Social media does strange things to us. While it promotes communication, it can stifle meaningful conversation. Folks like to post brief shallow thoughts to virtue signal or leave quick messages of agreement or disagreement in the comments, but seldom is there meaningful conversation that develops understanding or empathy.
Recently on Facebook, I read a lengthy post on the topic of religion and the day’s current events. A few comments down, someone left a zinger expressing his disagreement with the status. The original poster asked him why he felt that way, but got no response. He tried to prompt conversation a few more times with subsequent comments. When no reply came, he got understandably frustrated.
This type of exchange is totally counterproductive and all too common in today’s social media world. I’d like to use this blog post to spark the opposite type of exchange. I’d like your thoughts on two challenges to belief in God (Theism) and one challenge to (Atheism).
- Argument Against Theism – Problem of Suffering & Evil:
The problem of evil and suffering is one of the most common arguments against God. The argument relies on the following premises:
1) If God exists, he is all-powerful and all-loving.
2) An all-powerful and all-loving God would not allow evil to exist or bad things to happen to good people.
3) Evil exists and bad things happen to good people.
… Therefore God does not exist.
There are three powerful counter-arguments that show how the evil and suffering in the world can coexist with all-loving, all-powerful God. The first and most obvious is the existence of free will. God, of course, could have chosen to make humans like robots or puppets, only capable of showing him and each other love, but then it wouldn’t really be love would it?
Humans’ free choice to choose good over evil and love over apathy or hate is necessary for love to truly exist. God cannot force people to be good and loving without taking away their free will, but with free will, they can also freely choose evil and do morally wrong actions. Bad things therefore will happen to good people, but as we know from the story of Joseph – who was sold into slavery by his own family only to later save them and the entire land of Egypt from famine – God can use evil things for good. After all, arguably the worst possible thing (torture and hanging on a cross until suffocating to death) happened to the best possible person.
Secondly, we make too big of a leap to assume that an all-loving God would not want there to be any suffering in the world. We know that oftentimes personal growth comes with struggle. A good parent must sometimes let their children fail to learn from their experiences. Without all knowledge, we cannot fairly conclude that the world could be better if the laws of the universe were changed to prevent some aspects of our sufferings – and certainly not all of it.
And lastly, to even make this argument one has to cede that there is such a thing as good and evil. This in itself is self-contradictory without objective morality, which can only come from an all-loving God. More on this in the next argument. First, check out the video below to wrap up discussion on this question:
Let me know in the comments or on social media what you think of this argument and defense? What have I forgotten?
Argument for Theism: Moral Argument
While it is obvious that you can be good without believing in God, there cannot be such thing as “good” without a good God. Without God, there is no basis for objective moral values. We’re left with no basis to declare anything as right or wrong beyond personal preferences and cultural morays. Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins explains:
This is a huge problem with atheism, because we know that some things are simply wrong. If you’ve ever said “that’s not fair” or “that’s wrong” or “its an injustice” you are appealing to this sense of objective morality.
I’ve never heard a coherent argument against this logic. In fact, all the atheists I’ve ever introduced this argument too, were quick to agree with it and admit that there are no objective values in their worldview. The problem with this is they don’t behave in a way that indicates they believe this. In fact, they’re loving people who care deeply about other people and injustice in the world, yet on their own view they can’t logically denounce it.
Let me know what I’m missing. Feel free to send me a DM if you’re not comfortable sharing on a public forum.
Question I’m Pondering: Finally, I’d like to ask one question that I think doesn’t get asked enough. Of all the arguments against God, this is one I see used very little, but it is far more compelling that others such evil in the world or hypocrisy of Christians. While we know God loves us because he sent his son to die for us, why doesn’t he make himself more present in our everyday life? Why doesn’t he perform some of the miracles of the Old Testament? God is sovereign, but I wonder why he chooses not to make himself more known to us today.
I’d love this to start a conversation so please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear them no matter your faith background.