Entire books on this subject have been written, as well as innumerable articles, with both sides claiming Bible verses to support their interpretation. And while this topic will likely be debated until Jesus returns, it is one that I feel I cannot be silent on as the very character of God is at stake. Please note that my goal was to succinctly expound on why I believe what I believe in as few words as possible, thus I have not covered every bit of evidence that exists, nor addressed every verse in the Bible that touches on this sensitive subject. Rather, I wanted to focus on the history of the doctrines and how they developed. [Read more…]
Many people like to ask questions, and not just basic questions that get us through day-to-day life, but questions that go beyond our basic routines. Questions that examine who we are, why we are here, from where have we come. Questions that are on all our minds, but many fear to ask. Some are afraid they may discover something they do not like; some are afraid they may offend another’s answers to the same questions; some do not believe the questions can be answered with any level of confidence; and some do not believe that such questions are even legitimate to ask. Unfortunately, those fears often prevent people from asking the deeper questions, and they either struggle quietly with them or ignore them altogether.
When confronted with deep questions, we are forced to reexamine what we ultimately believe. Often they cause doubt about what we have held dear and what we have dedicated our lives to. These challenges are difficult to overcome, and many times understanding the reasons why truly wrestling with the deeper questions is preferable to not doing so will go a long way to help us overcome our reluctance to enter the struggle. Today I want to discuss three reasons why it is important that every person questions what they believe. [Read more…]
Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw and experienced the unmistakable face of pain and suffering during the reign of Nazism in Germany. During his time at Berlin-Tegel Bonhoeffer exchanged letters and wrote notes that are now known as Letters and Papers from Prison. It is in these letters and notes Bonhoeffer explored the problem of pain and suffering. His address of human suffering does not flow from a philosophical armchair reflection as a passive observer but rather that of a deeply moved spectator. It is for that reason we do not find any classical defenses such as of John Hick’s Soul-making theodicy and Alvin Plantinga’s freewill-defense in his writings.
Bonhoeffer’s solution to the problem of pain and suffering, to which I concisely introduced, was crafted during his solitary confinement ward at Berlin-Tegel Military Detention Center where Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for his participation in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Tegel was the place where he spent his last eighteen months. He was executed on April 9th 1945.
What can Christianity offer in times of prevailing evil? God, in Christianity, according Bonhoeffer, is not deus ex machine, a being that mechanical appears to solve our insoluble problems. He is not a being that we evoke as an explanation of unexplainable due to our epistemic limitation. He is not a being that we call upon to offer us strength in are powerless and weakness moments. No. If Christian God was such a being, then He is no longer needed in the world that is “coming of age”. We are beginning to finally solve our problems. Such a God is “pushed further away and thus is ever on the retreat” (Bonhoeffer 2010: 408-9) [Read more…]
Imagine for a second that there is no God. Imagine God is dead. What would we expect our world to look like if God did not exist? Based on this idea a brilliant, young Irish economist by the name of Robert Nielsen has presented an interesting, but ultimately unpersuasive case in his article World Without God. Nielsen states that this argument is at the foundation of his atheism. I hope to test his case below.
I could say many things about Nielsen’s article, but I would like to focus exclusively on his main argument which is as follows¹:
1. a. If God existed & controlled the world, then our world would exhibit features A.
b. If God existed & controlled the world, then our world would not exhibit features B.
2. a. Our world does not exhibit features A.
b. Our world does exhibit features B
Nielsen defends premises 1 and 2 as follows: If God controls our world then we would expect our world to exhibit certain features A. These features include those of a perfect world. He argues, “its fair to assume that it would be perfect (assuming God can do anything and loves us).” A perfect world is that without hunger, without fear, without diseases or disasters. In short it would be the world without pain and suffering. This is not enough for Nielsen. God must also be self-evident, not hidden from His creatures, thus creating no possibility of religious confusion. Our world needs to be a paradise, or something close. [Read more…]
“It’s not that I don’t accept God, you must understand,” said Ivan Karamazov, one of Fyodor Dostoevsky novel’s characters in The Brothers Karamazov, to his younger brother, Alyosha, “it’s the world created by Him I don’t and cannot accept.”(Dostoevsky 2007, 257) The world created by God is overflowing with horrifying and repugnant evils. Ivan vividly captured some of the moral evil committed by the Turks and Circassians in Bulgaria:
They burn villages, murder, outrage women and children, they nail their prisoners by the ears to the fences, leave them so till morning, and in the morning they hang them — all sorts of things you can’t imagine. People talk sometimes of bestial cruelty, but that’s a great injustice and insult to the beasts; a beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel. The tiger only tears and gnaws, that’s all he can do. He would never think of nailing people by the ears, even if he were able to do it. These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children, too; cutting the unborn child from the mothers womb, and tossing babies up in the air and catching them on the points of their bayonets before their mothers’ eyes. Doing it before the mothers’ eyes was what gave zest to the amusement. (2007, 260)
Evils such as these are morally abhorrent. It is painful to imagine that humans are capable of inflicting such inhumane deeds that are far worse than those of mindless beasts. Arising in any morally sane person is an intuitively repulsive attitude towards such evils. [Read more…]