Jul
9

If God is real, why is there suffering?

By: Scott Youngren


Migraine headache
A man expressing despair and pain, holding his hands to his head. Shot with deliberate motion and flash blur.

“What is to give light must endure burning.”

—Victor Frankl, the famed Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

——————

In his now famous book The God Delusion, outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins contends that:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

“Scripture confirms human and angelic freedom and that this is how God’s creation became the war zone that it presently is…Of course he (God) could have created a world where we have to do his will, but it would be a creation devoid of love.”

…A couple more harsh adjectives and one might start to get the impression that he’s angry with God. But, for those who have borne witness to the immense suffering and evil present in this world, it can be tempting to sympathize with Dawkins’ perspective. People (including theologians) have wrestled with the question for untold generations: If God is in control of the universe, and he is good, why is there so much suffering and evil? How does one, for example, rectify the existence of a good and just God with the occurrence of the holocaust? The most tempting (and facile) way to answer this question is to simply state that God is not good and just…or, perhaps more commonly, that he does not exist. But this perspective is rooted in incorrect assumptions about God and the nature of his interaction with the world.  Gregory Boyd explores this topic in his book Is God to Blame? Boyd labels the pervasive viewpoint that God is responsible for everything that happens in this world “the blueprint worldview” and calls attention to the philosophical and theological flaws this viewpoint contains:

“Scripture confirms human and angelic freedom and that this is how God’s creation became the war zone that it presently is…Of course he (God) could have created a world where we have to do his will, but it would be a creation devoid of love.”

In other words, if the world were such that we had to do God’s will, it would be nothing more than a puppet show God was putting on for himself. And how could God love a puppet? God created us to be independent free agents that he can love and be in relationship with.  Relationships can only occur between free agents, not between a free agent on one hand and a puppet on the other. And in order for us to be free agents, we must be able to choose between good and evil. Sadly, we all too often choose evil. Former Cambridge University Professor of Mathematical Physics John Polkinghorne makes a similar point in his book Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity:

“Does a world with cancer and concentration camps really look like the creation of a powerful and loving God? I think this is the difficulty that, more than any other, holds people back from belief in God…How, though, can one have a world in which humans are free to choose without some of these choices being for ill rather than for good? We are moral beings, with all the possibilities for immorality that this implies, not perfectly programmed automata…Philosophers call this insight ‘the free will defense,’ meaning that the possibility of moral evil is the price that must be paid for the greater good of human freedom.”

He continues:

“’But wait a minute,’ I hear you say, ‘there may be some moral worth in allowing human beings freedom, but what’s the point in doing the same for tectonic plates [thus allowing earthquakes]‘?…I do not believe that God directly wills either the act of a murderer or the incidence of cancer. I believe God allows both to happen in a creation that has been given the gift of being itself…[these] are the inescapable cost of a creation allowed to be other than God, released from tight divine control and permitted to be itself.”

Perhaps an apt metaphor for a creation not permitted to be itself would be a child playing with dolls. The dolls can think or do nothing outside of what the child wills, and therefore do not have any reality outside of the child’s mind…except as inanimate objects.

It stands to reason that a creation not “permitted to be itself” isn’t really a creation. Perhaps an apt metaphor for a creation not permitted to be itself would be a child playing with dolls. The dolls can think or do nothing outside of what the child wills, and therefore do not have any reality outside of the child’s mind…except as inanimate objects. Further, God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as earthquakes and tsunamis, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity:  Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

“Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

All of this is not to say that God plays no role in guiding worldly events or that he never intervenes in earthly affairs. Rather, it is to say that much of the time he must step back and allow us to experience the consequences of our decision to embrace evil so that we can understand what we need to be redeemed from. By allowing natural evil, God is thus responding somewhat like the parents of a 12 year-old who, upon catching the child smoking a cigarette, force him to go into the closet and finish the entire pack so that he can grasp the consequences of his choice. And if one will stop to think, people often don’t give God a fair shake. We humans are very adept at taking credit for all that is good in the world and blaming God for much of what is bad: How could God allow the holocaust? Isn’t it wonderful that we found a cure for polio? Why did God allow those children to starve? Isn’t it great that we successfully (and very narrowly) avoided total nuclear annihilation several times during the Cold War?

[Too see an excellent example of God using suffering to achieve a higher good, please review the below video. At age 17, Joni Eareckson-Tada became quadriplegic after a diving accident. She became suicidal, but her paralysis made her unable to even commit suicide. Has your life ever gotten this bad? See how her tragedy became a blessing.]

 

But it should not be said that permitting creation to be itself is God’s only motive for allowing evil and suffering. Lee Strobel points this out in his book The Case for Faith using excerpts from his interview with Villanova University and Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter Kreft:

“’How can a mere finite human be sure that infinite wisdom would not tolerate certain short-range evils in order for more long-range goods that we couldn’t forsee?’ he [Kreft] asked.” “’Okay, then, imagine a bear in a trap and a hunter who, out of sympathy, wants to liberate him. He tries to win the bear’s confidence, but he can’t do it, so he has to shoot the bear full of drugs. The bear, however, thinks this is an attack and that the hunter is trying to kill him. He doesn’t realize that this is being done out of compassion.’” “’Then, in order to get the bear out of the trap, the hunter has to push him further into the trap to release the tension on the spring. If the bear were semiconscious at that point, he would be even more convinced that the hunter was his enemy who was out to cause him suffering and pain. But the bear would be wrong. He reaches this incorrect conclusion because he’s not a human being.’”

“Kreft let the illustration soak in for a moment. ‘Now,’ he concluded, ‘how can anyone be certain that’s not an analogy between us and God? I believe God does the same to us sometimes, and we can’t comprehend why he does it any more than the bear can understand the motivations of the hunter. As the bear could have trusted the hunter, so we can trust God.’”

Kreft goes on:

“Dentists, athletic trainers, teachers, parents—they all know that sometimes to be good is not to be kind. Certainly there are times when God allows suffering and deprives us the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater good of moral and spiritual education. Even the ancient Greeks believed the gods taught wisdom through suffering. Aeschylus wrote: ‘Day by day, hour by hour / Pain drips upon the heart / As, against our will, and even in our own despite / Comes Wisdom from the awful grace of God.’”

None of this is intended to diminish the reality of pain, evil, and suffering in this world. Rather, it is to say that person’s making statements such as “because there is so much evil and suffering, there can be no God,” are approaching the subject from an unrealistically inflated concept of human knowledge and understanding. Further, they are failing to recognize that even the infinite power of God has its limits. As Strobel points out, just as no amount of power can create “colorless color or round squares,” no amount of power can create “a world where there’s real choice while at the same time no possibility of choosing evil.”

58 thoughts on If God is real, why is there suffering?

  1. There’s an old story in which God is accused of living a very sheltered life. All the people of the world are standing before Him awaiting judgment, and they are complaining. “You’re not qualified to judge us,” they claim. A German Jew pulls up her sleeve and says, “I was in a Nazi concentration camp where we were beaten and tortured and killed. What could you know about that?” Another man, an African, spoke up. “Do you see these rope burns? I was hanged for my black skin, and my brothers suffocated on slave traders’ ships. What could you know about that?” Soon all the suffering people of the world began to murmur against the judgment of God. “You don’t know what it’s like,” they cried. “You’ve never been where we’ve been. You live in Heaven, where you sit upon your throne. You’re not qualified to judge those of us who have suffered, because you have lived a sheltered life.” Then they described the kind of God who would be qualified to judge them: “He would be an ordinary man with no special power to help himself. He would be hated and condemned by worldly authorities for advocating an unpopular cause. He would be betrayed by his friends, indicted by a crooked jury, tortured and put to death, feeling absolutely forsaken by all.” When all the requirements for a God who might judge were read and agreed upon, the masses grew silent. No one moved. No one spoke. They realized that God had already served the sentence they had prescribed in the person of his son, Jesus. God’s credentials to be our judge are impeccable. His ways are perfect. His justice is pure. And when we can see Him face to face and ask Him every “why?” we’ve ever wondered, the answers won’t matter anymore.

      • Please point out which science book I should read. Would it be Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species?” In later versions of this book, Darwin writes that life may have “been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” He also said elsewhere, “When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.” Don’t believe me? Just google it.

        Would it be Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica? Newton was a Christian.

        Would it be Einstein’s works that I should read? Einstein made the categorical statement, “I am not an atheist.” Don’t believe me? Just google it.

        Would it be one of Richard Dawkins’ books? Dawkins believes in Darwin’s theories but he ignores the fact that Darwin’s theories do not even attempt to explain the origin of life. Rather, they only discuss the diversification of life from a putative common ancestor. What is Dawkins’ best explanation for how life emerged from non-living materials? Answer: Aliens from outer space brought it here. See this video for proof.

        • for whatever reason we are all left confused & baffled on this subject? from my experience in life & from what i see is that humans are on a destructive path without guidance & you don’t need to be a scientist to see that,there must be something above our intelligents for humans to experience & talk about mystical powers(or whatever you decide to call it) for generations & all the symbols & evidence found even before christ so there is some force guiding us to ask & believe in something,as a human with no belief in anything has no real reason to survive except to care for there loved ones,then we need to ask why are we doing all this besides doing it for our loved ones,is it to keep our names & legends alive? is that what makes us strive to invent & accomplish great things? we could also come to a conclusion that there’s also some force blinding us to find out the truth!! i wish i had the answers but again there are so many of them that you don’t know which is correct,my conclusion is that i don’t trust the human race PERIOD!!! it’s sad but we are all becoming more selfish,greedy,distrustfull,& could go on but i won’t,whatever is outthere that created everything i hope it arrives soon as were not doing a good job on taking care of ourselfs & the EARTH!!!

          • What you are describing here is the biblical concept of humankind’s “fallen nature.” We are hopelessly corrupt and wicked. Without God’s assistance, we are completely lost in our evil ways.

          • @Syoungren That is utter bullshit. Are you one of those people who believe that the Bible is the foundation of all our moral and social codes? Humans on their own have naturally developed their own view and own form of justice. Though not perfect, humankind is certainly not ‘completely lost in our evil ways’

          • No, I am one of those people who thinks that God established our moral codes and that the bible lays them out. It is telling that in societies that did not have access to the bible, virtually the same moral code emerges. Please review my post entitled “Aren’t all truths, all morals, relative?” in the snippets section.

            Please describe the process by which you believe that people “have naturally developed their own view and own form of justice.”

          • God did not create evil all thgins that were created were created good and God saw all that he created and it was good, first chapter of Genesis. Satan in his rebellion against God, fell from heaven and in tempting Adam and Eve and with their fall has placed all of creation under the curse of sin, pain, suffering, etc. The creation will remain under this curse under Christ returns in final judgement and all thgins will be purified as if by fire. The wicked to final punishment in the absence of Gods grace in hell and the believers to eternal joy with God and Christ in the new heavens and new earth.Rev 21:1 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.. My rational mind.

  2. Why do people think there is a God? Like you pointed out, the God of the old testament is petty and jealous. But this is the way the Teachers thought them. to keep them inline. That was the Church of long ago. There is a God if its not what you think it is, it may be what I think it is. have you ever really stoped to think about just how far the planets are apart? do you think you could stand on an astriod and see the craters of another one? it’s just to much for our brains to comprehend. There is a God! it might not be what you(we), hope there is but there is a creator.Heck, we might be in an experement glass, but someone,somewhere has made us. do youi think we go on? maybe we are like a light switch. omce turned off thats all there is. All I know is that if you live an asshole life you will more than likly die an asshole death. we do reap what we sow. Yes? I’ve been through nomore than anyone else, but I’ve been through my share. I’ve read all the finds and heard the recordings of the ghost. I’ve never saw anything or ever heard anything, but I’ve always have had a heavy heart. I do believe in a life after death. I just hope its one I will like. If you are still on this sight I would like a reply to my Email. ttthanks for your sight and your questions. Eric.

  3. Eric, you’re right in saying that there is a God and a creator. The next step is finding out who this God is. We can look around our world today but we would find no physical proof or evidence of a God. You can read all sorts of religious holy books but, as you pointed out, who is to say which account of God is actually true? The Bible might be true or the Qur’an might be true. We will never know for sure looking at only the text of the books themselves. We have to look back to verifiable historical evidence instead. There are so many religions out there and so many claims are made, but the only religious claims that have been proven true by history are the claims of Jesus Christ. His life has been historically documented and verified. No historian will deny the existence of Jesus. Jesus is also the only historically verifiable religious figure to have publicly performed miracles. The life of Mohammed is more documented than the life of Jesus, but Mohammed never actually publicly proved he had seen a vision from God. Jesus verbally claimed he was the Son of God and everything he said was true, including rising from the dead. How could Jesus’ disciples so zealously claim that “Christ is risen” in the face of extreme persecution and certain death if Christ never actually rose and revealed himself to them? They would have been dying for something they knew to be a lie. I know that everything Jesus said was true. Since I believe in Jesus, I also believe the entire Old Testament as well. So basically what I am trying to say is that if you want to know who God is, read the Bible.

    • Please read the book “The Case For Christ” by Lee Stoebel and see if you can still make this assertion. Can you, in other words, counter his points without just making empty assertions that are not backed up by carefully cited references?

      If you can’t, your statements amount to nothing more than an empty expression of your ideology.

      • Scott

        Is that where you get your facts from?
        Where did he get his facts from?
        Everything about Jesus was written about seventy years after his death
        relying on hearsay and exaggerations.
        My ideology may be empty,but thankfully I am not ignorant enough to
        blindly believe man-made insecurities of delusion whims.

        • Everything about Jesus was written about seventy years after his death
          relying on hearsay and exaggerations.”
          Where did u get your illinformed ideas from- infidels,org? The 1st Gospel was written about 60-67 AD based on the fall of Jerusalem in the same timeframe. John was written around 90AD. Dont just take my word for it ask ANY ancient history professor about Bible accuracy concerning the historicity of Jesus (e.g Graham Clarke ANU). Christainity flourished in Jerusalem in the immediate years following Jesus’ death. THis would hardly be the case if his teachings and post resurrection sighting were fabricated. Also research non-biblical sources for the historicity of Jesus.
          Dear sceptics much of what u claim would likely be true if only God doesnt exist. But u see, a God capable of creating existence from non-existence is more than capable of much smaller miracles. What I suggest u do is look at the logical implications of a godless worldview. You either believe in a Creator or in mindless matter & energy as an explanation for all reality (scientism).
          If u don’t believe that an immaterial, non-contingent. supremely intelligent reality we call God designed the universe, u have to believe it was built on numbers. Relativity, quantum mechanism & all scientific laws are defined by universal immutable complex & abstract math’ formulae. The Atheist then must explain how an immaterial, non-contingent, absurdly complex reality like maths EXIST AT ALL in a world consisting only of matter & energy.
          Oxford Nobel laureate (&atheist) sir Peter Medawar says,’That there is indeed a limit upon science is made very likely by the existence of questions that science cannot answer & that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer It is not to science, but to metaphysics, imaginative literature or religion that we must turn for answers to questions having to do with first and last things.’
          BTW, science presupposes maths and logic to say that science can prove maths is to argue in a circle something Hitchens does very well: “God doesnt exist therefore all religion is delusional. Hey, they even believe in the resurrection how delusional is that? I rest my case”

          • I have read your posts on a different heading.Now I hope that I have got this right and not completely mis-understood you.
            You are obviously well read,articulate,intelligent to a point in your own subject,(anyone can
            be that),depend and use back-up with equally well read emminently intelligent theories
            and thoughts of other people,BUT you believe that a man can die,undie and float off to heaven.With all of your gained knowledge,you actually totally believe in stuff written
            thousands of years ago by people of limited knowledge and based on superstition.OR
            are you going to use the inane argument that not everything in the Bible should be taken
            literally, hence believing the parts that suit your DOGMA?
            Is Alice in wonderland true?Fairies in the garden maybe?
            Now how do we define intelligence?

          • Marvin:

            I am going to reply to this and Dashan can after me if he wants to:

            The problem here is that you are subjecting opposing views to a very high degree of scrutiny but subjecting your own views to a very low degree of scrutiny.

            The idea that consciousness cannot survive the death of the body is rooted in the assumption that the brain produces consciousness. This in turn is rooted in the view known as “materialism” or “naturalism” which says that only the physical, material world is real. However, as I have demonstrated in my God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism post, modern physics has completely undermined this view.

            It is having a worldview rooted in outdated science that must be deemed “superstition.” Therefore, it is your view that amounts to superstition.

            Alice in wonderland? Fairies? Nobody has ever witnessed such things. But there are thousands of doucumented cases of people who have witnessed heaven and hell, as I have demonstrated in my posts entitled “When I Die, Is That It?” and “Has Anyone Ever Met God?”

            Since your views are based upon outdated science, I will ask you the following: Do you also believe that many or most diseases can be cured by bloodletting? Or are diseases really caused by an imbalance of the four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood)? Do you believe that everything in the world is comprised of the basic elements of earth, water, fire, air, and aether?

  4. Two points:

    1) If there is a God, as you believe, then what does the presence of evil tell us of his nature?

    I believe that the God of Classical Theism and Christendom is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent and benevolent.

    If he is all of these things, as says the classical definition, then how do you reconcile them with the reality of evil?

    If these things exist in his creation, then he has allowed them to be so. If he has allowed such things as genocide, war and terminal disease, then surely he has a conflicted nature. He is not all loving or benevolant as he sanctions the possibility for such acts, though you may argue, he abhor’s them. If he does not sanction these acts, but is powerless to stop them then how can he be all powerful? If he has the power to stop them, but chooses not to, then how can he be all loving?

    Evil exists, so one of these circumstances must be true.

    2) You quote in your conlusion, ‘they are failing to recognize that even the infinite power of God has its limits’. surely this is a contradictory and paradoxical statement. Either he is limited or limitless?

    Disregard the 2nd point if you feel it to be slightly petty, I would be greatly interested to hear a further response to my first point.

    I am not an atheist or a God denier definitively. Neither am I a Christian but hopefully someone of reason and open mindedness – probably more of an agnostic.

    Thank you.

    • As far as your first question, I am surprised. Did you read the entire essay? I summarize at the end by quoting Lee Strobel’s point that “just as no amount of power can create colorless color or round squares, no amount of power can create a world where there’s real choice while at the same time no possibility of choosing evil.” Do you wish to counter this point? Feel free to do so and I will respond.

      In my essay entitled, “If God Is There, Why Doesn’t He Just Show Himself?” I delve further into the topic of infinite power having its limits.

      Is the statement “even the infinite power of God has its limits” contradictory? No amount of power, even infinite power, can make somebody love someone else. The moment that God would use his infinite power to force someone to love him, it would cease to be love. This is because for love to be genuine, it must be freely chosen. And if someone was forced to love, he or she would by definition not have chosen to love.

      This is what I mean when I say that even infiinite power has its limits…severe limits. Love is just one of the things to which power in any amount does not apply.

    • Hey Nick,
      You brought up some great points. But why even question the beliefs of someone else? after all didn’t God give us free will? are you trying to start you own church or something? cause you sound like you are. you sound like the Arabs and chatolics,”believe in what I tell you to or you’ll burn in hell”. come on get real. you couldn’t even wipe your own ass if there wasn’t a God. you wouldn,t even be here to question him. you people really burn me up with your blamming God for the shape the world is in. we kill each other, we pollute the world that gives us the “evil cancers”. I don’t believe it was on the 3rd day God created guns and atomic weapons. we did! so put the blame where it belongs. squarely on our own shoulders. who cares what the next guy believes? if I’m wrong and you’re right then you get to say,”I told you so”! so stop trying to push your thoughts down peoples throat.

      • I’m not telling anyone what to believe. This was not an attack on anyone, nor an attempt to begin my own church.

        I stumbled across this site, because I like many people on Earth have questions of my own.
        This site seemed to be quite well constructed with quite a reasonable author. I thought that as he had posted up some of these arguments and articles he would be someone of good reason who wished to talk about them. We would all like to answer some of the difficult questions and have you not found yourself, that by talking with others and asking questions that we sometimes find the answer?

        He has posted these articles on the web and as he has done so, I sought only to discuss them with him in a civilised manner. He seems to have replied in much the same tone and regard for the benefit of the discussion, for which I thank him.
        I truely apologise if I have offended you, it was not intentional.

        • Nick,
          I apologise for the harsh reply. Thats not how I am. you have the right to discuss and have your views on anything you want. I truely hope you find the answers your’re looking for. maybe we can try to help one another in finding some answers. best of luck to you Nick,Eric.

  5. Thanks. An interesting reply and I think that I accept your argument that God may not be able to circle a square or to colour a colourless liquid (sorry about the spelling, I’m English), because by definition these two things are impossible. This makes my 2nd point more an issue of semantics, which is why I was acceptant if you wanted to disregard it.

    However, if it is true that God cannot circle a square then his power is ‘limited’ and not infinite as you postulate. If his power is truely infinite then in some way, at some place and somehow he will be able to undo and break these logical paradox’s such as the square and the circle and indeed will be able to ‘circle the square’. I don’t think that you can have it both ways, either he is limitless or limited.

    I did read the whole essay and it was more my first point that I have interest in. By offering the return that, there is no pleasure without pain, no love without hate, no peace without war and no freedom without free will does not counter or sufficiently answer my question. If he set in place these circumstances and there was the possible outcome of evil then, however much He may desire us to do good, he has sanctioned the possibility of evil and is therefore not fully good or truely benevolent. What about the evil that occurs without the benefit of choice? No-one chooses to have cancer, yet an evil I would call it.

    Surely the presence of evil in itself does not disprove the possibility of God, but leaves a very serious question about his nature. Why couldn’t he have created a situation in which there was no evil even as a possibility? If he has limitless power then surely this would be more representative of an innately good and truely benevolent God?

    • Nick,

      Interesting comments. I, too, am a person seeking answers – ones which I think have a very real possibility of existing if we only look in a serious and dedicated enough manner. As many problems as I have had with the Judeo-Christian concept of God, the “problem of evil,” the philosophical idea that is presented in this article has never really been a problem for me because of the idea of free-will.

      The Judeo-Christian God gives, as a gift to his creation humanity, the idea we have called “free will.” We can determine what it is that we want to do. We take our instincts, personalities, experiences, social relationships, knowledge and etc into account when making decisions, sure – but in the end, we are free to decide whatever we want (including a decision that could possibly go against all of those previously listed entities).

      Free-will implies the ability to choose evil as well as good. Thus, the evil that exists in this world, perpetrated by man, is a product of man and his free-will to choose acts of evil – this kind of activity cannot be attributed to God. God cannot logically make a world where free-will exists yet we cannot choose evil – therefore, the cost of the gift of free-will is potential for evil choices (much as the cost of security in America after the prevalence of terrorism can be civil freedoms and/or convenience)

      I believe “evil” perpetrated by disease and natural disasters are not necessarily “evil,” but as they are sometimes argued as a problem for the existence of God since we can all agree they are “bad,” disease and natural disasters are the products of rules, laws and mechanisms God has created the world with.

      You have a great point regarding an infinite vs finite God in his ability to create some things like color-less colors. Besides the obvious point that humans probably lack the ability to sufficiently understand God and his attributes, I can only imagine that God cannot act in a way that is illogical, especially within a world he created with rules of science and logic. Further, we give names to objects, such as a square, not because it has “squareness” intrinsically, but because we have defined an object with 4 sides as a square. If God were to make a square with three sides, that no longer fits the definition of “square” under human understanding.

      Thus, I feel as if the problem of suffering is the least of the problems for God’s existence – though admittedly, for many people, this is the exact problem, above all else that seems to most shake and sometimes destroy faith in God.

      Now, if you are putting what I have called “the problem of death” under this category, specifically the problem of why we die and why is it necessary to die (especially if you are a evolutionary theist and thus there was no first Adam to sin and necessitate death but death has always been there) then I think you have a tougher issue – one which I don’t have answers regarding and I have pointed out in another post to Scott, for which I am awaiting an answer.

      • Believing that evolution may have played a role in the development of man in no way rules out the first man (Adam). The MIT physicist and biblical scholar Gerald Schroeder argues that Adam may have been the first primate (homo-sapien) to possess self-awareness.

        • You argue quite well Daniel. I accept your views on free will and I understand how that can be used to defend evil, although I am not thoroughly convinced by it. I think that the logic becomes confused when we talk about evil that happens to us through no ill choice or evil acts of our own doing. For example, why do young people get terminal deseases before their time?

          I believe that we both agree on the logical paradox versus infinite power conundrum. This is vexing, but is far less bothersome to me than many other issues in this general debate. I see it as a querk and confusing, but something that I could almost overlook when confronted by other areas of this debate. I also don’t necessarily see it as an obstruction to the idea of God.

          Scott I see you have visited Schroeder’s site. Did you see the paragraph about Dinosaurs next to the one about Adam that you cite here? I thought it to be a plausible and intriguing hypothesis.

          When you talk about Adam being the first man, this doesn’t seem to be a problem. If you wish to name the first homo-sapiens Adam, this would seem fine to me, it would just represent a different name for a species. It is an alternate name for example, reindeer or rangifer tarandus or caribou (wikipedia is so easy to find stuff). Is this a fair comment?

          Homo-sapiens are however, a species descended from older primate lineages. All primates have a level of self awareness as do most other living creatures on the planet. When we talk about Chimpanzees and other monkeys, we can recognise an immense awareness of self so similar to our own it can be bewildering.

          Evolution is the mechanism by which man came to exist. It played more than a role. Have you ever heard of Bonobo monkeys? They are a lesser known species, but their characteristics are mesmorizingly reminiscent of some human behaviour. Check them out through google or youtube and tell me that we do not share an almost family like resemblance to some of their mannerisms.

          Homo-sapiens possess self-awareness, but so do many other creatures on this planet, including I’m sure the evolutionary ancestors of homo-sapiens.

          You’ll find this clip on google but try others, (there are better ones) it is amazing at times.

          • Well, it seems like the argument can go both ways…

            God has intervened throughout existence to ensure man gets to the top; the mass extinction circa 70,000 years ago that nearly wiped out man in particular. There’s a human intelligence theory that this bottleneck, reducing humans to approximately 10,000 or so, left only the intuitive, highly-adaptive “brainiacs” clever enough to avoid catastrophe, catapulting the human genome to an intelligence we see today. Well played, I say.

            Or, through an understanding of the ever-increasing fossil record, what is capable of surviving extinction events (e.g., End Cretaceous making way for small mammals in a terrible lizard-free world), and evolutionary processes, man is lucky to be around today, particularly for surviving the Toba super volcano eruption that resulted in a catastrophic 6- to 10-year volcanic winter and 1,000-year cooling episode, potentially devastating to any relatively large animal. Survivors of bottlenecks are proven keen to survival in the face of catastrophe and the ensuing necessary adaptation.

  6. Nick,

    This is what I think – you will never really find a satisfying answer to your question, as there is no satisfying answer to give. No one really knows why evil exists, or why people are able to make the choice to hurt another person. I know I don’t have an answer for you. If your decision to “believe” is going to be based on an answer to that question, your time would be better spent elsewhere, doing whatever it is you can to make the world a better place. You don’t need a belief in God to do your part for the greater good. :)

    However, if you ask me why I believe, I will tell you this:

    *Treat others as you wish to be treated.

    It is as simple and as difficult as that. That one Gospel message is all I need. It is pure, simple, elegant – and I only have to look around me to see that it is near impossible for most people to do, and I don’t exempt myself from that.

    It does not matter to me whether Jesus existed, if God made the world in 7 days, or anything else people seem to become all bothered by whenever the subject of religion is discussed.

    I just believe that if we could all live by that Golden Rule, the world would be a better place.

    The other reason is also one I cannot substantiate in any way. It does not matter to me what others say, or the inconsistencies about God people will always question, hell, that I even question myself!

    I just know that I feel God in my life like I can feel the nose on my face. It is as simple as that. I cant explain it to you or even give you a reason why I know it is there. I just know it is. I feel it like a presence surrounding me, filling me from the inside.

    Nick, sometimes it’s the questions you have wrong…..

    • Melissa: You don’t need a belief in God to do your part for the greater good. Well yes and no. As a believer I know that we have God’s “morality written on our hearts” and deep down we ALL know it but few apparently have reason to listen. Take a look at this morally bankrupt world in which greed, corruption and dishonesty are endemic. Without God there is no objective morality. In fact in the atheist worldview morality is just what affords survival advantage.
      Study moral theology and there a several levels at which moral decisions r made.
      1) fear of punishment if I get caught
      2) in oder to get a reward (Pavlov’s dog)
      3) to please others, gain their approval (but only if theyre watching)
      4) to fit in with the group (do unto others…)
      5) b/c there exists objective moral standards even if no one in the group believes in them.

      I guess doing the right thing is all about personal integrity, self-esteem & long term happiness, qualities that our flawed, pleasure-seeking human nature cares little to dwell on – sadly!
      A quote by atheist guru Sam Harris is spot on :
      “But we have to be honest unremittingly honest— Science must destroy religion” We seek pleasant sights, and sounds, and tastes, and sensations, and attitudes. We satisfy our intellectual curiosities, and our desire for friendship and romance. but our pleasures are, by their very nature, fleeting. We can do nothing more than merely reiterate them as often as we are able. If we enjoy some great professional success, our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for about AN HOUR.”
      What then?

  7. Maybe the situation in which there is no evil as a possibility is heaven. We are all sinners and deserve to go to hell but the fact that God is willing to forgive our sins so we can go to heaven is good and benevolent. If things were fair and we got what we deserve, we would all be in hell. God is willing to overlook our sin and allow us to enter heaven. I know this doesn’t explain why God created hell or even allowed sin in the first place but He is definitely just and good based on the world in which we live. And honestly, who are we to question God’s ways? Maybe this is the best outcome for us. When we try to analyze God from a human perspective we end up constraining Him to what we know. In reality, His ways are above human comprehension so there is no use in bringing Him down to our level and trying to justify His actions. In my opinion, the reason why we should believe in God comes through Jesus Christ. It’s really all about Jesus. As Josh McDowell stated, “The resurrection issue takes the question, ‘Is Christianity valid?’ out of the realm of philosophy and makes it a question of history.” I would encourage you to do some research on the validity of Jesus and what he claimed. If you believe in Jesus, these philosophical points being argued become a matter of faith (and, because I know that Jesus was telling the truth, my faith is not blind but reasonable).

  8. Further from my last post about Bonobo’s. I know you accept evolution to an extent Scott, which I think is good. I just found this further clip of Bonobo’s online. They are considered to be closer in some of their behaviour than any other primates to humans. I think that they are not so well known as other chimps because of aesthetic reasons.

    I’m not sure where exactly you draw the lines Scott, so this may well be something that you happily accept. So really, I am posting this clip because upon finding it I was almost awestruck at some of their behaviour. However you interpret evolution, surely these animals represent a substantial evidencial case study of how close we are biologically to primates.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A38pqCdIcUA

    So illustrative for me. Post back if you have any thoughts.

  9. Yes, Christianty has to explain the problem of suffering and evil but atheism is left to explain the existence of everything else. Hence the age old question:
    “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”
    Under an atheists worldview there will be no justice for all those who were gassed at Auschwitz But lets be brutally honest, what would be the alternative to a cruel, unjust world : a perfectly just world with no harm, no evil, no suffering, one without free will? Would I want to live in such a world? If the universe was just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies… are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune?
    It is only with a Moral Law Giver that there is an objective standard to which we can compare good and evil, flawed and perfect. Justice is illusory in a godless worldview.
    Ironically, it is in times of tragedy & suffering that the best of human nature is often revealed. (and sadly, sometimes the worst)
    He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev21:4
    Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” James 1:2-3

  10. Can I make a layout suggestion? I wonder if it would be better to delete all the quotes and summarise what all the different people are saying, then put them as sources/bibliography at the end. Reading quote after quote is draining.

    Anyway, this ‘evil for some higher good’ argument is one that I hear again and again, and I’m sure you’re aware it’s the oldest and most refined answer to evil in the book. But for me it seems to just turn God into a giant cosmic calculator, punching in all the relative goods and bads, but biased with the symbols so that eventually there will be higher good.

    But this seems to suggest that everyone else’s suffering is just collaterol, with God a sympathetic bystander.

    Secondly, this makes God a hardcore Utilitarian, completely unconcerned for anything except an ultimate consequential good.

    Thirdly, it requires that God allows the suffering of innocent third parties.

    I do not see the argument ‘man embraced evil’ as a sufficient response. It is God, after all, who designed the faulty machines. Certainly humans are to take moral responsibility for their own actions- but I don’t see that this completely absolves God of any blame for the obvious mistake of giving everyone free will and just releasing them into the world.

    Finally, this idea seems to be in direct contradiction with the argument above, where God ‘uses’ suffering to achieve a higher goal. Is God letting us do whatever or isn’t he?

    P.S. Sorry to be irritable, but could you not reply with references, but instead simply summarise the argument of the reference? It is tiresome to have to go website-hopping, especially on this old computer…

  11. there is not a distinction between god and science! God must have a mechanism for doing what he does, Jesus and those before expressed themselves in non scientifc terms, but latterly we understand science

    • Yes, I only believe in science because it has proof. But God has no proof to his existance. Further down the page I have wrote a lot of proof and it says ‘m in a hurry, and I still am (that means I only just wrote this after the one further down the page).

      And Because I am in a hurry, I am going to have to end it here.
      Sorry again if there are any typing errors, my keyboard is rubbish.
      Just in case you don’t know, my name is not Metroid, but I am a DJ called Livestock and that is not my name either. You may find out on a website of some sort. But I will only b famous in possibly 2016. I am only 9 years old.

      • You believe in science? OK, that’s great but whether or not you believe in science is a totally different subject matter than whether or not you believe in God. Put another way, you could believe in science and God, or you could believe in neither science nor God. Apples and oranges…different subjects.

        Secondly, I have to point out that there is virtually nothing that we humans can have proof of. I am fond of asking commenters to this site to prove to me that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. They can’t do it and you can’t either. But this isn’t because there isn’t enough good evidence. Rather, it is because no matter how much we know about a subject, there is always room for doubt and a person must ultimately take a leap of faith.

        A person’s beliefs about such topics as why it is that there exists a universe, and why it is that there exist conscious and intelligent beings in this universe, ultimately require a leap of faith. This is the case regardless of whether the person’s beliefs are theistic or atheistic.

        The purpose of this website is to demonstrate that atheistic beliefs require a much bigger leap of faith than theistic beliefs. Many atheists are fond of insisting that their beliefs are based on logic and scientific facts, and that belief in God is faith based and superstitious. But just a little bit of investigation reveals this view to be patently absurd.

        Atheistic views, in reality, are not based upon logic and scientific facts. Rather, they are based upon “just is” or “just so” leaps-of-faith. A few of my favorite examples:

        1) One of the most important atheist philosophers of all time was Bertrand Russell. He stated that the universe is “a brute fact,” which was just his way of urging people to cease rational inquiry and accept that the universe “just is” and doesn’t require an explanation. Notably, this view rested upon the assumption that the universe has existed eternally…. an assumption which has been demonstrated to violate the laws of mathematics and physics (please view my post entitled “Isn’t the universe eternal?” in the “snippets” section).

        2) The atheist physicist Stephen Hawking states that the universe emerged “naturally through natural law,” but then he doesn’t mention how it is that natural laws can exist without a lawgiver. Rather, he seems to assume that natural laws “just are.”

        3) Outspoken atheist biologist Richard Dawkins insists that Darwinian evolution explains the existence of life. But when pressed to explain where life came from in an interview, he admits that nobody knows and he then proposes that life can be explained by the fact that it was brought here by aliens from outer space. Where, then, did the aliens come from? From “some sort of Darwinian evolution” according to Dawkins. (Click here to view the interview). Dawkins makes the enormous leap of faith that “some sort of [undisclosed] Darwinian evolution” will one day be discovered that will explain the alien life. But when you look at what the actual science says, you quickly recognize that this is extremely unlikely. Please view my post entitled “If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?” for more detail.

  12. > “Does a world with cancer and concentration camps really look like the creation of a powerful and loving God? I think this is the difficulty that, more than any other, holds people back from belief in God…How, though, can one have a world in which humans are free to choose without some of these choices being for ill rather than for good?” Former Cambridge University professor of mathematical physics John Polkinghorne – in his book ‘Quarks, Chaos & Christianity’ <

    I hear the answers and understand. However I'd like to add the often overlooked aspect of keeping things in perspective, or if for those who like statistical evidence ; simply surmised by the UK's 81,000 imprisoned offenders out of the 6,179,200 population. For those without a calculator handy, that's a ratio of 1 in 76. That to me is incredibly high, but then this is a very egocentric time in history, and we are still a primitive race.

    I then think of those who I've personally known go to prison :

    One (in America) who, under the influence of drugs, shot (fortunately not killed) someone during a drug store raid. As an impressionable lad, he was led down a wrong path (by drug-using family member) and committed that dastardly crime. His mother turned him into the police (one cannot under-estimate the pain that loving act cause her), and he has now served his time. Subsequently he's turned around to be a genuinely lovely person, married with a beautiful young family. I'm delighted to know him.

    The other, here in the UK, is one of my own family members, and former lay-minister, was jailed (we believe framed) for fraud. Again he has served his time, has always been a Christian – in the true sense of the word, and is a devoted father and grandfather. I am honoured to be his namesake.

    The point being ; that we each make foolish mistakes, are impassioned in moments of outrage, are tempted by 'an opportunity', have at one time or another been led astray, and/or made the wrong choice when seemingly cornered – the courts and prisons are full of those caught. …But from those mistakes most of us learn and are reformed.

    Still, even if the prison figures reflected ten times that number, how many of us – or them, are really 'evil' rather than just foolish ? and of those, how many are mentally ill.?

    And again, out of trillions who have lived in this world, only a few hundred are infamous – throughout all recorded history – as tyrants, and those include individuals rebelling against oppression, generations of warrior, and other extremists caught up in the fervour of their cause, and again the mentally ill. Undoubtedly strength, power and ego have and still do corrupt, but, all in all, God giving us a choice – and the opportunities to correct our mistakes, prove Him to be a loving, far-sighted and wise father.

    • …And has oft been said ‘Bad news makes a good news story”

      an interesting insight is to envisage a parrallel universe where history and news-stories focused on the exceptionally good events and characters ! In doing so you’d realise that as bad events are forgotten, and not dealt with, they would be repeated …

  13. ”Why do bad things happen to good people?”

    Let’s first examine the easier segment in the question to answer concerning ”good people”
    This is what the Lord says about whether there are any “good people”:
    Romans 3: 10-18 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Isaiah 64:6-7 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins”
    So it is established that there are no “good people” – and although God urges us to “be perfect as your father in Heaven is perfect” we ALL fall short! No different than regularly reminding one’s own child to do the right thing… knowing full well they will scores of times do the wrong thing – intentionally or otherwise. Yet we still tell them to do the right thing! What loving parent would do otherwise?

    Okay so no we are left with what was your original question… ”Why do bad things happen to people?”

    Short answer: usually because people make wrong (or bad) choices.. they want to do things their way..their own WILL and not God’s Will. They don’t even care to find out what God’s will for them is. They follow there own ideas of how to live…not God’s! God try’s time and time again to get there attention… but all they can say is “why is this happening to me?” “poor me” Hey I’ve been there and done that! It took quite a while for me to realize that the punishment for sin is in the sin itself and that the sinful never find rest in their sin. Also; one reaps what they sow , later than they sow…and more than they sow… be it in sowing good or bad seeds.

    But what I think some really mean to ask is… “why is there death and disease, war & hate, etc , etc in the world?” “

    2 parties played a part in this… Adam & Eve along with Lucifer

    Before the fall of man the world was perfect – as we now deeply desire it to be.
    Man had an intimate relationship with God …You of course know what happened next. But before I tell you why the fall had to happen let me first tell you that God being omniscient always knew and always had a plan to redeem us. God is awesome that way – no matter how Satan or Man try to assert there own Will… the outcome in the end will always be as God Wills it to be!

    Okay… why it had to happen this way? – The Fall

    As I try to explain this very hard piece of scripture… for the purpose of better understanding me; please try to relate via your own life; being a parent with a child and whole heartedly desiring to have a relationship based on LOVE with your child. Your relationship to your child acting as a microcosm; to God our Father and us his Children. This is a very unorthodox way to explain this (as you can imagine) but I find that for some it hits home in a real & tangible way… eventually seeing the Greater picture.

    Okay so God is Love… Agape Love (The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice)
    Love being the father of many good virtues… but for the sake of brevity let’s pick some of the more obvious aspects of LOVE. Such as Truth, Justice, Mercy, Peace, Joy, Selflessness, etc. As a parent I am certain you want to teach your child about these aspects of Love and have these qualities live in your child and be intrinsic to your child.

    So God wanting to share his Love said… “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” “Our image” meaning… Father, Son & Holy Spirit (I can explain this later if you want)

    So God made man and it was ALL GOOD! Also keep in mind that Lucifer was God’s Principal Angel and was very wise & beautiful. Lucifer and the Angels also having been created and having freewill – as is clearly obvious given that Lucifer and a third of the Angels chose to rebel against Light. Jealousy & Pride tends to bring that out in folks… Angels not exempt.

    So it seems that giving His creations Freewill… was in some way at the source of all the iniquity and failings. so what to do… Since ONLY God is PERFECT. So for the purpose of this discussion we will grant you “perfection as a Parent” with understanding that ONLY YOU ARE PERFECT… always were and always will be PERFECT!
    However you know that if your child freely allows you to impose your will over him/her… your child will also be PERFECT … through YOU. Through your will overriding her/his. A perfect relationship based on Pure Love with your child trusting completely the parent that created him/her in the first place – to be loved.

    Okay so what to do. Since being the Perfect Parent you are also omniscient and know full well that many of your children will reject you and your ways for living right.
    Now being that you are Love, your truth and justice will not allow you to be selective in who you bring into being. If you did this you would be breaking your own rules – knowing full well that you cheated in order to save yourself from being hurt.
    No-can-do! So would you then choose not to have any children? Not ever share your love… because some would reject you? Of course not… as much as your heart is broken at those who reject you…you still love them… just as much as you love those who accepted you. Those who accept you… will be made perfect through you and never have death & sin to contend with again, and they will share in your awesome and perfect kingdom full of eternal and perfect LOVE. Those who rejected you are on there own… subject to the consequences of their choices. Being love you are Just and cannot bend your rules of justice & truth. Therefore you have set aside a place for those that want nothing to do with you. And although it pains you to do so you being perfect must let Justice prevail… satisfied with the fact that you had paid their penalty but they rejected that as well.

    You may ask yourself so why couldn’t God have made us without freewill – we could of avoided all this. Well… look at your son/daughter and ask yourself if you could have created him/her without freewill. The same freewill that allows him/her to think freely and choose “freely” and exercise his/her REAL love for you. I am 100% certain that you’d want him/her to have freewill! Because you want to love and be loved freely.

    So death & sin are in this world because of freewill (man’s bad choices) …but so is Genuine Agape Love in the world because of Freewill.

    There is no way to avoid the fallen nature of this world (and in us) and no way to avoid those who would rather live selfishly and reject God and Godly living. You will run across these people… OR they will RUN across you.

    All you can control is how you “choose” to react Who you “choose’ to trust.
    What you “choose” to believe in.”

    But if you accept Jesus Christ as you personal Lord and Saviour He will live in you. And…” HE who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” – “His Grace is sufficient” for you to overcome anything.

    I could talk on this topic for hours and add my personal experiences to it as well.

    I pray that God bring into your life; Godly discernment, peace, truth, and his grace that is our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ in a real and tangible way.

    God Bless,

    Al

    • Hi Al,

      I recognise your post as a fairly standard christian answer to why people suffer.

      What gets me though (and this is not a personal attack) is why it is allowed by god in various cases?

      eg, Hilter and Stalin to name a couple. Wouldn’t a loving god have intervened and stopped then sooner? After the first round of gas chamber murders; point proven, Hilter verified to be “bad”. Why let it continue. Ditto Stalin – again, why did millions die?

      Secondly, regarding inherent choice, free will and “original sin”. Jamie Bulger ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Bulger ) was a bit young to have had *any* chance to exercise much free will or choice before he was murdered. There are countless examples like him throughout the world.

      I rate this world as pretty crap, that such things are allowed to happen if there is a benevolant governing superpower…

      • Below is a pertinent quote form the essay that needs re-emphaisis in order to answer your question about why suffering is allowed:

        William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

        “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin.”

        So, in other words, if God came to the rescue every time human evil was about to cause suffering, we would never adequately grasp the consequences of our evil.

        • Goodness me Scott, yes I gave the site a rest and from time to time out of curiousity I return in the hope that another well read person with the opposite view of you believers is giving you lot a verbal bashing.
          Firstly, no matter whom you guys quote and rely on for your proof of your dogmas, can you not see that your belief in all your gods are a figment of your imaginations?Can you not see that you believe because you HAVE to for your insecurities.In the section, you state that humanity is captive to evil,but your god made us this way and the reason that the almighty,most powerful,infallible etc etc etc cannot change things, IS BECAUSE HE DOES NOT EXIST! Except in your limited minds!

          • Marvin:

            I understand what you believe and I do not disrespect it.

            But by what standard do you judge that belief in God is a dogma and disbelief in God is not a dogma? If you think about it, all truth claims are exclusive. By this I mean that no matter what a person believes (whether it be theism, atheism, pantheism, agnosticism, etc.), adhering to one belief system necessarily means excluding the others. So in a very real sense, all belief systems are dogmatic. This is an entirely separate issue from tolerance. One can respect belief systems other than one’s own but it is necessarily the case that adopting one belief system means ruling out the others.

            I am familiar with the atheist view that belief in God results from insecurities. Sigmund Freud thought that belief in God is “wish projection.” Specifically, the wish for a transcendent father figure.

            But such arguments are a double edged sword. Please listen to this 5 part audio about the psychology of atheism by psychologist Paul Vitz.

            Vitz has concluded that atheism is most often the result of anger or disappointment with one’s father. (The premature death of one’s father is one source of disappointment).

  14. I’d should check with you here. Which is not one thing I normally do! I enjoy studying a submit that can make individuals think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  15. OK so here is how I look at this subject. Yes I am a christian, I dont believe in having a religion I believe in following god and what he wants for me. So In my opinion here is what it all boils down to. And this is pretty much fact. When we die 1 of 2 things will happen. 1 We will die and cease to exist. 2. we will be confronted with God and be sent to heaven or hell. Now I have a theory on judgement and heaven and hell but that is for another discussion. So why do atheists feel the need to completely ditch the idea of god? What REALLY is the harm? If you believe in God and die and nothing happens, well does it really matter at this point? Your dead. But if you die and there is a God. Well your pretty much screwed. So for those who aren’t fully invested into their relationship with God or just dont have one. You could look at God and Jesus as insurance. And if you truly start believing in God and Jesus then your relationship WILL grow and can guarantee it. Besides if all we crazy delusional Christians turn out to be wrong. Well allow me to be the first to say good for you! You can check that off your to do list.

    Anyone please reply :)

  16. I have spent YEARS upon YEARS of my life trying to “FIND GOD” and what GOD is. Searching for GOD “out there” in the world, then reading the bible for answers, then researching other spiritual beliefs for answers, then searching for GOD “inside myself” by meditating and thinking positive loving things, asking for GOD to show up, inviting him into my heart and mind and believing at some point, some sort of loving energy would manifest itself in some way, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually by receiving some sort of thought or feeling where I just understood that he/she/it was with me and I felt complete, whole, and not scared and confused. IT HAS NEVER HAPPENED. I HAVE NEVER FELT THE PRESENCE OF GOD. EVER. PERIOD. I always would just sit there and feel absolutely nothing, the same as before. The bible tells us, all you have to do is call upon GOD or Jesus, invite him into your heart, and he will reveal himself to us because we are “lost sheep” and the “angels rejoice” when we accept GOD and Jesus as our “savior” because he’s so happy that we have returned, because he loves us more than any earthly description…..I NEVER FEEL JOY, OR PEACE, OR LOVE WHEN I CALL UPON GOD. NOTHING BUT EMPTINESS, SADNESS, AND CONFUSION, YEAR AFTER YEAR.

    • Melissa:

      You are not alone. What you are experiencing has been termed the “dark night of the soul” in a poem written by St. John of the Cross. This is a spiritual crisis that God uses in his plan to bring you into intimacy with him. Please read this Wikipedia post. A copied and pasted excerpt:

      Saint John of the Cross’ poem narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. The journey is called “The Dark Night”, because darkness represents the hardships and difficulties the soul meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator. There are several steps in this night, which are related in successive stanzas. The main idea of the poem can be seen as the painful experience that people endure as they seek to grow in spiritual maturity and union with God. The poem is divided into two books that reflect the two phases of the dark night. The first is a purification of the senses. The second and more intense of the two stages is that of the purification of the spirit, which is the less common of the two. Dark Night of the Soul further describes the ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, previously described by Saint Thomas Aquinas and in part by Aristotle. The text was written in 1578 or 1579, while John of the Cross was imprisoned by his Carmelite brothers, who opposed his reformations to the Order.

      The term “dark night (of the soul)” is used in Christianity for a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God, like that described by Saint John of the Cross.

      Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Carmelite, wrote of her own experience. Centering on doubts about the afterlife, she reportedly told her fellow nuns, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.”[1]

      While this crisis is usually temporary in nature, it may last for extended periods. The “dark night” of Saint Paul of the Cross in the 18th century lasted 45 years, from which he ultimately recovered. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, according to letters released in 2007, “may be the most extensive such case on record”, lasting from 1948 almost up until her death in 1997, with only brief interludes of relief between.[2] Franciscan Friar Father Benedict Groeschel, a friend of Mother Teresa for a large part of her life, claims that “the darkness left” towards the end of her life.[3]

      The key points to grasp here are that (1) God will reveal himself to you on HIS time frame, not yours and (2) spiritual crises such as the one you are experiencing are an instrument that God uses to draw you closer to him. I experienced the same thing that you are experiencing for a period of well over a decade (that included much suffering). But the suffering that I experienced served the spiritual purpose of providing me with great compassion for the suffering of those that I previously would have overlooked. My suffering also taught me that I was valuing things that cannot provide fulfillment (such as money and prestige). These are just two of the many spiritual benefits that I obtained by a long period of suffering.

      At the time, it seemed to me that God was ignoring me, when in fact, he was answering me in a way that I did not expect. It is tempting for people like us to want God to behave like a sort of cosmic vending machine that answers us in the way we want, and when we want.

      Scott

    • Doc:

      Your video contains a lot of stuff. Because of the time commitment involved in responding to all of it, please specify which arguments you would like me to respond to. I will go ahead and respond to the first one:

      Regarding the Earth only being 6000 years old, I discuss this topic in Doesn’t evolution prove the biblical account of creation to be false? In this essay I cite Gerald Schroeder, who has the unique qualification of being both a physicist (formerly on staff at MIT) and a biblical scholar. An excerpt:
      —–
      Some readers are at this point almost certainly shouting, “But wait! The biblical view says that life emerged in six days and science says it emerged over fifteen billion years. These views are completely irreconcilable!”

      But the discrepancy is only irreconcilable from the viewpoint of a pre-Einstein understanding of time. Time, according to Einstein (and as Gerald Schroeder reminds us) is relative to the velocity and gravity of the location of the observer. Schroeder goes on to explain that:

      “The cosmic timepiece, as observed today, ticks a million million times more slowly than at its inception…In terms of days and years and millenia, this stretching of the cosmic perception of time by a factor of a million million, the division of fifteen billion years by a million million reduces those fifteen billion years to SIX DAYS!” [emphasis mine]

      So is the world 6000 years old, and was life created in six days (as according to the Bible), or is the world 15 billion years old (as according to science)? The amazing answer to this question is ALL OF THE ABOVE!
      —–
      You can either read the above essay or else read this essay from Schroeder’s website. An excerpt:

      Einstein taught the world that time is relative. That in regions of high velocity or high gravity time actually passes more slowly relative to regions of lower gravity or lower velocity. (One system relative to another, hence the name, the laws of relativity.) This is now proven fact. Time actually stretches out. Were ever you are time is normal for you because your biology is part of that local system.

      That is Einstein and gravity and velocity. But there is a third aspect of the universe that changes the perception of time, Not gravity and not velocity. That is the stretching of space. The universe started as a minuscule speck, perhaps not larger that a grain of mustard and stretched out from there. Space actually stretches. The effect of the stretching of space produces the effect that when observing an event that took place far from our galaxy, as the light from that event travels through space and the sequence of events travels through space, the information is actually stretched out. (In The Science of God I give the logic in detail in simple easy to understand terms.)

      The Creation of Time

      Each day of creation is numbered. Yet Nahmanides points out that there is discontinuity in the way the days are numbered. The verse says: “There is evening and morning, Day One.” But the second day doesn’t say “evening and morning, Day Two.” Rather, it says “evening and morning, a second day.” And the Torah continues with this pattern: “Evening and morning, a third day… a fourth day… a fifth day… the sixth day.” Only on the first day does the text use a different form: not “first day,” but “Day One” (“Yom Echad”). Many English translations that make the mistake of writing “a first day.” That’s because editors want things to be nice and consistent. But they throw out the cosmic message in the text! That message, as Nahmanides points out, is that there is a qualitative difference between “one” and “first.” One is absolute; first is comparative. The Torah could not write “a first day” on the first day because there had not yet been a second day relative to it. Had the perspective of the Bible for the first six days been from Sinai looking back, the Torah would have written a first day. By the time the Torah was given on Sinai there had been hundreds of thousands of “second days.” The perspective of the Bible for the six days of Genesis is from the only time in the history of time when there had not been a second day. And that is the first day. From the creation of the universe to the creation of the soul of Adam, the Torah views time from near the beginning looking forward. At the creation of Adam and Eve, the soul of humanity, the Bible perspective switches to earth based time. And therefore the biblical description of time changed.

      So, Doc, in reply to your comment, you should test your faith in atheism and respond to the fact that the entity responsible for the Bible was apparently aware of the relativity of time thousands of years before Einstein.

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