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Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati

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Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?
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Feedback archiveFeedback 2002

Answering angry anti-Christianity

15 April 2002

Right from its beginnings in the mid to late 1990s, our website received much positive feedback, as well as a few brickbats. Back then, we didn’t have a feedback section, but we still tried to answer them. We also didn’t have a Q&A section as we do now, with over 50 different topic headings, or such an extensive database of articles on a wide range of topics.

One example of a brickbat came from a young woman, then 20, from Melbourne, Australia, and this is now printed (indented) with Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s reply (interspersed, non-indented) at the time.  Ellipses (…) at the end of one of K’s paragraphs signal (not in the middle, because she used them a lot herself) that a mid-sentence comment follows, not an omission. But this reply has been slightly edited so current readers can benefit the most, mostly using square brackets [] to indicate where he would have referred to articles posted since the original reply.


John 20:23–24 of the Good News Bible “if you forgive people’s sins they are forgiven: if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” …

Actually, Jesus said this to the apostles, and it is to do with the forgiveness of sins by God. The apostles preached the Gospel (defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4). They pointed out that anyone who believed the Gospel would have their sins forgiven by God, while those who rejected the Gospel would not be forgiven.

… yet as much as you follow the word of god you seem to reject this offering of wisdom in the book, and head straight; not for an understanding, but a complete down pour of spite and personal attack towards Thiering, Plimer, and Spong.

Anything said about these people is factual rebuttal. We try to avoid personal attacks, so if you can actually identify anything that would qualify as a ‘personal attack’ please let us know. If someone proposes nonsense and we show that it is nonsense, then of course this can offend the sensibilities of some because it does point to incompetence on behalf of the person. So it is difficult to expose error without offending.

The article about Thiering refuted, with temperate language, that the Gospels are a code, a claim which has no support in the scholarly world, whether creationist or not. Non-creationist scholars have been quite vehement against Thiering’s pseudo-scholarship compared to us.

What exactly is the problem with answering Plimer’s scurrilous charges against [CMI], showing that he makes crass scientific blunders, pointing out that he is an ardent humanist (atheist) so is hardly a friend of ‘rational Christianity’ as he manages to convince gullible ‘men of the cloth’ that he is, documenting clear examples of plagiarism, the worst academic sin, etc. I challenge you to point out anything scurrilous in our responses. It doesn’t seem to bother you that Plimer accuses creation scientists of being scientifically and financially fraudulent, calls them Satanic and unchristian, and even accused (on a university letterhead) one creationist of being ‘surrounded by young boys who were continually touching him’ although that gentleman always travelled with his wife or the couple he was billeted at. Or are trumped up accusations of pederasty OK and not to be refuted? [See ‘The Ian Plimer Files’]

As for Spong, we have said very little about him, so I can’t understand the basis for your complaint. But have no fear—we will soon be publishing a detailed rebuttal of his pseudo-scholarship on our website. [Now posted—see What’s wrong with Bishop Spong? By the way, as amply shown in this article, Spong is hardly a paragon of temperate language.]

I should also point out that Jesus used some pretty harsh words to people sometimes, especially hypocritical teachers, e.g. Matthew 23:27:

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.’

Note that this would have been especially cutting to Jewish leaders who would be ritually defiled even by the mere touch of a dead body. And in verse 33:

‘You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?’
… let alone atheist and a whole. … why do Christians choose so much to hate and spit at those who only put forth another idea of creation.

What do you mean? The whole point of evolution is to deny creation. Stephen Jay Gould agrees that Darwin’s main motive was to attack the Argument from Design [see Darwin’s real message: have you missed it?] and Dawkins claims that Darwin made it possible to be ‘an intellectually fulfilled atheist’ [see review of his Climbing Mount Improbable].

For such a long time now Christians have put forth their opinion, it is only fair that atheist, buddhists, etc. have theirs.

They do—no-one’s stopping them. [Conversely, in New South Wales (Australia), a University moved to crack down on Christian Freedoms, and it’s actually lawful in that state to discriminate against Christians.]

yet to have a different opinion results in a complete rejection form any form of civilised talk between a non believer and a believer. How Christian is that?

All of us will talk to non-believers. But [CMI] will not take part in public debates with the Australian Skeptics [sic] until they dissociate themselves from Plimer’s wicked accusation of pederasty and similar gutter tactics. Rather, what little they have published on this is in support of it. [See Countering the Critics: Anti-creationist lobby, Skeptics, etc.]

To not except someone for finding a different way to life. what happened to John 15:11–13 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My COMMANDMENT is to love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friend is to give his life for them. And YOU are my friends if you do what I COMMAND you!”

And He commanded people to believe in Him. He said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).

To hate, slander, kill, mock, banish, punish, and generally not attempt to understand isn’t an act of love, it is the temptation to disown anyone not yet brought into the light.

Not guilty. [But as pointed out, there is plenty of slander on the part of anti-creationists in anti-creationist publications, and even condoned in supposedly objective scientific journals. For example, the grossly misnamed Free Inquiry 13(3) 1993, contained an article ‘Is religion a form of mental illness’, while Daniel Dennett said that religions should be caged like dangerous wild animals in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, a book much loved by the scientific establishment. I’d challenge you to find statements by creationists on the lines of ‘Is atheism a mental illness?’ or ‘Evolutionists should be caged like wild animals’.

Another example is the apostate anti-creationist Michael Shermer’s comparison of creationists with Holocaust deniers, which conveniently sweeps under the carpet the fact that the major creationist organisations have pointed to the Holocaust as the logical outcome of a consistent evolutionary philosophy—see The Holocaust and Evolution. Dawkins resorts to the same guilt-by-association ploy. It also glosses over a glaring commonality between Holocaust deniers and evolutionists—that they both dismiss reliable eye-witness reports (of gas chambers and Einsatsgruppen extermination squads, cf. the Creation account in Genesis and the Resurrection accounts in the Gospels and 1 Corinthians 15) because of their commitment to an ideology (anti-semitism and materialism, respectively]

Christianity should soon wake up and move into the era of testable hypothesis, and not blatantly attack others, because Christianity has no hand held proof that god exists yet alone come close to showing so!!!

If you think that way, then you’d need to refute some of the arguments [in our Q&A page on God, with point-by-point rebuttals. Actually, a good start would be Is There Really a God? (above left) Also, Christianity would have been refuted right at the outset if its opponents could have produced the body of Christ, but they never could because His tomb was empty and He appeared to more than 500 people at once—see Q&A: Jesus Christ, Resurrection.]

I would like a question answered on you page. It’s a question that no Christian or GOD believer is able to half substantiate. … your page reads: “1. Our Loving God Created a Perfect Paradise for Mankind!” (God is the Creator) Perfection “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). No suffering, death or oppression only freedom to live a wonderful life. Since God created all things, He is the master of all. God allowed … A paradise???? yeah ok where????? show us! if it is such a paradise I thing the dictionary meaning should be changed ASAP!!!…

He created a paradise, but this paradise was destroyed by sin (Genesis 3). It will be restored when Christ returns, as promised in Revelation 21:4 and 22:3, where there will be no more curse, death or tears. [This shows the importance of believing in a literal Genesis, because if there were billions of years of death and suffering before Adam’s fall, then would it mean that it will be ‘restored’ to billions more years of death and suffering?]

To presume he is the creator of ALL things, he is master of all is in complete contradiction to much that i have heard, read and seen of Christian ideas on human choices, let alone that fact that for god to have created all things, would mean that god created the devil, disease, pain suffering, hell, hate lust, adultery, and the list goes on. … TO DENY THIS IS BLASPHEMY!! even you said that GOD WAS THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS!!!

Evil is not a ‘thing’ in itself, even though it is real. Rather, evil is the privation of some good something ought to have. Murder is a removal of a good human life. Adultery is a privation of a good marriage. Good is fundamental and can exist in itself; evil cannot exist in itself. It is always a parasite on good. For example, a wound cannot exist without a body, and the very idea of a wound presupposes the concept of a healthy body. Blindness in a human is a physical evil, because humans are supposed to see (but oysters are not, so blindness is not an evil for oysters). Also, evil actions are done to achieve things like wealth, power, sexual gratification, which the evildoer finds ‘good’ (meaning ‘pleasing’). Evil things are not done as ends in themselves, but good things are. Now, since evil is not a thing, God did not create evil [although He does create calamity as he has a right to do, and this is the correct understanding of Isaiah 45:7].

want to know why, our father in heaven is the only father that makes war, disease, pain agony, dispare, sin, death, etc etc, for his children.

A few brief points are made in the article ‘Why would a loving God allow suffering?’ [Subsequently we have published the booklet ‘Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?’ (above right), and see also Why is there Death & Suffering? booklet: Raises questions but provides framework for answers.]

let alone places an object to tempt them into sin when everything was going just fine! …

God didn’t tempt them, Satan did, and Adam and Eve followed their own pride rather than obeying God. God warned them exactly what would happen and they chose not to heed His warning. [See also Isn’t God’s command not to eat the fruit a case of entrapment?!?]

… gee’s what a top bloke!! I have also been told that god is all loving an all forgiving … as far as I am concerned we are all born into sin because of what eve did back in the garden. god has let his other children suffer for the stupidity of a single mystical woman who supposedly lived 1000’s of yrs ago.

Indeed, we have all inherited Adam’s sinful nature [as Romans 5:12–19 says]. This is the easiest doctrine of Christianity to prove empirically, as G.K. Chesteron pointed out!

if he was so all forgiving then why are we born into sin because of someone else, why do people who do not see the light go to hell if he is so all forgiving, shouldn’t he just say, well I am sorry I told you so, but hey I forgive you!

God is not only perfectly loving, He is also perfectly just, so must punish violations of His holy law. Since our shortcomings offend His infinite holiness, the punishment must also be infinite.

Either we must suffer such punishment, or else a Substitute must endure it in our place (Isaiah 53). The Substitute must be fully human to substitute for humanity (Heb. 2:14), and must be our blood relation (through Adam) so he can be our ‘kinsman redeemer’ (Isaiah 59:20, same word in Ruth 2:20), must be perfectly sinless so He would not have to atone for sins of His own (Heb. 7:27), and must be fully Divine to endure God’s infinite wrath (Is. 53:10). To be the mediator between God and Man, Jesus must be both. 1 Timothy 2:5 states: ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’.

 Note that Jesus talked about Hell more than Heaven, so Christians shouldn’t downplay its seriousness.

and what happens if i am in a culture that has no god, and has never heard or thought of one existing, they cannot see the way, they cannot hear the word, they cannot be reborn … in other words, because god has not reached them they go to hell!!

[Condensed: there are several major principles involved in this one:

  • People go to hell because they have sinned against the infinitely holy God, as explained above, not because ‘they haven’t heard’.
  • Romans 1:18–28 points out that some truth about God is obvious (in the heart) from creation, so that people are ‘without excuse’. Romans 2:14–16 says that people also have a conscience, and don’t even live up to their own standards, let alone God’s.
  • God is perfectly just—Gen. 18.25 “Shall not the God of all the earth do right”. There are many things we do not understand, but we always understand that our God is always perfectly fair and perfectly gracious. We trust His decisions and judgment.]

Anyway you have heard, so you have no excuse. So what are you going to do about it?

to go being all forgiving, it is easy to prove he is not! Onto god being all LOVING, this pretty much easily mingles with the argument of god being all forgiving, for if god truly loved us, he would forgive us! he would not place harm of any kind on us, he would not tempt us into sin (in the garden) he would defeat the devil …

He has defeated the Devil, when He, the Second Person of the Trinity, our Creator Jesus Christ, took on human nature (John 1:1–18), died on the Cross and rose from the dead. The war is almost over; just mopping up operations now. Similarly, one could say that WWII was virtually over once the Allies landed on D-Day, although there were plenty of battles until the actual surrender.

moving onto god being all powerful, IF GOD IS ALL POWERFUL, why does the devil exist, why does the devil have the power to come and temp and corrupt, why does the devil exist if god has all the power to stop him …

Who knows? As Daniel Defoe made his character Robinson Crusoe explain to Friday who asked ‘Why doesn’t God destroy the Devil because he’s so evil?’, ‘Why doesn’t God destroy all of us when we do so many things which offend Him’ (paraphrased).

… doesn’t this mean that god is letting his SO loved children and so forgiven creations live with the thought of death into hell … thus referring back to the all forgiveness bit … to go to hell means that god has not forgiven you for not being reborn! if humans have the power to choose, to create, and to explore … along with the devils power, the human race and hell lower the theory of god being all powerful! For choosing and creating and influencing and tempting are all powers!
HUMANS HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE TO FOLLOW!!

And this is why there is so much evil in the world. They have misused God’s gift of choice. [Now, they have no power on their own to do what’s right because of their sin nature, which is why God must step in and renew our hearts—Ezekiel 36:26.]

I am repulsed at your spitting and snarling at people who think differently, to punish, hate, slander, tease, bitch or fight, would to be bringing around the forces of evil, the more you detest, the more room your devil figure has to jump in and make his claim …

You have failed to substantiate these accusations about us [or told us why these things seem to be acceptable among our opponents, or even given any reason why these things should even be objectively morally wrong if we live in an evolutionary ‘survival of the fittest’ world.]

… so Christianity (fundamentalists and creationist) are in fact helping the darkness, even though they seem to be defending god, who when you think of it, is so supreme and will rule … why does god need defending!

He doesn’t. But Christ’s chief apostle, Peter, commanded us (1 Peter 3:15):

‘But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,’

And Christ’s half-brother Jude commanded in v.3 of his epistle: … earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:2–5:

‘I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’
can we in the word of the ATHEISTS FOR JESUS …

What on earth could this mean?

find the love and share all that a guy 2000 or so years ago was trying to spread.
DO not deny the poor, the leppers, the sick, the gay, the prostitutes, the adulterers

Who does? But note also that Jesus told the adulteress ‘Go and sin no more’ (John 8:11). You seem to have forgotten that. He also said in Matthew 15:18–19:

‘But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.’

(Matthew 5:28–29 “But I will tell you now: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery …” well i guess we have all at one time broke that commandment of thou shalt not commit adultery, I guess we are all going to hell) ….

[This raises a good point—unlike many unbelievers who think they’re ‘good enough to get into heaven’, ‘K’ realizes that neither she nor anyone else has any hope of coming up to Jesus’ standards.] That’s why we have no hope unless we believe that Jesus paid the penalty for that sin on the Cross …

… anyway, find pity for them bring them in and tell them they are wrong, …

We do.

… but forgive them like Jesus did, and help them to become a better person, …

Jesus made it clear when He forgave people that He expected them to turn from their life of sin. We should love prostitutes, adulterers and homosexuals, but part of that love means pointing out their serious sins, and their danger of spending an eternity without God in Hell.

… rather than burning them at the stake!!

I think creationists are more in danger of being burnt at the stake, [as shown by the vitriol spouted against us in the establishment scientific journals and the media, as above. Anti-creationist discrimination is rampant—see Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals? and Creationism, Science and Peer Review. It’s notable that the number of deaths in the last century alone due to evolution-based philosophies such as Nazism and Communism far outweigh those caused by ‘religion’ in all centuries combined. Further, the professing Christians who killed were acting inconsistently with their professed faith, while Hitler and Stalin were acting consistently with theirs. See again Q&A: Communism and Nazism.]

K.
Melbourne Australia

(Dr) Jonathan Sarfati

PS: Why not come and hear what we really have to say next time we are in your area, you seem to have quite the wrong idea of what we are on about?

(Also available in Portuguese)

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