With Love on the Eve of Valentine
Still grappling with the complexities of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, I find myself pondering the usual sort of debate that goes on between a Christian and an atheist. (Let me be clear here: I have friends who are atheists. I like them. This is not an attack on any individual). These debates usually swirl around the Problem of Pain. “If there is a good, loving God, then why do bad things happen? Why does evil exist?”
More than once I’ve ended up in the deep end of the philosophical pool. The only honest answer for things like babies getting cancer or a house burning down is: I don’t know. I don’t know why these seemingly random and unfair things happen. This, however, does not topple Christianity, as some might assume. And why? Atheism has no answer for these happenings, either. We’re all left to struggle with something larger than ourselves. For a Christian, that is God and His understanding. For an atheist…well, I suppose it must be environmental forces or cruel genetic twists.
A far more interesting discussion is that of the origin of evil. We know what evil is – rape, murder, genocide, robbery. Regardless of belief or non-belief, we react to it with the same visceral disgust. Quite rightly we recognize that those who find such things acceptable to be on the outside of the norm.
The problem is, this isn’t logical.
Not for atheism.
I have heard it said that man is basically good. Okay. Fair enough. Yet, if man is basically good, then what is evil? How can you possibly define it? If man’s basic inclination is to that which is good, then should there not be such a thing as evil?
Ah – but culture, sick culture, produces sick people! That’s where evil comes from.
But isn’t culture made of people?
Well, what about those societal institutions? They “repress” people. That’s where evil comes from.
But aren’t those societal institutions made of people?
A Christian knows where evil comes from: us. People. We are inherently selfish and curved in on ourselves. No vaguely-defined entity forces a man to beat a woman. Yes, he may have had abuse modeled to him as a child, but, ultimately, it is his choice to raise a fist. He alone is responsible for the evil that emanates from him. So too is the woman responsible who calculatingly and systematically works to wreak havoc on another’s marriage. This is her choice.
Man is not basically good. If we were, there would be no war, no poverty, no unrest. We would be naturally inclined to create utopia. History, psychology and practical experience tell us that this is not our inclination. We want what we want, when we want it and we’ll do what it takes to get it – is that not survival of the fittest? Eradicate the weak so that the strong may thrive.
There is no foundation for ethics within atheism, for who is to determine what is ethical? If my instinct, which is good, is to walk into the Post Office and mow everyone down with a rifle, who is to tell me that this is wrong? This is not evil if I am good. I am incapable of evil.
Evil exists. We know it does. And it has to come from somewhere.
That’s a problem, isn’t it? If evil comes from us, then we’re somehow responsible. If we’re somehow responsible, then there is some authority that is outside of ourselves. That is unacceptable. We’re back to wanting what we want, when we want it and using whatever means available to get it. Ears are plugged and feet are stamped. No! No, no, no!
God has given us the free will to choose to be whether or not to be in relationship with Him. It breaks my heart that so many turn away. What is out there but unrelenting mental gymnastics and ultimate hopelessness? If you truly buy into the atheistic lie, then you have no point. You have no purpose. You leave no legacy. Everything is absolutely predetermined. You might as well kill yourself and get it over with. That is the logical end.
That’s why young men walk into schools, kill their classmates and then themselves.
That’s why so many hospital wards are filled with those who have taken knives to wrists or guns to chests.
What is atheism? Is it the result of true intellectual superiority? No. It is the declaration, “I will have no king but me!”
I have no doubt that there is someone reading this post who feels heat creeping up her neck in rage. Whoever you are, I beg you to reconsider your position. Are Christians perfect? No. Absolutely not. Is that a good enough reason to reject God and refuse to examine the claims of Christianity? No. Absolutely not. God is – He exists, He is the Lord, He is the King. He is the One who makes the rules. He is the only answer to your soul’s haunting cry for redemption, for something more.
Jesus Christ died and rose again so that you could be restored to God. It’s that breathtakingly simple. You might mock my “simple-mindedness,” and that’s okay. I know what I know. If I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t tell you about it. But I do care and I must tell you that the way you are choosing is one of blindness, destruction and death. Please, please – turn! Hope, peace, joy and love are just one step away!
Christians, we have the answers. We need not be intimidated by quotes from Dawkins or Hitchens. We need not tremble when a supposed “trump card” question is laid on the table. Quaking and caving does nothing for these people whom we love so deeply. They may not like our answers. They may get angry. We must share the truth, hard as it is at times. Speak, dear brother or sister. Speak with a tongue boldened by the grace and love that flows so freely from our Lord.
Grace and peace,