Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dealing with the Problem of Evil, Pt 6



We’ve been taking some time to deal with the problem of evil.  The problem of evil, loosely stated, is that given the existence of evil in the world, it is unlikely, if not impossible, that an all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful God exists.  Many people believe that the problem of evil is the great unanswerable objection to belief in God.  However, a little reflection shows that the existence of evil is a far greater difficulty for atheists. 
Atheists recognize evil just like you and I do.  They read the news and hear about all the child abuse, rape, torture, murder, and genocide going on in the world.  And like us, they deplore it.  They deplore it and condemn it in adamant, objective terms.  Their conviction that the existence of evil demonstrates that God does not exist is based upon the presupposition that if He did exist, He ought to have done something to prevent evil. 
That word “ought” is the crux of their problem.  On what basis are they able to determine what ought to be?  According to what standard are they even able to recognize what evil is?  The fact is that their innate sense of good and evil, right and wrong, is incompatible with their own worldview.  They believe that the only things that exist are material, that the world is a closed system of physical processes.  Richard Dawkins explains what should be expected from an evolutionary, atheistic understanding of reality:
In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication some people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice.  The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no other good.  Nothing but blind pitiless indifference.[1]
Dawkins is right – not about atheism being true, but about the ramifications of an evolutionary, atheistic view of the world.  If atheistic presuppositions are true, there can be no design, purpose, evil, or good.  The universe is just a huge pot of random processes.  There can be no “ought,” only “is.” 
Yet, atheists cannot help but make moral judgments.  They cannot help but seek justice and abhor injustice.  They cannot help but make claims about what ought to be.  And their worldview cannot account for that universal impulse. 
Whenever you and I drive a car we are expected to drive the speed limit.  Our speed is expressed in miles per hour.  The only reason we are able to comply with the law is because there is an objective standard for a mile and an objective standard for an hour.  A mile is 5,280 feet.  An hour is 60 minutes.  Without those objective measures, the expression “miles per hour” would be completely meaningless. 
Likewise, the only reason the human race is able to recognize good and evil is because we have an objective standard of good.  That objective standard is the character of God (Psa 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; Luke 18:19; 1John1:5).  The character of God is expressed in His Word in the form of biblical law.  All people have knowledge of this law because it is written on the human heart in the form of the conscience (Rom 2:14-16). 
If there is no God, there is no objective standard of right and wrong.  In other words, if there is no God, what is good?  What is evil?  The atheist is left without a way to answer that question.  And when he points to evil in an attempt to argue that God does not exist, he presupposes the existence of an objective standard of good and evil – God Himself.


[1] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 133.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

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