What got my attention was the fact that the Clergy Project includes “active clergy” who do not “hold supernatural beliefs.” In other words, there are pastors participating in this group who do not believe God exists. They are atheists but they continue to serve churches as pastors. Though there are now churches that have wandered so far from their theological foundations that they might not even notice their pastor doesn’t believe God exists, those pastors generally are hiding their true beliefs. Knowing if they came right out and said they didn’t believe in God they would be fired, they cover up the truth. The article referenced a study recently done by researchers at Tufts University titled “Preachers Who Are Unbelievers” that said some of these people spoke openly about the fact that their main concern was the possibility of losing their salary.
I suppose this could be a case of people thinking the end justifies the means. Maybe they are so focused on and committed to destroying theistic belief that they accept the obvious lack of integrity some of these people display. I don’t want to go overboard here, but to me the whole thing demonstrates at least to some degree one of the effects of removing God from the human equation. That effect is that what gets lost is the foundation for morality. Why not lie to people if it gets you what you want? Who says that’s wrong? If there is no God to answer to, then doesn’t the end justify the means?
The fact that the absence of God leads to a lack of foundation for moral standards does not prove that God exists. However, it seems to me that it surely should cause people to think long and hard about what they believe. A moral system that boils down to “the end justifies the means” therefore one should do whatever one must to get whatever he or she deems necessary has implications that are frightening indeed. Ultimately it is God and his justice that provides the motivation for integrity, nobility, self-sacrifice and other virtues. I am glad there is solid reason to know that he exists. I shudder to think of what happens when the majority of people decide otherwise and conclude that the end justifies the means.