Atheism, Christianity, And The Bear In The Woods: Rev Robert T Jones IV


An Atheist was walking through the woods, admiring the beauties of nature. The trees, the birds and squirrels, the river in the distance, all combined to fill him with a sense of well-being.

Suddenly, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned and saw a 7-foot grizzly bear stalking him. As fast as he could, he ran back up the path. He glanced over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing in on him. At that moment, he tripped and tumbled. The bear fell on his prey and raised his right paw to strike.

Without thinking, the Atheist cried out, “Oh my God!” Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky. “You deny my existence for all these years, teach others I don’t exist and even credit creation to cosmic accident. Now you expect me to help you out of this predicament! Am I to count you as a believer”?

The atheist looked directly into the light, “It would be hypocritical of me suddenly to convert to Christianity, but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian”? “Very Well,” said the voice. The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, joined it to his left paw, bowed his head and spoke: “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful, Amen.”

The Rev. Robert T. Jones IV

The illustration is copyright: Karin Jaehne via Shutterstock
I hope that the non-Christians among you will forgive this exception to the general rule that this is a secular blog. Sometimes it is very hard to resist bringing God into it!

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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16 Responses to Atheism, Christianity, And The Bear In The Woods: Rev Robert T Jones IV

  1. Dave Roberts says:

    An oldie but a goodie! Thanks for the reminder of this, Laura 😀

  2. layanglicana says:

    Many thanks Dave – I wrote a reply, but it doesn’t seem to have ‘taken’ – one of the ideas behind this blog is that we need to record the ‘oldies but goodies’, or else our children and grandchildren will never hear them 🙂

  3. You just made my day….blessings to you.

  4. Reblogged this on Greatpoetrymhf's Weblog and commented:

  5. Obi says:

    Hahahahahaaha! Now i see the Light.

  6. violetwisp says:

    What an amusing story! I don’t actually understand the point of it from a Christian point of view – would you be kind enough to explain?

    • layanglicana says:

      I wonder if you are making the same point as ‘Not a scientist’? I suppose it is possible to read this as a Christian joke about a non-believer being eaten by a bear, but I have never really thought of it like that. For one thing, we do not know whether he was eaten, the story stops short at that point. To me (but of course it is notoriously difficult to deconstruct jokes and still leave the humour intact) the point of the joke is to be careful what you wish for. On the face of it, the person being attacked by a bear might be saved if the bear became a Christian. That would be the case if you believe that the definition of a Christian is someone who attempts to do no harm to others. If the bear were a human being, and not a natural cannibal, then becoming a Christian might indeed prevent him from eating the man. But to a bear, a man is simply part of the food chain. If you were to see a lamb in a field, you might think it was very sweet or you might think of it as your next meal. Sheep are part of the human food chain (unless you complicate matters by telling me you are a vegetarian). The punch line here is, that if what you are eating is naturally part of your food chain, then the proper Christian attitude is simply to say grace before you eat your food, whatever it might be. The man being attacked hopes that if the bear becomes a Christian, that will stop him eating the man, but why should it? Be careful what you wish for.

      • violetwisp says:

        Thanks! Sorry you had to explain it all, it is what I read. From the comments you’d received when I read it, I assumed there was some Christian angle I wasn’t getting, but it is just straightforward. Maybe the fact that I am indeed a vegetarian adds an extra stumbling block …

  7. Arkenaten says:

    Very funny. I had forgotten this one.

  8. layanglicana says:

    Thank-you Mary-Helen (although I still like to think of you as ‘Beth’!) 🙂

  9. I’m curious where the humor is here.

    I enjoy teasing and making fun of people as much as the next person. But a joke in which the punchline is “This person I disagree with is eaten by a bear, and my god condones it!”…how, exactly, is that funny?

    Maybe you have to be a Christian to get it. But as a non-Christian, it makes me concerned that violence against atheists and their death is supposed to be amusing.

    • layanglicana says:

      I think we disagree on the punchline – we are not told that the bear eats the man, the story ends before that point. For me the point of the story is not violence against atheists, but the definition of a Christian. I have replied at some length on this point to violetwisp above. I am sorry if this offended you.

      • I am not so much offended as I am not amused and a bit concerned.

        No, within the narrative of the joke the bear doesn’t physically eat the atheist. However, it is implied that by saying grace, the bear is about to eat the person.

        But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised? I have often heard Christians say, essentially “You don’t believe what we believe, so you’re going to be punished!” Just never presented as if it were supposed to be a funny joke.

      • layanglicana says:

        Oh dear, oh dear – as a member of the Church of England (even Richard Dawkins regards us as a very mild form of religious believers) I would certainly never think or say ‘You don’t believe what we believe, so you are going to be punished’. I have no idea what the hereafter holds, I simply live in hope. The second verse of our national anthem is ‘O Lord our God arise, scatter our enemies and make them fail. Frustrate their knavish tricks, on thee our hopes we fix, God save us all’. Red-blooded stuff, but we have not been allowed to sing it since the eighteenth century as Anglicans believe this is too nasty to our opponents. So I assure you I do not make jokes about those who think differently from me being put to death, and I would not find it funny if anyone else did. I repeat, I do not believe that is the point of the joke.
        Meanwhile, this is not the right blog, but if you would like to tell us about your beliefs, or your lack of any beliefs, at Lay Anglicana, you would be very welcome. Like several other Christians I am a member of the Heathen Hub, run by the atheist Tim Skellett, @Gurdur. Do you know it? We cherish the opportunity of exchanging views with each other in a friendly way.

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