Atheism, evil and purpose

A favourite atheistic argument is that God cannot exist because of the evil in the world. Yet, An atheist cannot use this argument that evil proves that God does not exist, for the following reason: the atheist believes that the universe has no purpose, and if no purpose then evil cannot exist, because evil is a “purpose-driven” concept.

Humanism spends much energy on trying to prove that the universe has no purpose while also advocating that the greatest purpose for man is to do good. What kind of meaningful life is this – meaningful because the desire to do good is surely meaningful? I answer an absurdly meaningful life, or perhaps it is better to say a meaningless absurd life.

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18 thoughts on “Atheism, evil and purpose

  1. Saint Paul addresses the issue of atheism (those who suppress the truth about God’s existence and sovereign authority over His creation). Paul wrote; 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1:18-22 NASB

    • This is a key scripture, David, as you very well know. I think you will like the following audio debate between W.L. Craig, Richard Dawkins and others, in which this passage is quoted,
      [audio src="http://www.philvaz.com/UniversePurposeDebate.mp3" /]

      The atheists argue that although there is no purpose to the universe, there is a purpose for man because he defies the universe on this point. So you have a situation where a bunch of random particles/chemicals “chooses” to be more than a bunch of the random stuff. Result: random in tandem.

  2. Thank you Raphybog, I am listening to the debate now; it is very interesting.

    Many around the world now attempt to explain the “first cause” of the universe and existence of mankind in terms of the “impersonal plus time plus chance” over billions of years where everything we see came from no-one and nothing.

    Schaeffer sates, “If everything is put into the machine, of course there is no place for God. But also there is no place for man, no place for the significance of man, no place for beauty, for morals or for love. When you come to this place, you have a sea without a shore. Everything is dead. But the presupposition of the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system does not explain the two basic things that are before us: (1) the universe that exists and its form, and (2) the mannishness of man.”

    (Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, Ch. 1)

    Have you read “The God Who Is There” and “Escape From Reason” by Francis Schaeffer?

    http://www.labri.org/

    • Your reference brings out the difference between evidential and presuppositional apologetics.

      The Bible presupposes God’s existence: in genesis 1:1, God, and in John, God the Son.

      I don’t think that argument/evidence can bring one to a personal God, though it can bring someone to deism, that is, a supernatural power that kicked the cosmos into being and left it to run its course. Anthony Flew, the world’s most famous atheist is an example of the latter.

  3. The old wind up the clock (the universe) and leave it ticking on its own theory. But we know from revelation through both the Tanach and New Testament that God is not detached and uninterested in His creation. The incarnation of Messiah to live and dwell among us is certainly the initial demonstration of this fact. His atoning death on the cross for our sins pushes us to see the lengths that God would go to initiate relationship with us.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

    • Your, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

      “Demonstrates” yep. God has to reveal this, but to do this He has to raise us from the dead – Eph 2:1-10.

      • Yes indeed! Paul tells us this progression in Ephesians 1;

        In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:11-14 NASB

  4. Raf,

    A more interesting blog entry on your part would have been the competing views on the purpose of evil offered by monotheism and polytheism.

    For instance, in Judaism (monotheism), the availability of evil, the option not to choose good, is central to G-d’s purpose in creation. Free will cannot exist in a world where the only choice is good, and as we clearly see in Deut. 30 G-d commanded the Jews to choose life by making appropriate ethical choices.

    On the other hand, in Christianity (polytheism), a divine triumverate committee of “good” deities square off against a pack of evil “fallen” angels. Neither warring party is omnipotent, and thus Christians consider themselves footsoldiers in an epic battle of good vs. evil between these two supernatural gangs–hence the medieval Crusades to nobly defend Jesus’ honor from cracker torture by burning down whole communities of innocent Jews. To the Christian mind, Jesus et al desperately need Christians’ help; they (the “godhood”) need all the help they can get from Christian people. Free will does not exist in the Christian doctrine; Calvin’s “total depravity” theory has supplanted Deut. 30 in modern polytheism.

    So, while Jews understand the sole Creator alone to have created everything, with a purpose, and to have at all times absolute power to govern history, Christians understand there are dark powers who reign outside of their deities’ sphere of control. And while Christians believe their gods need their help to confront the evil gods, they also believe that they lack the free will to choose to assist Jesus & co. to fight against Satan and his posse; rather, Jesus calls on men one by one through a “mysterious” process of selective “unblinding” when he needs to draft new conscripts.

    • Anon,

      Christianity is not polytheism, but monotheism; there is only one true and living Elohim (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Elohim (the only triune God) is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.

      The Tanach teaches that God is sovereign and does what He pleases;

      The LORD loved Jacob and hated Esau

      Malachi 1

      1 The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” NASB

      Paul writes about this in the New Covenant in Romans chapter 9;

      http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%209&version=NASB

  5. Raf,

    Let me get your take on something.

    Some of your less scrupulous coreligionists have upped the ante in their bid to frame their gentile creed in Jewish symbolism and appearance.

    For instance, a missionary named Luke conscripted the Hebrew name of the Biblical Joshua for Jesus and renamed Matthew, a book from the Christian “new testament”, after the protagonist of the Jewish holiday Hanuka, Matityahu.

    Luke wrote of “Yeshua’s words (in Matityahu 5:17)” at http://roshpinaproject.com/2010/03/09/a-messianic-jewish-levite-on-the-new-priesthood-according-to-melchizedek/#comment-25445.

    Will you join with me in condemning this sort of over-the-top revisionism that is obviously an attempt to make Christianity appear to be more Jewish than it really is (since these names really don’t pertain to the Christian characters Jesus and Matthew, respectively, but to entirely different figures of the Jewish religion)? You’ve spoken about standing for truth; now is your chance. Shout from the rooftops that there is no book in the Christian bible of “Matityahu”, nor any deity by the name “Yeshua”.

    • Anon

      You know that I would go that extra mile to try and accommodate you, but before I express an opinion on your request, let me first establish whether you believe any of the Jewish personages mentioned in the NT existed; and 3 or 4 examples would be nice.

      • Please stop the avoidance, Raf.

        True, Paul, Mohammed and Joseph Smith all fictionalized the Jewish accounts of Biblical figures, but the reason to believe they really existed is that, unlike Jesus, Allah or Mormon, the people in the Jewish Bible are actually attested to by the testimony of an actual witness nation.

        Now let’s get back to our discussion. You were about to criticize your fellow missionaries to the Jews who seek to proselytize by falsely portraying the Greek “new testament” as a Hebrew document, in turn by relabeling the deity of this gentile creed with the familiar name of a Jewish leader (Joshua) and by relabeling the Christian book of Matthew after a Talmudic figure associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanuka (Matityahu). So, please, take it from here and show us your moral outrage over convincing Jews to worship Jesus by tricking them. After all, WWJD?

        • Anon, I asked you “let me first establish whether you believe any of the JEWISH personages mentioned in the NT existed; and 3 or 4 examples would be nice.”

          For instance, Matthew, Caiphas (the high priest). And John the Apostle. But any other three or four would do if you prefer.

      • Once again, “Please stop the avoidance, Raf.”

        Of relevance here is not what I believe. I’ve asked you to join me in condemning the dishonest practice of some missionaries to attempt to make Christianity palatable to Jewish proselyte prospects by mislabeling certain Christian figures with Jewish-sounding names. Such is a patently dishonest tactic.

        Christians do not call Jesus “Yeshua” amongst themselves, nor Matthew “Matityahu”. These misnomers are fabrications exclusively for Jewish consumption, aimed at confusing Jews into believing, wrongly, that Christianity is much more related to Judaism in its genesis than it actually is.

        The original “new testament”, a Greek document, did not feature characters named Yeshua nor Matityahu. On the other hand, the Jewish Bible does have a Yeshua, popularly known in English as Joshua. Matityahu is a name that also comes from the Jewish tradition, from the Talmud, specifically, where he became famous as one of the Macabees who repelled the Greeks from forcibly imposing their religion on the Jews.

        Why won’t you stand up and be counted rejecting dishonest evangelizing? What’s the resistance to condemning trickery?

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