Jesus on the Problem of Evil

By Aaron Brake

In Luke 13:1-5 we have Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil:[1]

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

Not only is this Jesus’ clearest teaching on the problem of evil but we see Him addressing both moral and natural evil in His response. Notice that Jesus is first questioned regarding an example of what we would call moral evil: the murder of some Galileans by Pilate. In providing an answer, Jesus Himself introduces an example of natural evil: the falling of the tower of Siloam which killed eighteen.

How did Jesus answer the problem of evil presented to Him? His answer is short and to the point: “They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners. And unless you repent, you’ll die too.”

D.A. Carson in his book How Long, O Lord? provides several important insights into this passage. It would behoove us as Christians to reflect deeply on these points.

Jesus Problem Evil

First, Jesus takes it for granted that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23):

Jesus does not assume that those who suffered under Pilate, or those who were killed in the collapse of the tower, did not deserve their fate. Indeed, the fact that he can tell those contemporaries that unless they repent they too will perish shows that Jesus assumes that all death is in one way or another the result of sin, and therefore deserved.[2]

Second, because death is what we all deserve, it is only God’s mercy that keeps us alive:

Jesus does insist that death by such means is no evidence whatsoever that those who suffer in this way are any more wicked than those who escape such a fate. The assumption seems to be that all deserve to die. If some die under a barbarous governor, and others in a tragic accident, it is not more than they deserve. But that does not mean that others deserve any less. Rather, the implication is that it is only God’s mercy that has kept them alive. There is certainly no moral superiority on their part.[3]

Third, wars and natural disasters are always calls to repentance, and the fact that we question God’s goodness in times of calamity is a reflection of our own depravity and rebellion:

Jesus treats wars and natural disasters not as agenda items in a discussion of the mysterious ways of God, but as incentives to repentance. It is as if he is saying that God uses disaster as a megaphone to call attention to our guilt and destination, to the imminence of his righteous judgment if he sees no repentance. This is an argument developed at great length in Amos 4. Disaster is a call to repentance. Jesus might have added (as he does elsewhere) that peace and tranquility, which we do not deserve, show us God’s goodness and forbearance.

It is a mark of our lostness that we invert these two. We think we deserve the times of blessing and prosperity, and that the times of war and disaster are not only unfair but come perilously close to calling into question God’s goodness or his power—even, perhaps, his very existence. Jesus simply did not see it that way.[4]

Dr. Clay Jones in his class on Why God Allows Evil entertainingly replays the dialogue from Luke 13 like this:[5]

Questioner: Jesus, we have the problem of evil here, the great problem of the ages. People are being killed Jesus. What have you got to say?

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

Questioner: Whoa! Jesus, hold on for a minute here! This is the PROBLEM OF EVIL! The question of the ages! Philosophers have debated this forever! People are dying here Jesus! What have you got to say???

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

Questioner: No, Jesus, don’t you get it?!? Let me put it to you this way. You see, if God were all-loving, He would want to prevent evil. If God were all-powerful, He could prevent evil…

Jesus: They weren’t worse sinners, they were just sinners, and unless you repent you’ll die too. Next?

Jesus’ answer to the problem of evil is that all fallen, unregenerate sinners born in Adam are worthy of death. Whether we die by murder, accident, or disease isn’t anything more than we deserve. It is only by God’s grace that anyone is saved and it is only by God’s mercy that anyone is kept alive.

What implications does this have for Christian apologetics? At least three:

First, it means that Christian apologists need to take the consequences of sin and reality of human depravity seriously when addressing the problem of evil. Many Christians simply pay lip service to what the Bible has to say about these topics. It’s no wonder then we are often at a loss for words when someone asks, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” A completely biblical, though partial, rejoinder is this: no one is good but God alone! Bad things don’t happen to good people because no one is good. Jesus raised no qualms about our naturally born status as sinners before God, the universal corruption and guilt of humankind, or our need for repentance. He introduced these very issues Himself in addressing the problem of evil. He took it for granted that the wages of sin is death. Christian apologists should do likewise.

Second, when addressing the problem of evil, Christian apologists need to present a theodicy whichminimally includes the biblical teaching of original sin and human depravity. Why God allows evil won’t make sense unless we have the problem of sin clearly before us. J.I. Packer stated,

The subject of sin is vital knowledge…If you have not learned about sin, you cannot understand yourself, or your fellow-men, or the world you live in, or the Christian faith. And you will not be able to make head or tail of the Bible. For the Bible is an exposition of God’s answer to the problem of human sin and unless you have that problem clearly before you, you will keep missing the point of what it says.[6]

The same is true for the problem of evil. The subject of sin is essential because in raising the problem of evil, the skeptic must put forth an anthropodicy (justification of man) by arguing that man is “basically good” and God is unjust for allowing the suffering and evil He does. In response, the theist must show these assumptions to be false, and in their place put forth a theodicy (justification of God) which includes evidencing the depths of human depravity and arguing that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing the evil that He does. Until we clearly articulate and defend the gravity of sin, as well as the universal corruption and guilt of humankind, many of our answers to the problem of evil will largely remain unpersuasive.[7]

Third, the present moral and natural evils we experience are appropriate segues into our need to practice and preach repentance in light of the final eschatological judgment. Those who experience such evils are not any more deserving. Rather, these disasters serve as warnings to all of us that finaldisaster awaits everyone who remains hardhearted and unrepentant:

So when disaster strikes, let us not wring our hands over the mysterious ways of God but encourage everyone to reflect on their sinful and doomed state in hopes that some will escape the Final Disaster that awaits the ultimately unrepentant.[8]

Notes

[1] I am indebted to Dr. Clay Jones for most of the material and insight presented here, as well as pointing me to the following passage by D.A. Carson.

[2] D.A. Carson, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2006), 61.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] This is a loose reconstruction with some additions of my own.

[6] J.I. Packer, God’s Words, 71.

[7] For more on these first two points, I highly recommend reading Clay Jones, “We Don’t Take Human Evil Seriously so We Don’t Understand Why We Suffer” found at http://www.clayjones.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Human-Evil-and-Suffering.pdf.

[8] Clay Jones, “Disaster Is Always a Call to Repentance!” found at http://www.clayjones.net/2011/11/disaster-is-always-a-call-to-repentance.

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2fOEhK1


 

Free CrossExamined.org Resource

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

Powered by ConvertKit
19 replies
  1. jcb says:

    Here are my notes:
    Jesus on the Problem of evil article

    Jesus thought that murder was evil (T?)
    Murder is evil (T)
    Jesus was away of natural evil (T)
    Jesus’ solution to the problem of evil is: if you don’t repent, you will die (T?)
    This is a good solution (F)
    Saying Repent or die is morally good (F)
    The cost/result of sinning is death (F)
    Jesus assumed that those killed by a falling tower deserved it! (T?)
    They did deserve it! (F)
    Jesus: all deaths are deserved! (F)
    God’s mercy keeps us alive (F)
    All deserve to die (F)
    Any way that one dies is deserved (F)
    It is loving (or not unloving) to let one die (F)
    If you are killed by Hitler, you deserved it (F)
    Everyone deserves their death just as much as another (F)
    Only god’s mercy keeps us alive (F)
    X dying to fire and Y dying to Hitler doesn’t make X or Y morally superior to the other (T)
    Natural Disasters are a call to repentance (F)
    Natural Disasters are an opportunity to repent (T)
    Since one can repent during or after a natural disaster, they are good things overall (F)
    Seeing evil, and wondering if that says anything about an assertion that there is a perfect god, “is a reflection of our own depravity and rebellion (F)
    Claiming that there is probably no perfect god, given the Holocaust, makes you a depraved person (F)
    Jesus allows wars so that we can repent (F)
    God allows disasters to remind us that we are guilty of something (F)
    If we don’t repent for being mean to our neighbor, we deserve eternal damnation (F)
    We do not deserve peace and tranquility (F)
    Loving people would give us peace and tranquility (T)
    God is good for giving us eternal damnation for not repenting for any sin (F)
    We deserve, out of nowhere, for a being to help us (F)
    If God is loving, he should help us (T)
    The flaws we have make it so that God should send us to eternal damnation (F)
    Clay Jones says there are no good people (T)
    There are no good people (F)
    There are no perfect people (T)
    Jesus apparently doesn’t care if you go to Hell if you don’t repent for thinking that god does not exist (T)
    Sins are all the same (F)
    Regardless of your sin, you deserve the same punishment (F)

    Jesus: Hitler just killed 6 million Jews, and they deserve Hell.
    Clay Jones/Jesus: They committed a sin (and it doesn’t matter what specifically that was!)
    If you commit any sin mentioned in the Bible, you deserve Hell (F)
    If you commit any sin, god is still all loving if he sends you to eternal torture (F)
    Some sins are not worse than others (F)
    All sinners, regardless of their sin, deserve death (F)
    Loving people will treat all sinners exactly the same (F)
    God randomly saves people (F)
    Clay Jones resolves the problem of evil (F)
    No human is good (F)
    God is good, even when he sends people who collect sticks on Sunday to Hell (F)
    Bad things never happen to good people (F)
    Jesus said we were born sinners (T)
    We are born sinners (F)
    Being born guilty because your ancestor was guilty is perfectly loving (F)
    The Bible is god’s word (F)
    many humans do many good things (T)
    No one is perfect (T)
    If you are imperfect, you deserve any punishment/treatment you get (F)
    Humans are sometimes very depraved (T)
    Those who are more depraved prima facie deserve more punishment than those who are less (T)
    Humans do not all deserve the same punishment (T)
    We know that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing all the evils of the world (F)
    All sins are equal and equally grave (F)
    If a tree is about to fall on you, and you don’t take the opportunity to repent, you deserve to die. (F)
    A tree falling on people is a warning from god (F)
    A tree falling on a person and killing them is a loving sign from god (F)

    Reply
  2. jcb says:

    To summarize:
    A perfect being would probably have stopped the Holocaust (even though the Jews were imperfect).
    The Holocaust happened.
    Thus a perfect being probably doesn’t exist.

    Reply
      • jcb says:

        One “proves” it by defining what one means by “perfect”. Most theists, and myself, have usually defined it as meaning “all loving” “all good” and “all powerful”. If you don’t mean this about god, then yes, my claims are not true. if you do mean something like this, then my assertions look to be true. If one claims that a Perfect Speller Should have spelled cat “C-A-T”, that is only true if that’s how Cat is spelled/that is what we mean in claiming that one is a “perfect” speller. A loving being, one who cares about others, would not Not care about others. When someone is hurt, and the other says “whatever”, that appears to be uncaring. So we would be justified in concluding, it looks like that being is not all loving/all caring. Likewise, if God were perfect as described, such a being prima facie would have stopped the Holocaust. The Holocaust wasn’t stopped. Thus there probably is not perfect being.

        Reply
        • Clinton says:

          There’s a lot more to the equation than that. God isn’t looking at the mortal body and saying, oh man, gotta protect that thing because that’s all they have.
          He allows evil because for one, we have free will. 2 there’s a purpose behind what He does and allows.
          This body is not it. He is training up a soul to inherit an incorruptible kingdom. If everything were peachy, and there were no evil, why would anyone turn to God. Because of our nature, we’d be inclined to think it’s all the result of us.
          This is not heaven. This is the training grounds.

          We can make the argument all day long that God doesn’t love us because he allows evil, but the fact is, He’s looking farther ahead than we are.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            Of course none of us know god exists and what he is looking at. But we do know what a “perfect” (to us, on our definition) being would do: be nice, spell correctly, etc. So, as far as we know, a perfect being would say “I gotta protect that thing”.
            Saying “he allow evil because we have free will”, doesn’t (yet) seem to say anything. We have free will. It doesn’t follow that a perfect being would allow evil. In fact, a perfect being wouldn’t. I know you are trying to connect free will to this, but so far you haven’t.
            And no, we don’t know there is a purpose (a sufficient reason) for allowing evil. It is possible, but not probable. (We don’t know it to be probable).
            The body is it, as far as we know. The rest about “training a soul” is just made up.
            The part about this life being a training ground is all made up.
            The fact is, evil exists, and this means a perfect being probably does not.

          • Clinton says:

            Of course we don’t always know the purpose. But because we don’t know the purpose, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
            Do we know why, from a materialistic perspective, there are so many stars out there. Or why there is water vapor way out there?
            We don’t know everything in the universe. Yet because we don’t know everything about God, you say it must not be true.
            And when we define everything by our own standard, believing that we are somehow infinitely wise, we can’t come to a conclusion.
            A perfect being, is himself perfect. He doesn’t sin. We, on the other hand are depraved. That is empirical. But the most denied.
            Morally good behavior by our standard. What is it. To be morally good we must be nice?
            By that standard, we still fail miserably.
            I honestly couldn’t imagine how much nicer any being could be than to offer eternal life to someone who doesn’t deserve it. But the eternal kingdom is going to be perfect. No sin, no pain, no evil, no death. It couldn’t be that way if Hitler’s and Stalin’s are allowed there.
            Corruption cannot inherit incorruptible.

    • jcb says:

      Replying to your other post:
      We don’t always know the purpose of things. In this case, we don’t know god exists, nor has a purpose. As far as we can tell, there is no known, justified purpose for allowing the Holocaust. Prima facie, it is unjustified, “bad”, a tragedy, etc. Hence, as far as we can tell, there is no perfect being with a justified reason for allowing the Holocaust.
      There might be a justified reason, which is why atheists lose if they press the Logical Problem of Evil. But they win (or are right) if they press the Evidential Problem of Evil.
      We don’t know everything. It doesn’t follow that the Holocaust appears to be contrary to what a perfect being would want.
      No I didn’t say it “must” be the case that God doesn’t exist, only that he probably doesn’t. (Straw Man)
      We can come to a reasonable conclusion, given what we know, and that is that there probably isn’t a perfect being.
      Yes, we imperfect people exist. Nothing about that proves a perfect being exists.
      Most of us use the moral standard of being nice/kind/loving. Nothing about this proves god.
      Yes, many people are unloving. Nothing here proves god.
      No being we know of can give us eternal life.
      Stretch your imagination: a being that offered eternal life without the threat of punishment would be a nicer being.

      Reply
      • Clinton says:

        Well okay. So we’re imperfect. So being imperfect, how can we see the ends of everything that happens. If we don’t see an immediate result, then we assume that it was pointless.
        I can’t say what the purpose of the Holocaust was, nor do I claim too.
        These sorts of evils are the result of free will. Man has free will. Therefore he can choose to do something as abhorrent as mass murder thousands.
        Without free will, there can’t really be love. Robots, computers and the like, cannot actually love you. They can simulate, but they have no emotion, no care or anything of that sort. So if we were created as robots, we wouldn’t give a crap. It would be a result of programming and nothing more.
        But, Hitler was judged and stopped.
        So maybe there wasn’t anything good came from it. Sure didn’t turn out good for Hitler. Maybe the people he murmured made it to heaven. Maybe it was judgment laid down on them for some rebellion against God.
        I don’t know. Im not making any claims.
        Im not sure how it could be objectively bad in a world that came into being by accident. Maybe what good is is human flourishing. I heard somewhere once, that someone was saying that humans are detrimental to all other life. They said that if bugs disappeared then all life would soon disappear. But if humans disappeared, that all other life would flourish.
        So it seems that human flourishing is bad for other forms of life.
        In an athiest worldview, nothing could be good or bad. It’s only the opinion of individuals.
        So what makes it good to love our fellow man?
        Especially when you got people out there that think it’s good for human flourishing to kill off a certain population, and kill babies, in order to control the population so other people they deem more worthy can somehow flourish better. But, the problem is, when you get that sort of behavior going, it doesn’t stop there. Then they decide, other people aren’t worthy, and kill them off. And so on and so forth.
        Is that good? Should we kill the less educated people?
        Well who’s going to do the laundry and fix their cars, and pick crops for them?
        I think you’d agree that behavior is wrong. But by who’s standard. By mine and yours?
        Also, why would ancient people, who against their own desires, make up a holy God who expects certain behavior from them, when that goes against their desires? A holy God who says sex outside marriage is wrong, when just like all people, wanted sex without the commitment.
        And as I said last time, what kind of heaven would it be if we were to allow Hitlers into it, when he obviously was looking after his own interests.
        Heaven is going to be a perfect place. So allowing evil in would just ruin it. Would it not?
        As far as hell goes, the description of flame and that sort of thing is a metaphor if you will for destruction. Jesus says several times in his teaching that it’s an outer darkness. It’s a place where one will be eternally separated from the love of God. People get there by their own choice. They reject God, and because of God’s love, he isn’t going to force someone that hates Him into his house.
        Think about it. If you love someone, but they hate you, how loving would it be for you to force them into your house?

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “Also, why would ancient people, who against their own desires, make up a holy God who expects certain behavior from them”
          It suits the people in charge very much to have the population believing in such a God. The Romans for example did well out of having Jews believe in a peaceful messiah who tells the people to turn the other cheek and pay Caesar their taxes.
          .
          “Especially when you got people out there that think it’s good for human flourishing to kill off a certain population”
          All the evangelicals who shout down gun control mean you’ve got no moral high ground here. Not to mention all the theists who cited their faith as a justification for killing off heretics.
          .
          “Should we kill the less educated people? Well who’s going to do the laundry and fix their cars, and pick crops for them?”
          You’ve just given a good practical reason not to kill them that doesn’t involve God.
          .
          “So it seems that human flourishing is bad for other forms of life”
          This is true, but as humans we have a natural bias towards our own species.
          .
          “But, Hitler was judged and stopped”
          By your own logic that means we don’t have free will.
          .
          “Im not sure how it could be objectively bad in a world that came into being by accident”
          Why would it make a difference if the world came about by design? Say a God created us for a particular purpose – why would that make genocide worse than in a world that came into being through natural causes? Same amount of suffering caused either way so why is one bad and the other a neutral act?

          Reply
  3. jcb says:

    Right, we don’t know everything. That doesn’t change anything I’ve said, it seems. If someone punches you in the face, the immediate result is pain. Whether there is a long term point/value/benefit remain to be see. None of that changes the conclusion that, as far as we can tell at the time, the punch was not justified, but unkind. Likewise, the Holocaust did great harm. Hitler was greatly unloving. As far as we can tell, there are many negatives to it, but not many positives that show that it is for the greater good/justified. Our current assessment should be that it was unjustified. If we learn more later, we might change that assessment. That’s how we do all things: judge as we go, modify our judgments as we learn new things. Some evils are due to free will, and some are not. Yes, humans do mean things sometimes. And sometimes, they are so mean, that kind, loving humans try to stop them, even if that means ruining that person’s free will. Free will, while pretty important, is not always so important that it is for the greater good to never interfere with it. So yes, a loving god would let us have some free will, but it doesn’t follow that a loving god would never interfere with it. An all loving god, prima facie, would have interfered with Hitler’s freewill, or at least turned his bullets into water. Hitler was stopped by humans, and only after he killed millions of people. A perfect god would have done better than that. The only reason we didn’t do better is because we are not more perfect.
    Again, yes, maybe the dead Jews went to Heaven. That’s why the LPOE fails. As to the EPOE, it is unaffected by “maybe”s. The EPOE shows that god probably doesn’t exist.
    The notion of “objectively bad” obscures the conversation more than it helps. If you mean “god givenly bad”, then there is no such thing. If you mean, actually bad, like actually harmed, then such a thing exists, and has nothing to do with god (except to make it unlikely that a perfect being exists).
    It is false that if there is no good, nothing could be good or bad. Huggers and muggers would still exist. Harm and joy would still exist. Atheist morality appeals to real things. Theistic morality appeals to fictional things.
    You ask, “what makes it good to love our fellow man”? Define “good” and I will answer your question.
    The short answer is: nothing requires that we be nice to our fellow man, and likewise nothing shows that god exists. The theist wants to get the atheist to say, Something must force us to be nice to others, and that force must be an external supernatural moral law giver. That’s the mistake. There is no such thing. What can be said: If you want to be loving, don’t punch people.
    Loving people shouldn’t kill less educated people (prima facie). None of this has anything to do with god, and everything to do with what “love” is for us, and what killing results in.
    You say X (which?) behavior is wrong: Define wrong and I will tell you if that’s true. If you mean, Killing makes others sad, often, then that statement is true.
    Lots of ancient people asserted many falsehoods. If I don’t know why they did, it doesn’t show that god exists.
    We don’t know that there is a heaven. A perfect place is a nice fantasy though.
    It’s clearly your interpretation that Lakes of Flame mentioned in the Bible are just metaphors. Regardless, there is no evidence for a place like Hell in some supernatural place.
    Actually a loving person would save the life of someone they hated, in many cases. Surgeons do it every once in a while.
    To conclude: evil shows that god probably doesn’t exist.

    Reply
  4. Clinton says:

    Well I never said nor thought that the Holocaust was justified. It was blatantly obvious that it was unjustified. Hitler had absolutely no moral grounds to do what he did. He was full of evil and hatred.
    Now why didn’t God stop it?
    Well He did. See God governs in the affairs of men. He used the armies of the allies to take Hitler down. It may look like it was only men. But what stirred up men to March their armies in. The uninvolved countries could have simply said,. ” It’s not our business.”.
    The allies, as far as I recall from my history reading, actually came close to losing. The axis powers were apparently pretty organized. They had most of Europe as a stronghold. But something happened that turned the tides, and allowed the allies to break in.
    Now, God allows things to happen. What all the ripple effect of all of it is, I don’t know. God knows the beginning from the end. He could see all the way through, and likely seen a purpose for it.
    But, if bullets started turning into bubbles, of course we would have suspected witchcraft or something I imagine.
    God wouldn’t be so blatantly obvious because He is looking for the love of men. If He makes himself so obvious and known to mankind, do you think mankind would obey Him out of love, or fear?
    God in the old testament, during the exodus, made himself known. 10 plagues. Pillar of fire by night. Pillar of cloud by day.
    His people still disobeyed him. People still did not love Him. In the case of the Egyptians, they probably cursed Him.
    So it has been shown that even when he is so blatantly obvious to everyone, it didn’t elicit love. It got fear. That’s not what He desires from us.
    A loving person would try to save the life of someone. Even who they hated. Yes. A truly loving person would. Would a truly loving God save the life of everyone?
    That’s what Christ was for. God commended His love towards us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Anybody who puts their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, will be saved.
    Does that mean that his mortal life will always be saved? No. It means that theres eternal life on the other side of death.
    If you knew the story of Christianity, you would discover that evil does not show that God doesn’t exist. He allows freedom so that we could freely love and know Him. If we were not allowed freedom, we’d be a bunch of robots. And robots don’t care.
    Also, how do you figure that we would have evidence, scientific or otherwise, that there’s a hell? Again, if we knew that for a fact, would we love Him, or fear Him?
    That’s something you would have to take him at his word.
    From an athiest perspective, there is no purpose. No hope. No good no evil. Most the time, athiest argue for a moral law, at the same time denying it. There is no way to know whether something is good or evil apart from opinion.

    Reply
  5. jcb says:

    If the Holocaust is unjustified evil as far as we know, then probably a perfect being doesn’t exist. No, god did not stop the Holocaust. It happened, and its end was not due to god. You are just asserting things with no factual basis. God did not “use the armies of the allies”. There is no evidence for this. This is being made up out of thin air by you.
    There is no god, or being, that we know of that knows everything.
    Suspecting witchcraft would have been better than dead bodies.
    A perfect being would be More obvious. A perfect being doesn’t need (or look for) the love of men.
    If a perfect being made itself more obvious, yes, many would find god and “love” him.
    A truly loving god would have stopped the Holocaust.
    Even if God also offered us Salvation, it doesn’t follow that he would therefore allow the Holocaust.
    There is no eternal life, and no evidence for it.
    I have already shown that god could allow freedom and still alter the world for the better.
    Exactly: there is no known evidence for Hell.
    You can’t take the word of a fictional character.
    Atheists have lots of purposes, and hope, and desires, i.e., a sense of “good” and “evil”. Atheists don’t have (as many) delusions.
    Atheists say suffering and joy exist. They don’t deny that.

    Reply
  6. Clinton says:

    First, I didn’t say God stopped the Holocaust. I said He put Hitler down.
    We don’t see His hand doing anything. So therefore He doesn’t exist. It’s really not that good of an assertion. If He’s supernatural, then He’s not visible.
    We are finite. If there was a good that came from it, we aren’t going to know. What if it was a judgment against the Jews. I don’t know that it was, and im not asserting that it was. But it is a valid question.
    When we say perfect loving being, we’re not talking about a nice being. To be nice isn’t always that loving. It wouldn’t be loving for one to let the children play on the main road because they want to, and be nice and let them do so.
    If one hates you, are you loving to force them into your house, or is it more loving to let them go.
    You are right on this point, that a perfect being doesn’t need the love of mankind. He doesn’t need us at all.
    What is your life? It is but a vapor that appears for a short time, and then vanishes away.
    But, according to the Bible, He created us so we could enjoy a love relationship with Him.
    This world is not the end. It’s not heaven. If it were perfect, then it would be heaven. God doesn’t mess with free will, because He wants a free will decision to love Him.
    If He stops all evil from happening, He is stopping free will. Even the people that love Him sin. If things always go our way, our nature is prideful. We will turn from Him and go our own way.
    If you don’t think so, look at some of the most powerful and wealthy people. Including celebrities. You ever notice that a lot of them are conceited, prideful, arrogant and egotistical? Not all of them, but it’s often the case.
    The assertion that if God were obvious, like putting His name in the stars, or smiting down anyone who dares blaspheme Him, people would love Him. Not true.
    People of the exodus. When God descended on the mountain, the people said to Moses, ” speak to us yourself, and we will listen. But let not good speak with us, lest we die.”
    He was obvious to them, but they were afraid of Him.
    Another time. They were being bit by venomous snakes, and were dying. God told Moses to make a statue of a snake. they would look at it and be healed. Then eventually they started worshipping the statue.
    So no, people still turn from Him even when He was obvious to them.
    There are atheist out there, that say they have seen the good of Christianity. Have seen what comes from it. And say they have seen a truly amazing change in character, behavior, and attitudes of people. Became convinced that a love for Christ is the best thing that a person can have, but remain committed atheists.
    A truly loving God, just like a truly loving father, would tell his children how to behave because it’s best for them. But then, not force them to behave, but will chastise them, and correct them. If they don’t listen, then they go to their own destruction.
    Claiming that a perfect being would be this and that, it’s kind of hard to argue anything like that coming from an imperfect opinion.
    The perfect being we’re talking about has a purpose for humanity. He works His purposes even in the sin of man. Joseph, after being sold into slavery, at the end and being united with his brothers, said to them,” you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
    Even after the famine had taken over the land, his family found refuge because of what happened to Joseph.
    At this point, you say you can’t take the word of a fictional character. Maybe not, but what if this is not a fictional character?
    Then it would make sense to trust Him.
    As for atheism. I’m not making any assertion that you couldn’t be happy, or have desires. We all have desires. I’m saying that there’s ultimately no meaning.
    One can do good things. But it doesn’t really matter because in the end, one just ends up in the ground.
    Athiests can have good morals, or even agree with the moral of the Bible. But really don’t have a way to ground them.
    There was an atheist philosopher named Kai Nielson. He said this ,
    ” We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view or that really rational beings unhoodwinked by myth or ideology need not be individual egoist or classical amoralist. Reason does not decide here. the picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me. Pure practical reason even with a good knowledge of the facts will not take you to morality.”
    I apologise for the long post. It seemed I had to say a lot to articulate what I was trying to say.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      You said:
      Now why didn’t God stop it?
      Well He did.
      Hitler is not an It. So it clearly sounded like you said “god stopped the Holocaust”. Nonetheless, you know have made it clearer that you didn’t intend to say that. Of course, there is no evidence that God put Hitler down.
      If we don’t detect God, then we can’t say he is doing a particular thing, like “putting Hitler down”.
      If there is claimed to be a god that always has cats on every desk, and there is a desk without a cat, then there probably is not such being.
      If there is claimed to be a perfect being, and we see imperfection, there probably is no such being. These are quite reasonable assertions, prima facie.
      So, define god. Then say how we know it. If god isn’t visible, how is god known, and in what sense does he exist? None, it seems.
      It is false to say, if something good is to come from an action, we aren’t going to know.
      Again, you rightly point out that there might be a justified reason. But again you fail to note that this is only relevant against the LPOE.
      Loving beings are also usually nice. They are related. An all loving being prima facie wouldn’t let you die.
      That being loving means sometimes not letting kids play on a dangerous street doesn’t show that being loving means not stopping murderers. Prima facie, it does.
      Our life is finite. The Bible makes false assertions that eternal life that many wish were true.
      Some people are selfish. None of this falsifies what I’ve said.
      My assertion was that if God revealed himself more, some would love him, which is likely. You simply change the focus to those who would refuse god. The fact that there are people you focus on doesn’t change the fact that there are people I am focusing on. Many people change their minds when confronted with new evidence. The same prima facie applies to god, if he provided more evidence.
      Loving people generally don’t force, but sometimes do. Parents typically force children to brush their teeth, go to school, etc. None of this seems relevant to the above.

      I am imperfect. But it’s not hard to see that a supposed perfect speaker of French is not so if she says “Bone-Jower” (instead of Bonjour). The same can be said of god. It’s not hard to conclude that a perfect god would probably not murder people, generally speaking. If you disagree, you are basically saying, we can say god is perfect, we just don’t know what we mean when we say it, which is to say nonsense.
      If God exists, then he exists. The evidence shows he probably does not.
      I agree, there is no ultimate meaning. That’s what the evidence shows.
      Yes, in the end (when you are dead), nothing will matter to you. Nothing about these facts proves god/disproves atheism.
      No one has a way to ultimately ground anything. So that is no criticism of atheism. It theists could ground their views better, they wouldn’t spend so much time wrongly attacking atheism. They could simply say, “atheism ultimately asserts X, but the facts here show X is false”. But theists don’t and apparently can’t do that. So instead, they say, “atheists can’t answer everything, so atheism is wrong!” That is a Non-Sequitur.
      Yes, morality has tricked and confused many people. Nothing about what Kai Nielson said proves god or disproves atheism.
      We are getting off track I think. If you have a clear argument: please make it. Lacking that, a perfect (all loving, wants the best for us, etc.) god probably doesn’t exist, given what we know about human suffering.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *