Modern Objections to God based on Sense of Fair Play & Justice

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Just found this from Tim Keller, pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. Though it’s long, it’s worth the read given the tragedy in Aurora, CO.
Horrendous, inexplicable suffering, though it cannot disprove God, is nonetheless a problem for the believer in the Bible. However, it is perhaps an even greater problem for nonbelievers. C. S. Lewis described how he had originally rejected the idea of God because of the cruelty of life. Then he came to realize that evil was even more problematic for his new atheism. In the end, he realized that suffering provided a better argument for God’s existence than one against it.

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’?…What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?…Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies…Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.”

Lewis recognized that modern objections to God are based on a sense of fair play and justice. People, we believe, ought not to suffer, be excluded, die of hunger or oppression. But the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection depends on death, destruction, and violence of the strong against the weak–these things are all perfectly natural. On what basis, then, does the atheist judge the natural world to be horribly wrong, unfair, and unjust? The nonbeliever in God doesn’t have a good basis for being outraged at injustice, which, as Lewis points out, was the reason for objecting to God in the first place. If you are sure that this natural world is unjust and filled with evil, you are assuming the reality of some extra-natural (or supernatural) standard by which to make your judgment. The philosopher Alvin Plantiga said it like this:

“Could there really be any such thing as horrifying wickedness [if there were no God and we just evolved]? I don’t see how. There can be such a thing only if there is a way that rational creatures are supposed to live, obliged to live…A [secular]way of looking at the world has no place for genuine moral obligation of any sort…and thus no way to say there is such a thing as genuine and wickedness. Accordingly, if you think there really is such a thing as horrifying wickedness (…and not just an illusion of some sort), then you have a powerful…argument [for the reality of God].”

In short, the problem of tragedy, suffering, and injustice is a problem for everyone. It is at least as big a problem for nonbelief in God as for belief. It is therefore a mistake, though an understandable one, to think that if you abandon belief in God it somehow makes the problem of evil easier to handle.

—Tim Keller from The Reason for God


So you STILL think God is a merciful God?!

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I’ve seen this post on the web but just read it tonight. It seems like Marie is attempting to live out the kind of faith that we talked about in our study of John 9 — that our circumstances are not as much about us as they are revealing who God is and getting a sneak peak at His glory. She and her two daughters were in the theater in Aurora when the shooting took place.

You can go to her blog below and read how and why she says “absolutely, positively, unequivocally” still believes that God is merciful.

She’s had over 1500 comments on this post! So like we talked about a couple of weeks ago — when we respond to the hard stuff with authentic faith in God, PEOPLE NOTICE IT!

You can read her first post here.  Then take a minute to read her response to the comments, especially some that were critical of her, here.


Nothing For It

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The story of Abraham’s journey of obedience to sacrifice his son of promise has always intrigued me. I love reading it, thinking about it and seeking to find new depths of truth in it — knowing I’ve really only skimmed the surface. This morning in my reading I found this poem in Charles Stanley’s newsletter and loved it!

Nothing For It

No point trying to sleep that night       Nothing for it but to rise early and saddle the donkey     My son after all was dead     He & I walked beside the beast that bore the wood & the servants who bore the fire     Something must have betrayed me for we talked   not at all   till sundown

On the third day I lifted my eyes to the distant mountain     Here was where the knife must fall     The rest was like a dream     I bound my son who showed complete trust    as I went through the cold motionis of slaughter but my hand was stayed & God showed his provision

On the third day     my son who was dead     was raised again

By D.S. Martin

D.S. Martin’s poetry collection Poiema was a prize winner at the Word Guild Awards. His poems have appeared in Canadian Literature, Christian Century, Relief, Ruminate and many other publications.

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