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BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 10:59 AM
The problem of evil has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil?

How do we respond? I am curious what various arguments you guys see for such an argument?

Here is how the argument typically goes:

If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil.
Evil prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God.

I'll wait awhile before suggesting any responses. Hopefully I will have a little time during lunch. One suggestion is to consider the causes of suffering in the world. A second suggestion is to ask, "Can we know for sure that evil is pointless and accomplishes no good?" Do not forget to consider natural disasters, diseases, and random evil acts perpetrated upon relatively innocent people. Another question to ask ourselves is, "Just what is evil?" Another: "Why doesn't God end all evil immediately?" Yet another, "Why didn't God create people unable to suffer? He surely could have done so." Finally, "What are some good reasons for allowing suffering?"

I will eventually share some of my thoughts on this, most of which was not original with me (I am simply not that clever :P ), but I really want to hear some arguments on this.

I would also encourage any atheists or agnostics lurking out there to feel free to jump in. (That was one reason I made this a "discussion" thread.)

Perhaps after milking this one dry, we could also discuss the stone to big too move dilemma or the question about who created God? Those are other common objections by atheists. We'll see how this one goes. Perhaps they should just be new threads.

But please feel free to jump in and share your thoughts or questions. There are basic, logical answers to claims such as this one.

Take care,

BD

Butch5
Mar 26th 2010, 11:09 AM
The problem of evil has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil?

How do we respond? I am curious what various arguments you guys see for such an argument?

Here is how the argument typically goes:

If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil.
Evil prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God.

I'll wait awhile before suggesting any responses. Hopefully I will have a little time during lunch. One suggestion is to consider the causes of suffering in the world. A second suggestion is to ask, "Can we know for sure that evil is pointless and accomplishes no good?" Do not forget to consider natural disasters, diseases, and random evil acts perpetrated upon relatively innocent people. Another question to ask ourselves is, "Just what is evil?" Another: "Why doesn't God end all evil immediately?" Yet another, "Why didn't God create people unable to suffer? He surely could have done so." Finally, "What are some good reasons for allowing suffering?"

Take care,

BD

Without evil it would be hard to understand what is good.

There are multiple angles that this argument can be dealt with. One I listed above, another is that God wishes for mankind to choose to love Him, in doing this man must have a free will to make that choice. If given a free will some men will choose evil.

tango
Mar 26th 2010, 11:11 AM
Here is how the argument typically goes:

If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil.
Evil prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God.

I've bolded the part that I think breaks the whole argument. It assumes God wants to prevent evil by any means possible. But God gave us a free will - we can choose to love him and obey him, or choose to hate him and disobey him, or choose to ignore him completely.

The way I see it, God wants us to do good rather than evil but through our own choices rather than imposition, he wants us to choose his way rather than going his way because there is no other way available.

That free choice crops up in all sorts of issues relating to suffering. If I've got a big stick and hit you with it, you will suffer. The only way to forcibly prevent that suffering is to deny me the free choice that lets me hit you with the big stick. So from that perspective the existence of free choice creates the potential existence of suffering. And as above I see God's desired situation as being one in which I have the big stick and choose not to hit you with it rather than me either not having the big stick at all or being somehow prevented from hitting you with it. Whether in human terms you "deserve" to be hit with the stick or not is secondary - whether I'm seeking revenge for something you've done or simply picked you at random because I had a stick and felt like hitting someone with it doesn't make being hit with it hurt any less.

For apparently random events (earthquakes etc) I'm reminded of the first few verses of John 9, where Jesus said the man was blind so that God's works could be revealed. If people suffer we have an opportunity to show them God's love; if there is no suffering and no need to help people we lose that opportunity.

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 11:22 AM
Two great responses already. I can see that any thoughts I had anticipated sharing won't be needed in a short while. I teach physics in a Christian HS, and always deal with scientific evidence of the existence of God as a project for the 2nd semester. Having just done so, I've been thinking about this much recently. :D

BD

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 11:27 AM
To the answer for the heading above, what would God need to do IOT end all evil now? My response: He would have to destroy all causes of evil... which unfortunately would include you and me. :P

Another question: Why doesn't God just stop those particular evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer? IOW, why doesn't He just miraculously intervene to stop that drunk driver from running over a mother with her children, or stop those stray bullets from a drive-by shooter which snuffed out the life of a 12 yo, or prevent a 5 yo kid from developing terminal cancer or some young girl from getting raped? Obviously He could... why doesn't He?

BD

tango
Mar 26th 2010, 11:42 AM
If he did, where would you draw the line?

In human terms it's easy to argue that "a loving God should protect the 5-year-old from the paedophile" although that then just raises the issue of what level of evil should God allow to happen? It keeps coming back to giving us freedom of choice - obviously in this case the 5-year-old didn't get any choice in the situation but without overriding the free choice of her attacker the situation can't be prevented. And if we override freedom of choice in some situations, why not others? We're back to the big stick situation.

We might ask why such things shock us at all - if we're here as a result of a cosmic fluke and after our time is up we're worm food, why should we care about the plight of the child abuse victim at all? Why should we care about those suffering after natural disasters if they just become worm food earlier than they might have expected? We can look at altruism within an evolutionary context but even then it's usually about making sure our genes survive - altruism is usually associated with protecting a genetic family. Why, then, would we care about people we have never met, probably never will meet, and have nothing in common with us aside from being the same species? Doesn't our instinctive compassion for others who suffer point to something within us that's more than just a cosmic fluke, perhaps something put within us by a loving Creator?

JohnDB
Mar 26th 2010, 11:51 AM
Good Question.

And the Answer is because God is good.

Part of being good is that those who are good forgive when someone wrongs you.

God cannot create evil. Everything that God creates is perfect, pure, and good...IE holy.

Man however was created with not only the capacity for goodness but also the capacity of free will. (to choose something other than good)

Man chose evil. And because the way this planet was created. (everything reproduces after it's own kind) the amount of sin in this place has multiplied greatly.

Ever have a broken arm?
The restraint of it being in a cast and sling is most annoying. You can't move it. It was made to move and assist us in daily life. God's forgiveness (which is normal goodness in his nature) had nothing and no one to forgive until man was created.

Does this mean that we should sin more so God's arm gets a good workout?
NO...man is more than sinful enough, even by the "good guys".

God has never needed us...He has just wanted us. Blaming God for the existence of evil is about the same as someone intentionally cutting off their own arm and then blaming someone else for their lack of an arm. It just isn't right.

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 01:12 PM
If he did, where would you draw the line?

In human terms it's easy to argue that "a loving God should protect the 5-year-old from the paedophile" although that then just raises the issue of what level of evil should God allow to happen? It keeps coming back to giving us freedom of choice - obviously in this case the 5-year-old didn't get any choice in the situation but without overriding the free choice of her attacker the situation can't be prevented. And if we override freedom of choice in some situations, why not others? We're back to the big stick situation.

We might ask why such things shock us at all - if we're here as a result of a cosmic fluke and after our time is up we're worm food, why should we care about the plight of the child abuse victim at all? Why should we care about those suffering after natural disasters if they just become worm food earlier than they might have expected? We can look at altruism within an evolutionary context but even then it's usually about making sure our genes survive - altruism is usually associated with protecting a genetic family. Why, then, would we care about people we have never met, probably never will meet, and have nothing in common with us aside from being the same species? Doesn't our instinctive compassion for others who suffer point to something within us that's more than just a cosmic fluke, perhaps something put within us by a loving Creator?
Man, you guys are so sharp!

Just a brief comment on "evil." Just as "cold" does not exist... it is simply the absence of something which does exist: heat, so it can be argued that "evil" does not exist, but is simply the absence of something which does exist: righteousness. Hence as the argument goes What God really did is allow man to have the capacity to choose... to do good or to not do good (evil). And as was shared above, where do we draw the line? Personally, I would like to stop all evil against me, but I do not want God to stop my evil. :D That movie, Bruce Almighty, actually has some nice theological points.

BD

pekoe
Mar 26th 2010, 01:12 PM
posted by BadDog
Another question: Why doesn't God just stop those particular evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer? IOW, why doesn't He just miraculously intervene to stop that drunk driver from running over a mother with her children, or stop those stray bullets from a drive-by shooter which snuffed out the life of a 12 yo, or prevent a 5 yo kid from developing terminal cancer or some young girl from getting raped? Obviously He could... why doesn't He?
The death of an innocent isn't a bad thing to God.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." Ps.116:15

To the atheist, death is generally looked at as a bad thing. To us, it's a good thing.

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Co.5:8

Also, one reason God doesn't end all suffering is that the longsuffering of God leads people to repent. Ro.2:4

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 01:19 PM
The death of an innocent isn't a bad thing to God.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints." Ps.116:15

To the atheist, death is generally looked at as a bad thing. To us, it's a good thing.

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Co.5:8
Thx pekoe, nice comment. But this naturally leads to the question, "What about the unbeliever, who dies? Can that possibly be a good thing?"

And also, "Why doesn't God allow us to choose to get out of this suffering?"

Thx,

BD

pekoe
Mar 26th 2010, 01:44 PM
posted by BD
Thx pekoe, nice comment. But this naturally leads to the question, "What about the unbeliever, who dies? Can that possibly be a good thing?"
No, it isn't a good thing, but whose fault is that? Is the atheist going to argue that God is unrighteous because He often told him to repent and after refusing killed him?
Proverbs 29:1
He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.


And also, "Why doesn't God allow us to choose to get out of this suffering?"

Not sure which suffering you're talking about (Gods or mans), but King David said one reason Gods allows mankinds sinful acts is that it proves Gods case for judgement against humanity. On that day there will be no defense except a believers faith in Christ.
Psalm 51:4
"Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest."

watchinginawe
Mar 26th 2010, 01:54 PM
BD, the following is mostly a cut and paste from a post in CA of some of my most recent thoughts on some of this. I, like you, take no original credit for this, it is just where I am in my understandning and from all the input I have received and consideration I have given over the years on the subject. I have offered some scripture for consideration also.
------------------

We are all subject to the laws of nature that God created. Tornados do not have to be supernaturally created for the intent to destroy orphanages. Floods are the result of rains or melting snow and people who live in flood areas are prone to the suffering of their effects. People can't live in fire without being burned up and earthquakes are the result of the Earth's plates shifting. God may cause and/or intervene in any of these but God almost exclulsively does not and in His infrequency calls attention to judgment and/or miracles.

On a smaller scale we many times try to make sense of things when a young teen runs their car off the road at high speed and is killed in the accident or when someone liquors up and wipes out a mom and her children. We know that our bodies have limits of survivability in impacts like these but regardless we put the understanding of such events within a broad spectrum, perhaps something like:

There is no such thing as "purpose" and we therefore are merely objects of nature <------------> God took them.

Here are a few scripture passages of Jesus on the subject that came to my mind:

Matthew 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
...
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

In the above, the expectation of both the devil and Jesus was that because of being subject to the law of gravity, Jesus, as a man, would die from such a fall without a miracle. If you find it strange that Jesus would be subject to death keep in mind that His purpose as a man was to suffer death on our behalf. Thus, when Jesus was nailed to the cross He died. Man can't survive such torture and that is why the Romans used crucifixion as one of the means of their capital punishment. There were those in the crowd who mocked that Jesus should save Himself to prove who He was, but died He did. There is of course more to the story but the point I want to offer is Jesus knew that mankind is subject to the laws of nature and as such we shouldn't take for granted the protection of God against things we knowlingly subject or submit ourselves to.

But what about other things which we have no control over like injustices or of natural occurances like earthquakes, etc.? The question was apparently put to Jesus:

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

These verses are a little more difficult to discern because Jesus has more than one meaning here. However, from a personal perspective as opposed to a national perspective, I think it would be OK to interpret Jesus to be saying something like: Unless you change your mind about your judgment of these folks (except ye repent), you will yourself perish in the manner that you judge them, suddenly and unprepared as a sinner above all men (ye shall likewise perish). All of Luke 12 prior to this passage in Luke 13 should be read to get the full flavor here, but regardless Jesus does not accept the notion that these perished because God singled them out while sparing these others judgment, but rather the ones killed seem to be victims of injustice or natural disasters.

Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I want to call attention to verse 45. We see that God does not cause the sun to rise on just portions of the Earth or rain to fall on only certain fields of agriculture, but rather that these are governed by universal laws that God created and thus show no preference to the just and the unjust. God has created a rational universe from which we can expect certain things to happen. Going back to that Luke 12 chapter that I suggested reading, Jesus offers this:

Luke 12:54 And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is.

55 And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass.

56 Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?

57 Yea, and why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?

So we see in the above how Jesus says we can predict the coming of certain events in nature. While the natural laws that God has created give us a rational universe, we might say that man operates somewhat outside of that rationality (verse 57 above), even with great unpredictability at times and with much consequence. While God might desire to work His will through all of us it is with man that God also desires to allow free moral agency. So the bulk of what we find most reprehensible in this world is attributable directly to us when we don't allow God to work through us (we do not His will). It isn't hard to come to this conclusion when reviewing history and/or seeing the suffering that continues to this day.

We, mankind, aren't willing to give our will over to His, or said another way, we choose to not do His will and then when we see suffering in the world we wonder why God allows it. What we are seeing is the undone will of God IMO. Jesus taught the disciples to pray and in one place He suggests to pray for:

Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

That pretty much addresses why we don't live on earth as in heaven right now, it is because we do not His will and He allows that for now.

dljc
Mar 26th 2010, 01:58 PM
That movie, Bruce Almighty, actually has some nice theological points.

BDHey BD,

Just a side comment on this movie. :D I liked it too, and thought it was interesting how "Bruce" used his "super powers" from a sinful vantage point, (to his own gain, at least in the beginning). It reminds us why God only gives gifts to those who can "handle" them properly. ;)

Dani H
Mar 26th 2010, 02:47 PM
I do think that people who ask these kinds of questions forget that man has the capacity to choose our own behavior. We're not puppets. It's easier to blame God, though, than it is to turn attention to ourselves and ask "what am I doing to help perpetuate evil in this world?"

If Adam and Eve were to have authority over God's creation, and we are their descendants, then obviously, we have everything to do with whether evil continues or not.

We live in a society that loves to pass the buck. It's never my fault. I never do anything wrong. Even if I did something wrong, it's still always more somebody else's fault. I blame my mom. I blame my dad. I blame the government. I blame society. Of course, in such a mindset, the ultimate buck gets passed onto God. So really, this Atheist attitude doesn't surprise me one bit, because it reflects the prevailing American mindset already, just taken to another level.

Certainly there are logical answers to these questions. But people who like passing bucks rarely respond to logic. So what must also be addressed in these discussion, is to make it personal and ask "well, what are you doing to stop evil? how are you doing good? what do you think your responsiblity is?" Because that is what God asks us. We will all give account of our own behavior. Certainly God wouldn't think it proper to judge us, if everything was ultimately His doing, and people had nothing to do with anything.

moonglow
Mar 26th 2010, 03:34 PM
I would also encourage any atheists or agnostics lurking out there to feel free to jump in. (That was one reason I made this a "discussion" thread.)

Unless the rules have changed, nonChristians can't post on bible chat though.

Anyway I like how Dr. Ravi Zacharias answers this. In order to even know there is evil we have to acknowledge their is good...and by who's standards do we measure what is good and what is evil?


Anyway here he explains it:

j7yNwEDtqjA

God bless

Freek
Mar 26th 2010, 03:48 PM
There is no way to intellectually convince an atheist of God's existence. They will only believe the "way of Elijah". :D But sadly the church has lost it.

watchinginawe
Mar 26th 2010, 03:57 PM
Unless the rules have changed, nonChristians can't post on bible chat though.

Anyway I like how Dr. Ravi Zacharias answers this. In order to even know there is evil we have to acknowledge their is good...and by who's standards do we measure what is good and what is evil?I have been working on a post and went back on forth on whether to post it or not as it is just opinion without scripture, but I will tag it to this since your video explains it so well.

I want to mention briefly that in addition to atheists and agnostics, the Christian might also engage in discussions with deists. A deist would agree that all was created by a deity but that such a deity created things in such a manner as to be self governing and without the need of the continued interaction and ultimate judgment of a deity in the universe. In this model, good and evil can exist (be created) but without the promise of judgment by that creator.

With regard to atheists and agnostics, I think discussions on the existence of evil is more an agnostic's contemplation. I don't believe that a true atheist will concede the existence of evil in order to point out there is no God, that seems contradictory to me. Evil helps define both good and judgment. Either these are arbitrary or relative social constructs (of man) or objective truths which can thus be judged by an objective judge. If the former, then that isn't the evil that we Christians believe exists and if the later then the argument turns to whence evil comes and is judged as evil. When I was an atheist I finally came to the conclusion that evil does exist and that helped to lead me out of atheism.

An atheist might offer an argument from the Christian perspective asking why we believe that a righteous all powerful God exists if we also believe that evil exists. There is no concession in such an argument and it is pointed to what seems to be an inconsistent belief on our part. Any attempt by man to judge God makes us the objective judge and in order for that to be so then we must therefore be self righteous. Since evil exists and evil is not arbitrary or an invention of man, then either man is the objective judge of what is evil or there is no contradiction in the original argument; God must be righteous in order to judge evil in a non-arbitrary manner. We Christians concede that we are not worthy or righteous to judge perfectly. However, in discussions with atheists and agnostics on this subject, it will often move towards an ultimate judging of God by man with statements like: I could never believe in and serve that God; if that God would send me to hell then I would rather choose hell than to believe in and serve him; if that God would send xyz to hell then I would rather stand up to that injustice and choose hell rather than believe in and serve Him; if that God has made a hell then I choose that hell before I would believe in and serve such a God; etc. All of these are judgments of God (the God of the Bible) and judgment of we Christians who are all right with such a God; thus again making man the judge of God as evil and Christains as deceived and/or selfish. In these cases, the origin of evil and good by which man judges remains undiscovered.

God Bless!

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 04:19 PM
Unless the rules have changed, nonChristians can't post on bible chat though.

Anyway I like how Dr. Ravi Zacharias answers this. In order to even know there is evil we have to acknowledge their is good...and by who's standards do we measure what is good and what is evil?


Anyway here he explains it:

j7yNwEDtqjA

God blessI can't see that link, but perhaps that's because it's from youtube, I think, and that's blocked at my work. When I created this thread, I wondered if it should be in another forum, but I prefer BibleChat.

Ravi Zacharias is solid.

Thx,

BD

Jemand
Mar 26th 2010, 04:24 PM
To the answer for the heading above, what would God need to do IOT end all evil now? My response: He would have to destroy all causes of evil... which unfortunately would include you and me. :P

Another question: Why doesn't God just stop those particular evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer? IOW, why doesn't He just miraculously intervene to stop that drunk driver from running over a mother with her children, or stop those stray bullets from a drive-by shooter which snuffed out the life of a 12 yo, or prevent a 5 yo kid from developing terminal cancer or some young girl from getting raped? Obviously He could... why doesn't He?

BD

“Obviously He could....” I could not disagree more! Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims have painted a picture of God that does not make sense to the critical mind, and therefore that critical mind often rejects the god in that picture, and mistakenly God Himself. God is not the being that we would like for Him to be; He is the Being that He is—a Being who is at war with the powers of darkness and who will ultimately be triumphant.

We Christians, being in Christ, the Son of the Father, are caught up in that war, and individually we determine to a small but significant extent the course of the skirmishes in which we find ourselves, and ultimately, the course of the cosmic war. This is why prayer is so very important—as we pray, we are fighting with God for victory. And it is why it is so very important that we do not give into temptation—when Christians sin, a small but significant skirmish is lost. Sometimes, the loss of a skirmish through sin results in the loss of a battle—but the war will ultimately be won by God.

Eph. 6:10. Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
11. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
15. and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19. and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20. for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NASB, 1995)

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 04:28 PM
Antony Flew was a well-known atheist. He debated William Lane Craig and other Christian apologists regularly. He could perhaps be referred to as the #1 atheist of the 20th century. Well, he recently converted to theism. (He is not a Christian, but has acknowledged that the evidence that God exists is overwhelming.) Following is an article I found somewhere online (Not sure where. :D) and modified it some:



Antony Flew Abandons Atheism

Former Atheist Believes in God on Basis of Argument to Design

For years, Antony Flew has been a figurehead for atheists. Now, though, he has abandoned his atheism and accepted the existence of God. In a recent interview for Philosophia Christi with Gary Habermas, Flew explained his new beliefs. Though Flew has not embraced Christianity, he now accepts the existence of God, saying that he “had to go where the evidence leads”.

This is not the first time that it has been reported that Flew has changed his mind. Twice before, in 2001 and 2003 respectively, it was rumored that Flew had turned to Christianity; each time Flew quashed the rumors himself. This time, though, the reports are accurate; we have it from Flew himself.

Who is Antony Flew?

Antony Flew is not just any atheist. For decades, he has been a dominant figure in the philosophy of religion, among the most influential of atheist philosophers. He lectured on philosophy at the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen, and subsequently held professorships at the University of Keele and the University of Reading. He is the author of the celebrated essays “Theology and Falsification” and “The Presumption of Atheism”, and many monographs including Atheistic Humanism and Merely Mortal?: Can You Survive Your Own Death?. He has also represented atheism in published oral debates with William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, and Thomas Warren.

What does Flew now believe?

Flew has not become a Christian; he has merely accepted the existence of God. He has described his new position as a form of deism. Deists accept that there is a God responsible for creating the universe, but reject claimed special revelation such as the Bible.

For Flew, this rejection of special revelation is not non-negotiable; Flew expresses an openness to the possibility of special revelation, and acknowledges that there is some evidence supporting the view that the Bible is such, but he makes it clear that his present view is that God does not intervene, and has not intervened, in human affairs since Creation.

What changed Flew’s mind?

Although Flew now believes that the case for the existence of God is powerful, he continues to reject outright the ontological, cosmological, and moral arguments for God’s existence.

For Flew, it is the argument from design that shows that the existence of God is probable. He has been impressed by recent scientific developments that suggest that the universe is the product of intelligent design. “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design,” explains Flew.
Flew cites Gerald Schroeder’s work The Hidden Face of God and Roy Abraham Varghese’s The Wonder of the World: A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God as particularly impressive. In the foreword to the new (and final) edition of his God and Philosophy, which Flew now describes as “an historical relic”, he acknowledges that the argument from design “becomes progressively more powerful with every advance in humankind’s knowledge of the integrated complexity of what used to be called the ‘system of nature’.” As this progress continues, perhaps more will follow Flew’s lead in conceding ground to theism.

Atheist Response

For atheists, this shift in Flew’s beliefs is highly embarrassing. To have such a prominent atheist accept the case for God’s existence is a major blow. To see how major a blow, consider the words of About.com’s resident atheist Austin Cline on October 16th, 2004:

“Have you read the news about Antony Flew abandoning atheism? This would be big news because Flew is one of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the 20th century. It would be big news, that is, if it were true.”

Cline is spot-on both on Flew’s status among atheists and on the significance of his abandonment of atheism. His initial dismissal of the news as wishful thinking by believers (“Is it any wonder that so many nonbelievers look upon religion as little more than wish-fulfillment writ large? It seems as though almost anything even vaguely related to their religion can become infected by the same viral error of logic”) was too hasty, however, as Flew has now confirmed.

Some atheists have tried to explain Flew’s shift in thinking by his age; Flew is now 81, and so, it has been suggested, is professing belief in God just in case he soon has to give account of his life to his Maker. That is clearly not the case; Flew remains adamant that there is no afterlife—disembodied existence, he maintains (as he has always maintained) is impossible. In any case, Flew is not professing the kind of belief that any religion says will get you into heaven; he still rejects all purported divine revelation, including the Bible, the Koran, and any other example you’d care to mention. There’s no way that Flew, suddenly facing his own mortality, is trying to cover his bases just in case God exists. What has happened, is seems, is what he says has happened: he has gone where the evidence leads.
Amazing.

BD

theBelovedDisciple
Mar 26th 2010, 06:47 PM
To the answer for the heading above, what would God need to do IOT end all evil now? My response: He would have to destroy all causes of evil... which unfortunately would include you and me. :P

Another question: Why doesn't God just stop those particular evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer? IOW, why doesn't He just miraculously intervene to stop that drunk driver from running over a mother with her children, or stop those stray bullets from a drive-by shooter which snuffed out the life of a 12 yo, or prevent a 5 yo kid from developing terminal cancer or some young girl from getting raped? Obviously He could... why doesn't He?

BD


God stopping all evil and gettin rid of evil?

that day is coming.. After the Final Judgement....

there will be no more evil... satan and his angels will be in the Lake of Fire.. along with the judgement of the damned...

after He cleanses the Heavens and Earth with Fire..

a New Heaven and a New Earth.. wherein dwelleth Righteousness...

after this is all done..

then Jesus Can deliver up the Kingdom to the Father.. and they can truely say...

Now I've made all enemies your Footstool. and this last enemy to be destroyed is death itself.. it will be no more..

trying to explain this to an athesist? probably WAY WAY OVER THERE HEAD.. but its a starting point....

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 07:31 PM
“Obviously He could....” I could not disagree more! Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims have painted a picture of God that does not make sense to the critical mind, and therefore that critical mind often rejects the god in that picture, and mistakenly God Himself. God is not the being that we would like for Him to be; He is the Being that He is—a Being who is at war with the powers of darkness and who will ultimately be triumphant.

Jemand,

I am making the argument that Atheists make here. I am not personally arguing as such. But now that you've addressed it, anyone want to explain why God "could not" stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.? Obviously, as omnipotent, he has that capability. If He cannot do these things... why not? Can't God do anything?

BD

BadDog
Mar 26th 2010, 07:44 PM
Following is taken from an article by Sid Litke, who acknowledged that many of the ideas came from Norm Geisler:



1 What are the causes of suffering?

Sinful people cause some suffering directly (lying, anger, divorce, drugs, crime, etc.).
Sin causes suffering indirectly (because of sin this earth is corrupted, deteriorating, painful and evil – Genesis 3:14-19; 4:1-15; Romans 8:20-22).
Conclusion: God is not the cause of suffering; He is the author of good (James 1:13-17). Some people conclude that since God made everything, He made evil too.

But St. Augustine’s reasoning seems to be correct:

God is the author of everything in the created universe.
Evil is not a thing or a substance; it is a privation or lack in things (blindness is lack of sight, pain is lack of health, hate or murder is lack of love, cold is a lack of heat).
Therefore God did not create evil.

2 Why doesn’t God end all evil immediately?
To end evil God would have to destroy the cause of evil—people. In His good plan for people (see below), it is therefore not good to end all evil immediately.

3 Why doesn’t God make people unable to cause suffering?

To do that, God would have to take away our ability to choose. But choice—free will—is a good thing.
In order to love, you must be able to choose to love. Forced love is not love.
So to have a universe that included love, God had to make us with choice, which includes the choice not to love—and that makes sin, evil, pain and suffering possible.


4 Why does God allow natural disaster and disease?

It is a part of a sinful world. God lowered the perfection of creation (from the perfect garden of Eden) to match the spiritual state of those who live here (Romans 8:20-22).
God graciously has sustained people on this earth (allowing them to reproduce, to develop governments and systems to deal with the effects of sin).
He has graciously sustained the fallen creation (providing sun and rain for food to sustain life—Colossians 1:17).
But the natural effect of a fallen creation is that even good things can have evil byproducts (water can drown someone; gravity can kill someone; lightening can burn and kill).


5 Why doesn’t God stop evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer?

Why doesn’t God miraculously intervene to stop evil acts if He is all-loving and all-powerful?
Why doesn’t He catch the drunk driver’s car that is going to crash into a bus?
Why doesn’t He deflect the murderer’s bullets?


The person asking doesn’t actually want God to stop all their evil acts. They don’t want to be invisibly gagged every time they’re about to say something hurtful; they don’t want to stub their toe when they try to kick the dog. They just think it would be good if God stopped certain evil acts or just the evil acts of others.
But that would make life impossible.
There would be no freedoms, no regularity and no personal responsibility.


6 Why doesn’t God let us choose to get out of this suffering?

The answer is that He does. That is the gracious, loving response of God to the evil condition of this sinful world.
God has provided for personal salvation—the promise of eternal life in heaven where there is no suffering (Revelation 21:4). One must simply put his trust in the payment for sin God provided through Christ’s death on the cross (John 3:16-18; Acts 10:38-43: etc.).
God has provided for the earth’s redemption (Romans 8:18-23; 2 Peter 3:10,13; Revelation 21:1).


7 Why can’t we get out of this evil world of suffering immediately?

We don’t know why God’s timetable is what it is.
We can see why He couldn’t deliver Adam and Eve immediately—God first had to provide redemption through Christ.
The world continues today in part because there are more people yet that will come to have eternal salvation.
We do know that God is working things together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).


8 What are some good reasons for suffering?

It enables us to cope in a sinful world.
1. Pain can keep us from a greater physical evil. A burnt finger warns us to avoid worse danger.
2. Pain can keep us from greater moral evil. A spanking does that.
It teaches us to turn to God for solution.
1. For eternal deliverance from evil – Heaven
2. For temporal deliverance from evil – Safety or holiness
3. For spiritual strength to endure suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
It produces character improvement (holiness, maturity, etc. James 1:24) which in turn produces eternal rewards (crown of life—James 1:12).
It gives God the opportunity to show His grace, love and care for our sinful condition.
1. Through Christ’s life and death for our sake (Romans 5:6-8).
2. Through providing a place where there is no more suffering, sin or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Revelation 21:4).



I think this is the most comprehensive article I've ever read on this issue.

Please feel free to critic it.

BD

LookingUp
Mar 26th 2010, 09:45 PM
The problem of evil has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil?Have you considered that God has created reality in such a way that, at times, He is unable to prevent evil?


How do we respond? I am curious what various arguments you guys see for such an argument?

Here is how the argument typically goes:

If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil.
Evil prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God.
I'll wait awhile before suggesting any responses. Hopefully I will have a little time during lunch.Even if God knows HOW to stop the evil doesn’t mean He CAN stop evil at all times and still have this particular reality that He created.


One suggestion is to consider the causes of suffering in the world.Evil is the source of suffering. If we look at the ministry of Christ, we see that He and His disciples almost always blamed the suffering on demonic activity.


A second suggestion is to ask, "Can we know for sure that evil is pointless and accomplishes no good?"If it had a point, why didn’t we see it in the garden before the fall? And why won’t we see it in the Eternal Kingdom? Just because God can bring good out of evil, doesn’t make the evil good. So, thanks to God, evil and the resulting suffering do not have to be meaningless.


Do not forget to consider natural disasters, diseases, and random evil acts perpetrated upon relatively innocent people.All (usually) a result of the choices of mankind and demonic activity over time.


Another question to ask ourselves is, "Just what is evil?"Good question. I guess I’d say anything that opposes God’s will.


Another: "Why doesn't God end all evil immediately?"He could have ended it right after Eve bit the forbidden fruit, but what would have been the point to end it there? God chose to create a world where human beings could freely choose to love Him. In order for us to freely love God, we must have the choice to do otherwise. It was not logically possible for God to have this objective without risking the possibility of war breaking out in His creation. And within the parameters of freedom God gives creatures, God must tolerate evil, for at least a short time. Instead of ending all evil now, which would end the ability of new creatures to choose to participate in His amazing triune love, He asks us to partner with Him in fighting against all evil in this spiritual war until the time He does choose to end evil for good.


Yet another, "Why didn't God create people unable to suffer? He surely could have done so."Yes, He could have created people unable to suffer but these people would be more like robots. They wouldn’t have the freedom to choose to love God; they would simply be programmed to love God. The question I ask myself is: Is that really love? My answer is no. If the ability to genuinely love God requires freedom to choose (& I think it does), then the POSSIBILITY of evil logically exists. You can’t have a choice if there is nothing from which to choose—you have to have at least two options.


Finally, "What are some good reasons for allowing suffering?"Participation in His triune love was worth the risk that evil might emerge from His plan.

Freek
Mar 26th 2010, 10:11 PM
Jemand,

I am making the argument that Atheists make here. I am not personally arguing as such. But now that you've addressed it, anyone want to explain why God "could not" stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.? Obviously, as omnipotent, he has that capability. If He cannot do these things... why not? Can't God do anything?

BD

He has already done it - 2000 years ago and gave us Christians the authority to deal with it. Satan has been defeated, but he is a stubborn little spirit and it is our job to keep him under, but sadly... we do not. Christ will not come down to earth again, to die again and to win the victory again. Once was enough. Why did Moses not see the promised land? See Romans 10:6-7. This is a good one. :D

VerticalReality
Mar 26th 2010, 10:41 PM
I believe the answer to this question is largely answered within the following question . . .

Has God ever removed the following?

Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

When has God ever removed the above responsibility from mankind? I believe there is evil because mankind has allowed it and continues to do so. I believe God is currently showing mankind what happens when you try to do things without Him. If folks really want to rid the world of darkness and evil . . . okay . . . well, seek God. Oh, but no . . . the world runs from the light because their deeds are evil and the world loves their deeds. That's the root of the problem. So, to avoid any sort of responsibility it's then time to try and blame everything on God. The sinful flesh loves to divert responsibility.

Servant89
Mar 26th 2010, 10:41 PM
The problem is that people that do not believe in God see only life here on earth and it does not make sense. The Bible says that if we look at it the way atheist do, it will not make sense to us either. Life does not make sense when we take eternity out of the equation.

1 Cor 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Shalom

Freek
Mar 26th 2010, 10:57 PM
I want to add 1 Cor 2:14. :D But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Therefore there is no way that we can reason with atheists and think that we will convince them.

Athanasius
Mar 27th 2010, 01:43 AM
Have you considered that God has created reality in such a way that, at times, He is unable to prevent evil?

Even if God knows HOW to stop the evil doesn’t mean He CAN stop evil at all times and still have this particular reality that He created.


Hi, me again.

It's been considered - and rejected. Ivan Karamazov had it right, which means Dostoevsky had it right. Any such God as the one you describe is an irresponsible god, an unjust god, an unwise god. What's more grotesque than a God who can stop evil but won't? A God who wants to stop evil, but can't. And so says the suffering of the little girl, beating her hands on her chest... Yelling in the dark to a God that can see, but not act. Who can care, but not move. Who says "I wish your suffering had meaning, but it doesn't". A God who cannot always prevent evil (even if He may at times choose not to), cannot promise that evil will in the future always be prevented.

In answer to the OP, there is one unspoken premise that needs exposing -- the idea that all suffering is gratuitous, meaningless. If suffering has a purpose - as the ancients believe - then God is justified in causing it, it by this means a greater good is the result.

LookingUp
Mar 27th 2010, 03:18 AM
Hi, me again.

It's been considered - and rejected. Ivan Karamazov had it right, which means Dostoevsky had it right.Ivan in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov abandoned belief in God on moral grounds. “I renounce the higher harmony altogether,” Ivan announces. It was a rejection of any design that permits innocent children to suffer for a “greater purpose” on the basis of moral grounds. That’s exactly what I’m saying, Xel’Naga, if you had bother to read my previous posts in the previous thread! He has every right to reject this kind of god! But that’s not the God we serve.

And what do you mean he had it right? That God should be abandoned because He supposedly causes suffering? His theology was the same as Job’s and God rebuked Job for his mistaken theology. Job’s friends blamed Job for his suffering. Job blamed God for his suffering (but did NOT abandon Him amazingly!). When God is through describing the complexity of the universe to Job, Job confesses, “I have uttered what I did not understand” (Job 42:3) and he repents (v. 6). We can’t endorse Job’s theology when it is a theology the Lord refutes and which Job repents of! Job had it wrong. It was not God who was the cause of his suffering. God refutes both the friends’ perspective and Job’s perspective suggesting that we are unable to know the answer of “Why me?” because of this incomprehensibly vast creation that is afflicted by forces of chaos. We need to stop blaming God for the suffering and follow the example of Jesus which is to simply ask, “What can I do in response to this evil and suffering?”


Any such God as the one you describe is an irresponsible god, an unjust god, an unwise god. What's more grotesque than a God who can stop evil but won't?Go back and read it again—I didn’t say He can stop it but won’t!


A God who wants to stop evil, but can't. And so says the suffering of the little girl, beating her hands on her chest... Yelling in the dark to a God that can see, but not act. Who can care, but not move. Who says "I wish your suffering had meaning, but it doesn't". A God who cannot always prevent evil (even if He may at times choose not to), cannot promise that evil will in the future always be prevented.It’s NOT PREVENTED! LOOK AROUND! That’s the WHOLE point! God is all loving and He IS all powerful. So why do we see this nightmarish, grotesque suffering? YOU TELL ME if you have all the answers. Are you going to try to tell me that God causes the suffering of this little girl just so that He can bring some kind of greater good out of it? Is that the god you want us to serve?


In answer to the OP, there is one unspoken premise that needs exposing -- the idea that all suffering is gratuitous, meaningless.We KNOW suffering does not have to be meaningless (Rom. 8:28), but that does NOT mean that God causes suffering SO THAT He can bring good out of it.


If suffering has a purpose - as the ancients believe - then God is justified in causing it, it by this means a greater good is the result.So, instead of a God who can’t stop all evil because of the type of world He created (i.e. one with genuine free will), you choose to put your faith in a god who CAUSES evil for the greater good? That’s a preferable god to you? To use your words, “And so says the suffering of the little girl, beating her hands on her chest... Yelling in the dark to a God that can see, but not act. Who can care, but not move. Who says…‘I’m causing all this just so I can bring some good out of it’.”

Hogwash!

Steven3
Mar 27th 2010, 03:58 AM
Hi BadDog :)
I don't see how an atheist can object when the Bible clearly says that God does both cause evil (in famine, earthquake) etc. AND allow men freewill to do evil.

Is45:7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Any atheist worth his salt will already know this. The Christian God isn't Santa Claus.
S.

anthony57
Mar 27th 2010, 04:46 AM
God caused evil for Good. that is Evil serves a good purpose in Gods Eternal Redemptive purpose in Christ.

For this God is the First Cause of all evil isa 45:

7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

LookingUp
Mar 27th 2010, 04:54 AM
I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things. (Is. 45:7).

This is not speaking of God’s activity in general. This is addressing the future deliverance of the children of Israel out of Babylon (Is. 45:1-6). The light and darkness of this passage refer to liberation and captivity (as in Is. 9:2; Lam. 3:2). The weal and woe refer to the Lord’s plans to bless Israel and to curse Babylon. This is simply saying that God responds to injustice by bringing darkness and woe on those who perpetuate it.

anthony57
Mar 27th 2010, 04:56 AM
looking up:


This is not speaking of God’s activity in general.

Yes it is.

LookingUp
Mar 27th 2010, 05:22 AM
looking up:



Yes it is.OK. Thanks for clarifying.

Athanasius
Mar 27th 2010, 05:36 AM
Ivan in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov abandoned belief in God on moral grounds. “I renounce the higher harmony altogether,” Ivan announces. It was a rejection of any design that permits innocent children to suffer for a “greater purpose” on the basis of moral grounds. That’s exactly what I’m saying, Xel’Naga, if you had bother to read my previous posts in the previous thread! He has every right to reject this kind of god! But that’s not the God we serve.

You're forgetting what Ivan also said. Ivan didn't abandon belief in God on moral grounds, He rebelled against the God that exists on moral grounds (hence the name of the chapter, "Rebellion"):


I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at he moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonment of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they've shed' that it will make it not only possible to forgive, but to justify all that has happened.

Which will cause me to submit two things: 1) Ivan wasn't objecting to the presence of suffering for a "greater purpose". Rather, he was objecting to the suffering of children on the grounds that they had not sinned, had not "eaten the apple". It was that they suffered at all (Aloysha does not argue, at least in this conversation, that there is a "greater good" to the suffering being endured):


Who wants to know this damned good and evil at such a price? The whole world of knowledge is not worth the tears of that little child to 'dear God.' I'm not talking about the suffering of grown-ups, they ate the apple and to hell with them, let the devil take them all, but these little ones!

The second is this: 2) That even for Ivan, there is a "greater good" which will justify any and all suffering. He may rebel against it, he may reject it, but he doesn't disbelieve in it, and he doesn't refuse to acknowledge it.

You don't get it... He's objecting to the God you're proposing.



And what do you mean he had it right? That God should be abandoned because He supposedly causes suffering?

You know better than that, esp. considering the last thread. He had it right in that a God which allows suffering, and for no reason (i.e. "not able to stop it"), is a God which should be rebelled against.



His theology was the same as Job’s and God rebuked Job for his mistaken theology. Job’s friends blamed Job for his suffering. Job blamed God for his suffering (but did NOT abandon Him amazingly!). When God is through describing the complexity of the universe to Job, Job confesses, “I have uttered what I did not understand” (Job 42:3) and he repents (v. 6). We can’t endorse Job’s theology when it is a theology the Lord refutes and which Job repents of! Job had it wrong. It was not God who was the cause of his suffering. God refutes both the friends’ perspective and Job’s perspective suggesting that we are unable to know the answer of “Why me?” because of this incomprehensibly vast creation that is afflicted by forces of chaos. We need to stop blaming God for the suffering and follow the example of Jesus which is to simply ask, “What can I do in response to this evil and suffering?”

That's all good and well, but I've not disagreed with the above. I don't know why you insist on thinking that I'm proposing we reject God because he causes suffering. I've repeated myself numerous times -- I have no problem with a God who causes suffering. I have many problems with a God who allows it because He can't (not won't, but can't) stop it.



Go back and read it again—I didn’t say He can stop it but won’t!

I know you didn't, I did. This is the line I was referring too: "Even if God knows HOW to stop the evil doesn’t mean He CAN stop evil at all times and still have this particular reality that He created."



It’s NOT PREVENTED! LOOK AROUND! That’s the WHOLE point! God is all loving and He IS all powerful. So why do we see this nightmarish, grotesque suffering? YOU TELL ME if you have all the answers. Are you going to try to tell me that God causes the suffering of this little girl just so that He can bring some kind of greater good out of it? Is that the god you want us to serve?

I never said it was prevented. I said that a God who can't prevent it is a God who can't promise it will in the future be prevented.



We KNOW suffering does not have to be meaningless (Rom. 8:28), but that does NOT mean that God causes suffering SO THAT He can bring good out of it.

I must be living on a different planet than you, then.



So, instead of a God who can’t stop all evil because of the type of world He created (i.e. one with genuine free will), you choose to put your faith in a god who CAUSES evil for the greater good? That’s a preferable god to you? To use your words, “And so says the suffering of the little girl, beating her hands on her chest... Yelling in the dark to a God that can see, but not act. Who can care, but not move. Who says…‘I’m causing all this just so I can bring some good out of it’.”

Hogwash!

I know you keep replying to me, but do you actually read my posts? From the last thread you should know two things: 1) I don't think God causes all suffering and 2) I don't think suffering is necessarily evil (therefore, I wouldn't object to a God who causes suffering for some - albeit unknown - reason). But yes, I would rather a God who has control over suffering, than a God who doesn't.

anthony57
Mar 27th 2010, 06:34 AM
OK. Thanks for clarifying.

The verse it self clarifies, Just because its mentioned in a certain context, does not limit the truth of the verse to that certain context.

All Gods Truth about Him and His Attributes are found in a context about something else, but again, that does not limit the specific detail or attribute about God to just that one context.

Thats a pretty simple thing to realize to me.

Servant89
Mar 27th 2010, 10:55 AM
People want paradise NOW. That is why they question God. An arrogant spirit is the source of questioning and judging God. Evil and suffering shows who is that arrogant. Life here on earth is a test. What is important is eternity. How we handle ourselves in this life determines our state in eternity.

Shalom

pekoe
Mar 27th 2010, 11:00 AM
posted by BadDog
I am making the argument that Atheists make here. I am not personally arguing as such. But now that you've addressed it, anyone want to explain why God "could not" stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.? Obviously, as omnipotent, he has that capability. If He cannot do these things... why not? Can't God do anything?
Yes, God can prevent what we consider tragedy from happening. I don't see what the problem is here. Atheists are under the delusion that God has no right to reclaim His property from us. How foolish is that notion?

EarlyCall
Mar 27th 2010, 01:18 PM
If one reads the Bible carefully, they will see where God does choose to prevent evil sometimes and chooses not to prevent it other times.

Man says, if I were God I would prevent it at all times. Or man says, God can and therefore should prevent evil at all times. It's an easy statement for a man to make but what is missing is the wisdom to fulfill the statement. God has the wisdom and therefore chooses. That wisdom is out of reach for mere man and therefore God appears foolish to mere man.

At what point would a man stop preventing evil in the world if given the power to do so? Some might say they would not stop until no evil was left to prevent. Nonsense. If true, they'd have to end the final bit of evil left by ridding the world of themselves. This of course would not occur until they had rid the world of everyone else.

And that is the distinguishing factor here between man and God: God has the wisdom to choose and mere man does not. And if God took the approach that man would be required to take, none of us would ever live past an early age were God to truly prevent evil in the world.

This may require some thought because I've not spelled it out entirely, but the end result I've given. But I believe it really is just that simple.

Jemand
Mar 28th 2010, 06:25 PM
Jemand,

I am making the argument that Atheists make here. I am not personally arguing as such. But now that you've addressed it, anyone want to explain why God "could not" stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.? Obviously, as omnipotent, he has that capability. If He cannot do these things... why not? Can't God do anything?

BD

I have already explained why “God ‘could not’ stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.” Atheism is largely the consequence of a popular but unbiblical theology of God that pictures Him to be in absolute control of all things and that ignores Satan and the powers of darkness that God is in the process of defeating, but whom have not yet been defeated.

The very popular but unbiblical point of view that God is absolutely omnipotent comes mostly from a handful of Bible verses taken out of context, Gen. 17:1, Gen. 18:14, Job 42:2, Matt. 19:26, Luke 1:37, Rev. 19:6, Rev. 21:22. In reality, there very are many things that God cannot do—He cannot lie, He cannot sin, He cannot make a mistake, He cannot violate His own nature, He cannot do anything that is absurd, foolish, stupid, improper, or self-contradictory (such as make a rock so big that He cannot move it), etc. And, for reasons, which the Bible does not explain, God is at war with Satan and the powers of darkness.

Eph. 6:11. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
15. and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19. and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20. for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NASB, 1995)

Let us never forget that Christ is the Son of God and the second person in the Trinity, and that we, the Church, are in Christ, and “members of His body (Eph. 5:30). Therefore, just as we are at war with Satan and the powers of darkness, so also is God, and the war is not imaginary or an abstract theological concept—it is a real war of cosmic proportions and God, for reasons which the Bible does not elaborate upon, cannot just make it go away.

A biblical view of God disarms the atheist, but the view of God that He is absolutely omnipotent and freely allows unspeakable suffering to take place reduces God to an impossible contradiction.

LookingUp
Mar 28th 2010, 06:37 PM
I have already explained why “God ‘could not’ stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.” Atheism is largely the consequence of a popular but unbiblical theology of God that pictures Him to be in absolute control of all things and that ignores Satan and the powers of darkness that God is in the process of defeating, but whom have not yet been defeated.

The very popular but unbiblical point of view that God is absolutely omnipotent comes mostly from a handful of Bible verses taken out of context, Gen. 17:1, Gen. 18:14, Job 42:2, Matt. 19:26, Luke 1:37, Rev. 19:6, Rev. 21:22. In reality, there very are many things that God cannot do—He cannot lie, He cannot sin, He cannot make a mistake, He cannot violate His own nature, He cannot do anything that is absurd, foolish, stupid, improper, or self-contradictory (such as make a rock so big that He cannot move it), etc. And, for reasons, which the Bible does not explain, God is at war with Satan and the powers of darkness.

Eph. 6:11. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
15. and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19. and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20. for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NASB, 1995)

Let us never forget that Christ is the Son of God and the second person in the Trinity, and that we, the Church, are in Christ, and “members of His body (Eph. 5:30). Therefore, just as we are at war with Satan and the powers of darkness, so also is God, and the war is not imaginary or an abstract theological concept—it is a real war of cosmic proportions and God, for reasons which the Bible does not elaborate upon, cannot just make it go away.

A biblical view of God disarms the atheist, but the view of God that He is absolutely omnipotent and freely allows unspeakable suffering to take place reduces God to an impossible contradiction.Excellent post!

Jemand
Mar 28th 2010, 06:39 PM
Following is taken from an article by Sid Litke, who acknowledged that many of the ideas came from Norm Geisler:



1 What are the causes of suffering?

Sinful people cause some suffering directly (lying, anger, divorce, drugs, crime, etc.).
Sin causes suffering indirectly (because of sin this earth is corrupted, deteriorating, painful and evil – Genesis 3:14-19; 4:1-15; Romans 8:20-22).
Conclusion: God is not the cause of suffering; He is the author of good (James 1:13-17). Some people conclude that since God made everything, He made evil too.

But St. Augustine’s reasoning seems to be correct:

God is the author of everything in the created universe.
Evil is not a thing or a substance; it is a privation or lack in things (blindness is lack of sight, pain is lack of health, hate or murder is lack of love, cold is a lack of heat).
Therefore God did not create evil.

2 Why doesn’t God end all evil immediately?
To end evil God would have to destroy the cause of evil—people. In His good plan for people (see below), it is therefore not good to end all evil immediately.

3 Why doesn’t God make people unable to cause suffering?

To do that, God would have to take away our ability to choose. But choice—free will—is a good thing.
In order to love, you must be able to choose to love. Forced love is not love.
So to have a universe that included love, God had to make us with choice, which includes the choice not to love—and that makes sin, evil, pain and suffering possible.


4 Why does God allow natural disaster and disease?

It is a part of a sinful world. God lowered the perfection of creation (from the perfect garden of Eden) to match the spiritual state of those who live here (Romans 8:20-22).
God graciously has sustained people on this earth (allowing them to reproduce, to develop governments and systems to deal with the effects of sin).
He has graciously sustained the fallen creation (providing sun and rain for food to sustain life—Colossians 1:17).
But the natural effect of a fallen creation is that even good things can have evil byproducts (water can drown someone; gravity can kill someone; lightening can burn and kill).


5 Why doesn’t God stop evil acts that cause innocent people to suffer?

Why doesn’t God miraculously intervene to stop evil acts if He is all-loving and all-powerful?
Why doesn’t He catch the drunk driver’s car that is going to crash into a bus?
Why doesn’t He deflect the murderer’s bullets?


The person asking doesn’t actually want God to stop all their evil acts. They don’t want to be invisibly gagged every time they’re about to say something hurtful; they don’t want to stub their toe when they try to kick the dog. They just think it would be good if God stopped certain evil acts or just the evil acts of others.
But that would make life impossible.
There would be no freedoms, no regularity and no personal responsibility.


6 Why doesn’t God let us choose to get out of this suffering?

The answer is that He does. That is the gracious, loving response of God to the evil condition of this sinful world.
God has provided for personal salvation—the promise of eternal life in heaven where there is no suffering (Revelation 21:4). One must simply put his trust in the payment for sin God provided through Christ’s death on the cross (John 3:16-18; Acts 10:38-43: etc.).
God has provided for the earth’s redemption (Romans 8:18-23; 2 Peter 3:10,13; Revelation 21:1).


7 Why can’t we get out of this evil world of suffering immediately?

We don’t know why God’s timetable is what it is.
We can see why He couldn’t deliver Adam and Eve immediately—God first had to provide redemption through Christ.
The world continues today in part because there are more people yet that will come to have eternal salvation.
We do know that God is working things together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).


8 What are some good reasons for suffering?

It enables us to cope in a sinful world.
1. Pain can keep us from a greater physical evil. A burnt finger warns us to avoid worse danger.
2. Pain can keep us from greater moral evil. A spanking does that.
It teaches us to turn to God for solution.
1. For eternal deliverance from evil – Heaven
2. For temporal deliverance from evil – Safety or holiness
3. For spiritual strength to endure suffering (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
It produces character improvement (holiness, maturity, etc. James 1:24) which in turn produces eternal rewards (crown of life—James 1:12).
It gives God the opportunity to show His grace, love and care for our sinful condition.
1. Through Christ’s life and death for our sake (Romans 5:6-8).
2. Through providing a place where there is no more suffering, sin or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Revelation 21:4).



I think this is the most comprehensive article I've ever read on this issue.

Please feel free to critic it.

BD

Notice that in point #2 even Sid Litke acknowledges that God is not absolutely omnipotent,


7 Why can’t we get out of this evil world of suffering immediately?

1. We don’t know why God’s timetable is what it is.
2. We can see why He couldn’t deliver Adam and Eve immediately—God first had to provide redemption through Christ.
3. The world continues today in part because there are more people yet that will come to have eternal salvation.
4. We do know that God is working things together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Servant89
Mar 28th 2010, 11:00 PM
I have already explained why “God ‘could not’ stop the assassin's bullet, or keep that car from smashing into the bus, etc.” Atheism is largely the consequence of a popular but unbiblical theology of God that pictures Him to be in absolute control of all things and that ignores Satan and the powers of darkness that God is in the process of defeating, but whom have not yet been defeated.

The very popular but unbiblical point of view that God is absolutely omnipotent comes mostly from a handful of Bible verses taken out of context, Gen. 17:1, Gen. 18:14, Job 42:2, Matt. 19:26, Luke 1:37, Rev. 19:6, Rev. 21:22. In reality, there very are many things that God cannot do—He cannot lie, He cannot sin, He cannot make a mistake, He cannot violate His own nature, He cannot do anything that is absurd, foolish, stupid, improper, or self-contradictory (such as make a rock so big that He cannot move it), etc. And, for reasons, which the Bible does not explain, God is at war with Satan and the powers of darkness.

Eph. 6:11. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
14. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,
15. and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;
16. in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
19. and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
20. for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NASB, 1995)

Let us never forget that Christ is the Son of God and the second person in the Trinity, and that we, the Church, are in Christ, and “members of His body (Eph. 5:30). Therefore, just as we are at war with Satan and the powers of darkness, so also is God, and the war is not imaginary or an abstract theological concept—it is a real war of cosmic proportions and God, for reasons which the Bible does not elaborate upon, cannot just make it go away.

A biblical view of God disarms the atheist, but the view of God that He is absolutely omnipotent and freely allows unspeakable suffering to take place reduces God to an impossible contradiction.

Read Job. Satan could not do anything without first getting God's permission. God is in control. He knows the # of hairs I have. He rules and nothing escapes his knowledge. But there is a purpose behind it all.

Shalom

BadDog
Mar 29th 2010, 11:18 AM
Have you considered that God has created reality in such a way that, at times, He is unable to prevent evil?
BD: I like the way your mind works here. BTW, I am just tossing these questions out to stir up some conversation. Some people think that to say that God is "unablea" to do anything is blasphemous. But He cannot make 2 + 2 = 5. He cannot sin. He cannot cease loving. That is His nature. The first is a matter of reality.

Even if God knows HOW to stop the evil doesn’t mean He CAN stop evil at all times and still have this particular reality that He created.
BD: Agreed... I think. :D

Evil is the source of suffering. If we look at the ministry of Christ, we see that He and His disciples almost always blamed the suffering on demonic activity.

If it had a point, why didn’t we see it in the garden before the fall? And why won’t we see it in the Eternal Kingdom? Just because God can bring good out of evil, doesn’t make the evil good. So, thanks to God, evil and the resulting suffering do not have to be meaningless.

All (usually) a result of the choices of mankind and demonic activity over time.

Good question. I guess I’d say anything that opposes God’s will.

He could have ended it right after Eve bit the forbidden fruit, but what would have been the point to end it there? God chose to create a world where human beings could freely choose to love Him. In order for us to freely love God, we must have the choice to do otherwise. It was not logically possible for God to have this objective without risking the possibility of war breaking out in His creation. And within the parameters of freedom God gives creatures, God must tolerate evil, for at least a short time. Instead of ending all evil now, which would end the ability of new creatures to choose to participate in His amazing triune love, He asks us to partner with Him in fighting against all evil in this spiritual war until the time He does choose to end evil for good.

Yes, He could have created people unable to suffer but these people would be more like robots. They wouldn’t have the freedom to choose to love God; they would simply be programmed to love God. The question I ask myself is: Is that really love? My answer is no. If the ability to genuinely love God requires freedom to choose (& I think it does), then the POSSIBILITY of evil logically exists. You can’t have a choice if there is nothing from which to choose—you have to have at least two options.

Participation in His triune love was worth the risk that evil might emerge from His plan.
LookingUp,

Don't have much time now. I appreciate your comments, and hope that others will comment on them as well.

BD

BadDog
Mar 29th 2010, 11:19 AM
Notice that in point #2 even Sid Litke acknowledges that God is not absolutely omnipotent,

7 Why can’t we get out of this evil world of suffering immediately?

1. We don’t know why God’s timetable is what it is.
2. We can see why He couldn’t deliver Adam and Eve immediately—God first had to provide redemption through Christ.
3. The world continues today in part because there are more people yet that will come to have eternal salvation.
4. We do know that God is working things together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).
Jemand,

Yes. I noticed. God cannot do anything. He is limited by reality and by His own nature - who He is.

BD

Jemand
Mar 29th 2010, 05:21 PM
Read Job. Satan could not do anything without first getting God's permission. God is in control. He knows the # of hairs I have. He rules and nothing escapes his knowledge. But there is a purpose behind it all.

Shalom

I have, of course, read and studied the Book of Job. Indeed, the Book of Job is very often discussed in studies of theodicy, the branch of theology and philosophy in which the goodness and omnipotence of God is defended in view of the existence of evil. Therefore, let us take a look at a key part of that book.

Job 1:6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
8. The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
9. Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
10. “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12. Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (NASB, 1995)

If we take this passage as an accurate, literal account of an historical event, we have one, isolated case in which God gave Satan permission to cause a man to suffer devastating losses. We also have God asking Satan for information; and upon learning the information from Satan, God allows Satan to test this man’s fear of Him. Are we to conclude from this passage that Satan can do nothing to anyone without God’s permission while also concluding from this passage that God is dependent upon Satan and information from him to make His own decisions? Are we to ignore the words of Jesus in such passages as these in the New Testament:

John 12:31. “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”

John 14:30. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;”

John 16: 11. “and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

Acts 26:16. ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
17. rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
18. to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ (NASB, 1995)

Did God give Hitler permission to kill six million Jews, or did Hitler rebel against God and His will for men to love one another? Is God a double-minded flakey teenager? Is God so unloving that He allows Satan every second of every day to cause millions of people to suffer in unspeakable agony? Are we play into the hands of atheists and believe in a God that is so extremely contradictory that even they cannot believe in Him? No!

watchinginawe
Mar 29th 2010, 05:52 PM
Did God give Hitler permission to kill six million Jews, or did Hitler rebel against God and His will for men to love one another? Is God a double-minded flakey teenager? Is God so unloving that He allows Satan every second of every day to cause millions of people to suffer in unspeakable agony? Are we play into the hands of atheists and believe in a God that is so extremely contradictory that even they cannot believe in Him? No!Jemand, are you suggesting that God's ultimate victory is then in doubt? Might evil yet prevail over God and win the day? Must the outcome be of some doubt for God to be "believable"? :dunno:

God Bless!

Jemand
Mar 29th 2010, 06:10 PM
Jemand, are you suggesting that God's ultimate victory is then in doubt? Might evil yet prevail over God and win the day? Must the outcome be of some doubt for God to be "believable"? :dunno:

God Bless!

In my first post in this thread I wrote, in part,

Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims have painted a picture of God that does not make sense to the critical mind, and therefore that critical mind often rejects the god in that picture, and mistakenly God Himself. God is not the being that we would like for Him to be; He is the Being that He is—a Being who is at war with the powers of darkness and who will ultimately be triumphant.

We Christians, being in Christ, the Son of the Father, are caught up in that war, and individually we determine to a small but significant extent the course of the skirmishes in which we find ourselves, and ultimately, the course of the cosmic war. This is why prayer is so very important—as we pray, we are fighting with God for victory. And it is why it is so very important that we do not give into temptation—when Christians sin, a small but significant skirmish is lost. Sometimes, the loss of a skirmish through sin results in the loss of a battle—but the war will ultimately be won by God.

watchinginawe
Mar 29th 2010, 06:31 PM
In my first post in this thread I wrote, in part,
...
Sometimes, the loss of a skirmish through sin results in the loss of a battle—but the war will ultimately be won by God.
I agree with your statement before about things that we can not understand with our human perception and with the revelation that God has given us to this point.

However, we have to begin to understand by what we can know whether God is merciful now or whether God will become merciful at some point in the future after He "wins". We have to begin to understand by what we can know whether God is longsuffering now or whether He will become longsuffering at some point in the future after He "wins".

Going back to the statement about what we can understand and not, perhaps we can't understand how God is merciful in allowing someone like Hitler to come onto the scene, but I wouldn't presume that therefore God doesn't presently have the capability of being merciful. That would be a conclusion from our perspective and understanding. If God is the ultimate victor then what prevents Him from prevailing right now? Us? Or is there a purpose and a plan unfolding in time that we don't comprehend?

A God that can and ultimately "will win" is a determined outcome. Who or by what is it determined by? Is God restrained by time from having the power to be merciful? I might not be understanding your point fully.

God Bless!

BadDog
Mar 29th 2010, 06:49 PM
Hi BadDog :)
I don't see how an atheist can object when the Bible clearly says that God does both cause evil (in famine, earthquake) etc. AND allow men freewill to do evil.

Is45:7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Any atheist worth his salt will already know this. The Christian God isn't Santa Claus.
S.
Steven,

NET Bible and note:
Isaiah 45:7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. 15
sn 15 sn This verses affirms that God is ultimately sovereign over his world, including mankind and nations. In accordance with his sovereign will, he can cause wars to cease and peace to predominate (as he was about to do for his exiled people through Cyrus), or he can bring disaster and judgment on nations (as he was about to do to Babylon through Cyrus).

Thx for your comments. Now we're getting into free will and election. Does God actually perform (do) evil? There are tons of verses which say "no," so are we understanding what is intended here in Isaiah 45?

BD

Jemand
Mar 29th 2010, 06:50 PM
I agree with your statement before about things that we can not understand with our human perception and with the revelation that God has given us to this point.

However, we have to begin to understand by what we can know whether God is merciful now or whether God will become merciful at some point in the future after He "wins". We have to begin to understand by what we can know whether God is longsuffering now or whether He will become longsuffering at some point in the future after He "wins".

Going back to the statement about what we can understand and not, perhaps we can't understand how God is merciful in allowing someone like Hitler to come onto the scene, but I wouldn't presume that therefore God doesn't presently have the capability of being merciful. That would be a conclusion from our perspective and understanding. If God is the ultimate victor then what prevents Him from prevailing right now? Us? Or is there a purpose and a plan unfolding in time that we don't comprehend?

A God that can and ultimately "will win" is a determined outcome. Who or by what is it determined by? Is God restrained by time from having the power to be merciful? I might not be understanding your point fully.

God Bless!

God is merciful, and He always has been. He is, however, described in the Bible as being engaged in a cosmic war that He will ultimately win. The United States and our allies ultimately won World War II, but that is not to say that they could have one the war when Hitler first became aggressive or when Japan first bombed Pearl Harbor. Neither is it to say that God allowed the cosmic war to begin nor that He is allowing it to continue.

watchinginawe
Mar 29th 2010, 07:15 PM
God is merciful, and He always has been. He is, however, described in the Bible as being engaged in a cosmic war that He will ultimately win.Or said another way, the outcome is determined. I would further say that it wasn't discovered that God "would win" in foreknowledge or some other fashion, but rather that it was purposed to be so and that by that process the one determining and for what purpose is powerful enough to cause it to happen. That being said, I have already offered that I believe God does a portion of His will through man and that man does not always do God's will. So even though God is powerful enough to cause any outcome He also is powerful enough to choose to do things His way and with His understanding. I guess that is how He got the job. :lol: :hmm: Or perhaps, it is a tough job but someone has to do it.


The United States and our allies ultimately won World War II, but that is not to say that they could have one the war when Hitler first became aggressive or when Japan first bombed Pearl Harbor. Neither is it to say that God allowed the cosmic war to begin nor that He is allowing it to continue.There are views of God's omniscience that sum it up that way and I think BD is quite studied on them, so I will let him bring those out in the thread if that is where he wants to take it.

However, I would have you consider the flood and whether God could have just decided to go another way in the matter as He thought to do (as He is presented in the Bible to us, in an anthropomorphic way):

Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Game over. God wins. Or is it evil wins? No, but grace enters into the equation by one who has the power to show grace:

8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

Whether one takes the flood literally or not doesn't really matter. The judgment of God is that which is witheld from the world for now. God is longsuffering in the matter even until now:

II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

The God that can do all of the above is not halt in His power IMO.

God Bless!

LookingUp
Mar 29th 2010, 09:24 PM
I have, of course, read and studied the Book of Job. Indeed, the Book of Job is very often discussed in studies of theodicy, the branch of theology and philosophy in which the goodness and omnipotence of God is defended in view of the existence of evil. Therefore, let us take a look at a key part of that book.

Job 1:6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
8. The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
9. Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
10. “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12. Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (NASB, 1995)

If we take this passage as an accurate, literal account of an historical event, we have one, isolated case in which God gave Satan permission to cause a man to suffer devastating losses. We also have God asking Satan for information; and upon learning the information from Satan, God allows Satan to test this man’s fear of Him. Are we to conclude from this passage that Satan can do nothing to anyone without God’s permission while also concluding from this passage that God is dependent upon Satan and information from him to make His own decisions?Great points!

I notice that Satan “came among them” as if he wasn't invited to this counsel. Also, I notice that the Lord asked where he came from as if Satan was not operating under God’s authority. Satan was freely wandering around. Puts me in mind of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And besides that, it seems like God is not giving Satan any “extra” permission as much as He is withdrawing His protection from Job (Job 1:10). So, I don’t know that I’d say God is interfering with Satan’s usual amount of free will. Don’t know for sure, though. What do you think?


Are we to ignore the words of Jesus in such passages as these in the New Testament:

John 12:31. “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”

John 14:30. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;”

John 16: 11. “and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

Acts 26:16. ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
17. rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
18. to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ (NASB, 1995)

Did God give Hitler permission to kill six million Jews, or did Hitler rebel against God and His will for men to love one another? Is God a double-minded flakey teenager? Is God so unloving that He allows Satan every second of every day to cause millions of people to suffer in unspeakable agony? Are we play into the hands of atheists and believe in a God that is so extremely contradictory that even they cannot believe in Him? No!Great verses above! Since we know Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the exact representation of His nature (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), we can look at the life and ministry of Jesus to understand more fully the heart of God. What His ministry shows us is that God’s will is often thwarted by the powers of darkness and Jesus came to fight against that and establish God’s will on earth. Other than the obvious answer of the cross, how did Jesus fight against the powers of darkness? He healed! When Jesus came across people who were blind, mute, deaf, crippled, diseased, and demon possessed, He never suggested that their suffering was all part of a “greater good.” On the contrary, most often He and His disciples exclaimed that it was demonic forces, not God, that were causing the afflictions (Mk 9:25; Lk 11:14; 13:11-16; Acts 10:38). We can clearly see what God’s will is for human beings by looking at the ministry of Christ: to be healed. We can partner with Him in fighting this battle or we can contribute to it by opposing His will. Let us fight with Him. Let our prayers and love for one another destroy the works of the devil and let the works of God be revealed!

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jn 3:8).

Steven3
Mar 30th 2010, 06:45 AM
Hi Bad Dog
Steven,

NET Bible and note:
Isaiah 45:7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. 15
sn 15 sn This verses affirms that God is ultimately sovereign over his world, including mankind and nations. In accordance with his sovereign will, he can cause wars to cease and peace to predominate (as he was about to do for his exiled people through Cyrus), or he can bring disaster and judgment on nations (as he was about to do to Babylon through Cyrus).

Thx for your comments. Now we're getting into free will and election. Does God actually perform (do) evil? There are tons of verses which say "no," so are we understanding what is intended here in Isaiah 45?

BDNews to me. What verses say "no"? ;)

Of course God does evil (Amos 3:6) - "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" Isaiah 45:7 is typical of OT teaching.

There's one area which God has turned over to man of course, free will, and the evil that human hearts do cannot be laid at God's door; but nethertheless it was God who sent the Sabeans to kill Job's servants. Job said so, and God says Job said right.

LookingUp
Mar 30th 2010, 03:43 PM
Hi Bad DogNews to me. What verses say "no"? ;)

Of course God does evil (Amos 3:6) - "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" Isaiah 45:7 is typical of OT teaching.

There's one area which God has turned over to man of course, free will, and the evil that human hearts do cannot be laid at God's door; but nethertheless it was God who sent the Sabeans to kill Job's servants. Job said so, and God says Job said right.Steven,

Why do you call judgment by God on the nation of Israel evil?

Jemand
Mar 30th 2010, 04:51 PM
Great points!

I notice that Satan “came among them” as if he wasn't invited to this counsel. Also, I notice that the Lord asked where he came from as if Satan was not operating under God’s authority. Satan was freely wandering around. Puts me in mind of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” And besides that, it seems like God is not giving Satan any “extra” permission as much as He is withdrawing His protection from Job (Job 1:10). So, I don’t know that I’d say God is interfering with Satan’s usual amount of free will. Don’t know for sure, though. What do you think?

Great verses above! Since we know Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the exact representation of His nature (Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3), we can look at the life and ministry of Jesus to understand more fully the heart of God. What His ministry shows us is that God’s will is often thwarted by the powers of darkness and Jesus came to fight against that and establish God’s will on earth. Other than the obvious answer of the cross, how did Jesus fight against the powers of darkness? He healed! When Jesus came across people who were blind, mute, deaf, crippled, diseased, and demon possessed, He never suggested that their suffering was all part of a “greater good.” On the contrary, most often He and His disciples exclaimed that it was demonic forces, not God, that were causing the afflictions (Mk 9:25; Lk 11:14; 13:11-16; Acts 10:38). We can clearly see what God’s will is for human beings by looking at the ministry of Christ: to be healed. We can partner with Him in fighting this battle or we can contribute to it by opposing His will. Let us fight with Him. Let our prayers and love for one another destroy the works of the devil and let the works of God be revealed!

The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 Jn 3:8).

Amen! Thank you for sharing with us!

BadDog
Mar 30th 2010, 05:12 PM
Thx for your comments. Now we're getting into free will and election. Does God actually perform (do) evil? There are tons of verses which say "no," so are we understanding what is intended here in Isaiah 45?


Hi Bad Dog, News to me. What verses say "no"? ;)

Of course God does evil (Amos 3:6) - "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" Isaiah 45:7 is typical of OT teaching.

There's one area which God has turned over to man of course, free will, and the evil that human hearts do cannot be laid at God's door; but nethertheless it was God who sent the Sabeans to kill Job's servants. Job said so, and God says Job said right.
Steven,

Are you serious?

OK, "Is evil from the Lord?" If you mean does it originate in Him, No. But if you mean does He send it, or work good through evil/adversity, Yes.
Isaiah 45:7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; 14 the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. 15
NET translation and other notes:
14 tn On the surface v. 7a appears to describe God’s sovereign control over the cycle of day and night, but the following statement suggests that “light” and “darkness” symbolize “deliverance” and “judgment.”
15 sn This verses affirms that God is ultimately sovereign over his world, including mankind and nations. In accordance with his sovereign will, he can cause wars to cease and peace to predominate (as he was about to do for his exiled people through Cyrus), or he can bring disaster and judgment on nations (as he was about to do to Babylon through Cyrus).
IOW, the context has to do with His sovereign involvement with Babylon. The word translated "evil" here is probably better understood in this context as "judgment."

And context is critical. Later in this same chapter:
Isaiah 45:22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.
God ultimately works whatever calamity which occurs so that people will turn to Him... and be saved.

Amos 3:6 [KJV] Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid F9? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Amos 3:6 [NET] If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear? If disaster overtakes a 3 city, is the Lord not responsible? 4
NET notes:
<7451> - evil 442, wickedness 59, wicked 25, mischief 21, hurt 20, bad 13, trouble 10, sore 9, affliction 6, ill 5, adversity 4, favored 3, harm 3, naught 3, noisome 2, grievous 2, sad 2, misc 34
Here theevil word is best translated simply as "adversity." I checked other translations, and the word is almost never translated as "evil" except by the KJV. I see "disaster" or "calamity" instead.

Here are some other verses, which if not taken in context, are misconstrued:

Micah 1:12 [KJV] For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good. But evil came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.
Micah 1:12 [NET] Indeed, the residents of Maroth 57 hope for something good to happen, 58 though the Lord has sent disaster against the city of Jerusalem. 59
NET notes:
58 tc The translation assumes an emendation of חָלָה (khalah; from חִיל, khil, “to writhe”) to יִחֲלָה (yikhalah; from יָחַל, yakhal, “to wait”).
58 tn Heb “[the residents of Maroth] writhe [= “anxiously long for”?] good.”
59 tn Heb “though disaster has come down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.”
The context of the word "evil" in this case, means disaster or punishment. God punishes sin during our present lives on earth. And he'll also punish sin a much greater way, after the end of the world, when those who have not trusted in Christ are cast into Hell. Disaster is translated "evil" here.

Job was a very faithful man and yet 'evil' or disaster came to him. He said: "Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil."
Again, "evil" does not mean that God does something wrong or unrighteous. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for good in the lives of those who have trusted in His Son. When Job implied that God had done wrong or was unfair, God asked him if he was around when He created the world.

Job 42:11 All his [Job] brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house. They offered him sympathy and comfort concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him. Each one gave him a qesitah, and a gold earring.

But God is Holy. Hence we read:
Psalm 5:4,12 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil. With you the wicked cannot dwell ...for surely Lord you bless the righteous.

God is not evil. God is Holy; nothing wicked or evil can enter into Gods presence. Evil is always a result of sinful man's disobedience to God. God allows evil to come upon men based upon what they choose. God's desire for us is Good, it is to prosper us and not to harm us. In these passages evil came down as a result of man's sin.

Here's a bit of a summary regarding what the Word does say concerning God's involvement in evil:


At times, God brings about evil (disaster).
Sin comes from inside man as a result of our sinful nature inherited from Adam. (James 1:12-14)
Disasters are brought about to encourage spiritual growth, or for the best ultimate good. (Romans 8:28) God always works for good.
Man's evil deeds are not pleasing to God. They come from within man and result in death. (Mark 7:21)
God has shown us a better way - the way of righteousness.


God doesn't hate people at all. His perfect hatred is always directed towards sin, never the person. He hates evil, but He cannot but love people. The worst sinner is loved by God so much that Jesus died for him. But God has tremendous fury for the evils of mankind, and the Lord will eventually take vengeance on all the wicked. But it's important to remember that we're all condemned as wicked sinners before God, and only the Jesus Christ has ever lived a good life without any evil in this world.

Psalm 7:11 God is angry with the wicked every day.

Think about it. Every day God is angry because of sinful people who live their whole lives as God's enemies, fulfilling every evil pleasure they can think of. God has no pleasure in these wicked people that refuse to believe in His Son, choosing evil over good every time. But He doesn't "hate" them.

1 John.4:8 says that "Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love." God can never do anything which is not sourced out of love... ever! 1 John 4:16 continues, "We have come to know and to believe the love God has for us. God is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him."

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to them who call evil good, and good evil

Isaiah 6:3 And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.

How can God perform evil, if He is wholly pure - holy? So if one interprets evil as sin, they are not understanding the clear proclamation of scripture.This is probably the most important attribute of God. Holiness means the total absence of evil. But it’s more than that. It includes a positive righteousness. Let me give you an analogy. What does it mean to be healthy? It means much more than just not being sick. It means being in a vigorous, robust, physical, mental and spiritual condition. God is holy and can do nothing that is inconsistent with his holy nature. Peter said to Jesus, “We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).

This Holy One, who died for us and rose from the dead, lives within us to make us holy. “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1 Peter 1:15).

1 John 1:5 - God is light - Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. (Very emphatic in Greek.)

God is Good

Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good. His loyal love endures, and he is faithful through all generations

Psalm 119:68 You are good and you do good. Teach me your statutes!

Jude 4 For certain men have secretly slipped in among you – men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe – ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 6:3 They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!”

Exodus 34:6, 7 The Lord passed by before him and proclaimed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

Psalm 103:1-8 Praise the Lord, O my soul! With all that is within me, praise his holy name! Praise the Lord, O my soul! Do not forget all his kind deeds! He is the one who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases, who delivers your life from the Pit, who crowns you with his loyal love and compassion, who satisfies your life with good things, so your youth is renewed like an eagle’s. The Lord does what is fair, and executes justice for all the oppressed. The Lord revealed his faithful acts to Moses, his deeds to the Israelites. The Lord is compassionate and merciful; he is patient and demonstrates great loyal love.

Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yes, seven are an abomination to him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brothers.

Isaiah 61:8 For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

Jeremiah 44:4 So I sent you all My servants the prophets time and time again, saying, Don't do this detestable thing that I hate.
God detests evil.

Amos 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

2 Peter 2:4-10 For if God didn't spare the angels who sinned, but threw them down into TartarusF9 and delivered them to be kept in chainsF10 of darkness until judgment; 5and if He didn't spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others,F11 when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; 6and if He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to ruin,F12 making them an example to those who were going to be ungodly;F13 7and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral 8(for as he lived among them, that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard) -- 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority.

James 1:13-15 No one undergoing a trial should say, "I am being tempted by God." For God is not tempted by evil F3, and He Himself doesn't tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
F3: Or evil persons, or evil things

God is not tempted by evil because he cannot do evil. Never has. Never will. People have struggled with similar texts which, for example, refer to the Lord hardening Pharaoh's heart. Yet anyone who reads the account in Exodus will clearly see that it was Pharaoh who freely choose each time. The issue has to do with God's sovereignty and man's free will. Some simplify it to simply mean that God [allowed] Pharaoh's heart to become hardened. But that is not what the texts say. God accomplished more ultimate good when He sovereignly moved Pharaoh to resist. But we cannot say that Pharaoh did not freely choose. It is the same sort of thing here with these passages on "adversity/evil." They cannot contradict the preponderance of scripture which clearly state that God can do no evil.


Now, I probably shouldn't have responded with this list of verses, since the OP is about the problem of evil as an argument used by atheists.

BD

Servant89
Mar 31st 2010, 10:34 PM
I have, of course, read and studied the Book of Job. Indeed, the Book of Job is very often discussed in studies of theodicy, the branch of theology and philosophy in which the goodness and omnipotence of God is defended in view of the existence of evil. Therefore, let us take a look at a key part of that book.

Job 1:6. Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.
7. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
8. The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
9. Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?
10. “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
11. “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”
12. Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (NASB, 1995)

If we take this passage as an accurate, literal account of an historical event, we have one, isolated case in which God gave Satan permission to cause a man to suffer devastating losses. We also have God asking Satan for information; and upon learning the information from Satan, God allows Satan to test this man’s fear of Him. Are we to conclude from this passage that Satan can do nothing to anyone without God’s permission while also concluding from this passage that God is dependent upon Satan and information from him to make His own decisions? Are we to ignore the words of Jesus in such passages as these in the New Testament:

John 12:31. “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”

John 14:30. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;”

John 16: 11. “and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”

Acts 26:16. ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;
17. rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,
18. to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’ (NASB, 1995)

Did God give Hitler permission to kill six million Jews, or did Hitler rebel against God and His will for men to love one another? Is God a double-minded flakey teenager? Is God so unloving that He allows Satan every second of every day to cause millions of people to suffer in unspeakable agony? Are we play into the hands of atheists and believe in a God that is so extremely contradictory that even they cannot believe in Him? No!

It looks like (in your eyes) your wisdom is higher than the book of Job. Your judgment and logic seems to be the source of your doctrine. Good luck with that.

Shalom

LookingUp
Apr 1st 2010, 03:44 AM
OK, "Is evil from the Lord?" If you mean does it originate in Him, No. But if you mean does He send it, or work good through evil/adversity, Yes.I’d like to add to what you’ve written, if it’s alright.

The Lord does not afflict willingly and He does not grieve the sons of men (Lam. 3:33).


Isaiah 45:7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; 14 the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. 15
NET translation and other notes:
14 tn On the surface v. 7a appears to describe God’s sovereign control over the cycle of day and night, but the following statement suggests that “light” and “darkness” symbolize “deliverance” and “judgment.”
15 sn This verses affirms that God is ultimately sovereign over his world, including mankind and nations. In accordance with his sovereign will, he can cause wars to cease and peace to predominate (as he was about to do for his exiled people through Cyrus), or he can bring disaster and judgment on nations (as he was about to do to Babylon through Cyrus).
IOW, the context has to do with His sovereign involvement with Babylon. The word translated "evil" here is probably better understood in this context as "judgment."

And context is critical. Later in this same chapter:
Isaiah 45:22 Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.
God ultimately works whatever calamity which occurs so that people will turn to Him... and be saved.I don’t understand how anyone can say that God’s punishment of the wicked is evil. And as we see, His desire is to bring good out of even the punishment—to turn to Him and be saved!

Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? Ezekiel 18:23


Amos 3:6 [KJV] Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid F9? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Amos 3:6 [NET] If an alarm sounds in a city, do people not fear? If disaster overtakes a 3 city, is the Lord not responsible? 4
NET notes:
<7451> - evil 442, wickedness 59, wicked 25, mischief 21, hurt 20, bad 13, trouble 10, sore 9, affliction 6, ill 5, adversity 4, favored 3, harm 3, naught 3, noisome 2, grievous 2, sad 2, misc 34
Here theevil word is best translated simply as "adversity." I checked other translations, and the word is almost never translated as "evil" except by the KJV. I see "disaster" or "calamity" instead.Exactly. And again, isn’t this referring to judgment on Israel? How is that evil?


Here are some other verses, which if not taken in context, are misconstrued:

Micah 1:12 [KJV] For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good. But evil came down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.
Micah 1:12 [NET] Indeed, the residents of Maroth 57 hope for something good to happen, 58 though the Lord has sent disaster against the city of Jerusalem. 59
NET notes:
58 tc The translation assumes an emendation of חָלָה (khalah; from חִיל, khil, “to writhe”) to יִחֲלָה (yikhalah; from יָחַל, yakhal, “to wait”).
58 tn Heb “[the residents of Maroth] writhe [= “anxiously long for”?] good.”
59 tn Heb “though disaster has come down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.”
The context of the word "evil" in this case, means disaster or punishment. God punishes sin during our present lives on earth. And he'll also punish sin a much greater way, after the end of the world, when those who have not trusted in Christ are cast into Hell. Disaster is translated "evil" here.Thank you.


Job was a very faithful man and yet 'evil' or disaster came to him. He said: "Shall we receive good at the hand of God and shall we not receive evil."
Again, "evil" does not mean that God does something wrong or unrighteous. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for good in the lives of those who have trusted in His Son. When Job implied that God had done wrong or was unfair, God asked him if he was around when He created the world.What should we make of Job's words? Should we use them to support a particular theology about the way God operates?

Was God acknowledging that He was to blame for Job’s affliction when He asked Job where he was when the Lord laid the foundation of the earth? The Lord went into a lengthy discourse on the complexity of the universe to show Job that it was simply not possible for him to understand why he was suffering. God rebuked Job for his incorrect theology and Job admitted he uttered what he did not know and repented (Job 42:3, 6).


Job 42:11 All his [Job] brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house. They offered him sympathy and comfort concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him. Each one gave him a qesitah, and a gold earring.Obviously, they were wrong, as Job was, to say all the adversity came from the Lord. We need to interpret this (42:11) in light of God’s rebuke and Job’s repentance of this very theology.

We also need to interpret Job 42:11 in light of the prologue which shows that it was the Adversary, not God, who afflicted Job. Job, his family and his acquaintances had no idea of the Adversary’s part in this whole thing (as we, the readers, do). In their ignorance of this and their ignorance of the complexity of the universe, they blamed God on the adversity that came upon Job.

God had to withdraw his protection from Job to allow this (Job 1:10), but God did not plan or cause these afflictions. Further, God never acknowledges that He is the one who afflicted Job. Instead, He appeals to the immensity and complexity of creation to explain why Job is not capable of understanding his suffering.

Steven3
Apr 1st 2010, 11:05 AM
Hi Looking Up
Steven, Why do you call judgment by God on the nation of Israel evil?I didn't write Amos 3:8.. that's a question for Amos I think ;) I didn't write Is.45:7 either. You're looking for a distinction between "evil/ra=good evil" and "evil/ra=bad evil", but such a distinction is in context not the text. God's evil/ra is good, yes. But it's still evil/ra. Check a concordance.
Obviously, they were wrong, as Job was, to say all the adversity came from the Lord.God says Job spoke what was right of him: Job 42:7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has". And Job speaking Job 12:9 "Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?"

There are about 8 verses in Job which say that God brought the suffering; even in the prologue 1:16 it is the "fire of God" not "fire of Satan" which falls on the servants. This isn't exactly new teaching: De 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
God bless
S.

Steven3
Apr 1st 2010, 11:11 AM
Hi Bad Dog :)
Steven,

Are you serious?Yes, why wouldn't I be, it's what Isaiah 45:7 says. The distinction you're making between "disaster" and "evil" is one that isn't there in Hebrew. There's disaster ra (evil by God), and moral ra, (evil by man), but in the Hebrew and KJV it is context that tells us which is which, not any difference in the words. As to Looking Up above, check those verses about "evil" in the OT in a concordance.
Now, I probably shouldn't have responded with this list of verses, since the OP is about the problem of evil as an argument used by atheists.All these verses show is that evil/ra from God is good and evil/ra from men is bad. = Freewill.

I can't see that an atheist will have much to say about your verses since if an atheist has done any thinking at all he/she should already be aware that evil/ra from men comes from men, and God is not to blame for that other than having allowed men (including atheists doing evil/ra) free will. It would be the evil/ra that God does; tsunamis and so on, that the atheist has more problem with. Though even in that case I can't see that there's a problem, most atheists I've spoken to don't have a particular problem with God causing tidal waves, earthquakes and so on.
God bless :)
S

BadDog
Apr 1st 2010, 01:28 PM
Nice comments, Steven3. Regarding a concordance, that is based on the English, not the Hebrew... best to use a lexicon, and there are some online. And lexicons make it clear that the word translated "evil" by some translations (typically the KJV) does not mean simply "evil." It means "disaster" or "calamity." I think another issue we are kinda skirting around, and it does apply to this OP, is the sovereignty and omniscience of God. God is sovereign, and in control of the world. He brings about what He wants in the affairs of men. But we can confidently assume that He never does wrong or distorts the truth.

So... to get back to the OP. Any more comments about the "problem of evil" in the world. Does this make it unlikely that God exists? Any more arguments, either direction?

BD

watchinginawe
Apr 1st 2010, 02:16 PM
So... to get back to the OP. Any more comments about the "problem of evil" in the world. Does this make it unlikely that God exists? Any more arguments, either direction?

BDBD, sometimes it isn't whether God exists, but rather the Christian God, or the God of the Bible, and whether it is unlikely that He exists. These arguments are from the perspective of invalidating what we believe or witness about God. Jemand's points have emphasis in this area IMO, but I don't think I agree with handling the argument from a limitation of power viewpoint as much as a limitation of our understanding. Regardless, we might talk some about a "benevolent" God and whether the Christian God of personal benevolence is unlikely to exist given evil and suffering of Christians. We have some strange doctrines (my viewpoint) about how we just don't live within the authority granted us to make such benevolence flow to us, but maybe this all loving all benevolent all intervening picture of God is at fault too.

God Bless!

Brother Mark
Apr 1st 2010, 02:19 PM
The problem of evil has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil?

Well, he could get rid of all suffering by getting rid of the cause for suffering which is sin. In order to do away with all sin, he would have to do away with all sinners. In His mercy, he waits, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. One day, he will do away with all suffering on this earth. On that day, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth by the wicked.

BadDog
Apr 1st 2010, 03:25 PM
Well, he could get rid of all suffering by getting rid of the cause for suffering which is sin. In order to do away with all sin, he would have to do away with all sinners. In His mercy, he waits, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. One day, he will do away with all suffering on this earth. On that day, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth by the wicked.
Exactly... I believe that to be a valid and solid argument.

BadDog
Apr 1st 2010, 03:26 PM
BD, sometimes it isn't whether God exists, but rather the Christian God, or the God of the Bible, and whether it is unlikely that He exists. These arguments are from the perspective of invalidating what we believe or witness about God. Jemand's points have emphasis in this area IMO, but I don't think I agree with handling the argument from a limitation of power viewpoint as much as a limitation of our understanding. Regardless, we might talk some about a "benevolent" God and whether the Christian God of personal benevolence is unlikely to exist given evil and suffering of Christians. We have some strange doctrines (my viewpoint) about how we just don't live within the authority granted us to make such benevolence flow to us, but maybe this all loving all benevolent all intervening picture of God is at fault too.

God Bless!
wia,

FWIW, I do think our view of God is in error.

BD

Steven3
Apr 1st 2010, 05:51 PM
Hi Bad Dog :)
Okay, well if I go back to your OP and change every use of evil (Hebrew ra) to the subset of evil which is "evil/ra by men, not evil/ra by God" then we'd have to add in red "by men" in every case:
The problem of evil by men has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil by men in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil by men, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil by men?

How do we respond? I am curious what various arguments you guys see for such an argument?The reply would be that God doesn't prevent evil by men because he has given men freewill, and then based on their freewill there is a judgment at the last day.



Here is how the argument typically goes:
If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil by men.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil by men.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil by men.
Evil by men prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God. Well such an argument would be claptrap wouldn't it? But I've never actually heard an atheist make such an argument. Well I suppose that's not totally true. I have heard someone say "why didn't God stop the 911 hijackers, why didn't God put his hand down out of the sky and deflect the planes", but not really a committed atheist, just someone who hasn't really thought about what they're saying.

I guess I'm sort of asking for more detail about about what this individual is thinking, because as I said before, serious atheists know better than to ask such a (from both atheist and Christian point of view) obvious question. Perhaps I'm missing something important, if so please fill out the question.

However if the atheist is asking about the evil/'ra'/disaster which God does, tsunamis and so on, Amos 3:8 etc. then perhaps it's a different question. Is the question God-induced-suffering, or man-induced-suffering?
S.

LookingUp
Apr 1st 2010, 06:03 PM
Hi Looking UpI didn't write Amos 3:8.. that's a question for Amos I think ;) I didn't write Is.45:7 either. You're looking for a distinction between "evil/ra=good evil" and "evil/ra=bad evil", but such a distinction is in context not the text. God's evil/ra is good, yes. But it's still evil/ra. Check a concordance. God says Job spoke what was right of him: Job 42:7 After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has".Yes, God praises Job for speaking truth from his heart, in contrast to his friends, but this is not the same as endorsing Job’s theology. We know that everything Job said about God was not right by reading the text.

Job assumes God is all-controlling and arbitrarily chooses who will suffer, while his friends blame his troubles on Job. Although Job’s theology needs correcting by God, Job remained faithful to God even when his theology told him to reject God.

When disaster brings sudden death,
[God] mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked;
He covers the eyes of its judges—
If it is not he, who then is it?
(Job 9:23-24, cf. 21:17-26, 30-32; 24:1-12)

Job was speaking right about God here? God mocking the innocent and covering the eyes of judges? Do you really think God’s contrast (the friends spoke wrong and Job spoke right) in 42:7 was in to endorse this theology?

Why are times not kept by the Almighty?
And why do those who know him never see his days? (Job 24:1)

What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?
And what profit do we get if we pray to him? (Job 21:15)

From the city the dying groan,
And the throat of the wounded cries for help;
Yet God pays no attention to their prayer. (Job 24:12)

Job was speaking right about God here? God brings about victims of injustice and then pays no attention to their cries? God’s comment is intended that we endorse this theology?

Your hands fashioned and made me;
And now you turn and destroy me. (Job 10:8)

Bold as a lion you hunt me;
You repeat your exploits against me…
Let me alone; that I might find a little comfort. (10:16, 20)

He [God] has worn me out;
He has made desolate all my company.
And he has shriveled me up…
He has torn me in his wrath, and hated me;
He has gnashed his teeth at me;
My adversary sharpens his eyes against me. (Job 16:7-9, cf. 11-17)

Job was speaking right about God here when he called him the adversary? God wants us to endorse this?

When God said that Job spoke what was right, I hardly believe God meant that He approved of everything Job said about Him. As we see, God spent four chapters correcting Job and his friends’ theology.

What we do see from this book is that Job’s friends spoke in selfishness. They blamed Job for his adversity, because they were afraid that if this could happen to the innocent, they too were at risk (Job 6:20-21; Job 5:19-20, 22, 24-27). Therefore, Job must deserve it.

Job, on the other hand, had no selfish intent. He was simply stating the obvious if his theology was correct. If God were really the all-controlling God Job thought he was, then the appalling conclusions he made about God were right. Furthermore, Job’s heart remains faithful to God even when his theology told him he should reject this all-controlling God who arbitrarily chooses when the innocent should suffer. Job 42:7 is about Job speaking from the heart while his friends speak in self-serving ways.


And Job speaking Job 12:9 "Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?"Job retracted his words. Don’t you see that? Then Job repented. God was please with Job’s heart (Job 42:7).


There are about 8 verses in Job which say that God brought the suffering; even in the prologue 1:16 it is the "fire of God" not "fire of Satan" which falls on the servants.Their theology is the same as Job’s (the one he repented of).

God does not acknowledge He is to blame. Instead, God silences both Job and his friends by revealing to them how little they could possibly know about the complexity of the universe and His dealings with it (Job 38-39). They know nothing about the cosmic forces affecting the universe (Job 40-41) and they know nothing about how the heavenly realm impacts dealings on the earth (Job 1-2). Ultimately, the question of “Why me?” remains a mystery to Job and to us, because Job is not given an answer and neither are we. But what we can know is that suffering is not related to God’s character but is related to the complexity of the universe, cosmic forces, and demonic activity.


This isn't exactly new teaching: De 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
God bless
S.Continuing to verse 41:

If I sharpen My flashing sword,
And My hand takes hold on justice
I will render vengeance on My adversaries
And I will repay those who hate Me

This is not God causing adversity to come upon the innocent.

third hero
Apr 1st 2010, 07:22 PM
One thing that I find that many Christians do not understand is that there is a big difference between evil and wickedness.

Evil is typically defined in the Bible as a calamity. Calamities can be either natural or supernatural events. For instance, the destruction of the Plain of Zoar is what God would define as evil. As we are all aware, God does not allow anything to hapopen unless He gives the approval. So every natural disaster that has happened on Earth has God's fingerprints in it. In this sense, Amos 3 is absolutely correct.

Wickedness, however, is something that is spawned from sin. The practiciners of sin are known as wicked peoiple, and their sinful actions are classified as wickedness, or iniquity. This is something that God has neither created, nor practiced. God can not perform or be the father of wickedness, for His very nature is the polar opposite of sin.

The problem that most of us do not undserstand is that there is a disconect between evil and wickedness. God can be the Father of Evil, since no evil event can come into being unless God approves it. We can see examples of God performing evil acts, like forcing the Israelites to walk around in the wilderness until the generation of those who angered Him die off. However, God is not the Father of wickedness.

BadDog
Apr 1st 2010, 07:58 PM
Hi Bad Dog :)
Okay, well if I go back to your OP and change every use of evil (Hebrew ra) to the subset of evil which is "evil/ra by men, not evil/ra by God" then we'd have to add in red "by men" in every case: The reply would be that God doesn't prevent evil by men because he has given men freewill, and then based on their freewill there is a judgment at the last day.

Well such an argument would be claptrap wouldn't it? But I've never actually heard an atheist make such an argument. Well I suppose that's not totally true. I have heard someone say "why didn't God stop the 911 hijackers, why didn't God put his hand down out of the sky and deflect the planes", but not really a committed atheist, just someone who hasn't really thought about what they're saying.

I guess I'm sort of asking for more detail about about what this individual is thinking, because as I said before, serious atheists know better than to ask such a (from both atheist and Christian point of view) obvious question. Perhaps I'm missing something important, if so please fill out the question.

However if the atheist is asking about the evil/'ra'/disaster which God does, tsunamis and so on, Amos 3:8 etc. then perhaps it's a different question. Is the question God-induced-suffering, or man-induced-suffering?
S.
Steven,

OK the argument goes something like this:

The traditional concept of God is as an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent Being.
This implies that if God exists then He knows how to, He wants to, and He is able to prevent all suffering.
If such a God existed, though, then He actually would prevent all suffering.
Suffering is a familiar part of the world around us; it has not been prevented.
Therefore, no omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God exists.

The issue is not whether or not men do evil, but simply that evil DOES exist. The reasoning is that a good God WOULD prevent evil, not that God sometimes may do evil things. (Which He does not.) The reasoning is not based on the Bible at all, but is purely based on logic.

Here are some of the responses to this reasoning, and I think they are legitimate:

1) The free-will defense. Much of the evil in the world occurs only because people choose to take evil actions. The greatest evils in the world are those inflicted by man upon man. In actualizing the world, God faced a choice: He could create free agents or he could create robots, without the ability to make choices of their own. Robots would not be able to do wrong... to do evil acts. God chose to create free agents. A world containing free agents is more valuable than a world of robots. But the result is the abuse of freedom that we see around us. Free agents sometimes choose to abuse their freedom, to do wrong. The wrong that we do, the suffering that we cause, is a price worth paying for something that is profoundly valuable: genuine freedom. Though God could have prevented evil by creating a world of robotic beings, it is a good thing that he did not. The reasoning goes on to say that God desired to know us personally. He wanted us to respond in love to Him. But this only works if there is a legitimate choice to make. IOW, is love really love if the person does not choose to love... if the person could not but love? IMO, the answer is "no."

Not all evil, however, can be explained this way. There is much evil that is not inflicted by man. Natural disasters cause great destruction, but there is nothing that we have done that causes them and usually nothing that we could have done to prevent them.

2) This brings us to a 2nd argument. The existence of evil is a necessary condition for the existence of certain kinds of good. There are a number of character traits that are valuable only if evil exists. Compassion, for instance, is of great value, but can only exist if there is suffering... a reason to have compassion on people. Bravery, also, is a virtue, but only if we sometimes face danger, which requires bravery. Self-sacrifice is another great good, but can only exist if there is inter-dependence, a need to make sacrifices; if some people find themselves in situations where they need help from others. God created us in such a way that we would depend upon one another, that we would be drawn together to form a community. That was His intent. If each of us were self-sufficient and safe from all suffering, then the great amount of good that comes from this would not have been possible.

Though it is clear that much suffering is justified, that the world would be a worse place without it, it is still easy to point to specific examples of suffering that appear to serve no greater purpose. Does all suffering, all evil, serve a greater purpose? Perhaps we should re-write the question as "unjustified" evil. Why does God permit unjustified evil, if such a creature exists.

3) But how do we really know that any evil, no matter how extreme it may be, is unjustified? Does the rape and murder of a pre-teen always point to unjustified evil? The argument here that is made is that we would have to actually be God ourselves to know for certain that any evil is not justified, and used for ultimate good. What we are really then saying is that God is only a little smarter, a little more knowledgeable than we are. IMO this is a valid argument. Could a butterfly flapping its wings on one side the pacific cause a hurricane to strike on the other side? Only God can answer such questions. We cannot possibly predict and know the interactions of a multitude of actions and circumstances.

It is just as easy, using the same sort of arguments as the atheist uses here to argue that God does not exist, to argue that unjustified evil does not exist instead.

So at worse, this discussion is a stalemate. BTW, much of this reasoning came from a link:
http://www.existence-of-god.com/problem-of-evil.html


BD

third hero
Apr 2nd 2010, 02:11 AM
Here are some of the responses to this reasoning, and I think they are legitimate:

1) The free-will defense. Much of the evil in the world occurs only because people choose to take evil actions. The greatest evils in the world are those inflicted by man upon man. In actualizing the world, God faced a choice: He could create free agents or he could create robots, without the ability to make choices of their own. Robots would not be able to do wrong... to do evil acts. God chose to create free agents. A world containing free agents is more valuable than a world of robots. But the result is the abuse of freedom that we see around us. Free agents sometimes choose to abuse their freedom, to do wrong. The wrong that we do, the suffering that we cause, is a price worth paying for something that is profoundly valuable: genuine freedom. Though God could have prevented evil by creating a world of robotic beings, it is a good thing that he did not. The reasoning goes on to say that God desired to know us personally. He wanted us to respond in love to Him. But this only works if there is a legitimate choice to make. IOW, is love really love if the person does not choose to love... if the person could not but love? IMO, the answer is "no."

This is what I believe is the textbook argument that most Christians tend to use, and I can tell you that it does not have the effect that one would like it to have.

For instance, the earthquake in Haiti, did the free will of men cause that to happen? How about the other earthquakes around the world and the tsunamis that have been popping up in the last couple of years? Man has absolutely no control over these events. The people that die did not create the environment in which the earth decided to move on it's own.

The free will argument would work if the topic is about men massacring each other or harming each other. In these examples, the argument is valid. But again, according to what I believe, it doesn't. When men kill each other for no reason, or harm each other (now understand that I am including women when I say men), this is not evil. It is wickedness. When a man murders another person, that person is violating one of God's commands. This is the very definition of sin, and as such, the act of murder is not evil, but wickedness.


Not all evil, however, can be explained this way. There is much evil that is not inflicted by man. Natural disasters cause great destruction, but there is nothing that we have done that causes them and usually nothing that we could have done to prevent them.

2) This brings us to a 2nd argument. The existence of evil is a necessary condition for the existence of certain kinds of good. There are a number of character traits that are valuable only if evil exists. Compassion, for instance, is of great value, but can only exist if there is suffering... a reason to have compassion on people. Bravery, also, is a virtue, but only if we sometimes face danger, which requires bravery. Self-sacrifice is another great good, but can only exist if there is inter-dependence, a need to make sacrifices; if some people find themselves in situations where they need help from others. God created us in such a way that we would depend upon one another, that we would be drawn together to form a community. That was His intent. If each of us were self-sufficient and safe from all suffering, then the great amount of good that comes from this would not have been possible.

Though it is clear that much suffering is justified, that the world would be a worse place without it, it is still easy to point to specific examples of suffering that appear to serve no greater purpose. Does all suffering, all evil, serve a greater purpose? Perhaps we should re-write the question as "unjustified" evil. Why does God permit unjustified evil, if such a creature exists.

I see what you are saying here, and for the most part, I agree with it, to a certain extent.

For instance, poverty is in the world. Poverty is a type of evil, for it provides suffering to those who are caught in it's clutches. Even though Poverty is evil, it also opens the door for many kind-hearted people to come to the aid of those in poverty. A woman with a boatload of money who wants to do good in the world will show her goodness by aiding those in need. Even those who do not have money can help. In this case, good comes out of the evil that plagues those in poverty.

However, it is still the misunderstanding of evil in the Bible that gives rise to the atheistic argument in the first place. When one says evil, a person thinks that it is the same as wickedness, which it is not. Evil, according to the Bible, is a necessary component of this world, due to the fact that Mankind inherited the virus of sin from our ancestor Adam. Evil has to be in place in order for God to execute His judgments. For instance, the punishment of Lot's wife. She, like the rest of the family, was told to not look back as God was unleashing a great evil on Sodom. She looked back, and as a consequence, an evil happened to her. She, like Sodom and the other cities of Zoar, disobeyed God, and as a result, God used evil to show us what happens when we do not do good.

Now, if an atheist comes to me and asks the "God is evil" question, I would answer that person in a way that would puzzle him or her. I say that God is good. The Atheist says that if God is good, why does He allow Evil to happen? My answer is this: So that those who do wicked know their fates. That is the very purpose of evil. I'm pretty sure that that person will ask me if I believe that God is evil. I would respond by saying that God is neither good or evil, in the way that we consider the terms. From there, I would explain to that atheist that God's version of good is much different than our tainted versions of good. And of course, from this point, I am looking to employ the Gospel from here.

The thing that makes my argument work is that I neutralize the Atheist's preconceived definition of good. The atheist believes that our God is a sappy do-gooder who never does anything that would harm mankind. The Bible itself disproves that notion. The atheist wants to show that Christians are delusional people who believe in a God that has no basis in reality. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of TV evangelists, their ideas are not completely unfounded. However, our God is not the sappy-hippy God that most atheists choose to resist. Our God is a Just God. This means that in order for God to be just, He has to be the Judge. As judge, He has to institute punishment for iniquity and reward for the "righteous". Hence we have Hell and the Lake of Fire for the wicked, which is the ultimate evil that God could give to the wicked, and Heaven and the New Jerusalem for the righteous. God has to, just because He is God, employ both good and evil to accomplish His will. What we as believers have to not only convey to the atheist, but also understand ourselves, is that evil is not the same as iniquity and wickedness. Iniquity and wickedness are not of God. God did not create them, nor does He condone them. Evil, however, is a creation of God, to combat the wickedness that exists on this earth, no thanks to Adam.


3) But how do we really know that any evil, no matter how extreme it may be, is unjustified? Does the rape and murder of a pre-teen always point to unjustified evil? The argument here that is made is that we would have to actually be God ourselves to know for certain that any evil is not justified, and used for ultimate good. What we are really then saying is that God is only a little smarter, a little more knowledgeable than we are. IMO this is a valid argument. Could a butterfly flapping its wings on one side the pacific cause a hurricane to strike on the other side? Only God can answer such questions. We cannot possibly predict and know the interactions of a multitude of actions and circumstances.

Now you're going down the road that I was talking about. However, the rape of a woman is not evil. It is wickedness. God does not condone wickedness, and I can tell you that even in the OT, God never condoned rape. Just ask Absalom, the son of David who raped his half sister. His death was assured the moment that He did that dispicable act, and because of that wickedness, God brought an evil to David. We must be aware of the difference in the Bible between evil and wickedness. This is the key to defusing the Atheist argument.


I know that this method is somewhat controversial, but I can assure you, it is very Biblical. God uses both good and evil to accomplish His purposes, and as the Righteous Judge, He alone has the right to.

Brother Mark
Apr 2nd 2010, 11:41 AM
Not all evil, however, can be explained this way. There is much evil that is not inflicted by man. Natural disasters cause great destruction, but there is nothing that we have done that causes them and usually nothing that we could have done to prevent them.

All of creation groans under the curse. It was the ground that was cursed because of Adam's sin. Even natural disasters are caused by man's sin, even if it is indirectly.


2) This brings us to a 2nd argument. The existence of evil is a necessary condition for the existence of certain kinds of good. There are a number of character traits that are valuable only if evil exists. Compassion, for instance, is of great value, but can only exist if there is suffering... a reason to have compassion on people. Bravery, also, is a virtue, but only if we sometimes face danger, which requires bravery. Self-sacrifice is another great good, but can only exist if there is inter-dependence, a need to make sacrifices; if some people find themselves in situations where they need help from others. God created us in such a way that we would depend upon one another, that we would be drawn together to form a community. That was His intent. If each of us were self-sufficient and safe from all suffering, then the great amount of good that comes from this would not have been possible.IMO, we don't really need "evil" or "wickedness" for such things. Adam had a chance to deny himself in the garden. He could have said no to the tree of knowledge and yes to the tree of life. Just as the second Adam learned obedience through suffering, so should the first Adam have learned it. Instead of choosing to suffer by doing without the tree of knowledge, he chose to forge his own way and brought calamity upon himself.

Self sacrifice, compassion, and suffering, could all take place in a perfect world. For we would still have to say no to the flesh and it's desires. Even Jesus, without a sinful nature had to say no to his flesh. IMO, simply saying no to the tree of knowledge was probably the first test for Adam to learn self sacrifice. Who knows what test would have followed. But we do know that God's intention with Adam is the same as his intention with us, to conform us to the image of Christ who was and is utterly selfless. That intention didn't change with the fall of Adam.


Though it is clear that much suffering is justified, that the world would be a worse place without it, it is still easy to point to specific examples of suffering that appear to serve no greater purpose. Does all suffering, all evil, serve a greater purpose? Perhaps we should re-write the question as "unjustified" evil. Why does God permit unjustified evil, if such a creature exists.We are limited in our understanding for sure. We know that for the believer, all things work to our good. But what about for the unbelievers who suffer in the world? What of their persecution? Does it serve a purpose? God can use it but I don't think he approves of it. IMO, it goes back to my first post in this thread. God is patient and wants all to repent. Personally, I am thankful that I suffered before I was saved. Else, I may never have come to God.


3) But how do we really know that any evil, no matter how extreme it may be, is unjustified? Does the rape and murder of a pre-teen always point to unjustified evil? The argument here that is made is that we would have to actually be God ourselves to know for certain that any evil is not justified, and used for ultimate good. What we are really then saying is that God is only a little smarter, a little more knowledgeable than we are. IMO this is a valid argument. Could a butterfly flapping its wings on one side the pacific cause a hurricane to strike on the other side? Only God can answer such questions. We cannot possibly predict and know the interactions of a multitude of actions and circumstances.We are certainly limited in our understanding. When God begins to do something big, are we to expect the enemy doesn't do likewise? When God sent Moses, the enemy inspired Egypt to try and kill all the little ones. It is far easier for the enemy to take out a child than to take out a full grown mature believer. When God sent Jesus, the enemy again inspired the leaders to kill all the little ones. Both situations caused great evil to fall upon the societies in which each lived. But great rejoicing eventually came as a result of the blessings of God that came through the ones he sent. The enemy tried to undo those blessings through great evil.

IMO, it is no accident that we are seeing the number of abortions we are today. Is it possible the enemy may be trying to kill the two prophets before they are born as he tried to kill Jesus and Moses when they were young?


It is just as easy, using the same sort of arguments as the atheist uses here to argue that God does not exist, to argue that unjustified evil does not exist instead.

So at worse, this discussion is a stalemate. BTW, much of this reasoning came from a link:
http://www.existence-of-god.com/problem-of-evil.html

I agree BD.

You know, funny thing about people. We like to think we are logical. But most of us have an emotional opinion and then use logic to justify it. Anyone in sales is well aware of this and they use it. Logically, we think I can spend 10k on a car. So then off we go shopping. We spend 12k. We justify the extra 2K by saying what a great value it was for all the extras. While that may be true, before the emotional experience of buying a car kicked in, we could only afford 10k. Did what we could afford change because of the extras on the car? No. We just wanted it and found a way to justify it.

It takes a miracle to believe in Christ. God has to break through our "we just want to be blind" kind of thinking. Without his moving upon us, we would never come to him. When we are using apologetics, it's sometimes hard to know if the person we are talking to is just looking for a philosophical discussion or if they are genuinely being convicted of the Lord. I guess what I am saying is this... How do you explain to a man who has been blind from birth what the color red looks like? You can't! But you can try. When will he get it? When his eyes are opened.

I thank God for apologetics and discussions such as this. I rarely participate in them but he used just such a thing to bring me to himself. Interestingly enough, it was the bad argument of an atheist that did it too. I wasn't interested in the "good arguments" put forth by believers because I didn't want to believe. So I looked for ways to not believe. I didn't find any sound arguments on the other side and that scared me. It eventually led to my salvation.

Grace to you,

Mark

LookingUp
Apr 2nd 2010, 04:42 PM
All of creation groans under the curse. It was the ground that was cursed because of Adam's sin. Even natural disasters are caused by man's sin, even if it is indirectly.

IMO, we don't really need "evil" or "wickedness" for such things. Adam had a chance to deny himself in the garden. He could have said no to the tree of knowledge and yes to the tree of life. Just as the second Adam learned obedience through suffering, so should the first Adam have learned it. Instead of choosing to suffer by doing without the tree of knowledge, he chose to forge his own way and brought calamity upon himself.

Self sacrifice, compassion, and suffering, could all take place in a perfect world. For we would still have to say no to the flesh and it's desires. Even Jesus, without a sinful nature had to say no to his flesh. IMO, simply saying no to the tree of knowledge was probably the first test for Adam to learn self sacrifice. Who knows what test would have followed. But we do know that God's intention with Adam is the same as his intention with us, to conform us to the image of Christ who was and is utterly selfless. That intention didn't change with the fall of Adam.

We are limited in our understanding for sure. We know that for the believer, all things work to our good. But what about for the unbelievers who suffer in the world? What of their persecution? Does it serve a purpose? God can use it but I don't think he approves of it. IMO, it goes back to my first post in this thread. God is patient and wants all to repent. Personally, I am thankful that I suffered before I was saved. Else, I may never have come to God.

We are certainly limited in our understanding. When God begins to do something big, are we to expect the enemy doesn't do likewise? When God sent Moses, the enemy inspired Egypt to try and kill all the little ones. It is far easier for the enemy to take out a child than to take out a full grown mature believer. When God sent Jesus, the enemy again inspired the leaders to kill all the little ones. Both situations caused great evil to fall upon the societies in which each lived. But great rejoicing eventually came as a result of the blessings of God that came through the ones he sent. The enemy tried to undo those blessings through great evil.

IMO, it is no accident that we are seeing the number of abortions we are today. Is it possible the enemy may be trying to kill the two prophets before they are born as he tried to kill Jesus and Moses when they were young?



I agree BD.

You know, funny thing about people. We like to think we are logical. But most of us have an emotional opinion and then use logic to justify it. Anyone in sales is well aware of this and they use it. Logically, we think I can spend 10k on a car. So then off we go shopping. We spend 12k. We justify the extra 2K by saying what a great value it was for all the extras. While that may be true, before the emotional experience of buying a car kicked in, we could only afford 10k. Did what we could afford change because of the extras on the car? No. We just wanted it and found a way to justify it.

It takes a miracle to believe in Christ. God has to break through our "we just want to be blind" kind of thinking. Without his moving upon us, we would never come to him. When we are using apologetics, it's sometimes hard to know if the person we are talking to is just looking for a philosophical discussion or if they are genuinely being convicted of the Lord. I guess what I am saying is this... How do you explain to a man who has been blind from birth what the color red looks like? You can't! But you can try. When will he get it? When his eyes are opened.

I thank God for apologetics and discussions such as this. I rarely participate in them but he used just such a thing to bring me to himself. Interestingly enough, it was the bad argument of an atheist that did it too. I wasn't interested in the "good arguments" put forth by believers because I didn't want to believe. So I looked for ways to not believe. I didn't find any sound arguments on the other side and that scared me. It eventually led to my salvation.

Grace to you,

MarkThank you for your post. It has some excellent points. :)

BadDog
Apr 2nd 2010, 09:44 PM
I know that this method is somewhat controversial, but I can assure you, it is very Biblical. God uses both good and evil to accomplish His purposes, and as the Righteous Judge, He alone has the right to.

3rd hero,

Thx for the comments. I do understand what you are saying about what it means that God is good. I suppose you could talk about "tough love" as an example. However, we need to be careful not to ever say that God does what is "wrong."

BD

BadDog
Apr 3rd 2010, 01:03 AM
2) This brings us to a 2nd argument. The existence of evil is a necessary condition for the existence of certain kinds of good. There are a number of character traits that are valuable only if evil exists. Compassion, for instance, is of great value, but can only exist if there is suffering... a reason to have compassion on people. Bravery, also, is a virtue, but only if we sometimes face danger, which requires bravery. Self-sacrifice is another great good, but can only exist if there is inter-dependence, a need to make sacrifices; if some people find themselves in situations where they need help from others. God created us in such a way that we would depend upon one another, that we would be drawn together to form a community. That was His intent. If each of us were self-sufficient and safe from all suffering, then the great amount of good that comes from this would not have been possible.
...
Self sacrifice, compassion, and suffering, could all take place in a perfect world. For we would still have to say no to the flesh and it's desires. Even Jesus, without a sinful nature had to say no to his flesh. IMO, simply saying no to the tree of knowledge was probably the first test for Adam to learn self sacrifice. Who knows what test would have followed. But we do know that God's intention with Adam is the same as his intention with us, to conform us to the image of Christ who was and is utterly selfless. That intention didn't change with the fall of Adam.
That's a good point, but we cannot forget that it would not be a perfect world, IMO, without choice (see what I underlined above)... without the possibility of making the wrong choice. The Garden of Eden was a perfect world.

Could God have done things differently, and choice or free will still have been part of the mix? I certainly don't know. But I am confident that God must have made the best possible choice in the world that He actualized, of all the possibilities. And let's face it: He certainly knew ALL of the possible worlds out there (which would be an incredibly large number, but not infinite)... the impact of every circumstance, choice of people, flight of butterflies. :P

Thx,

BD

Brother Mark
Apr 3rd 2010, 01:23 AM
That's a good point, but we cannot forget that it would not be a perfect world, IMO, without choice (see what I underlined above)... without the possibility of making the wrong choice. The Garden of Eden was a perfect world.

Oh, I think choice was a part of it. Had Adam chose to say no to himself and his desires, and eat from the tree of life, I think there would have been another test. The maturity of Christ was going to be worked into God's children regardless of which tree they ate from. Suffering by saying no to our flesh would have still occurred in the garden. Eve was tempted. It's painful to say no to our desires. I count that as suffering. Now, suffering would have been different in that it would not have included death, disease, etc. But the suffering that comes from making a Godly choice and saying no to ourselves would have still existed.


Could God have done things differently, and choice or free will still have been part of the mix? I certainly don't know. But I am confident that God must have made the best possible choice in the world that He actualized, of all the possibilities. And let's face it: He certainly knew ALL of the possible worlds out there (which would be an incredibly large number, but not infinite)... the impact of every circumstance, choice of people, flight of butterflies. :P

No doubt. He knew them all. Where I differ from some folks, is I think redemption is not the main focus of God. I believe God desired children that were conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus, who was the second Adam. He had purposed in his heart that there would be people like Jesus. When Adam ate of the tree of knowledge, redemption was necessary. But the plan didn't change. His plan was always to make man in his image/character. Salvation is the beginning not the end. Redemption gets me started on the road that God intends for man. It was not a destination but rather a starting point or mid point if you consider birth/conception a starting point.

Enoch, seventh from Adam (i.e. 7 means complete, or mature), is a type, IMO, of what mankind could have been like. We could have walked with God and went through tests, until we were mature and God took us home.

What I am trying to say is this... God desired to work the cross in all of His children. The selfless fruit of agape was to be worked into our character through and through. That was going to happen regardless of which tree Adam ate from. The series of tests we all face are for that very purpose. Testing didn't originate after the fall. It was something God did before the fall. The purpose is still the same, to purify our faith. Today that testing often comes with death, disease, famine, etc. which are things that would not have occurred without sin, IMO. But just because the suffering is worse because of sin, doesn't mean God will change his plan of testing us and working his cross in us. When he tested Job, it was in great misery. Had sin not entered into the world, I believe there still would have been testing. The only difference is, it would not have included death, disease, etc. God, who sees eternally, understands this life is but a vapor. Our testing is for our eternal benefit even if it seems harsh in the here and now. Look at John the Baptist. He died a martyr in prison. Jesus didn't set him free. But Jesus healed many people in the physical realm that died and some perhaps died and went to hell. John was tested and in suffering a matyrs death, he receives a martyrs reward. While those that were healed on earth and didn't suffer like John, may be suffering today. Which is the better fate?

Not sure that was explained very well. But it's a talking point anyway.

Thanks for the discussion BD.

Steven3
Apr 3rd 2010, 05:52 AM
Hi Bad Dog

So at worse, this discussion is a stalemate. BTW, much of this reasoning came from a link:
http://www.existence-of-god.com/problem-of-evil.html
BDThanks for the link. It's somewhat clearer.

I suppose it's all in the perspective of the viewer. To me human evil is a reason to believe humans exist, not that God doesn't. And also at a certain level of understanding human evil is proof that God does exist, since without it we'd be angels/robots/animals.

And divine evil (the "light and darkness" God makes, the "ra" of Is45:7) is reason to believe that God exists. Without it he'd be unjust.

Third Hero

For instance, the earthquake in Haiti, did the free will of men cause that to happen? No, God did that. That's why the evil-God-does, and evil-men-do need to be distinguished, up to a point, the overlap being that God can work with human evil, Babylonians and Romans to destroy Jerusalem twice, Sabeans to kill Job's servants and so on.

I'm not aware of a third category of evil apart from that caused by God and that caused by man.
God bless
Steven

BadDog
Apr 3rd 2010, 03:06 PM
Hi Bad Dog
Thanks for the link. It's somewhat clearer.

I suppose it's all in the perspective of the viewer. To me human evil is a reason to believe humans exist, not that God doesn't. And also at a certain level of understanding human evil is proof that God does exist, since without it we'd be angels/robots/animals.

And divine evil (the "light and darkness" God makes, the "ra" of Is 45:7) is reason to believe that God exists. Without it he'd be unjust.
BD: Not sure if I get what you mean here... perhaps you can illumine us. :P


For instance, the earthquake in Haiti, did the free will of men cause that to happen?

Third Hero
No, God did that. That's why the evil-God-does, and evil-men-do need to be distinguished, up to a point, the overlap being that God can work with human evil, Babylonians and Romans to destroy Jerusalem twice, Sabeans to kill Job's servants and so on.

I'm not aware of a third category of evil apart from that caused by God and that caused by man.
God bless
Steven

God caused the earthquake in Haiti? I don't see the biblical basis for that. Did He know it was going to happen, and allow it? Yes. But as I see it, God can be sovereign and yet still not be the One who causes all things to happen. Of course, I have a middle knowledge approach to God's omniscience and sovereignty. Man has a free will. In general, this is true about nature, as well. We cannot hold God responsible for the evil that happens in a fallen world.

Romans 8:19-22 For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God's sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility-not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it-in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God's children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.

I think I understand what you're saying about God acting in ways that people would refer to as "evil." Yet how God accomplishes His will is without being the direct cause of evil. Of course, we have to temper this with the understanding that God is a just Judge, who will ultimately see that justice is done.

I don't think we can answer without working out God's sovereignty.

Take care,

BD

Sojourner
Apr 3rd 2010, 05:41 PM
Things are not the way God originally made or intended them. In Genesis, we're told at the conclusion of each Creative Day, that everything was "good." All evil and suffering in the world are the direct result of man's rebellion against God; his choosing to oppose his will against the will of God, as Satan had done--thereby incurring the same condemnation. Only after this happened, did man lose his fellowship with God, and begin to suffer the tragic consequences of that fateful decision.

Instead of asking 'what kind of God would allow evil and suffering in the world,' as so many unbelievers do, I think a better question to ask would be what kind of God would become a man, and willingly die a torturous death upon a cross to save mankind from eternal torment--which makes even the worst earthly pain and suffering seem insignificant by comparison.

The bottom line is, all the evil and suffering endured by man, was brought about BY man, not by God; and one's perspective of them depends on whether they are viewed as a reason to question God's existence, or as evidence for it.

Ultimately then, the answer to your question actually espouses the core issue of the original sin: whether or not one believes the truth of God's word.

BadDog
Apr 5th 2010, 01:19 AM
Sojourner55,

Actually, this is an extrabiblical thread. I am looking at this from the perspective of the atheist, who will not accept what the Bible says as proof either way on this issue.

BD

napsnsnacks
Apr 5th 2010, 08:54 AM
The problem of evil has been called both by various Christian apologists and atheists the #1 atheist argument to support a claim that God does not exist. It appears in various formats. Some simply ask, "Why is there suffering or evil in the world?" If God knows how to prevent suffering and evil, wants to do so, and is able to prevent such in the world (which it would seem that since God is omnipotent, He can), then why doesn't He prevent suffering and evil?

How do we respond? I am curious what various arguments you guys see for such an argument?

Here is how the argument typically goes:
If there is a God, He knows how to prevent evil.
If God exists, He is able to prevent evil.
If there is a God He surely wants to prevent evil.
Evil prevails in the world.
Hence, there is no God.I'll wait awhile before suggesting any responses. Hopefully I will have a little time during lunch. One suggestion is to consider the causes of suffering in the world. A second suggestion is to ask, "Can we know for sure that evil is pointless and accomplishes no good?" Do not forget to consider natural disasters, diseases, and random evil acts perpetrated upon relatively innocent people. Another question to ask ourselves is, "Just what is evil?" Another: "Why doesn't God end all evil immediately?" Yet another, "Why didn't God create people unable to suffer? He surely could have done so." Finally, "What are some good reasons for allowing suffering?"

I will eventually share some of my thoughts on this, most of which was not original with me (I am simply not that clever :P ), but I really want to hear some arguments on this.

I would also encourage any atheists or agnostics lurking out there to feel free to jump in. (That was one reason I made this a "discussion" thread.)

Perhaps after milking this one dry, we could also discuss the stone to big too move dilemma or the question about who created God? Those are other common objections by atheists. We'll see how this one goes. Perhaps they should just be new threads.

But please feel free to jump in and share your thoughts or questions. There are basic, logical answers to claims such as this one.

Take care,

BD

It isn't an atheist argument. This question can be found in all circles of Christians and atheists.

This topic is downright dangerous and in my opinion should not be publicly discussed because when you get into these things it, overwhelmingly in various people, will inevitably lead to negativity, confusion, disillusionment and depression.

Once that happens, paying less and less attention to the Christian life becomes commonplace.

I answer this question with only one answer:

Evil can only be defined ONE WAY and ONE WAY ONLY because evil did not exist until ONE THING and ONE THING ALONE happened and that is disobedience to God.

No more, no less and it should be left at that. Going any further in attempting to figure out why God allows evil or why he allows so much misery in the world against innocent children and why Christians always seem to receive the opposite of biblical promises IS DESTRUCTIVE because these things which cannot be answered, in the end it leaves a blank spot in the mind and that is where the Devil wins.

NEVER GET ANYWHERE NEAR THE BLANK SPOT OF UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS like "Where did God come from?"

Evil did not exist until this action happened and disobedience is the only definition of evil.

The first recorded act of disobedience:

IS 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
IS 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
IS 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

EZEK 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
EZEK 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
EZEK 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

To this day he still desires to unseat God and at some point will be on the real world scene and publicly proclaim to be God.

Iniquity is disobedience because outside of disobedience to God iniquity has no definition.

Evil=Iniquity=Sin, it's all the same.

napsnsnacks
Apr 5th 2010, 08:58 AM
Sojourner55,

Actually, this is an extrabiblical thread. I am looking at this from the perspective of the atheist, who will not accept what the Bible says asd proppof either way on this issue.

BD

As far as that goes between the Torah and the Talmud, Judaism, like atheists on this particular point, don't recognize the existence of such a spiritual enemy of God such as Satan.

BadDog
Apr 5th 2010, 08:39 PM
It isn't an atheist argument. This question can be found in all circles of Christians and atheists.

This topic is downright dangerous and in my opinion should not be publicly discussed because when you get into these things it, overwhelmingly in various people, will inevitably lead to negativity, confusion, disillusionment and depression.

Once that happens, paying less and less attention to the Christian life becomes commonplace.
napsnsnacks,

I could not more vehemently disagree. :P Should we all just go bury our heads in the sand? If God does not exist, then we are all wasting our time, and Paul said something very close to such regarding a similar question,

1 Corinthians 15:13-19 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is without foundation, and so is your faith. In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ-whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have placed our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.

Sorry to respond so strongly, but what I consider to be very dangerous is the attitude you've expressed, which some believers have. I have fought against such things much of my life. If you wish to continue this conversation, perhaps it would be best to do so via PM, because I do not want this thread to become contentious. So please recognize that what I am about to share is done so with those who are lurking in mind.

Do not hold to whatever you believe based merely upon what your parents or pastor has shared. We each need to own our faith. Faith that is afraid to delve deeply is not real faith. I meet so many people who hold to this or that doctrtine, and often accurately, yet at times inaccurately, because they were raised that way or because they have confidence in their pastor. That faith is misplaced. Should they respect their parents and their pastor? Of course. But their faith must be placed in God's Word alone.

Now, regarding the existence of God. That too must be able to be genuinely investigated. God is real. I have confidence in that because I have placed my faith in the Word of God-yes. But I also do not see how anyone cannot plainly see that it only makes sense that God exists... logically, scientifically. Every year I challenge my physics students in a Christian school to research this issue from a scientific perspective and to genuinely investigate it. I insist that it be handled extrabiblically. The confidence of the saints is built up each year by doing this. I take the time afterwards to go over the evidence. They have been trained in the study of relativity theory and thermodynamics, which prepares them. And do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that our faith should rest first on science or history. But I am saying that genuine faith will stand the test of such things. Consistently I see or read that this question, "the problem of evil," is the strongest argument the atheist has to offer. That's why I choose this particular question to consider in this thread.

The Bible teachers at our school also cover this issue both in the apologetics course and the systematic theology course. We have nothing to fear from researching and asking sincere questions. Often the cults do not allow their followers to genuinely consider their faith. Mormonism is a classic example of this with their "burning in the bosom." We've got nothing to hide. We are not desperately searching for words that may sound intelligent or reasonable. We want truth. Nothing more. Nothing less.


I answer this question with only one answer:

Evil can only be defined ONE WAY and ONE WAY ONLY because evil did not exist until ONE THING and ONE THING ALONE happened and that is disobedience to God.

No more, no less and it should be left at that.

BD: Why? Chapter-verse? Can you defend that this is the biblical approach to take? I am not saying that you are wrong, BTW.

Going any further in attempting to figure out why God allows evil or why he allows so much misery in the world against innocent children and why Christians always seem to receive the opposite of biblical promises IS DESTRUCTIVE because these things which cannot be answered, in the end it leaves a blank spot in the mind and that is where the Devil wins.
BD: I understand your concern here. Isaiah 55 does remind us that He is God and we are not... how can we assume that we would ever be able to understand all of the reasons why God does something? That is one of the arguments, actually, against the "problem of evil" question:

Isaiah 55:8, 9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways." says the LORD, "For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

NEVER GET ANYWHERE NEAR THE BLANK SPOT OF UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS like "Where did God come from?"
BD: Well, here we go. I have an answer to that question as well. First of all, this question makes no sense, and if anyone understands Who God is, he would never ask such a question. By definition, He must be outside space and time. (I include space with time due to Einstein's special theory of relativity - which shows that space and time are inexoribly tied together, like spaghetti and meat balls... well, perhaps more than that. :D ) When someone asks me this question I genuinely respond asking them if they are really serious, or just trying to give me a hard time. :P

Evil did not exist until this action happened and disobedience is the only definition of evil.
BD: Just gotta ask: can you support this from scripture, or are you just sharing your opinion? If you are just sharing your understanding - your opinion - then don't make it appear that if someone else has a different opinion that they are in some manner being unspiritual or must be wrong. Who knows? They may just be right. :D Again, I am not saying that you are wrong here.

The first recorded act of disobedience:

IS 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
IS 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
IS 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

BD: Actually, though many Christian teachers have assumed that this is referring to Satan, that is not what the text is about. (Incidentally, I just read that text today as part of my reading program.) The HCSB Apologetics Bible has a note stating that this was referring to the king of Babylon at the time... perhaps Tiglith-pilser III, the Assyrian king who proclaimed himself to be king of Babylon, or perhaps Nebuchadnezzer, some say. The text does not specifically give us his name. Can we find an application for Satan here? I think so. But let's just say that nowhere in scripture is this text specifically shown to be referencing Satan. Does/did Satan have such an attitude? No doubt about that. But reading that text in context, we must assume that it was referring to a Babylonian king since in Isaiah 14:2 we are told that this text is is a denunciation of the king of Babylon. So unless we see something to indicate differently, let's go by what the Bible explicitly says. Let's let the Bible interpret itself. If you can explain the context here, that would be helpful. But we need to be careful about spiritualizing it unduly

EZEK 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
EZEK 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
EZEK 28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
BD: Now this does seem to refer to Satan, at first glance, I'll certainly grant you that. But the context is explicitly of the king of Tyre, which I noticed that you skipped:
Ezekial 28:11, 12 The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, lament for the king of Tyre and say to him: This is what the Lord God says: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
So even though this seems to be referring to Satan, the text specifically says it does not. IMO this text issaying that the king of Tyre had the same attitude as was evident in the Garden of Eden. I'm going to go by what the Bible says again. Hey, I've referred to this same text myself in the past as referring to Satan, and it is an interesting text.

To this day he still desires to unseat God and at some point will be on the real world scene and publicly proclaim to be God.

Iniquity is disobedience because outside of disobedience to God iniquity has no definition.

Evil=Iniquity=Sin, it's all the same.
Agree with this last stuff. But we need not fear genuinely pursuing truth. That's what I am promoting. Now, if you want to pursue this argument on this thread, which I grant is one legitimate response to the OP, then I'm going to have to insist that you address the points I made, from scripture, regardng Isaiah 14 and Ezekial 28, or else acknowledge that you took it out of context. My preference would be that we don't side-track this thread, and so discuss this further by PM, if you're interested in that.

napsnsnacks, I genuinely consider you to be a fellow believer in Christ, for whom our Lord died and was raised.

Take care,

BD

BadDog
Apr 5th 2010, 08:53 PM
As far as that goes between the Torah and the Talmud, Judaism, like atheists on this particular point, don't recognize the existence of such a spiritual enemy of God such as Satan.Thx napsnsnacks,

(Interesting username - you'll have to explain it to us. :D ) Right. That's why I perfer this issue considered only from a logical and scientific perspective. I believe there are reasonable answers.

BD