Caring is something atheists struggle with. If there’s no God & nothing after this life, why care for other people? Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene tried to say that altruistic behaviour is just protecting people genetically similar to us in order to preserve those genes. That might explain why we care for our children, but what about our old people? They’ve passed on their genes already, so surely they’re no longer needed?
We could care for some people for purely selfish reasons: Our children of course because we want them to look after us in our old age. Maybe some other people because they can return the favour. But the poor? The disadvantaged? The sick? Why don’t we say with Charles Dickens’ famous character Scrooge that it’s better that they die and decrease the surplus population?
But the fact is that we do care, and there’s no scientific explanation. Caring costs time and trouble, and often money.
The 2011 census showed that one in ten people in England and Wales, a total of 5.8 million people, devotes at least part of their week to caring for disabled, sick or elderly relatives and loved ones without any expectation of payment. Almost 3 million people have reduced their working hours to cope with caring responsibilities.
Here are statistics showing how much people care, and at great cost to themselves. Why do we do it? Because we are made in the image of God. And God is love. Although this world is broken and that image is tarnished, there is still something of God’s character in everyone. People care instinctively, without reason, because it’s part of the way God made us.
Let us be grateful to God for making us so that we care for each other, for we all need to be cared for at some time in our lives.