Monday, August 9, 2010

There is No God: Part II

In my last post I shared a logical theorem sent to me by an online acquaintance. In short, the theorem was designed to prove step by step that if evil exists then a loving all-powerful God cannot exist. I actually really appreciate this way of thinking through important issues. It allows for meaningful conversations that go beyond just simply stating rote opinions. Such conversations should help all parties involved to be challenged and to really think deeply.  However, it’s important to remember that it is not our role to change hearts and minds. Only the Holy Spirit can do that so I gladly leave that role to Him.  Our role is simply to give a well reasoned answer for the hope that we have, in a humble and respectful way.

I think part of the problem with some of the assumptions in the idea that God cannot exist if evil exist is that many of us have a view of God which is incomplete at best. That causes us to take certain faulty presuppositions into our reasoning process which then results in faulty conclusions. We’re all prone to this so it’s important to spend quality time with the Bible so we can understand how God has truly revealed Himself. With that in mind, let’s attempt to apply a biblical world view to the theorem.

Let’s start with assumption 1b dealing with God being all powerful (omnipotence). It’s important to know that the Bible does not teach that God can do anything. He can’t. God cannot do anything that is contrary to His nature. For instance, God cannot lie, God cannot do evil, God cannot cease to exist, etc. Also God cannot do anything which is a logical or rationale absurdity. For instance, God cannot make a two sided triangle. The biblical teaching of God’s omnipotence is that He has the power to do anything that is within His character to do and that is logically possible.

So how does that apply to the question of evil? I think we could agree that most of the acts in the world that we identify as evil are related in some way to human choice. The only way to prevent all evil acts from occurring in the world would be to populate it with beings that could not make wrong choices. But here’s the problem, it would be a logical absurdity to say that God can create free-will beings without the volitional will to choose or choose otherwise. Another attribute of God is that He is relational and has, in part, bestowed that communicable attribute to humans so that we can have relationship with each other and with Him. It is hard to imagine genuine two-way relationship when the other party is simply programmed and has no volitional will. I could program my screen saver to scroll “I love you” repeatedly, but that would not constitute real two-way relationship. So it seems to be within God’s nature to create relational free-will beings and it would be a logical absurdity to say He could create such beings without volitional choice. That would be roughly the equivalent of creating a two-sided triangle.

In Part III I’ll address assumption 1c, dealing with God being all loving (omnibenevolence). In the final installment I also want to talk a bit about why the existence of evil is not a proof against the existence of God, but actually can be an argument for the reality of a creator.

1 comment:

  1. Very good thoughts, Chris. I think I'm going to enjoy following your new blog. You make a solid point - God cannot act contrary to His nature because His very nature is holy. And the fact that God cannot create a two-sided triangle has nothing to do with His power. Further, God can't create free-will beings with no possibility of doing wrong.

    And just another thought about evil. It seems to me that the fact that evil actually exists is more of an argument FOR God than against God. The atheist who claims that true, bonafide evil actually exists objectively in the world is a self-defeater, isn't it? If they say it's not objective then it's not real and they have no reason to be complaining about it. To say that evil really exists is to make a moral judgment which must have a moral standard. But if there's no moral standard than what they perceive as evil is all relative and simply becomes a personal preference. No, if there really is an objective, moral standard that can be departed from, wouldn't that strongly imply that there must have been a designer of that standard?

    Once again, great series of posts and I'm looking forward to the next installment.