Posted by: serrels | June 12, 2010

Children Starve in Africa

I’ve been an atheist since I was nine years old.

One day I asked my Mum, do you believe in God? She said no. I asked why? She said, children starve in Africa. It barely registered at first; to me ‘children starve in Africa’ was a phrase used to make me eat vegetables before I could get ice cream. Nothing more.

I asked my Dad the same question. He said he didn’t know. Again I asked why? He said he didn’t understand God.

We prayed every day at school, in some classes more than others, with some teachers more than others. We went to Church on Easter and Christmas. The teachers paired boys with girls and we held hands together for the 900 metre walk from school to church. I shuffled in the pews, I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t listen to the reverend, and I stayed silent during the songs. I refused to bow my head during prayer; I had stopped believing in God.

At lunchtime I would scarper from friend to friend, whispering in people’s ears. Do you believe in God, I asked? Everyone said yes. I got agitated. Why, I asked? Children starve in Africa.

My Mum always said it was important to never be afraid to tell the truth. So it wasn’t long before I told my teacher that I didn’t believe in God, that I didn’t want to pray in class, I didn’t want to go to Church. She asked me why? I said, children starve in Africa.

I still had to go to Church.

Then I asked my teacher if we could have a class debate about God, and she said yes. I was so excited, now I could tell all my classmates that God wasn’t real, they didn’t have to worry about hell. They didn’t have to go to church if they didn’t want to, they could go out and play on Sundays. But they still had to eat their vegetables, because children starve in Africa.

My report card said, “Mark is a very opinionated little boy”. My Mum wasn’t angry – she was very happy. It was wrong to tell lies. And it was wrong to let lies be told.

I don’t think I’m all that different today. And I don’t think the world is all that different. I’m still an opinionated little boy.

And children still starve in Africa.



  1. Schools should not have the right to poison the minds of Children with the lies of religion.

  2. Mmmm very powerful Mark.

  3. “children starve in Africa.” your mum had thought about the age old “problem of evil” possibly without going to a philosophy book.
    An all powerful all god would not allow it .
    Either not all powerful or not all good, (google the problem of evil” for more ).

    If a hypothetical G_D is capable of preventing the starvation thence death of innocent children that by itself is a powerful argument against “it”.

    i have heard that john 3:16 is the greatest text, greatest god, greatest sacrifice, greatest number etc – that was in the days when i thought that religious mumbo jumbo was actually analysis.

    Should be rephrased
    Pietro 3:16b
    for god ( the greatest imaginary hoax) so hated ( greatest hate ) the world , that he allowed the children of africa ( greatest number, greatest innocence ) to starve ( greatest suffering ) to death (greatest evil) that whosoever believes this trash without thinking it through should receive the greatest delusion and yet still think they are thinking sane thoughts.

  4. Best post yet.
    I got sent to the principal’s office in the sixth grade for refusing to let go of the fact there weren’t any dinosaurs in the Bible.
    If the very foundations of religion can’t stand up to questioning from primary school students there’s not much hope for it, is there?

    • “St.” Luke, was that a private or State School? It should be sued for teaching LIES. That is despicable. Where is that School? State will do. If it is a private school i’d demand my money back.

      • I dare say it had more to do with the fact I was likely being pretty obnoxious about it – but only because I wasn’t being provided with an answer.
        It was a Catholic school in Western Sydney, New South Wales. In 1994.

  5. The problem of the existence of evil is a tough one – it’s probably responsible for attracting as many people to the Church as driving them away. It’s a complicated issue, and I didn’t really want to write about it, this was more me just remembering the first time I really started to wonder about God.

    Also, I just want to reiterate that this site isn’t about attacking the other side for what they believe. It’s about discussing things in a decent respectful way. I don’t mean to sound like a patronizing tool, but I want Christians and Atheists to feel like they can post here without feeling attacked or that their views are stupid.


  6. “There will always be poor people in the land: therefore I command you, saying, you shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy, in the land” Thats taken from that black book.
    Funny how Christians are the most giving and generous community on the planet. At-least the majority of athiests are being honest to Darwins survival of the fittest gospel.. that’s a relief.

    • Christians don’t have a monopoly on morality, and they don’t have a monopoly on charity. You’re making an assumption here and it is wrong.

  7. Actualy it’s based on stats. As a community, no other group or community comes close.

    • I didn’t say Christians don’t give more to charity, I’m not disputing that. I’m merely saying they don’t have a monopoly on charity. This statement: “the majority of atheists are being honest to Darwin’s survival of the fittest of the fittest gospel… that’s a relief” is the assumption that’s wrong here.

      It’s just as annoying when atheists say “the majority of Christians this… the majority of Christians that.” Being tarred with the same brush sucks.

      In addition doesn’t the Bible say, “charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself”? Isn’t throwing around those kind of statements (Christians give more money to Charity) inherently un-Christian?

      Anyway, my post wasn’t really about the fact that “children starve in Africa” – it was more me just remembering the Childish process that initially led me to stop believing in God. That’s all.

    • Smiley you are right. Statistically Christians will allocate approx 20% of their income to charity work where as non-Christians will statistically allocate leas than 1%.
      However serrels does have you on a technicality. If the majority of athiests lived to the survival of he fittest, why then are people not killing those less developed? Are infact obese people and those with cancer etc less evolved? Why do people not use darwins survival of the fittest as a defence to murder?
      I know that there are many similar questions you could raise about Christian behaviour and in fact I would be interested to see what you come with. Serrels this itself might make for am interesting post in it’s own right…?

      • Josh,

        What is the source of your statistics? And does that 20% include money donated to churches to keep religious activities going?

      • Not too sure if it includes church related donations – however logic would suggest that it does. As far as the source goes I am following that up as was presented to me that way. Will be interesting to look at it more thoroughly.

  8. Ever read Dawkins book on the selfish gene? I think he explains his case quite well for evolution and athiests.
    Therefore: we are all inherintly selfish.. there’s not much out there that can change that, not much. Christianity is on the otherhand inherintly unselfish.. No other faith or belief System comes close to it’s philosophy of giving, charity and self sacrifice for others. This doesn’t mean athiests or others don’t give.. It’s just not in the Darwin rule book. That is why christians are the major contributor in helping poverty.. and the starving children in Africa.

  9. “That is why christians are the major contributor in helping poverty.. and the starving children in Africa.”

    How do you reconcile the Vatican banning condoms in Africa, thus adding more starving children.

  10. How can you reconcile something like that.. Maybe its pure stupidity, arogance, politics, power….. Just like I can’t reconcile laws that allow the killing of millions of children each year while handing out condoms at school freely. Go figure!
    If only we had some kind of a document or book that could help us figure this out.. A creed or ideology to help direct our lives.. maybe Atheism? Darwin can you help?
    ..Sorry, but Less than 1% who give to any charity is not an ideology that the world will ever need. “the poor will always be with us, go help” that’s from that other book.

    Sorry Mate.. I think we are moving of topic.

  11. The problem of the existence of evil in the world is a tough one. You throw out God and you still are left with the problem of evil in the world- with no solution.

    • Ultimately there is nothing in the world other then sheer human desire that dictates that there has to be a solution to evil. Unpleasant though that is, it IS a possibility. Perhaps there really IS no meaning or purpose to life. Just because something is desirable doesn’t automatically make it true. No offense intended to anyone, just throwing it out there.

  12. I find it funny that most of you have started to talk about the evil in the world or the starving children in Africa as that is not what I got out of that story at all.

    It got me thinking about what would have happened if I had had a less religious family would I have still been religious or would I have come to the same conclusion as Mark or athiests. If I hadn’t seen how the way my parents lived helped those around them if I would still have decided to keep going to church or if my parents had not been open minded in that they would let me decide for myself what I believed, if I would have decided to just follow what all my non-christian friends were saying without thinking it through.

    To sum it up Marks story got me thinking about how and why I made the choices that got me to where I am today.

  13. I’m glad mate – because that’s more what the story was about. Making the choice, not necessarily the reasons behind that choice.

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