Questioning the Tough Questions

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at
One of the biggest arguments against the existence of God is the problem of evil (or pain and suffering).  It has been stated many ways usually trying to show how either God, if He exists, is powerless to prevent evil (as in the cases of people harming one another) or is ultimately the cause for such evil (such as natural disasters).  The premise behind such arguments is to diminish the God whom a believer is defending in such a way that no vestige of that God exists any longer and the only logical options are either atheism or skepticism.

What often isn't questioned are the assumptions behind such scenarios posed to the believer.  If these were focused on a little more, I believe, that many of the arguments against theism would crumble against the weight of the very questions asked.

Consider the worldview of the atheist or extreme skeptic that comes down on the side that God doesn't or probably doesn't exist.  From this worldview, the universe came from nothing (or is itself eternal), life came from non-life, and morality sprang from an amoral source.  At the very core of this worldview there are logical contradictions that are left unexplained.

Yet the acknowledgment of the problem of evil shows that the atheist or skeptic believes that there is evil in the world.  He/she claims it as a fact.  The dilemma that has to be answered by the atheist or skeptic before they can ask the believer is:  How can they objectively identify evil that is binding to every person when ultimately our origin (from their worldview) is purposeless?  Unless they can answer that query, the very strength of their objection loses its teeth under the weight of the insufficiency to ask its own question.

What they are actually doing is borrowing the definition from a Christian's worldview of evil to deny its Source.  It would be like a liver using the blood given to it to kill the person it inhabited and then using the same blood to deny that the person ever existed in the first place.  Both the origin of the liver and the weapon it uses originates from the very person it is trying to deny.  The atheist/skeptic doesn't believe in God, but their own worldview doesn't allow them to believe in evil either.  Yet, they use the argument from evil (defined by God) to deny that He exists.

Examples often given revolve around horrendous situations of unimaginable injustices.  For example, a 5 year old girl who is kidnapped, raped and killed could be an example used to describe a God who is powerless to prevent evil.  Or the Christmas tsunami of 2005 that killed over 250,000 people can be alluded to as a case where man didn't cause the suffering, therefore, the responsibility of the catastrophe falls squarely on the shoulders of God (making Him the cause of evil). 

But the question that is rarely asked is: To what ideal situation is this unimaginable evil being compared to?    The assumption by the atheist/skeptic is that a man or woman who has lived 100 years, married, had a wonderful family, never experienced war or tragedy and dies naturally in their sleep has lived the life longed by every human being.

Consider carefully the alternative given by Christians.  Within the Christian worldview evil is both acknowledged and dealt with totally and finally.  Sin enters the world and causes both death and suffering.  These are evils that must be dealt with and ultimately are at the cross of Jesus Christ.  In the Christian worldview death is described as "the last enemy to be destroyed" (1 Cor. 15:26).  We are given a glimpse of when this happens, at the end of time, where the dead are raised and are judged according to their deeds.  And after that final judgment, after every evil action has been weighed and dealt with justly, after Satan himself has received his justice, death itself is destroyed (Rev. 20:7-15).  Afterward, we are told that "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Rev. 21:4).  Evil, from its very root, will be dealt with never again being allowed to reek its damage on man and his relationship with God...for death, the final destination of pain, suffering and all things called evil, will no longer be part of the equation.

The atheist/skeptic's answer to this question exposes the fact that they are ultimately powerless to explain their own nuances within their definition of evil.  The harsh reality is that the implications of their worldview render the lives of the one who was brutally murdered, tragically cut short or peacefully preserved until their final fading equally meaningless.  In each and every situation, no matter how tranquil or troubled the life, the person dies and their lives, in the grand scheme of things, mean absolutely nothing.  To the atheist/skeptic, even in the ideal, death is part of the solution, not part of the problem.


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