I concede from the start that there is little possibility of defeating any argument concerning anything, in so short a space as this presents, but each attempt helps to chip away at the central problem. I cannot possibly eliminate all of the objections of the Atheist in 1400 words, but I can start to show that even their own contentions can cause their positions to be untenable. I am hopeful that this will be the case as I attempt to put one of the primary atheistic arguments to bed – hence, “Lullaby.”
One of the biggest obstacles faced by the theist in defending the God of the Bible is the presence of evil in the world. To the world it seems as though the existence of God and the existence of evil are incompatible propositions. The bulk of the riddle of Epicurus reads, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then – Whence Cometh Evil?” The Atheist, (and much of the agnostic world), sees this situation as a conundrum: either God must be a falsity, or if there is in fact a God, then they want nothing to do with a God who would allow such evil to occur. This is a very short sighted, prideful position to take.
We must consider, at the very least, the possibility that there are reasons within the will of God that we may not be able to perceive in our short sightedness. Isaiah 55:8 tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” So it is obvious that God has things in mind that we cannot begin to fathom. Just as a simple act of kindness may result in a grand benefit years later, though we could have no possible current knowledge of its future impact, the same could be said when we see something today as evil which may ultimately be useful to the purposes of God days, weeks, years or centuries in the future; a future that we cannot imagine today. This is not to say that God wills the evil in order to create a future benefit, but rather; God can, (and oftentimes does), use even the evil in the world; transforming it into something useful for His will.
The position is prideful because by saying that the evil we perceive is basically gratuitous, we place ourselves in the position of God and demand that anything that occurs, must make rational sense to us. We are not the final arbiter of good and bad. We are trapped within shells of mortal limitation and therefore cannot see the end game from our current positions on the field. There is an extreme difference between something which is genuinely evil and something which we happen not to prefer. In our arrogance we make demands on the supernatural aspects of God’s nature which He is under no obligation to meet, which we have no right to demand, or which we would be able to understand were He to fully explain them anyway!
The Christian readily accepts the fact that objective moral values exist and that they are actually divine statutes given by God. To the Christian, there is no objective moral good, unless it is given through the eternal goodness of God. The Atheist will usually agree that there are no objective moral values, regardless of their supposed source. So we have a basis of agreement of sorts at this point. We both affirm that there are no objective moral values: the Christian says, “Unless,” and the Atheist says, “Regardless of.” But then the logic of the non-theist starts to slip.
Another area where the Christian and the Atheist can reach agreement is in the realization that evil is, in fact, present in the world we see around us. Theft, murder, genocide and even the willful torture of children are seen as evil occurrences by all of us. Now if a person is going to espouse the philosophy that whatever is, is; how can evil exist? With no moral compass to define good and evil, there can be neither. Still, the Atheist will admit that evil is present so in that very judgment, the Atheist acknowledges a moral metric. The Atheist would wish to expunge God because of the presence of evil; an evil perceived by the very moral judgment that he claims cannot exist because there is no moral value standard, a standard which the Christian attributes to God.
It cannot be both ways. As soon as the Atheist admits evil, he has proven God; though he may not realize that he has done so. He may prefer to reject the authority of the restrictions imposed by a moral value system, but he cannot deny that a moral value system exists because in building his case, he is forced to use the components of the system he is desperately attempting to evade. I have a dislike for bread pudding. I prefer nearly any other dessert to bread pudding and I refuse to eat it by my own self-perceived right not to do so, BUT – I cannot deny that somewhere in the scheme of existence there exists a bowl of bread pudding. OK, it’s a weak metaphor but you get the idea. What sense does it make to deny something unless that something, in fact exists to be denied?
The Atheist will counter with some other defense to try to prove the non-existence of a supreme, holy God and there is no useful purpose in trying to defeat every wild imagining of a mind determined to reject the most likely reality. There is truth and there is fiction. We will never be able to study the fallacy of every fiction but if we embark on a life-long mission to learn and know the truth, then when the fictions of false religion and the deceit of those who would try to tear down the truth of the Christian faith appear before us, we would recognize them right away. Federal agents do not study counterfeit money to see the flaws; they study valid currency so that the imposters stick out like sore thumbs.
It may seem as though I would have each of us mount up and seek out the Atheist and agnostic segments of society so that we could tear them down. That is not what this is about. This is about encouraging fellow Christians to see that there are answers to the objections we face in maintaining our faith. The presence of pain and suffering, the existence of evil, in a world that we claim is created and sustained by a just, loving and benevolent God is something that is extremely difficult for a non-believing world to accept and it is to our benefit to learn to see how it can be presented in ways that show the truth of the claims we hold dear.
I have known people who were on the path to a genuine faith only to be tripped up by the nay-sayers who think they have discovered flaws in our theology. Defending our faith does not mean that we must go out and fight against the world for the things they wish were true. Defending the faith, Christian apologetics, is all about BEING ABLE to answer the objections raised by those who do not yet understand the doctrines we know to be the very truth of God. The art behind successful apologetics is to be able to do it in a way that brings the objector closer to the truth rather than pushing them farther from the goal we would hope for them to achieve than where they were before we started.
We are soldiers in a holy war but that war is not one between people here on earth. The war is in the heavenly realm and involves the spirits and demons and angels, the principalities of this dark world. We are to stand fast in our faith and to build on that faith with each new day the Lord gives us. We are not called to lead the charge to go and destroy anyone. We are to be about the business of building the kingdom and encouraging one another in the walks we have undertaken. We are the living testimonies of the living God, examples of the benefits of grace through the Lord Jesus walking in ways that share the truth of the knowledge of God. We are the lights of the world showing the lost the only path which is ultimately…
All for the Glory of Christ