God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts

Monday, July 2, 2018

Is There Meaning To Life?

Is There #Meaning to #Life?

Introduction

An interesting TED Talk came across my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. The talk focused on finding meaning in life. More and more people are discovering that pursuing happiness is leading them nowhere. They discover that every time they think that something obtainable or achievable will make them happy, once that has been obtained or achieved, that happiness lasts only for a short time. Then a discovery is made of something else that is greater than what they originally thought would make them happy, and they pursue that. This process repeats numerous times until they reach the top, then they realize that there is nothing left, yet they still feel unfulfilled. This TED Talk attempts to address that problem by positing that instead of pursuing happiness, people should pursue meaning. Here is a link to the talk, and I highly recommend that you watch it in full before continuing with this post: There's more to life than being happy- Emily Esfahani Smith.

On The Surface

The speaker recognizes the problems that the pursuit of happiness brings: unhappiness, unfulfillment, depression, and suicidal tendencies. The offered solution gives hope to those who are depressed and tired of the pursuit of happiness. From a pragmatic perspective of survival, this talk was quite encouraging and invigorating. However, regardless of the survival advantage that it provides if one believes the claims, if the claims in the talk do not reflect reality (are not true), then the person who believes them has traded the truth for a lie in the name of mere survival- a delusion that is evolutionarily necessary to believe if we wish to win the survival game. If the speaker is presenting a delusion, then, for those who value truth and knowledge as well as survival, the talk is truly as useless as the solution it wishes to supplant. So, for the sake of truth, the claims need to be investigated and analyzed at a deeper level.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Without God, Do We All "Bleed The Same"?

Introduction

Without God, the war against racism makes no sense at all. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grounded his fight and mission in the fact that God exists, because he knew that without God, so many foundations of such a fight are nonexistent. I was recently made aware of this beautiful song by Mandisa (featuring TobyMac and Kirk Franklin) addressing the tensions that still plague America today. Please take the time to listen, then read below to see how nothing that moved your heart in this video can be explained unless Christianity is the true worldview.



What a beautiful song that should express the heart and desire of every human. However, unless the view promoted by the song has a foundation in reality, then our emotions are merely playing a trick on us to believe that something is true and noble when those are merely illusions. There are several foundations that disappear if Christianity is false, but I want to focus on three today:

Monday, February 26, 2018

Book Preview: Creator And The Cosmos by Christian Astrophysicist Hugh Ross

One of the first books that I read that presented evidence for God's existence from cosmology was the third edition of astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross' book "The Creator and the Cosmos." While I had been introduced to the finetuning argument years ago, this book laid it out in detail and in a way that was easy to comprehend. Of course, in the study of cosmology, the teleological argument is not the only one that can be formulated; there is also the argument from the beginning of the universe (the cosmological argument), which Dr. Ross explained has been overwhelmingly, evidentially supported by the latest scientific discoveries, yet was already expected by the authors of the Bible thousands of years ago (thus scientifically establishing the Creator as the Author of the Bible and establishing the Bible's authority and inerrancy).

Quote by Christian astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross from the book "The Creator and the Cosmos"- "If the universe is created, then there must be reality beyond the universe...The Creator is the source of life and establishes its meaning and purpose....To study the origin and development of the universe is, in a sense, to investigate the basis for any meaning and purpose to life. Cosmology has deep theological and philosophical ramifications." #apologetics #God #Creation #Science #ExploreTheEvidence #CreatorAndTheCosmos


About a year ago, I decided to bring the book back out to give it my full chapter-by-chapter review treatment for those interested in getting the book. However, shortly after I pulled it off my shelf, I heard that Dr. Ross was working on a fourth edition that would add a considerable amount of scientific evidence to both arguments, so I decided to put my review on hold until the new edition arrived. That new edition is coming THIS THURSDAY! And my chapter-by-chapter review will be posting in the following weeks. In the meantime, here is the trailer for the new edition, and do not forget to place your (pre-)order to get your copy as soon as possible!


I have reviewed several of Dr. Ross' other books that explore everything from the beginning of the universe to the appearance of humans, all from a perspective of Biblical historicity and inerrancy and the reliability of science to discover the truth about God's creative acts:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Can You Have Purpose Without God?

Quote from "Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren- "Without a purpose, life is motion without #meaning, activity without direction, and events without #reason. Without a #purpose, #life is trivial, petty, and pointless." #theology #God #anthropology #philosophy #theodicy

Introduction- Atheism and Purpose

One of the more convincing reasons to believe that atheism is false comes from man's desire for life to have purpose. If there is no designer behind the universe, life in general, and our individual lives in particular, have no ultimate purpose, no goal to guide our decisions, no finish line to motivate us to keep running when things get tough. The way that pastor Rick Warren put it in his book "The Purpose-Driven Life" makes it quite clear:
"Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason. Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless."
If life is truly pointless, then why should anyone want to endure the suffering and pain that life brings? If life is pointless, as atheism necessarily implies, then there is no reason to want to continue to live. This is, quite literally, an unlivable philosophy for life, and if atheism necessarily implies this philosophy, then atheism is not just unlivable, but completely incompatible with living. And if a worldview is incompatible with living, it cannot be true. However, people do continue to live because they believe that their lives do have a purpose, so it follows that atheism is false. The power of this argument against their worldview is recognized by many atheists (they would agree with Warren in his assessment of the need for purpose), and they believe that they have found a way to undermine the soundness of the defeater of their worldview.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Charlie Gard and Purpose in Suffering

The World Watches Charlie Gard

With the international attention received by baby Charlie Gard in the United Kingdom (including my post from last week), good news has been received: the judge has granted a hearing of new evidence about experimental treatment available in the United States, claims that Charlie is not, in fact, suffering pain, and that damage to his brain caused by a rare mitochondrial disease is not permanent. The hearing began yesterday, and the judge is waiting for more information before a new decision is reached. Here is the latest from Life Site News: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/charlie-gards-day-in-court

UPDATE: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-american-doctor-will-examine-charlie-gard-on-monday

While the world awaits the updated decision, conversations are still taking place in the public square about the value of human life and the role of "quality of life" in medical decisions (even among Christians). My post from last week received a series of concerns that are commonly raised with those who have defended human life in these situations. I will quote the concerns and provide a response to help equip you, the reader, to think clearly and logically and respond with comfort and love regarding such issues.

I want to preface this with the fact that the person raising the concerns was a Christian who is also struggling through how to properly respond and act within the Christian worldview. All concerns in such emotional cases need to be understood in the context that we are not merely talking about ideas but lives, humans created in the Image of God, who may be struggling themselves with the pain of the (potential) loss of a friend or family member, such as baby Charlie. These concerns should not necessarily be seen as challenges to put the defender of life on the defensive but rather in the position of a comforter who God has put in this position to help guide in this painful time. We are the Body of Christ- God's "hands and feet" in this world , so we are called to minister to the broken in heart and in mind. With that in mind, let's look at these concerns.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home

Book Review: Improbable Planet- How Earth Became Humanity's Home by astrophysicist Hugh Ross

Introduction

Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home is the highly anticipated "sequel" to Dr. Hugh Ross' book Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. In the first work, Dr. Ross examined several biblical purposes God has for this creation and how these purposes are evidenced in the history of the universe. In this new book, Dr. Ross zooms in from the perspective of the entire universe and multiple purposes to the earth and God's purpose of redemption. His goal in this volume is to demonstrate how the history of our planet is not merely some naturalistic "just so story" but rather a complex, multi-stage project with an explicit purpose as its end-goal. He intends to marshal the latest scientific discoveries from numerous scientific disciplines to make his case for the design of our planet. Did he successfully make his case? Let's find out...

Monday, January 19, 2015

Not Knowing God's Purposes and Wondering If He Exists

In The Business World...
In my professional career, I have been in the position of management a few times. One of the responsibilities of such a position is to communicate decisions of upper management to my employees. Often when my directors communicate the decision to me, they also communicate some of the reasons for the decisions, some of which I am not to communicate any further down the chain. When I communicate the decisions, some are received with a positive attitude, and others are received with a negative one.

I have interacted with many different types of personalities in these situations. Primarily with the negative ones, people begin asking questions about the purposes for the decision in order to evaluate for themselves if the decision was the best possible to make given the circumstances. In many cases, the employee is satisfied with the purposes that I provide; however, there are times that is not the case. The employee believes that based on the purposes communicated to them, a better decision could have and should have been made. They often leave the meeting dissatisfied and with less trust in the members upper management.

Unless we are those who make all the final decisions, we all can identify with the employees provided with a decision and the chosen purposes. I feel comfortable with saying that no person has been fully in agreement with every decision made by every management team in their career. To fully make sense, we need the whole story, and that level of transparency is a rare, if not, non-existent luxury.

This scenario is not limited to the business world, though. Any hierarchical relationship where absolute transparency among the parties does not or cannot exist exhibits this issue. Every relationship from familial to clubs is affected. Today, I want to draw two analogs of this familiar scenario to address two challenges to the existence of God.

Monday, June 30, 2014

7 Quotes From Ken Samples on Christianity's Explanatory Power

"The truth that there is an infinite, eternal, and personal mind behind the realities of the universe that can be detected through human reflection is the most transformative Christian apologetics idea in history. Christianity's explosive explanatory power and scope extends to such human enterprises as philosophy, psychology, science, religion, the arts, history, law, education, labor, economics, and medicine."

"The laws of nature exhibit order, patterns, and regularity. Because a personal God designed the universe to reflect his inherent rationality, the world exhibits elegant order, detectable patterns, and dependable regularity. These teleological qualities are essential to the nature of science because they make self-consistent scientific theories possible."

Quote philosopher Kenneth (Ken) Samples: "The laws of nature exhibit order, patterns, and regularity. Because a personal God designed the universe to reflect his inherent rationality, the world exhibits elegant order, detectable patterns, and dependable regularity. These teleological qualities are essential to the nature of science because they make self-consistent scientific theories possible."

"Just as a detective builds a case by adding evidence, or a physician arrives at a diagnosis by considering multiple symptoms and tests, anyone can arrive at a meaningful conclusion based on a cumulative case. One of the strongest evidences that Christian theism's truth-claims are correct rests in its ability to account for and justify the many diverse and undeniable realities of life."

"In their heart, people experience the pull of moral duty. This sense of moral oughtness is prescriptive in nature, and it transcends mere subjective feelings. Individuals may deny, rationalize, or even violate their moral obligations, but those obligations remain a necessary part of human life."

"By describing human beings as fallen sinners, Scripture possesses explanatory power and scope that other holy books and secular philosophies of life clearly lack. In other words, historic Christianity's description of human nature and actions corresponds to reality. The Bible accurately pegs the person in the mirror."

Quote philosopher Kenneth (Ken) Samples: "By describing human beings as fallen sinners, Scripture possesses explanatory power and scope that other holy books and secular philosophies of life clearly lack. In other words, historic Christianity's description of human nature and actions corresponds to reality. The Bible accurately pegs the person in the mirror."


"God appears to be more concerned about his children's character than about their comfort, therefore he uses evil and suffering to facilitate the believer's moral and spiritual maturity."

"Apart from God, we cannot fulfill our function and purpose in life because we were specifically created through the imago Dei to know, love, and serve our Creator."


These quotes were gleaned as I read Ken Samples' book "7 Truths That Changed The World." See my full review here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 6: Christianity

Over the past five weeks we have been looking at man from the perspective of different worldviews. The focus has been on man's problem and the proposed solutions to the problem (the introduction post can be found here). Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism all offer what they believe to be the problem of man, and each provide an antidote. We saw that some fail on the idea of what the problem is, while others fail based on the solution prescribed. Last week we looked at the problem that Judaism posits for man. The problem seems correct, but the solution provided did not seem viable. This week we will conclude the series by looking at Christianity and its claims about man's problem and solution.

What's Your Problem?
Christianity states that the original state of man is moral perfection. A state in which man can have a relationship with a morally perfect Being- God. The problem proposed by Christianity is that man is morally corrupted- this is sin (the source of pride and unholiness), which separates man from God. Christianity points to its holy Scriptures to obtain this doctrine, and to history of man's behaviors and actions as evidence that man is, in fact, morally corrupt.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 5: Judaism

This is the fifth part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.
 
Last week we looked at what Islam proposes as man purpose in life. This week we will look at Judaism. 

What's Your Problem?
According to Judaism, man is not suffering from cosmic amnesia; he is not by default morally imperfect (man is capable of both good and evil, but does not lean one way or the other), nor is he unenlightened. Judaism holds that man is simply separated from God and should come back to God. As with Islam, I will not argue against this being a problem of man (once again, though, I would argue it is part of a much larger problem, which I will get to next week), so I have no problem granting that this problem is reflected by reality.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 4: Islam

This is the fourth part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.

Last week we investigated Buddhism and its claims about man's problem. This week we look at Islam's view of man's problem.

What's Your Problem?
Islam holds that the problem with man is over-confidence in himself. It is obvious that man is not perfect, even though he may pridefully think that he is. I am not going to argue that this is not a problem of humanity (because I believe that it is- but comes from another source- I'll argue this later), so I can't really deny that this problem is grounded in reality.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 3: Buddhism

This is the third part of a series of posts that examine different worldviews' teachings about man's problem and solution to that problem. The introduction post may be found here.

Last week we looked at man's problem proposed by Hinduism and the four prescribed solutions. This week we will investigate the claims of Buddhism.

What's Your Problem?
The perfect condition of man, as proposed by Buddhism, is enlightenment*- the lack of life, which is suffering. The antidote to rid one of suffering is that a person must eliminate craving and desire. The proposed way of doing this is to have right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration (this is called the Nobel Eight-Fold Path).

Is it possible for man to follow the Eight-Fold Path to the point of extinguishing desire? Does the problem and proposed solution have any merit in reality?

Monday, July 22, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 2: Hinduism


Last week we started looking at humanity's problem. We established the possibility that a problem does exist, but left the identity of the specific problem open. This week we will begin looking at a few different proposed problems and solutions. The problem from the Hindu worldview is first.

Hinduism is a pantheistic worldview. That means that everyone and everything is God, and God is everyone and everything. We are all the same essence as each other and as God. The foundation of the problem proposed by Hinduism is that man is suffering from a type of self-induced and self-perpetuated amnesia- in which we have forgotten our "Godness". We no longer understand that everyone and everything is God, and God is everyone and everything- including ourselves. The official problem that man suffers from is a cycle of life, death, and reincarnation called Samsara, that is the result of the "amnesia". 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's Your Problem?- Part 1: Introduction


Most worldviews hold that there is something wrong with man- a problem. Man used to be in one perfect condition but is not now. The belief systems of the world provide prescriptions to get man back to the original/perfect state. Different worldviews believe that different things are wrong with man, so each will provide a different antidote. In this short series I want to look at a few of the proposed problems to see which one seems to fit best with humanity as we know it and see if the problem can be rectified by the respective worldview.

A Problem Requires A Purpose
First, though, I want to address the idea that there is no real problem with man- we must not just assume this. The concept of a "problem" is dependent upon humanity having a purpose. A "problem" would be a state in which man is unable to fulfill his purpose. If man has no purpose, then no state exists in which he would not be able to fulfill his purpose. Hence, if there is not purpose for humanity, humanity cannot be in a problematic state. Further, any worldview that holds that humanity has no purpose also holds that there is nothing "wrong" with the state of humanity. But, is this view correct?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Of Tornadoes, Flat Tires, and Moore

The Recent Tornadoes In Moore, OK
Many of you are aware of the recent outbreak of violent tornadoes in the middle of the United States in late May of this year. Three tornadoes struck extremely close to home for me. The first took out my wife's parents' place, and the other two (one being the EF4 on the 20th) was about one mile from our house. As I drive to work every day, I see the physical devastation. When I speak with my in-laws, I see the emotional devastation. When I heard the news of the children who lost their lives...there just are not words to describe the pain and emotions of that news. When we experience tragedies such as these, it is sometimes difficult to see that a loving God, who has our best interest in mind, could cause or allow this level of agony. The Friday after the first tornado outbreak a peculiar series of events took place that eventually ended in God making the answer to my questions very real to me.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Review: The Grand Weaver

Book Review: "The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives" by Christian philosopher and apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Introduction

Zacharias introduces The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (Paperback, Kindle, Audio CD) by preparing an analogy. He takes the reader on a descriptive journey to a place in India where saris are made. These large masterpieces are woven thread-by-thread, line-by-line in a pain-staking process. These can take weeks and even months to complete. The entire time, the weaver has a single design in his mind that he wishes to create. Every weave that he does, though individually they may seem insignificant, contribute to the whole. Over time, the design takes shape and becomes more evident. As the title of the book indicates, Zacharias wishes to use the weaving of a magnificent sari to illustrate God's design and purposes for what He has chosen to and allows to take place in our lives.

Chapter 1: Your DNA Matters

In the first chapter, Zacharias focuses on the physical attributes that God has chosen for each person. He explains how our DNA allows for each person to be physically unique. He explains that even certain outcomes that we believe to be crippling (physically or mentally) are not flaws in the design, but are set for a reason- all part of God's design for the individual's life. As an example he points to a young man who is a weaver yet seems to have mental challenges. Not everyone's purpose is the same, so God is not going to give every person the same tools. We shouldn't complain about what God has given us, but use what He has given us.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Questions That Are Off-Limits- Part 1

I have always been a curious person. I love to ask questions. What things work, how they work, and why they work. Math and the sciences had a great appeal to me in school. I always interacted with the teacher or professor. I was always trying to make connections among different pieces of knowledge that I was being taught. As I got older, if someone told me something, I liked to know how they obtained that knowledge and how it related to other knowledge I already had.

This continues even today. As a result, I've never been one to not challenge someone who I suspected was giving me wrong information. But I don't challenge just for the sake of challenging. I challenge in order to find the correct connections among facts. I challenge so that I may discover the truth.

Monday, October 1, 2012

You Don't Know Jack, But Its Okay

I Don't Know Jack!
Something that I've learned as I learn more is just how little I really do know when compared to the vast body of knowledge available at my fingertips. Today we have access to so much knowledge that it would be impossible to consume it all. More knowledge is constantly being discovered, so I'd be fighting a losing battle if I tried to consume it all. When we look at the numerous disciplines that one may earn a degree in at the local university and all the research required to master the material, it is overwhelming. And when we realize that people in every one of these fields are gathering more, we realize that the knowledge base is growing not additionally but exponentially.

I have mixed feelings when I reflect on all the knowledge that I don't possess when compared to what I do have. There is a certain level of humility that is experienced that is so great that even that word doesn't do the feeling justice. If I were to ever claim that I understand a subject, its indistinguishably guaranteed that someone else understands it better. And since there are so many disciplines of knowledge, it is important for me to understand that even though I may think I'm a master of my field, I am an ignoramus when it comes to practically every other field of knowledge. Due to this reality of my lack of knowledge, my pride must stay in check, lest I be made the fool in discussion or debate.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How and Why The Problem of Evil

Lately two three-letter words have been getting me thinking about the problem of evil. They are simple words that may stand alone in order to ask two unique questions. It seems that when we properly distinguish between these two words, we can see a clear pointer to the truth of Christianity playing out in the lives of every person alive. These two words are "How" and "Why".

How vs. Why and Its Common Confusion
"How" is a question of mechanism. When someone asks this question, they are (presumably) looking for the physical, cause-and-effect series that led to the result. If someone asks how a house is built, the answer would include all the steps from laying the foundation to the final inspection.

"Why" is a question of purpose. When someone asks this question, they are (presumably) looking for the reason that the house was built. If someones asks why a house is built, the answer would normally include the fact that it will provide a living space for a family.

I've noticed that quite often, these two very different questions are confused by both questioner and listener. A lot of times when someone wants to know "how" something took place, they will ask "why" it happened. Likewise, if someone wants to know "why" something happened, they will ask "how" it took place. In some cases the listener will understand the question (regardless of the incorrect word being used) and provide the answer appropriate to the question, but there are other times that the listener does not recognize that someone is asking "why" and they answer "how" instead (because they asked "how"). 

Confusion of the questions can have trivial effects or eternal consequences. Since "why" is a question of purpose, in worldviews where ultimate purpose does not exist, a "why" question is irrational to ask about suffering, evil, and even existence. A person who asks "why" assumes that there is a purpose, and they want to know it. But if a worldview that posits no ultimate purpose is true, then the assumptions in the question contradict reality- that is how a "why" question is irrational on, say, atheism, but is perfectly valid (and compelled) if Christianity is true.

Worldview Implications
In atheism, asking why anything happens cannot be answered because "why" is a question of ultimate purpose, but atheism, a priori, has no ultimate purpose. Now, it can answer "how" something happened. A person could go into all the different laws of physics and chain reactions of cause-and-effect that led to the result that the question is being asked about.

Unlike atheism, theism can answer both questions. Theism can answer "how" something took place and "why" it took place. Atheism uses the scientific disciplines to answer a lot of "how" questions (not all, though that is a topic for another post)- that is the limit of science's ability. If we believe that science will answer all our questions, we are wrong. Science cannot answer our "why" questions. Granted science may be able to answer "how" we can ask "why" questions, but it will never answer "why" we ask "why" questions. It may be able to answer "how" we have a sense of purpose, but it will never answer "why" we have a sense of purpose (more on this below). An attempt to answer "how" when the question is "why" is an attempt to explain away what cannot be explained by naturalistic worldviews.

Applying to The Problem of Evil
For a person who assumes that there is a purpose behind a certain happening (something evil tends to the what the question is about), answering "how" is not sufficient. In fact, it is actually a red herring, intentional or not. The person is looking for comfort in the form of assurance that the suffering was not gratuitous and was not useless. Answering "how" when someone is asking "why" can actually make the situation worse for the person- by implying that the answerer either doesn't understand the pain the person is experiencing as they ask the question or that they have no comfort to offer but are trying to hide that fact by avoiding the actual question.

When we apply this distinction between the two types of questions to the problem of evil, we realize that the logical problem of evil is a "how" question. It asks how an all-loving and all-powerful God and evil can co-exist. It has been recognized generally that this question has been answered. But, that does not mean that the emotional problem of evil is answered. They are two very different questions.

The emotional problem of evil is a "why" question. It questions the ultimate purpose of evil and suffering in the world. Now, let's assume for the moment that when someone asks this question that they are assuming that the evil or suffering they are asking about does have a purpose (meaning that they assume theism). The ultimate purpose behind the evil and suffering in the world is difficult to answer, at best, because of the fact that man does not have the mind of God- man does not necessarily know the purposes behind certain things that happen. But we don't have to always appeal to mystery to answer the emotional problem of evil about certain events.

Many of us recognize that events that take place in our lives would not have happened if it were not for other events in our past. Notice that I am looking to the cause-and-effect series. I am asking a "how" question of a recent event to answer the "why" question of an event further in the past. If we can see the good that is taking place now (the event that sparks the "how" question), then we can see the purpose for the suffering that we had to endure in the past (the events that spark the "why" question).

The Scope of Evil Events
Now we have to remember that the emotional problem of evil will never be completely answered. We will not be able to see every good thing that comes from every evil event that takes place. What takes place in our lives does not only affect us; it affects those around us, and what happens to them affects those around them, and so on. The implication here is that we may never know the reason that we had to endure some suffering. We also may never know the reason that someone else had to endure suffering. And interestingly enough, the suffering that we see in the past can be part of the cause-and-effect series that has led to what good we have in our own lives today.

Patience is a Virtue
Notice that in order to answer the "why" question of the emotional problem of evil, we must be patient, and we must be actively looking for the paths that led to what is good in our lives today. It is very rare that we will know the purpose behind an evil event right away. Very few of us like to wait. 

We are very impatient; we want everything, and we want it now. We want to know everything, and we want to know it all now. But as you can see, life bears out this truth: "Those who wait on the Lord, will renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31a NASB). When we are patient to see what God brings about in our lives or in the lives of others, the emotional weakness that we suffered from a specific event in the past can be lifted when we see that it was part of God's mechanism for bringing about something good in our lives or someone else's life. By that new recognized connection our strength is renewed, and our trust in God is increased for the next time that something evil takes place in our lives (see my posts "What is Faith?" and "Is Faith Emotional or Logical?").

The Purpose Of The Emotional Problem of Evil
Many people see the emotional problem of evil as a huge challenge to the truth of Christianity. It is, if you wish to interpret it that way. One can certainly think that since they don't or can't know everything (see "Dangers of Requiring Complete Knowledge") that God is evil and unfair to you. However, I believe we must ask another "why" question: "Why must we struggle with the emotional problem of evil?" Notice that I didn't ask "how do we..." (I'll let the naturalists attempt to answer that one). The key to answer this question is above- building trust in God. If people did not, first experience evil and suffering, and second, feel the emotional pain from it, we would not struggle with it ("how" the struggle exists). And without the struggle, we would not recognize our own weakness and powerlessness in our lives to avoid evil and suffering. The suffering in life painfully reminds us that we are not in control until the day we die. Without that recognition, we would not be able to recognize our need for Someone who loves us enough to die so that we can eternally escape evil and suffering. The purpose for the existence of the emotional problem of evil is to bring people to Christ and know Him more intimately (see the recent post "Tornadoes, Flat Tires, and Moore").

Conclusion
Atheism does not have the ability to answer our most painful and real question: "why". If we want such answers, we have to recognize that life is not about us, and at best, we are second to One. And with that humble recognition comes a promise: God's love never fails. Only through Christ can we answer "how" and "why" evil exists and why we must suffer the pain of evil.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Solving the Problem of Evil

Introduction

A couple weeks ago a commenter asked a short series of questions about evil that I think deserve more than just a comment. The questions were posed on my article "Pain, Suffering, and Purpose". I was already in a conversation with another commenter about leaving a legacy from the Christian and the atheistic worldviews, and it seems that these questions tie right into that conversation. Here they are:
  1. Are we (humans-Christians or non-christians) created to solve the problem evil?
  2. Can we make this world a better place?
  3. Can our legacy be to make it better than we found it?
Given the series of questions, this appears to be a question not about the logical problem of evil or even the emotional problem of evil, but the eradication of evil- was man created to remove evil? The logical problem of evil merely poses the challenge of the idea that an all-loving and all-powerful God is incompatible with the existence of evil. It assumes that evil exists. The emotional problem of evil focuses on the psychological effects that we experience from seeing the evil in the world. It is used to fertilize the ground for planting the logical problem of evil. This, too, assumes the existence of evil in the world. But neither of these really appear to be the commenter's concern. Rather "what are we going to do about it?".