As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God
by Matthew Parris

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset.

Before Christmas I returned, after 45 years, to the country that as a boy I knew as Nyasaland. Today it’s Malawi, and The Times Christmas Appeal includes a small British charity working there. Pump Aid helps rural communities to install a simple pump, letting people keep their village wells sealed and clean. I went to see this work.

It inspired me, renewing my flagging faith in development charities. But travelling in Malawi refreshed another belief, too: one I’ve been trying to banish all my life, but an observation I’ve been unable to avoid since my African childhood. It confounds my ideological beliefs, stubbornly refuses to fit my world view, and has embarrassed my growing belief that there is no God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding - as you can - the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.

But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.


So You think Africa needs God Or just the help of the people ( Christians) That are trying to spread the word of God?

The article says the authors thinks that Africa actually needs the faith to spread.

If the person is truly Athiest how can they say that? Do they believe in the good of Faith? I mean it sort of is an oxy Moron. lol

This is what happens when atheists try to reason without faith.

This is the type of reason that brings people to faith, once they realize the reason they themselves aren’t embracing the faith they espouse to others. Perhaps this is that the sin that leads others to ruin is a part of their own lives as well. That the sin they thought would fulfill them as a human is inhuman after all and that the opposite is best even if Godly in origin.

Seems that the search for the truth, that Africa needs God may lead one to believe that he needs God also.:clapping:

How could it not? If he believes that Africa needs God then he is already admitting that God does exist. How then would it be possible to remain atheist?:shrug:

If I’m one of those parents that thinks that children need to be told the lie of Santa, flying raindeers, etc exist since it makes them bahave because they like presents & so on; does that mean I believe in Santa?

Who knows! do you?
What that has to do with someone saying they need God, you got me!:shrug:

Oh boy…

Ok, do you think that most the parents that tell their kids about Santa actually believe in him?
It’s a response to your “If he believes that Africa needs God then he is already admitting that God does exist” comment.

I know what it was a response to!

I haven’t read the full article, but I’m assuming:
Just like with Santa/Christ case, the author might think it is beneficial to teach those people & bring them into faith, even though he does not believe it.

This might be a bit alarming to the Catholic reader:

Christianity, post-Reformation and post-Luther, with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being, smashes straight through the philosphical/spiritual framework I’ve just described. It offers something to hold on to to those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Misionaries have been traveling to Africa for centuries. It’s not entirely clear that they have managed to transform African thinking.

It will be interesting to revisit this thread in ten years or so. The Chinese are investing a great deal of money in Africa. And you can bet they won’t be spending much effort on Christian beliefs. Be curious to see what impact their money and world view will have on the region.

Robert it seems you think you have this intelligent handle on things, and I am just too stupid to get what you mean.

I knew exactly what you meant, but see this is the thing your analogy of your belief in Santa and belief in Christ in this particular situation is just senseless to me.

I said that if he believes that they need God then he must believe there is a God. You disagree fine you don’t like what I said fine, I am not getting into a silly argument with you over Santa and God!

& I just pointed out how your statement is easily shown false & he doesn’t have to believe in a god to think that religious teachings/or religious missionaries are benefiting Africans.

OK I acknowlege you think my statement was false, Now do you feel better?

I read the article, “God” is used as a concept, a “belief opposite those tribal superstitions and practices” that are the cause of ill in Africa.

The author now has a view of God a posteriori that will germinate like the seed falling on rich soil, the rich soil of the soul that is the search for truth. Santa notwithstanding.

So he’s offering to replace one set of supersticious beliefs for another. Wonderful.

I find the author hypocritical, he believes THOSE people will be better of with THOSE belief sets, but he doesn’t subscribe to them himself. If he thinks teaching those people lies or falsehoods (at least from his unbeliever perspective) is going to help them, then…

I guess it’s true for this case that religion is opium for the people.

He is on his way to finding the truth. He is open to the truth with no contempt, guile, or disrespect. The author can see the good that belief will do, close your eyes to that and you just live in a provincial world of your own presuppositions. That is the true opium you have fed to yourself.

He has the mustard seed planted!:wink:

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