Driven by the Problem of Evil

concentration camp problem of evil

It is a riddle that philosophers have pondered, skeptics have flaunted, and theologians have debated for centuries. If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why is evil so rampant?

If God is all-powerful, then he would be more than able to rid the world of evil.

If God is all-good, then he would be more than willing to rid the world of evil.

But, there is evil in this world. Everywhere, it seems. So, what’s the deal?

Is God able but not willing? Then he is not good. Is God willing but not able? Then he is not powerful. Either way, he is not God.

Popularly attributed to 4th-century philosopher Epicurus, and popularized by 18th-century philosopher David Hume, this form of the problem of evil poses the question: How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of God? In other words, if God exists, why is there so much evil? The philosophical/theological debate rages to this day.

However, the problem of evil is a problem for everyone, not just philosophers and theologians. We see horrific things happening every day. When we are on the receiving end of that evil, we find that no amount of philosophy can soothe, and no amount of argumentation can heal. In those movements, believers are left with their faith shaken, and unbelievers are left with their doubts confirmed. The pain and suffering leave us wanting, not an argument, but an answer.

So, is the evil we see in the world the indictment against God’s existence that so many for so long have said it is?

Here’s the thing…

Evil, both moral and natural, with all the pain and suffering it causes, does not drive us away from God. It drives us towards God.

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Believing in the Resurrection

doubting thomas resurrection of christ

3 Undeniable Facts, 1 Reasonable Conclusion

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central event of the Christian worldview. It is the climax of the Biblical narrative and foundational to all Biblical theology. In the resurrection, we see confirmation of Jesus’ deity, validation of Jesus’ sacrifice, and vindication of Jesus’ promises.

Modern minds have difficulty considering such a supernatural claim as an actual, historical event. The claims seem too farfetched, and the eyewitnesses lived too long ago. However, as we saw in the previous post, while miracles are extremely improbable, they are by no means impossible. Even David Hume, being largely responsible for the modern reluctance to believe in miracles, is willing to admit, “If the falsehood of the testimony would be more miraculous, than the event which he relates; then, and not till then, can he pretend to command my belief or opinion.”[1]

In other words, no matter how scientific our assumptions are going into the discussion, we must examine the evidence. Based on that evidence, if all natural explanations either make less sense or require greater miracles, then we are justified in believing that a miracle actually occurred. Fortunately for us, Christian thinkers over the years have carefully and skillfully worked through the issue, examining the evidence. (Remember: “No Blind Faith Here”)

So, did Jesus actually rise from the dead?

Here’s the thing…

It makes much more sense to believe that he did than to believe that he didn’t. Here’s why.

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Believing in Miracles in an Age of Skepticism

3 Reasons to Believe that Miracles are Possible

In a few weeks, millions of Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For many of them, the resurrection has become more about commemorating a tradition than about affirming a doctrine. Nevertheless, as we saw last week, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead is central to the entire Christian faith. Historic Christianity does not just affirm a generic idea of resurrection, nor does it hold to a spiritualization of Jesus’ resurrection. Historic Christianity, that is Biblical Christianity, is founded on the miraculous event of Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion and physical resurrection.

Yet, believing in such an astonishing miracle has become increasingly difficult in this age of skepticism. For some people, miracles are a deal breaker in terms of religious belief. Many adhere to Christian ideals and admire Christian contributions in the world. But, accepting a miracle as anything more than a symbolic myth seems too backward for the modern mind.

The late Christopher Hitchens, bestselling author and ardent atheist, frequently debated Christians in a formal setting. He often began his cross-examination by simply asking his opponent, “Do you really believe that Jesus rose from the dead?” When the Christian predictably answered yes, Hitches would turn to his audience and declare, “Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has just demonstrated that science has done nothing for his worldview.”[1]

The accusation is straightforward, but it cuts deeply. Can a person appreciate modern science and at the same time believe Biblical Christianity with its insistence on the reality of miracles?

Here’s the thing…

I believe you can. The following are three reasons why.
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Return to the Resurrection

The Theological Significance of the Resurrection of Christ

It is that time of year again. We Christians are gearing up for Easter services in our churches, Easter egg hunts in our yards, and Easter clothes on our children. As with Jesus’ birth at Christmas, we put forth a concerted effort to commemorate the final days of Jesus’ earthly ministry, culminating in dying on the cross and rising from the grave.

This is that important time of year when we return to the resurrection.

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Is Inherited Belief Inherently False?

Five problems with believing that it is

An idea has made its way from the halls of academia onto the pages of bestselling books and highly-followed blogs. The idea is that a person’s religious beliefs are largely determined by the culture in which that person lives. That is to say, religion is culturally conditioned. On a societal level, families are pressured by way of politics or economics to conform to a religious norm. On a personal level, children are pressured by way of indoctrination to conform. Many conclude, therefore, that religious belief is generally not so much about finding truth or trusting God, as much as it is about brainwashing and fitting in.

In his book The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins explained it this way:

If you are religious at all, it is overwhelmingly probable that your religion is that of your parents. If you were born in Arkansas and you think Christianity is true and Islam false, knowing full well that you would think the opposite if you had been born in Afghanistan, you are the victim of childhood indoctrination.[1]

Many people in many places have addressed this issue, but their arguments always seem to boil down to two main objections:

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No Blind Faith Here

A Modern Misconception

For many people, the term “blind faith” is redundant. The popular assumption is that a sort of blindness is inherent, and often intentional, in religious faith. This notion is prevalent in popular conversation on the topic. Famous quotes are thrown around, like that time that Mark Twain quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Or there was that one time Ayn Rand wrote, “Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.” In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian identified his two favorite definitions of faith as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t.”

By definition—at least by popular definition—faith is blind.

Consequently, faith and rationality are often seen as incompatible, mutually exclusive terms. They are treated as opposite approaches to truth. On a popular level, it is assumed by many unbelievers that if a person is rational, they have no need for faith. On a personal level, it is assumed by many believers that if a person has faith, there is no need for rationality.

But why do we assume that there is this great divide between faith and reason?

Here’s the thing…

I don’t know.

The Bible describes a marriage between faith and reason, not a divorce. Besides, everyone’s worldview at some point rests on accepting a foundational idea by faith, no matter how much rationality precedes it.

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Apologetics: Getting to the Gospel as Soon as Possible

The Definition of Apologetics

Hearing the word “apologetics,” many immediately think of our modern understanding of what it means to apologize for something as an expression of regret. This could be understandably confusing since we are talking about Christian apologetics, potentially implying that we regret being Christians. However, to do apologetics ironically means quite the opposite of “apologizing” for something.

The word comes from the Greek prefix “apo-”, which indicates a separation or a deflection of something, and the word “logos”, which is unsurprisingly where we get our term “logic.”  So, the Greek word apologia paints a picture of something that is being deflected by way of logic. The most common definition of the word apologetics is “a reasoned defense.” (Think Jude 3.)

Side note: Imagine how the conversation would go next time you needed to apologize to someone, and you offered “a reasoned defense” of your actions.

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