
              Job here was no exception. God did not say yes to the devil. He said “see, he’s already in your hands.”
              How did this happen. Fear brings down that wall/hedge of protection around us, opening a gap for the adversary to take advantage of.

              All the calamities that came upon Job, who brought them.
              Why did Job say: the thing I feared the most has come upon me.
              How many times in Scripture are we told: do not fear, fear not, do not be afraid, be anxious for nothing etc.
              Faith is what’s pleasing to God; fear is of the devil.
              The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.

              Have a blessed day.

              • I agree with a little of what you have said, but I believe your general idea to be untrue

                1) Yes, God allow Cain to kill Abel, but He did not cause for it to be so. “Allow” and “Cause” are two different words. You are making the assumption that as the creator of the universe, God can’t intervene if he chooses to. God allows sin (adultery included). Just because you allow something doesn’t mean you approve of it. Parents allow children to make mistakes so they can learn (doesn’t mean they are giving their kids a thumbs up)

                Anyway.. you’re entering into the realm of sin (which has nothing to do with what I said). Starvation, and suffering are not sin themselves – although they are result of sin

                They are poor predicaments in which some people find themselves or are born into. Do you know how ridiculous it is to say that God created some people to be at the mercy of others. Because that’s basically what your assumption is stating

                Sorry poor people, you were born into this predicament so that you could receive help from rich foreign Christians – because you people are in no way God’s responsibility. Oh happy day! Can you hear the extent of absurdity in that statement, because that’s your argument in a nutshell

                Your people who are sick argument is weak and overused. If drugs are available to them, then it was inevitably in God’s plan for you to take them

                “Fear brings down that wedge of protection”. Your argument that states that people who have faith in the Lord can never experience the devil’s snares is irrational and quite frankly, wrong. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re basically saying that strong faith-filled Christians can’t be poor, or experience suffering like Job did because they are under God’s protection. Does that sound true to you?

                • To “allow” means to let, to permit, to concede.
                  There are spiritual laws that govern the universe, and God Himself adheres to His own spiritual laws. He’s a just judge.

                  Your assumptions and rephrasing of my statements are the complete opposite of what I’ve stated.

                  So which is God’s plan… sickness, starvation, healing, medicine, food, abundance. These are opposing each other. God is not the author of confusion.
                  Did Jesus go against God’s will by healing people and by commanding us to feed and clothe the orphans & widows.
                  Sickness is a curse (Deut.); we’re told quite clearly in Gal. that Christ has redeemed us from the curse, by becoming a curse for us.
                  Forever the word of God is settled in heaven.
                  I stated quite clearly that Job was righteous, blameless and upright before the Lord, yet was [as you put it] “ensnared by the devil”. Every believer will experience some form of persecution and affliction -(does not mean sickness) because any tree not planted by the Father must be uprooted.

                  • I think I now somewhat understand what you are trying to say. never said that God was one of confusion. No one is disputing that God’s plan is good.

                    What I am saying is that even though the devil has caused selfishness in the heart of man (which God has allowed because of free-will) that has led to suffering and what-not, God still makes all things work out for those that love Him.

                    That’s all I’m basically saying. I think you’re misinterpreting me, or you’re choosing to not understand, but that’s my plain and simple argument.

                    I am tired of arguing with you when you’re not willing to understand me.

                    Have a good day

            • It wasn’t God who allowed/put suffering upon Job. Any authority the devil has doesn’t come from God, it comes from us. The devil is not a lion, however he goes about like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour/destroy.

              For the believer (Job included), all things may not be good but thank God He works all things for our good. This is not saying it was God who caused the evil, which is why praise and worship are so vital in a believer’s life because it ensures that the power of God is not stopped from working within us by the enemy.

  7. Yes, we do live on a planet with abundant resources and enough food for all, but greedy people who claims they believe in a ‘God’, is making money out of it and those who can’t afford it, have to suffer.

    I wish there was a ‘God’. If there was, he/she wouldn’t have allowed this kind of suffering. He/she would have made it so that humans would only be able to have 1 or 2 children, he/she would have ‘punished’ the greedy and criminals .. and I can go on and on.

    Whether good or bad – we are the cause and we can only thank or blame ourselves for it.

    Great post GC. 😀

    • one other comment: over time many if not most of us have become aware that the Big Business care people, like Oxfam, the Red Cross, and others, are funneling donations through their advertising filters, their support group filters, all of it taking away the idea of “a dollar from me means a dollar’s worth of food for a starving child.” Those pictures of hungry children sobbing, and hungry children eating, cost money to take, to process, to distribute. So does all the staff.

      It makes me think twice, sadly, about donating, simply because I know my small amount of money donated won’t do much more than get one or two photos taken and processed. It makes a girl cynical and wary. So it isnt always just the greedy and the lazy who are not contributing, but maybe the cynical and the cautious too.

  8. Just read your post over as Isaiah. Excellent as usual. It went to moderation, of course, so I am hoping it comes out.
    I wonder if anyone will give a proper answer to the Blood Sacrifice point? I raised it again in my comment.
    I suspect as this point is not the central focus of your post it will be skirted over. We’ll see.

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