Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Arguments From Atheists, Part 2

Atheistic, anti-God arguments abound.  This article presents several of these arguments, along with Christian responses. These responses are offered in the spirit of love with the hope that those who are truly seeking answers will realize that they do exist for these challenges and that believing in God is not unreasonable.

Atheist Argument: The Argument from Poor Design contests the idea that God created life on the basis that life forms, including humans, seem to exhibit poor design.
Response: And what would be a better design?  Since God is all-powerful and all-knowing would it not be reasonable to believe that He created us the best way that He himself saw fit?  Once again, this atheistic argument spotlights the arrogance of humanity.  We somehow think that we know better than God; we think that we could have done a better job than God.  This begs the question, “How would we have done it?”  We cannot create a single life, let alone all the plants, animals, and humans in the world.  We have never made a planet, nor can we, yet we feel that we have the right to criticize God’s creation.  We must keep in mind something else; the world we observe today has suffered the degenerative effects of thousands of years of sin and corruption.  What we see in the world around us is not in the same condition as when God created it.  God deemed the universe “very good” when He first made it (Genesis 1:31).  I Timothy 4:4 tells us, “For everything created by God is good” (NASB).  God created everything just as He wanted it; it is due to the effects of sin that we have so much heartache, disease, death, etc. in the world today.

Atheist Argument: The Problem of Evil contests the existence of a god who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent by arguing that such a god should not permit the existence of evil or suffering.
Response: God created us and endowed us with freedom.  However, freedom is not real freedom if we do not have choices.  God gave us the ability to choose; we can choose good or we can choose evil.  The first humans chose to disobey God and sin entered our existence (Genesis 3; Romans 5).  Our sinfulness is the root of evil and suffering.  If we really care about it, why don’t we change?  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  The Bible tells us that God can change our very nature if we will simply repent of our sins and live for Him, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (II Corinthians 5:17 NASB).  When a person is changed by God in this manner, he or she no longer surrenders to the sinful lusts and temptations that so often cause people to act in a less-than-loving manner. 

Atheist Argument: The Problem of Hell is the idea that eternal damnation for actions committed in a finite existence contradicts God’s omnibenevolence or omnipresence.
Response: This argument does not take into consideration how God views sin.  He sees sin as a serious enough offense that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross in order that our sins could be forgiven (John 3:16-17).  Love, or benevolence, is not God’s only quality.  God is also concerned, among other things, with justice.  When one understands that God has done all that is required for us to stay out of Hell, and that the only reason anyone goes to Hell is because of their own choice to reject God’s offer of salvation, it is clear that the sentence of eternal damnation ends up being a self-chosen destiny. We should also keep in mind the difference between ‘torment’ (which is part of the biblical doctrine of Hell) and ‘torture’ (which is not part of the biblical doctrine of Hell).  J. Warner Wallace explains, “The Bible says those who are delivered into Hell will be tormented, and the degree to which they will suffer is described in dramatic, illustrative language. But, the scripture never describes Hell as a place where God or His angels are actively “torturing” the souls of the rebellious. “Torture” is the sadistic activity that is often perpetrated for the mere joy of it. “Torment” results from a choice on the part of the person who finds himself (or herself) suffering the consequences. One can be in constant torment over a decision made in the past, without being actively tortured by anyone”. [1]

Atheist Argument: The Anthropic Argument states that if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and morally perfect, He would have created other morally perfect beings instead of imperfect humans.
Again, I am amazed that some, who deny the existence of God, are arrogant enough to believe they can claim they know what a good and holy God would, or would not, do.  What these people are really doing is setting themselves up as a higher authority than God (at least in their own minds).  The truth is that God could have created humans any way He wanted; however, He chose to create the humans He created.  It was His choice.  Now, because humans have a choice, they can choose wrongly.  We often do choose wrongly, does this mean that there is no God?  Just because your car breaks down does that mean that no one designed and built your car?  Certainly not.  Our bad choices are not evidence against God’s existence.

Atheist Argument: The Argument from Non-belief contests the existence of an omnipotent God who wants humans to believe in him by arguing that such a god would do a better job of gathering believers.
Response:  The Bible teaches that everyone receives the knowledge that God exists. God made it unavoidable that everyone knows of His existence. The Bible tells us that, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV). The handiwork that points to an incredibly intelligent source is apparent all around us. One would have to be willfully ignorant to attribute all the intricacies found in nature to random chance.  We see this reinforced in the biblical book of Romans, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 ESV).

The Holy Spirit is even now touching the hearts of people so that they might realize their sinful condition, the inevitable coming judgment, and their need of a Savior.  Jesus told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (John 16:8-11 ESV). The Spirit works on the conscience of every individual; making it clear to each person that there is such a thing as sin, that we are responsible to a Creator, and that we will be judged someday. Contrary to the premise of this atheist argument, God has made it impossible NOT to know He exists.  However, He has given us each a choice whether to acknowledge Him or to reject Him.  Atheists may not believe in God, but, according to the Bible, they cannot say they never knew they should.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17 NASB).


Resources:
[1] http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-would-god-punish-finite-temporal-crimes-in-an-eternal-hell/