Sometimes it’s fun to roll through reddit.com/r/atheism and see what people are talking about so we can talk about it…
Here’s a post from the other day…
The central logical fallacy that caused my de-conversion was the problem of evil. Today one of the primary excuses for God allowing evil (He’s testing you) has really gotten to me, so I feel the need to share my frustrations.
Okay, so God is testing you. Let’s say you fail as billions have. Did God know you’d lose your faith? Of course He did. So He tested you knowing full *bleep* well you’d fail. It’s like telling a starving dog not to eat a fat steak then throwing her into a volcano when she eats the steak.
If someone asks why you did that to the poor dog, you can justify yourself by saying “well, I love that dog very much but unfortunately she didn’t listen to me”. Does that sound like justice?
No, not in the slightest. Even by our underdeveloped humanistic perspective of justice, you’d be viewed as a psychotic, power-hungry and controlling psychopath. And this example is describing an omnibenevolent and omniscient deity who would be the epitome of justice and love.
It’s almost like God’s sense of justice is the same as an ancient middle eastern tyrant’s. Coincidence?
The problem of evil is certainly a problem. According to Barna, “Teens, along with young adults, are more likely than older Americans to say the problem of evil and suffering is a deal-breaker for them. It appears today’s youth, like so many throughout history, struggle to find a compelling argument for the existence of both evil and a good and loving God.” As much as 1/3 of people younger than 38 who are not Christians would say the problem of evil is a significant barrier to faith.
On the surface, the original post is might make us wonder and maybe even cause us to have significant doubt. Is God testing me? Was I doomed to fail? Is that fair? Was I born into a no-win situation?
While these are good questions to ask, the premises on which the poster built his argument have some problems. First, he assumes human innocence (This seems to be more and more common No one likes to believe it might be their fault.) Second, based on the first, he assumes God sends people to hell who absolutely do not want to be there. And three, and perhaps the most egregious is the assumption that God has done nothing about the problem evil.
Are we innocent?
Not too long ago I posted a question on my facebook and asked, “If your child wrecked the car you gave them for their birthday, who’s fault is it? The kid or you for giving the kid the car?” The responses were interesting. Most immediately said the kid for being irresponsible. Some said it was the parent’s fault for not teaching the kid the proper etiquette for driving a car.
There was a reason I asked the question and it had nothing to do with cars, rather it was about the very problem we are talking about right now. First, it was more than likely the kids’ fault for wrecking the car just like it is our fault for messing up the world we live in. And what’s more, God did give us very specific instructions on how to live in this world. However, it wasn’t to test us so he could wait for us to screw up and then toss us into the lake of burning fire. It was to protect us because he knew that when humans decide to define good and evil for themselves, we do it wrong. As a matter of fact, Genesis 1-11 is what happens when humans take the wheel. The power we take for ourselves spins up into suffering, injustice, and tyranny much like a hurricane riding through the MDR.
So, what’s the deal with hell?
Hell is what happens when humans define good and evil for themselves. Listen, and this is important, God does not send people to hell. As a matter of fact, it was C.S. Lewis who said, “In the long run, the answer to those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: What is it that they are asking God to do? To wipe out past sins and at all costs give them a fresh start? He did that, on the cross. To forgive them? But they don’t want forgiveness. To leave them alone? That’s what hell is. There are only two kinds of people in the end: Those who say to God “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, it wouldn’t be hell.”
Hell is never a surprise for those who find themselves there. More than likely, you know the people who have created their own little hells and refuse to leave it. They are angry, bitter, negative, and never seem to smile. It’s the literal definition of “The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But, I [Jesus] have come that you may have life and have it to the fullest.”
You have seen the walking dead.
And more than likely, those people would rather live in their little world of weeping and gnashing of teeth then step into the light.
Has Jesus done anything about it?
Yes. And he is continuing to do it. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension tell us that the work of evil is being reversed and no longer has control of the world we live in. As a matter of fact, the resurrected body of Jesus was the beginning of the new creation. And, get this, it happened in our historical timeline. Pay attention to the details of the story!
When the woman meet Jesus outside the tomb, they don’t recognize him at first. Why? His body was new. It was of this earth but it wasn’t at the same time. Then, Jesus appears in a locked room. Excuse me? Within minutes, Thomas touches the wounds on Jesus hands. Is he immaterial enough to pass through walls? Or, was he resurrected into a body that could be touched?
Do you see it?
It was the same… kind of… but better.
And from the time Jesus ascended to the throne in heaven (he didn’t just float into the sky), he has been working out his plan for the redemption and renewal of the world.
Just because it doesn’t look like what we think it should look like doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.
To put a somewhat logical bow on it… this is actually the opposite of ancient tyrannical justice. What God has done is to give humans the chance to reign and rule with him. But, we decided we would do it our way. (There is no evidence in the text that God expected us to fail.) And our way leads to systematic and nationalized injustices. But, when we become like Jesus, we partake in and help bring renewal and redemption. The longer we run from the way of Jesus, the more we become like the tyrants we supposedly hate.