God, Evil and the London Attack

If you’d had the knowledge and power to stop the terrorist attack in London, would you have done so? Of course. In fact, if you could have stopped it but didn’t, we would call you morally deficient. We would partially blame you for the attacks!

What does this say about the supposedly all-loving, all-knowing, all powerful God? He didn’t stop it. Some say it’s because He doesn’t exist.

When the attack hit, I was in London to speak at several churches on my book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. The morning after the attack I decided to change my topic to If God Exists, Why is There Evil in the World?

London Attack

Evil Actually Shows God Is Real

While I can’t provide a complete answer to that question in this short column, the one thing the attacks cannot prove is that there is no God. In fact, if the attack was truly a grave injustice — if it was truly evil — it shows that God actually does exist.

How so? Because evil doesn’t exist on its own. It only exists as a lack or a deficiency in a good thing.

Evil is like rust in a car: If you take all of the rust out of a car, you have a better car; if you take the car out of the rust, you have nothing. Evil is like a wound in your body: If you take the wound out of your body, you have a better body; if you take the body out of your wound, you have nothing.

There Could Be No Evil Without Good

That’s why we often describe evil as negations of good things. For example, we say the attack on London was immoral, unjust, inhumane, not right, etc. In other words, there would be no such thing as evil unless good existed. But there would also be no such thing as good unless God existed.

If the attack was truly a grave injustice — if it was truly evil — it shows that God actually does exist.

C. S. Lewis was once an atheist who thought all the injustice in the world disproved God. He later realized he was stealing a moral standard from God in order to argue against Him. He wrote in Mere Christianity, “[As an atheist] my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

As an atheist, Lewis compared this unjust universe to God’s perfectly just nature while claiming that God didn’t exist. In effect, Lewis was sitting in God’s lap to slap his face.

“There Must Be Something … for Them to be True About”

Later, while the Nazis were bombing London in WWII, the Christian Lewis was on the BBC saying things like,

The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something — some Real Morality — for them to be true about.

Likewise, to rightfully condemn the London attacks, there must be an unchanging standard of goodness, righteousness and justice that is beyond us, and beyond the terrorists, too. That standard is, by definition, the essence of the greatest possible Being, which is what we call “God.”

Without God There Is No Objective Standard

The very existence of evil boomerangs back to show that God exists.

Without God there would be no objective, authoritative, moral standard beyond humanity, which means human beings would have no moral obligations and every action or behavior would be merely a matter of human opinion. Do you think the London terrorist attack was wrong? Without God, that’s just your opinion against that of ISIS. The murder of six million Jews? It’s just your opinion against Hitler’s opinion. The sexual abuse of children? It’s only wrong if God exists.

If evil is real — as headlines from London plainly reveal — then God exists. The most evil can do is show there’s a devil out there, but it can’t disprove God. The very existence of evil boomerangs back to show that God exists.

But which God? The terrorists would claim that they were following the commands of Allah, particularly Suras 8 and 9 in the Qur’an. Ironically, though, Allah isn’t a viable candidate for the standard of Good because according to Islamic doctrine, Allah is arbitrary. Whatever Allah does is good. By contrast, the God of the Bible is revealed as the unchanging ground of all Goodness. He isn’t arbitrary — He is Goodness.

Evil Is a Problem For Every Worldview — But Christianity Can Handle It

Still, if the God of the Bible actually exists, why would He allow evil to occur? There are several revealed and philosophical answers to that question which I cited in my presentation that Sunday at Kensington Temple in London (and more completely in my book Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case.).

Regardless of the reasons, evil is a problem for every worldview including atheism. Christianity is the only worldview equipped to handle it. In fact, the entire Christian story is an answer to the problem of evil. God Himself provides the ultimate solution — He takes evil on Himself. Jesus attaches humanity to His Divine Nature and allows the creatures who introduced evil into the world to torture and kill Him so we could be reconciled to Him. He takes the punishment for our evil deeds and offers forgiveness as a gift.

Christ’s gift isn’t the subject of a fictional story — there’s very good evidence that the story is actually true. That means you have the real opportunity to accept that gift right now. When Jesus comes back to finally quarantine evil in a place called Hell, the time for choosing will be over. The Being whose essence is Justice has to accomplish final Justice at some point.


Relevant Podcasts on the topic of Evil

 

John Lennox: If God, Why Evil?

Stealing Evil From God

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

Get the first chapter of "Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case" in PDF.

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14 replies
  1. James Archbold says:

    You are using this tragedy to sell books?..Perhaps you could edit out the reference to your book tour?

    Reply
    • Photini says:

      Really James Archbold? Frank is referring to his book AND another’s book as references. He also mentions Christian Lewis and the BBC….do you reckon that he is giving them a plug too?? He is not using the trajedy of the London attacks to make money, he is not mocking any trajedy. He is using it to describe an evil atrocity committed by evil people who claim to be followers of God…..but they are not worshiping the God of goodness in Heaven. You’ve totally missed the point of this article all together! Hope you muster up the courage to apologize to him for your ridiculous misunderstanding and your absolute uncalled for accuzation.

      Reply
      • James Archbold says:

        More of a question than an accusation, hence the (?).Perhaps I will apologise if he is prepared to apologise to the victims and relatives for his crass lack of empathy. From the power point presentation less than 24 hours after the attack.. “Suffering develops character”..”No pain no gain”and unabashed willingness to use the tragedy as an oppotunity to sell books..And while hundreds of people lined up the day after to donate blood and relatives waited for news Mr Turek stood in Kensington Temple (5 miles from london bridge) touting his wares and inferring to the congregation that the casualties from the previous evening were to some extent as evil as the perpetrators and inferring their unbelief negated their ability to decide what was just and unjust .I wonder perhaps if it has occurred to him to donate a proportion of each book sold that morning to one of the support groups involved with the victims of terrorism? http://www.survivorsassistancenetwork.org

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          A work colleague of mine waded into the attackers to put himself between the terrorists and his friends. He quite possibly saved their lives and got knifed in the throat in the process. He’s currently recovering in hospital. I’d love it for Frank to visit him there to tell him that he’s in some way as evil as the terrorists.

          Reply
          • James Archbold says:

            Hope your friend recovers well Andy. A terrible night but so many ordinary people carrying out so many acts of extra ordinary selflessness and bravery. People are good. <3

        • Frank Turek says:

          Hi James, the Powerpoint presentation was done years ago for a general talk on the question of evil. I obviously couldn’t have done all that in the few hours following the attack. And the sales of the books didn’t go to me. They were ordered by the church weeks before I even got there. They were offered, as were the links, so people could investigate this complex topic at a much deeper level than one could cover in a thousand word column or an hour talk. BTW, I never said all people were equally evil, only that all of us have done evil and thus need a Savior.

          Reply
          • James Archbold says:

            http://www.kt.org/2017/06/04/if-god-why-evil/

            Just a few points..

            22:44 “We are all evil.Thats why we need a saviour.By the way, the people who did the attack last night, they’re evil but so are we”…

            The economics of selling books on a book tour is, I must admit a mystery to me but surely you can see that proceeds from each book sold that morning in some way however abstract, ended up benefiting you personally even if the books were sold previous to your book tour..Having said all that I’m not in any way decrying your right to earn a living.

            The presentation may have been appropriate under different circumstances but you chose to link it with the terrible events from the previous night .Clearly you knew the content intimately but regardless chose not to change or edit it because as you say ‘there was no time’ which I feel is a poor defence. In that case you could in fact have chosen not to rely on a powerpoint presentation at all.

            Regards James.

  2. ANTHONY says:

    It’s worth summarising the Christian position on evil and suffering: it doesn’t matter. Your suffering will build the character of others, and you will get your reward in heaven. I can’t begin to imagine the suffering of those who died in the London tower block fire. But apparently it’s a price worth paying.

    The word “sickening” doesn’t do this position justice.

    Leaving that aside, if evil can be “quarantined” in hell, why hasn’t God accomplished this yet?

    Reply
    • TGM says:

      The god of this world certainly appears incompetent, a failure at just about everything he tries. I think we must either be ruled by a minor deity or perhaps we live in a “proving ground” world where up-and-coming gods earn their merit badges before moving on to better supernatural neighborhoods. That would be consistent with the unending stream of prophets bringing “the final word” to the masses or the unsettled moral code, or the multi-polar personality changes of the “one, true god”. Or perhaps, as Carl Sagan speculated, perhaps we are just the control group; a sequestered world in an otherwise supernatural universe.

      Reply
    • Tracey says:

      If you don’t believe in God, then why involve in discussion about God, of which you don’t believe in?
      As all the religious wars, which were not about religion as it was over land so these wars, are not caused by Christians, Muslims no Jewish/hebrews were displaced, they were just groups of people, just that, so by this non-belief, there are no churches, temples they are just buildings, so you can’t reference from the Bible, and/or use any such to produce an argument against God of which you don’t belief exist, Atheism is: there is no God-deity, and therefore, no Atheist either.
      By Gods creation, Christians don’t need Atheist to know they are Christians, they only need to know God, to Christians atheism is completely irrelevant to their existence, and when the mortal death comes they don’t die, but live by belief in Jesus Christ of Nazareth eternally at the right-hand of God.
      So is atheism needed by Christians, no not at all.

      Reply
  3. Susan Tan says:

    If all people had the intelligence to make peace with God then there would be a lot more peacemakers in the world and fewer war makers and terrorists.

    Unfortunately, when you aren’t abiding in God’s Will you tend to overstep personal boundaries more and force others to follow your beliefs.

    People that lack peace in their hearts are the first to make war and the less peace they have the more indiscriminate they are in their attacks.

    There is God pleasing and men pleasing and the terrorists are pleasing liars because the Bible says God hates violence.

    Proverbs 6, KJV

    16These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

    17A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

    18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

    19A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    The only sword Jesus ever used was the Sword of the Spirit to convict men and it does bring division because it divides the spiritual people with peace in their heart from the carnal people with no peace in their heart who promote violence.

    You have to acknowledge Jesus in accordance with Romans 10:9 to be saved and get peace in your heart.

    From Acts 16:

    Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

    31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

    Reply

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