Barbers don’t exist

A man went to a barbershop for a haircut, and he and the barber got to talk about many things, including belief in God. The barber said he didn’t believe in God because there’s so much injustice in the world. The customer didn’t know how to respond, but after he left the shop he saw a man with long, dirty hair. So he went back and said to the barber: ‘Barbers don’t exist.’ ‘Don’t be stupid,’ the barber said. So he showed him the man with the unkempt hair and said: ‘By your reasoning, the fact that there are people on the streets with long, dirty hair means that barbers don’t exist.’ ‘But that’s because they don’t come to me,’ the barber answered. ‘Exactly!” affirmed the customer. ‘That’s the point! God, too, exists, but people ignore Him, and that’s why there’s so much pain and injustice in the world.’

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10 Responses to Barbers don’t exist

  1. Allallt says:

    Is that not an extraordinarily petty image of God? One that means he won’t stop landslides wiping out schools or earthquakes from destroying hospitals because It’s not getting enough attention?
    Is that not entirely incompatible with the idea of loving God? One that means God would rather we suffered if we ignore It than were happy regardless?
    Is that not asking a bit much of the barber? The barber only has capacity to deal with people who come to him, where as God, surely, has capacity to help everyone regardless of whether they come to It?

    • The story is not intended to be a comprehensive statement on the love and actions of God towards human beings, but merely a response to the frequently expressed view that the injustices evident in human society deny the existence of a loving God. The story merely sought to highlight the fact of human autonomy, and that if people wilfully choose to leave God out of their lives and dealings, they shouldn’t complain if human society is less than the ideal their minds tell them it should be.

      • Allallt says:

        Okay. But the analogy has consequences. So you have to accept that it is so flawed as to be a wrong analogy, or accept the consequences of that analogy.

  2. You may see it that way, but I see it as a simple analogy of the fact that some people believe that the reality of injustice and inhumanity proves that there is no God/Moral Law, when all it actually proves is that they don’t pay any attention to God/Moral Law.

    • Allallt says:

      Just so I’m understanding this:
      (1) You don’t accept the consequences of the analogy apply to the subject
      (2) You don’t accept this failure of the analogy to reflect the subject demonstrates that it’s flawed to the point of being wrong.
      Is that correct?

      The barber only has the right and/capacity to address the hair issues of people who come to him; this is true, even if the barber wants to deal with the messy hair. No such limitation exists on God, so if It doesn’t deal with it there has to be a different explanation.
      Some evils people complain about have nothing to do with human decision making, like droughts and pestilence and therefore have nothing to so with paying attention to God. This entire genre of discussion is excluded from the analogy.

      • The story is simply an analogy, not a philosophical or theological treatise on the whole subject of whether there is a God/supreme being/intelligence behind the Universe etc. An analogy is defined as ‘a partial similarity in particular circumstances in which a comparison may be based.’ This story, as I’ve already said, is simply a story to illustrate the fact that one cannot cite the fact of inhumanity in the world as evidence there is no God when the inhumanity is caused by people who either pay no attention to, or pervert the expression of God’s will and teaching as revealed in Jesus Christ.

      • Allallt says:

        Except the barber doesn’t talk about inhumanity

      • Correct. But the story about the barber is just an analogy of the point being made. Some people have unkempt hair because they don’t allow the barber to tidy their hair up. Some people are unjust and cruel because they don’t allow God to clean their lives up.

      • Allallt says:

        And sometimes there is a landslide that wipes out a school, because…?

      • The discussion thus far has been about the reasons behind man-made traumas – human injustice and inhumanity. The traumas that occur through natural disaster, disease, accident etc lead into a wider discussion concerning the existence or non-existence of God. As someone involved in emergency services for nearly 20 years I have seen many of these, and I do not have any easy answers except to say that physical death is the one great reality of life that none of us can avoid. But I believe that beyond it my essential being will continue to live and develop (evolve) in a dimension of being that surpasses anything I can conceive of. In this sense, what may appear on the surface to be tragic and unjust is actually a release into something greater, much as the emergence of a baby from the womb into the world we know might seem tragic to the baby, until he/she emerges into the world.
        One other thing. Whereas man’s inhumanity to man causes nothing but misery and the desire for revenge, the effect of natural disaster etc, while bringing misery, also often brings out the best in humanity.

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