True or False: No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.


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“No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe in God.”

Bertrand Russell


I was actually updating an old post where I used this quote – but for a very different reason.

I looked at it today, and realized this is so false.  On many levels.

As I’m pointing out in the other article, this statement presumes that Bertrand Russell actually knows the mind of God.  In order to make the statement that he does, Russell has to choose from a few different emotions that God could have about a child dying:

  1. God is happy about it.
  2. God is OK with it.
  3. God doesn’t care one way or the other about the child.
  4. God is unhappy about it.

Everything else would be varying degrees of the 4 above.

Implicit in Russell’s statement are two things –

  1. God either doesn’t care, is OK with, or is even happy about it.
  2. People are unhappy about it.

It must be those choices – including the one about people not being happy about it.  Otherwise there’s no moral superiority for him to feel over God – and therefore assume that God cannot be believed in – that he cannot exist.  You see – if there was no difference between the way he assumes God feels and the way he assumes people feel – then there is no reason to not believe in God.  From the logical argument he uses, God’s position regarding the children must be lower than ours.  If God had more sympathy for the children than we did – then there’s no reason not to believe in Him.  Even if God and people felt equally bad about the plight of the children – there’s still no reason to not believe in him.

This is part 1 of a series called "God, us, and children"
Thee are some issues that will not be covered here,
such as the plight of the children,
whether or not God is good,
and if God is good, why doesn't He stop certain things from happening.
These will be covered in other articles.
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Do you see the problems?

Let’s start with the biggest problem of pure logic.

The conclusion is that God cannot believed in – that He doesn’t exist.

However – in order to reach that conclusion – Russell had to first not only assume that God does exist, but that he knew how God felt about the dying child.
Truth be told – assuming God exists in order to prove He doesn’t exist isn’t necessarily a logic flaw.  It’s an acceptable method.  Where it goes wrong is that Russell also assumes that he has knowledge of how God feels about the dying child.  There is no basis for assuming this knowledge – especially when the goal is to prove non-existence.

Furthermore – even assuming that God would be very happy about the dying child does not mean that He doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t believe in Him.
It raises a question of whether or not God is good – but not whether or not God exists.

Bertrand Russell’s argument just fell apart on the basis of improper logic.

But – let’s not stop there.

Is it OK to assume God is indifferent – or even worse – towards the death of a child?

No – it absolutely is not OK to assume that God doesn’t care about a dying child!

In spite of Russell’s apparent air of superiority over God – I can’t help but think this assumption is actually  a sign of his own feelings towards his fellow man, rather than an indictment of God.  As I said – for someone who concludes that God didn’t exist – how can he possibly make an assumption about how God feels?  Answer – he cannot.  And yet he does.  And if we fall for this illogical assumption – then we’re also likely to fall for his illogical conclusion.

Let’s look at what God Himself said about children –
four examples from the mouth of Jesus –

The Little Children and Jesus

19:13-15 pp — Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17

Mt 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
Mt 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Jesus uses children as an example of what we (especially adults) should be like.  Hardly sounds like someone who would want children to suffer and die.


Jesus at the Temple

21:12-16 pp — Mk 11:15-18; Lk 19:45-47

Mt 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.’’”
Mt 21:14 The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
Mt 21:16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
“ ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’ ?”
Mt 21:17 And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

Again – this hardly sounds like someone who would be indifferent to what’s happening to a child – let alone be happy about one dying.


The Greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven

18:1-5 pp — Mk 9:33-37; Lk 9:46-48

Mt 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Mt 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Mt 18:5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Mt 18:7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 

We begin to see a bit more here of how Jesus really feels.  Not only does He care about the children – he warns against those who would do harm to those children.  And who, exactly, would do that harm?  People.  Adults.  Us.  Bertrand Russell?


Jesus Before Pilate

27:11-26 pp — Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2, 3, 18-25; Jn 18:29-19:16

Mt 27:11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
Mt 27:12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
Mt 27:15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
Mt 27:19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”
Mt 27:20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
Mt 27:21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
Mt 27:22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
Mt 27:23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Mt 27:24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
Mt 27:25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
Mt 27:26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Remember the question about whether Bertrand Russell was responsible, in part, for the suffering and dying of little children?
Well – here we see the answer.  It is most decidedly yes.  
Yes, Bertrand Russell, who claims that looking at a child dying in bed is reason for not believing in God – bears some of the responsibility for those children being where they are.  Before you get too feeling good about yourself – so are you.  No matter who you are – so are you.  So am I.

Mt 27:25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

You and I – Bertrand Russell – everyone else you know – we are “all the people”.

We can’t say we weren’t there – because we still do it today.
Why do I say that?
Remember – at this point, all the disciples had scattered.  Peter had denied Jesus three times.  No one – not even Peter – was there to speak up for Jesus,  No one was there to speak against putting His blood on both us and our children.  In that light, have you spoken up every time you’ve heard someone say something against Jesus?  I don’t have to know you to say with great confidence that the answer to that is no – you haven’t.  Neither have I.  It’s just the way we are.  We don’t always do it.  Some of us may never do it.

We are the ones responsible for that child, the one lying in bed dying.
Not God.

Some real life examples

I wrote something a little while back about “Why do rich people give their money away?”

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Here are some examples to think about related to people being the problem – not God.

  • The rich people mentioned the the article above made their money either by selling something or investments (still selling “something”, although not physical products).  That’s why they have so much money.  Money that they now feel like they have to give away.  Maybe they even give it away to help children.
    But – what if they had sold their products / services for a lower price?  Then maybe the people who bought them could have afforded better child care – even preventative care.
    What if they had paid their employees better?  Maybe full time instead of part time, so they got benefits.  For that matter, maybe they didn’t even provide benefits to their full time people?  What if they had hired more people instead of going with machines?  What if …. ?  The list goes on.  The point is, they didn’t need to make that much money.  The fact that they are now giving it away makes that quite clear.  The article goes into why they feel a need to do this.
  • What if our government could actually get it’s act together and provide reasonable health care – like so many other countries do?  Health care that could either prevent some of the issues these children suffer through – or take care of them if the problem wasn’t preventable?
  • What if the drug companies weren’t so greedy? 
    This is one that always gets to me.  It’s not actually the company / corporation that’s greedy.  It’s the people at the top of that company, and it’s shareholders.  It still comes back to people.  What if they weren’t so greedy, and work was done on vaccinations and cures for things that wouldn’t bring in the huge profits they currently insist on before starting a project?
  • What if parents took better care of their children?
  • What if parents cared enough about their children to even be part of their lives?
  • What if parents weren’t so selfish that they cared more about their children than their own pleasures?
  • What if children were actually taught about love and respect – instead of hate?
  • What if we all actually looked towards God – instead of blaming Him for things that we do?


I think the real statement should be –

No one can sit at the bedside of a dying child and still believe that people are inherently good.

God makes it so easy for us  –

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

But people like Bertrand Russell tell us that these verses are a lie.  
That these verses are from someone who doesn’t care.
That these verses are from someone who doesn’t exist.

And too many of us believe Bertrand Russell.

But here’s what God says about Bertrand Russell – and of those of us who believe Russell instead of God –

Mt 18:7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! 

The one piece of ultimately good news for these children, as we saw, is that even though too many of us don’t care – God does.  And He will, in the end, take the very best care of them –

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Yes – the Kingdom of God will belong to “such as those” – to the children and those of us who can be like them.
Even if some of us try to stop those little children – Jesus will prevent those who try to stop the children – and make those who would try to stop them pay the price for their efforts.

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Who do you believe?

And what are your beliefs doing to / for the children of this world?


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