One thing I’ve noticed in talking to atheists who grew up in Christian homes is that they often leave their Christian worldview behind because of a disappointment with God. For some reason, they get this idea that God is our cosmic butler. We can do whatever we want in order to be happy, and if we want any help in this, then we just ring for him. When we encounter disappointment, our tendency is to just leave God behind.
Paul Copan explains the high points of the problems of evil and suffering in 17 minutes. (H/T Apologetics 315)
The video is here:
- the question itself reveals that we are moral beings
- the problem of evil is the great interrupter of human well-being
- every philosophy of life has to address this question
- is God required to give us a life that is easy and comfortable?
- evil is a departure from good, i.e. – the way things ought to be
- a way things ought to be implies a plan for what ought to be
- human evil implies a plan for the way we ought to be
- free creatures have the ability to deviate from the plan
- where does this plan for the universe and us come from?
- how can there be a way we ought to be come from?
- evil is the flip side of good so where does good come from?
- God’s own moral nature is the standard of good and evil
- where does evil from natural disasters come from?
- how dangerous natural phenomena preserve Earth’s habitability
- there is a benefit from tectonic activity
- similarly, God lets humans freely choose knowing harm may result
- people are free to try to find meaning in something other than God
- God is able to use negative things to bring about positive results
- e.g. – when good people suffer, they can comfort and care for others
- can people be good enough on their own without God?
I do think it’s worth thinking about whether the New Testament portrays God as our cosmic butler, just waiting on us hand and foot so that we can be happy. Personally, I think you’d have to be crazy to get that impression of God from the Bible. Especially from the life of Jesus, who suffers in order to do the will of his Father. Wouldn’t it be funny if atheists were disbelieving in a God of their own making? Suffering in the pursuit of goodness has always been the center of the Christian life. I’m not sure where people get this idea that God’s job is to make us happy, according to our own desires. Seems kind of shallow. Certainly not Biblical. Do people even read the Bible any more to find out what God is really like? Maybe that’s the problem.
If you want to read two good books for beginners on Christian Apologetics that cover a range of intermediate issues, then pick up “Passion Conviction” and the companion “Contending With Christianity’s Critics”. Awesome, awesome resources. The Kindle editions can often be had for $3 each on Amazon.