Well, Snoop/Deuce 9/Calvin Cordazer/person of many monikers, the time has arrived for my second installment.
In the first, I made the case that it is rational to accept that there is a Creator, and that it is also rational to conclude—based on comparisons in our advancements in science, engineering, and technology that reflect an intelligence that reflects on a smaller-scale the intelligence and power of that Creator—that humanity is made in the image of that Creator.
If one rationally concludes those two things, then the premise that the Creator is indeed the God of the Bible is quite a logical one.
Still, even if one accepts those premises, those alone does not equate to a Christian faith, as that is not exclusively an intellectual exercise: it is an experiential exercise that has a rational, intellectual basis reflected in what we know to be observably true in history, science and technology.
Having said all of that, anyone who knows Scripture well is going to understand that there are a mother lode of difficulties. Even as we look at the Scriptures and how the major characters—the foundational persons (from Adam to Noah), Patriarchs (Abraham to Joseph), deliverers (Moses and Joshua), judges, Kings, prophets, and even the Disciples and Apostles—experienced God, we see several recurring truisms:
(1) Because of sin, Man is fallen;
(2) Because of sin, the earth is cursed;
(3) Because of sin, this life is often very difficult, and some of us will experience more of this than others;
(4) Because of sin, we all see through the glass darkly. That means that not only is our ability to understand God’s truths impaired, but also that our ability to make sense of our own condition and situation is similarly impaired.
(5) There are no guarantees that the issues about which we care will be resolved on this side of eternity.
(6) God is under no obligation to grant us answers on the terms we would wish.
(7) God is under no obligation to exercise justice on the terms—or even the timetable—we want.
The issues you raised in your impressive rant are understandable, and–even in Scripture–the best of the best raised some of those matters.
In the book of Revelation, the martyred saints lamented, “How long, O Lord?” as they looked upon the advancement of evil. That is huge. Think about it: they had suffered for the faith; they saw others suffering for the faith; and yet they wondered aloud about God’s timetable for justice, even in their secure, eternal frame of reference.
When Job—given the chance—asked God why he had to suffer as he had suffered, he received not a straight answer, but a smackdown (which he humbly accepted).
In Acts 1, when the Disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the Kingdom, Jesus effectively told them, “That’s none of your business. You just do what I tell you to do!”
Jeremiah lamented, “Righteous are you, O LORD, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” Here we get one of God’s finest prophets, and he’s asking hard questions. And the answer he received was not a guarantee of immediate justice. Such is never guaranteed to anyone in Scripture.
And yet in our microwave generation, we want the answers, and we want them yesterday!
When people asked Jesus hard questions, He often gave answers that frustrated both His friends and His enemies. His teachings were often difficult: even today, otherwise fine conservative scholars seek to mitigate the severity of some of those hard teachings.
In our modern pericope, I see the evils of genocide and mass murder (including abortion), human trafficking, fascism, racism, corruption in all levels of government, as well as general human suffering (disease, natural disaster, famine, mercurial employment prospects, etc.). I’ve had close friends who have died of cancer; my father–once a competitive marathoner–suffers from progressive muscular atrophy (which is similar to ALS) and will likely die from it. I personally suffer from chronic degenerative conditions that—in spite of my exercise and health regimen—significantly limit my physical abilities.
We will all walk through death’s door one day, and that walk will not be pretty for everyone. We could die peacefully in our sleep, or we could die torturous, painful deaths from disease, accident, or atrocity. But we will all die one day.
It is easy to look at those realities and wonder why God allows these things to happen.
I also look at the premise of God’s atonement for our sins, and the reality that, while that atonement is sufficient to cover everyone who has ever lived and will live, many—in fact most—will not receive that atonement, and will in fact wind up in eternal torment.
Does God will that, or does God permit that? Are certain people predestined for Hell, or do they simply opt-out of heaven by choice? And what about people who never hear the Gospel? Will they be damned to Hell? How does the reality of human suffering track with the Biblical presentation of a God who is loving and just and merciful?
The hyper-Calvinist will give you one set of answers; the hard Arminians will give you another set of answers. Neither box—Calvinist or Arminian—adequately reconciles the tension that exists. The Calvinist brings some very important observations to the table whereas the Arminian also brings some important observations to the table.
I would contend, however, that this tension in Scripture is a good thing. That the Scriptures do not fit into a particular box says volumes about the reality that we see through the glass darkly.
At the same time, while in the Scriptures we do not get a complete portrait of God, we do get what is necessary.
In other words, the model of God—provided in Scripture—does not have to conform to my hopes and aspirations for justice, mercy, peace, and love in order for me to receive Him.
That is because if I have concluded that the preponderance of evidence shows that the God of the Scriptures is indeed the Creator–and I have–then I am also forced to accept certain things that the Scriptures say even though those things can sometimes make for a set of really irritating ticks in my britches.
Still, the Scriptures do reveal a God who shows compassion, mercy, and grace just as He acts in justice. For that reason, I can reasonably conclude that, on judgment day, God will do the right thing, whatever that ends up being.
As for me, I am responsible for what I do with the truth that I have to face, and I cannot allow myself to get sidetracked by what I call “circle-jerk” issues that substitute tree for forest.
Now let’s go back to certain issues that you raised. Let’s assume—for this part of the discussion—that there is no God.
That being the case, your rant about infanticide, racial and gender segregation, murder, injustice, sexual repression, genocide, is nothing but petty histrionics at best and emotive masturbation at worst.
For one thing, if there is no God, then what is so wrong with genocide, murder, or infanticide? While you and I would agree that those are evil, you have no objective basis—as an Atheist—to conclude so.
After all, if I am a leader of sufficient vision and might, and if I have determined that it is within the better interests of the human race that certain sectors of humanity not be allowed to live, then why should we not kill them off for the greater good of humanity? After all, from a purely Darwinian standpoint, that course of action is totally permissible.
And if there is no God, then what is so wrong with sexual repression? While you and I would agree that sex is a good thing to be enjoyed with liberty—although I would contend that it is for a husband and wife, and not non-married folks, to enjoy—you have no objective basis to say that it is fundamentally wrong for a family to subject their girls to clitorectomies, especially given that some cultures—which we both would agree are off the rails—see that as integral to keeping families together, and promoting marital fidelity.
And if there is no God, then who are you to lecture anyone about justice? After all, if there is no God, then the definition of justice depends on which group has the most power. Is that not the essence of pure democracy?
And if there is no God, then who are you to lecture anyone about sexual and racial segregation? After all, (a) the premise of racial and gender equity is a Christian one (Galatians 3:28)–rooted in the finished work of Jesus Christ–that does not otherwise have a historical basis, and (b) there is no empirical, scientific evidence that either the sexes or the races are equal in any shape, matter, or form.
It is, after all, scientific fact that some races are more intelligent than others. It is also historical fact that some races are more civilized and developed than others. It is also scientific fact that men are stronger than women. So to say that the sexes and races are equal has no basis in a purely secular framework.
In fact, it is only in light of a Creator–whose atonement reconciles God and Man–that such equality is anything more than a pipe dream.
Ultimately, if there is no God, then you have no leg to stand on, and you are just providing an empty rant.
OTOH, if there is a God, and if that God is indeed the God presented in Scripture–and, as I’ve shown, that case has strong merits–then we have an objective standard for love, justice, compassion, wisdom, and equity that provides hope that does not depend on the cares of this world, even as (a) some truths about both God and Man are not always easy or pleasant to accept, and (b) we can still expect to experience hardships on this side of eternity.