Most agree the world is not as (we think) it should be. Something is broken. If God exists, was he powerless to keep it from being broken?
Greg uses a concise illustration.
“When the trains are running on schedule, it’s likely because the person at the switchboard is doing his job. But when things consistently go awry, it’s reasonable to ask if anyone is minding the controls at all.” P 35.
I like this analogy because I have seen the Fort Worth Train Yard.
Fort Worth Train Yard by Linda Ungar (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/fort-worth-trainyards-linda-unger.html )
But maybe trains are far from your experience. So let’s use another analogy.
“When the Texas Longhorn Football Team is undefeated and in the running for a National Championship, it’s likely because the Head Coach is doing his job. But when things consistently go awry with the typically excellent players recruited by The University, it’s reasonable to ask if anyone is minding the playbook, organizing the practices, or preparing the team at all.
In fact, this thought can be generalized:
When _something “good” happens_, it’s likely because _the person in charge_ is doing what I think should be done. But when _something “bad” happens_, it’s reasonable to ask _if anyone’s in charge, or if someone’s in charge, why they don’t care_?
This is one place where skeptics know some Christian doctrine. They know that the Bible teaches that God is good. They also know that the Bible teaches that God is omnipotent (all powerful). They often claim the existence of moral and natural evil (a broken world) exposes an inconsistency:
- A good God would not allow the world “to break”.
- A powerful God could stop the breaking of His world.
What is interesting in this objection is the fact that upon atheism, there is no objective definition of “good”, “evil”, “broken” or “unbroken” worlds. The world just “IS”.
“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
If there is no suffering, no fear, no reason, no justice, no design, no purpose, no evil, and no good, then there is absolutely nothing to complain about.
In atheism, these categories have no true meaning if we are just bags of bones and chemicals.
However, we know deep down that suffering exists, that things really ARE broken, and that things really SHOULD be different, better, and “fixed”. The Christian story of reality contains reasons for this state of affairs without eliminating God’s goodness or limiting His power.
The Christian story tells how WE rebelled. WE and our ancestors consistently rejected the proper order for our own selfish goals. What a mess it has made.
You see, God is not responsible for the evil in the world. We are.
We also complain about God not doing anything about it. But He has. We will learn about His solution as we proceed through the book.
For a short version of God’s solution watch this excellent video. Is God good?
To participate in this discussion, comment below.
Or if you are on the SHSU campus this spring (2017), come discuss this book with our Ratio Christi at SHSU chapter that meets Fridays at Noon in LSC 307. Bring your lunch and feed your soul.