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If you agree that the holocaust was evil and that you can think, then you have to admit that there is a God. From the Spiritual Q&A apologetics class at Holy Treasure, Kettering, UK.
The problem of evil, or the problem of suffering, has never been much of a problem for me. Regarded as one of the chief obstacles to the Christian faith, I have never been confounded by the existence of evil and suffering in the world. Being an atheist before I was saved, I found that Christianity provides a solution to evil and suffering whereas atheism just accepts suffering and is extremely pessimistic regarding the fate of the human race; and, I later realised, cannot justify why evil and good really would exist objectively speaking.
But just because I personally have never been troubled by the problem, I shouldn’t as a pastor and apologist disregard those who struggle with it. When I’m out evangelising it is often asked why a good and omnipotent God would allow His creatures to suffer, and among many Christians as well this casts doubt on whether He really is good in three sense we understand it or if He’s really all-powerful.
Many have themselves experienced suffering, loss and injustice and so for them it is an emotional problem rather than an intellectual one. For them, many arguments fall short even if they’re good. Emotional pain requires love, support and comfort rather than mere answers. If my girlfriend breaks up with me and I weepingly ask “Why?!”, my friend Mark could provide me with all the reasons she rejected me, but even if they’re accurate it doesn’t follow that I would be comforted by that. I might get even more upset.
That being said, in this lecture I provide seven reasons why I don’t find the problem of evil and suffering as an intellectually challenging one. It’s recorded at our first “Spiritual Q&A” apologetics class that I hold here at Holy Treasure in Kettering every Monday. Have a look and tell me what you think in the comments!
My video on how atheists need to deny evident truths like everything that begins to exist having a cause or the objectivity of moral values and duties gave rise to a debate between me and an atheist called John Hammond in the YouTube comment section. He confirmed my point in that he as an atheist did deny that everything that begins to exist has a cause and that morality is objective, but he thought that it was evident that these things aren’t true.
What follows is our online discussion, with John’s comments in quotation blocks and my responses in normal bread text:
Its so easy to mock others on YouTube that don’t agree with you isn’t it. We atheists are so stupid according to you aren’t we. I have argued against the Kalam Cosmological Argument so many times that I can’t be bothered to type it all out again. So will this do?
Subjective morality. Lets take two people, Hitler and me, both moral people. Now Hitler’s morality allowed him to initiate the murder of millions of people. My morality does not allow me to hurt anyone. So Hitler and me do not agree on what’s good or bad, whats moral. This is whats called ‘subjective morality’ I think Hitler’s morality was wrong. He would have thought my morality was wrong. Now lets develop this a little more. There are something like seven billion people in the world. That’s seven billion different moralities although most would agree on most points like not eating babies or torturing little kittens. We get our morality [what we personally think is right or wrong, good or bad] because of being a social animal, our upbringing and the society we live in. I personally think murdering millions of people is wrong, Hitler or Jehovah for example think its O.K. to murder millions of people.
No, we atheists do not deny truths as you falsely claim, we just stay within the bounds of reality and what we do know, not what we don’t know. In other words we do not believe in your supernatural God.
I respect you right to your beliefs sir so please respect my beliefs [or non belief] as an atheist.
With respect, John.
In this video I eat a delicious avocado sandwich and talk about how atheists often have to deny truths that are really evident to most of us in order to defend their atheism. I’m thinking for example on how most atheist debators argue against one or both of the premises in the Kalam cosmological argument, which are:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
This is of course to avoid the conclusion of the universe having a cause, since this cause must be transcendent, outside of space, matter and time, and very powerful – which of course sounds an awful lot like God. But the premises aren’t easy to refute, they seem in fact very obvious. Of course everything that begins to exist has a cause, and of course the universe began to exist.
Another example is the moral argument for God’s existence, which states:
- If God does not exist, there is no objective morality
- There is objective morality
- Therefore, God exists
You’ll be surprised to find when discussing with atheists that many believe in both premises while they refute the conclusion. In fact, some will claim that they deny both premises and they’ll try to efute premise 1 by providing support for premise 2, and vice versa. I believe this is because we live in a culture that despises logic and so what young people in particular are told is that no opinion is better than another and that nothing’s objectively true, while they’re also told that certain moral beliefs are outrageous and unacceptable. The same person can firstly accuse Christianity for claiming that certain moral truths are universal and required by all, and later accuse Christianity for having errant moral stances on marriage or abortion.
What the atheist then has done is simply to just support both premises and so, s/he has to admit that God exists. Of course, it often takes time before the atheist is ready to make such a shift, and often the reason one is an atheist is not primarily intellectual but emotional. But as we continue to point out that atheism is incompatible with some of the most foundational truths that are universally accepted, hopefully more and more people will realize that there is a God who is both Creator and a moral anchor point.
Yesterday my friend Andreas and myself made a video where we go through seven good arguments for God’s existence. They are as follows:
1. The universe was created.
2. There is something rather than nothing.
3. The universe is fine-tuned for life.
4. Morality is objective and not just subjective.
5. There are thousands of scientifically verified miracles.
6. Jesus was awesome and trusted by smart people.
7. Ask God to reveal Himself – you won’t be disappointed.
If you have half an hour, I really recommend you to watch the video. We had a fun time making it! Also, check out the apologetics page on this site for more resources.
Let us end our little blog series on why wealth is wrong. We have already looked at the mathematical argument, where we saw that it is impossible to keep wealth while giving the same wealth to the poor. Then we discussed the economic argument, which says that it is better to invest in goods and services beneficial for the poor rather than superfluities like luxury and entertainment. And last time, I brought up the Bill Gates argument, which states that it is the quantity of what we keep, rather than what we give away, that measures our generosity.
In each post we have started with an argument for why wealth is right, and we shall do the same in this post. The most common moral argument I hear when people defend wealth is: “Rich people have worked hard for their wealth, and deserve therefore to have it and do what they please with it.” It is often combined with “We only have a moral obligation for ourselves and our families, not for the entire world.”
The moral argument for why wealth is wrong, on the other hand, is brilliantly summarized by the apostle John: “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” As I explained in my article about a Christian World Vision, Jesus-followers should without doubt apply the same moralic standpoint on non-believers as well. (more…)