The words of the ancient Greek philosopher (3rd century B.C.), Epicurus, sums up most modern atheistic/skeptic thought on this particular topic: “Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to; or he cannot and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, and does not want to, he is wicked. But, if God both can and wants to abolish evil, then how come there is evil in the world?”
This is the NUMBER ONE reason for the disbelief in God. However, on the other hand, Augustine asked, “If there is no God, why is there so much good?” Had God created a world without human freedom we would simply live in a world of pre-programmed robots. Real love – our love of God and our love of each other – must involve choice. But with the granting of that choice comes the possibility that people would choose instead to hate.
Agnostics, atheists, and the like, sometimes will respond that if God truly cared, he could’ve at least prevented the worst evils (rape, murder, genocide, etc). But, as you go down the scale of what is “really bad evil” vs. “not-so-bad evil” where do you draw the line? It inevitably becomes subjective.
First of all, evil is evil. Second, preventing any evil reduces human freedom to something less than freedom. Bottom line: there’s nothing simple about this “intellectual knot”. For me? As a young child, I endured the Abilene Police Dept. at our house frequently because my drunk dad was trying to kill my mom, my youngest sister overdosed on heroin, and, most recently, my 19 year old son took his own life. But even in light of these “reasons not to believe in a good God,” I still choose to stand with the disciple Peter who, after Jesus asked if the disciples were going to abandon Him like so many others had done that day, told Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
If I were not a believer I would still be forced to stand with the late British former atheist, Antony Flew, finally confessed, “We must go where the evidence leads.” The order of the cosmos and the reliability of the Scriptures, alone, FORCE me to deal with the evidence. But then, throw in the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and the evidence screams that the Bible is true (at least to me.) Call me a fool if you like. All I know is this: All of us will die one day. And finally, at that moment, we’ll discover that someone was right about eternity. If the idea is true that there’s no life after life, or that everyone goes to heaven no matter what you believed, we’re all good.
But, what if the Bible’s right?
Given the overwhelming evidence that points to an awesome, terrifying, yet personal & loving, God – I’m not willing to wager against Him.