There’s an old argument among atheists that because evil exists, there can be no all-loving, omnipotent God because such a God would not allow evil to exist.
Just recently, I saw an atheist posit online that even one percent evil in the world disproves the existence of God or any gods.
Hmmm… Let’s think about that.
If there was a god that had the power to control people so that they never did anything evil, wouldn’t he be a tyrant of the worst kind, existing only to pull the strings of the puppets he created?
If there was a god that controlled the thoughts of the people he created so they never did anything evil because they never thought anything evil, wouldn’t he be a god of nothing but robots?
In both cases, such a god could only eliminate evil from the world by creating a world without free will.
And if people did not have free will, there would be no such thing as love. A tyrant god could not mandate that his people would love him because they would secretly hate him precisely because he had mandated love. Robots cannot love because they cannot choose to love. Mandatory love is not love at all.
The funny thing is, the Bible seems to have anticipated this argument long before it showed up in recorded history. Consider 1 John 4:16:
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (NLT)
The apostle John writes that God not only loves us, but that God is love.
All throughout the Bible, the central theme is love. “For God so loved the world” is the very heart and soul, the absolute intention, behind the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The part of this argument I find amusing is the reverse argument. No atheist in the world would ever logically try to argue that if there is even one percent good in the world, the devil cannot exist. Atheists spend a lot of time claiming there is no god, but it is a very rare thing indeed to see one argue that there is no devil.
In truth, atheism is the last bastion, the last stronghold, the last hiding place where one goes to rationalize and justify the religion of hedonism. Oh, they may believe there is no devil, but to catch one saying it out loud or typing it on the internet would be like stumbling in upon one of them during their prayer time.
But what about your cat? (Yes, that seems like a dramatic change of direction, but hang in there with me.)
Let’s say you had a cat whose name was… oh, I don’t know… Mr. Floyd. Is Mr. Floyd good or evil? Will he snuggle in your lap and purr loudly while you pet him? Does he love you? Does that make him good? Will he snatch your favorite goldfish (Let’s say the goldfish’s name is “Bob.”) out of his little bowl while you’re off at work and snarf Bob down in two quick bites? You bet he will. So, while you are absolutely certain that Mr. Floyd loves you and he may be such a good little kitty that you have even managed to train him to fetch, Mr. Floyd doesn’t know beans from good and evil. The smell of Bob on his breath proves that. Now, there may be some things that you have trained Mr. Floyd to do or not do, but it’s a pretty safe bet Mr. Floyd’s motivation has a lot, LOT more to do with positive and negative reinforcement than it does with altruism.
Ahhhh, and there is the word of the day. Altruism: “the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” (Oxford English Dictionary)
Altruism –real, honest-to-goodness altruism is solely a human trait. Yes, I will admit that we occasionally see stories on the news of the dog that rescues his owner from the burning building. I’m not here to argue that point. I admit something glorious and good is going on there, but what’s going on in Fido’s head while he’s dragging Mr. Johnson out of his burning home is something I’m not privy to. (Side note: I have never seen even a remotely similar story about the Mr. Floyd’s of this world.)
But I will tell you this: At this very moment, I have a friend who is on a mission trip to Zambia where she is sharing the love of Jesus Christ and helping people half a world away she’s never met before simply because the love of Christ compels her.
Last Saturday, at 2:00 p.m., on a radio program called Missions Today on Kinship Radio, I heard about a ministry called I68 Ministries that goes into villages in Mexico and builds homes for people with a door, a window, and a roof that doesn’t leak– in three days. That’s right, they build a home for someone that doesn’t have one in three days.
Come to think about it, pretty much everything you hear on Kinship Radio is because of goodness. Yes, the teachers and the musicians and the announcers and the staff all do what they do to support themselves and their families, but they could use their talents and abilities for evil. Instead, they have chosen to use them to lift up, support, and encourage that which is good and godly and done in Christian love.
And while we’re at it, what about each and every one of you? You support these ministries and more. And when you encourage a child in love or make them supper or encourage a friend not to give up, or cry with someone who has had a loved one pass on, aren’t you doing good solely for the sake of doing good?
Who’s to say those everyday acts of love and mercy and tenderness don’t actually outnumber the acts of evil in the world? Has anyone kept a tally or a detailed spreadsheet weighing and accounting for all the acts of good versus all the acts of evil in the world? The evening news would clearly have us believe one thing, but I contend the world would have made the trip to Hades in a handbasket long ago if not for the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in our everyday lives.
And, when you add it all up, aren’t you and I proving the existence of a loving, all-powerful God with every act of love we do?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (NLT)
Photo courtesy of Tim Ogle. Yes, the cat’s actual name is “Mr. Floyd.” No, he did not actually eat a goldfish named Bob, but he has been trained to fetch.