A Poor Reason for Not Believing in God, IMO

At the end of last week I noticed an article that stated actress Julianne Moore no longer believes in God.  Here’s the story:

But Moore said that while she’s experienced success in her career, including four previous Academy Award nominations, she has at times felt adrift. Her mother’s unexpected passing from septic shock in 2009 devastated her so deeply that she no longer believes in God, she admitted in a profile in The Hollywood Reporter.

“I learned when my mother died five years ago that there is no ‘there’ there,” she said. “Structure, it’s all imposed. We impose order and narrative on everything in order to understand it. Otherwise, there’s nothing but chaos.”

I can understand how someone can come to the place where they reject God.  I have struggled with doubts and I think the great suffering in the world is a tremendous problem for those who express belief in God.  If someone says they can no longer believe, I am sympathetic.  But this reason for rejecting belief in God seems weak and somewhat selfish to me.

The reason I see Moore’s story as selfish is that she apparently believed in God prior to her mom dying.  That is, she believed in God in the face of millions dying of diseases and genocides and all the other horrific instances of suffering throughout history.  She managed to believe in God despite knowing that many children suffer and die.  But when this suffering came into her life, and her mom died (after a life that not as long as one might hope, was quite long) she rejects God.  Maybe she was just naive, maybe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  We do not know.  Yet I have heard people say the same thing many times and it has always struck me as a bit selfish – others suffer and I am okay with that, but I suffer and no longer believe?

I imagine if tragedy were to strike close to me I would go through a time of deep doubt.  I admit I would find it hard to believe in a good deity if my wife or kids died.  But if I can believe in that God when other people’s spouses and kids are dying every day, what does it say about me to only reject when suffering strikes home?

What do you think?  Am I just being too harsh?

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2 thoughts on “A Poor Reason for Not Believing in God, IMO

  1. As a nonbeliever myself, I have mixed feelings about stories like this. I hesitate to tell someone that they’re wrong or that their experience is invalid simply because their experience doesn’t mesh with mine. I feel like she oversimplified the experience for the purpose of the interview, though, and as a result it sounded more clean cut than a deconversion typically is (in other words, mom died, therefore no God).

    Maybe that’s bias on my part though. I’d rather hear that she reasoned her way out of it than that she simply stopped believing because it made it easier to cope with a tragedy. That’s really, if anything, a stereotype about atheism: that it causes anger at God, and that it’s easier to stop believing than to deal with that. Atheism is a lack of belief, and for most of the atheists I’ve encountered, that lack of belief came from a great deal of thinking and reflecting and research, not from an emotional life event. That doesn’t mean that isn’t what happened to her though. Maybe an emotional life event triggered that thinking and research. Or, maybe the emotional life event did just end her faith.

    1. THanks for sharing! I hope I did not come across as if it was a personal attack against her, like you said, no one knows the details of her experience. For me, if I can believe in the face of all the suffering in the world it seems selfish to only stop believing when I experience suffering. Admittedly though, when suffering touches your life it may be a trigger, as you said. Thanks again.

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