“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus
“Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either, impotent, evil, or imaginary.” – Sam Harris
“The fool says in his heart, ‘God does not exist!’” – Psalm 14:1 HCSB
In the past few months, I’ve attempted to promote some of the articles I have written as a form of outreach ministry. Overall, the comments and responses have been positive and affirming, yet like everything else in life, there’s a negative side that has surfaced as well.
I’ve been shamed and admonished for pushing my beliefs on others – beliefs that avoid reality and are centered in my own insecurities. I’ve been equally accused of believing in something fictitious and non-existent – attempting to convince an unsuspecting and gullible public to embrace the same fairytale I do. All this being done to simply feel better about my own life and my inept set of convictions.
As a result of this criticism, I was drawn to a Lex Fridman podcast interview with Bishop Robert Barron, the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Lex asked Bishop Barron to voice his own opinion on what he felt was the greatest argument against God.
“Therefore if God exists, there should be no evil, but there is evil, therefore God doesn’t exist – that’s the best argument against God.” – Bishop Robert Barron (Lex Fridman podcast transcript – 57:15 to 57:27)
This echoes the sentiments of Sam Harris and Epicurus above. If God is all-powerful, then why can’t He put a stop to evil? If he is indeed almighty, then is He equally as evil, uncaring, and indifferent for allowing it?
So, are we foolish to believe in a loving, sovereign Creator in the face of all the evil that exists in this world or are we equally as foolish to declare there is no God at all as the psalmist suggests?
Later in this interview (1:05: 41-48), Bishop Barron proclaims that even though this is a “knock-down argument” against God’s existence, he states “there’s all kinds of other rational warrants for God.”
Let’s explore those within this context:
God’s Thoughts and Ways are Higher and Deeper than Ours
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55: 8-9 NLT
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below—what can you know?” – Job 11: 7-8 NIV
I find it amusing that the greatest of human minds have no problem in declaring that certain aspects of science, physics, and other phenomenon are nothing short of theory – an educated best guess at how our world has come into existence and the natural laws that keep it intact, however; they can quickly conclude that God doesn’t exist. To me, this is filled with pride and hubris – finding it acceptable to believe in some things we can’t explain and not others.
Wouldn’t it make sense that humanity cannot fathom Divinity? Wouldn’t it make sense that God’s thoughts and ways are unsearchable to the human mind? Our own pride gets in the way of this line of thinking – believing our opinions and reasoning on the matter hold greater weight than an Omniscient, Omnipotent God whose principles and truths remain eternally steadfast.
When the diagnosis makes no sense and feels unjust, when the death is sudden and seems indiscriminate, when the loss is unbearable and life-altering, when unfolding events seem unreasonable or discriminatory, we quickly conclude there must not be a loving, sovereign God who sees, understands, and acts in a manner that aligns with His unchanging, immutable character and will.
If something cannot fit into the mold of human reasoning, we quickly discount it. But let me tell you my friends, developing deeper faith and unwavering trust lies at the center of why we are here. Humbly connecting to our humanity and developing a relationship with our Creator requires cultivating, enlarging, and expanding these two critical attributes. Both are at the heart of spiritual growth and essential to a peaceful, satisfying, and purpose-filled life.
There is Meaning to Suffering
To paraphrase Epicurus above, if God can prevent suffering but chooses not to, He must be vindictive and wicked Himself. How can a holy, perfect God be evil? Since evil indeed exists, why is a loving, gracious God allowing it to unfold?
Isn’t it funny how we are (once again) trying to humanly rationalize the origins of evil and in the process quite determined to use this as proof that God isn’t real, or that He is aloof, uncaring, or impotent at best?
“My dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering, as though something unusual were happening to you. Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when his glory is revealed. “– 1 Peter 4: 12-13 GNT
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]”. – 1 Peter 5:10 Amplified Bible
Is suffering “making you what you ought to be”? If this is the case, wouldn’t a loving, sovereign God allow it? Would He allow it to decimate or destroy you….or would He allow it to lovingly complete, confirm, strengthen and establish you?
I can only speak to my own experience – knowing that suffering has changed me into someone better than I was before. It continually stretches me, confirms my convictions, strengthens my resolve, and establishes my faith and trust.
How is it changing you?
Suffering is a key ingredient in the process of growth – growth that is also at the very center of why each of us are here. Ease, comfort, and pleasure are like infertile soil – incapable of growing anything but lethargy, apathy, and indifference.
Seeing God in His Creation
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” – Romans 1:19-22 BSB
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” – Psalm 19: 1-4 NLT
There isn’t a greater argument FOR God than the miracles surrounding nature and all His creation. It is one of the reasons I love the outdoors, hiking, and photography – capturing the beauty and awe found within it.
As both Paul and David suggest above, His creation speaks of his eternal power and divine nature. We have no excuse to deny His existence. Day after day and night after night, the heavens display His craftsmanship and make Him known!
Take the time to walk in it often – far away from the concrete, mechanical and steel creations of mankind and you will feel His presence speak to you my friend 😊 It relays His vastness, yet reveals His intricate detail and definitive purposes in both the largest and smallest of things.
He sees the bigger picture of your life and is involved in each of the tiny details as they unfold – in both the blessings and hardships that surface.
Trust He understands far more than we can ever fathom. Trust Him in the suffering – knowing the end result is joyful, glorious, and purposeful.
Forget all the arguments against Him and chose to see Him in everything you face. You will never be the same again my friend – both now and forever 😊