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Conversational Apologetics The Problem of Evil – Part 1.

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1 Conversational Apologetics The Problem of Evil – Part 1

2 Conversational Apologetics Open Questions  To understand and know them Pointed Questions  To remove the “roof” of their irrational assumptions Explain the Gospel  Only when asked Nurture The Relationship  Help unbelievers grow towards Christ  Help believers to grow IN Christ

3 Explain the Gospel Use whatever method you’re comfortable with to share the Gospel  Way of the Master  D.E.  Joe’s Crabshack, back of the napkin, homegrown evangelism

4 But….. What if they ask me a hard question? Such as…  “How could God allow the Tsunami?”  “Where was God on 9-11?”  “Was Katrina part of God’s Plan?”  “How could a loving God allow my mother to die when I was 8 years old?”

5 The Problem of Evil If God is all powerful, He can prevent evil. If God is all loving, He abhors evil and wishes to prevent it. Evil Exists Therefore, God cannot be all powerful or all loving.

6 The Problem of Evil If God cannot prevent evil, He is not all-powerful. If He is powerful enough to prevent evil, but chooses not to, He is not all- good. In fact, He is a monster David Hume's challenge: 'If God is able to something about evil and suffering yet chooses not to then God is malevolent. If God cannot do anything about evil and suffering then God is impotent.'

7 The Problem of Evil The most powerful argument against the Christian God ever devised.  First articulated by Epicurus (d. 270BC) Argued that the existence of evil disproved the existence of the gods  Mark Twain "If there is a God, he is a malign thug.” And we must not shrink from it…

8 The Heads of Corpses “I was questioned in a prison in Region 4 before being brought to Tuol Sleng. I did nothing treasonable. So I had nothing to admit. Then they tortured me with electricity. The first time I was sitting in a chair, but later I fell out of the chair and went unconscious. When I regained consciousness, they threw water on my face so that they could go on with their interrogation.” Van Nath went on to say, “I saw prisoners lying dead in the room where I was being kept at Tuol Sleng and young people were kicking the heads of the corpses frivolously for fun.” “Babies, children, adults and the elderly were killed everywhere. The Khmer Rouge killed people if they didn’t like them, if didn’t work hard enough, if they were educated, if they came from different ethnic groups, or if they showed sympathy when their family members were taken away to be killed. All were killed without reason.” – Dith Pran, The Killing Fields Two to three million people died in the killing fields; an estimated 30% of the Cambodian population

9 The Evil that Lies in My Heart A soviet torturer in the Gulag was quoted as saying, “I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have been allowed to live to this day that I may fully express the evil that lies in my heart.” The total documentable deaths in the system of corrective-labor camps and colonies from 1930 to 1956 amount to 1,606,748, including political and common prisoners; note that this does not include more than 800,000 executions of "counterrevolutionaries" during the period of the "Great Terror", since they were mostly conducted outside the camp system and were accounted for separately.

10 Where is God Now? The victims mounted together onto the chairs. The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. "Long live Liberty!" cried the two adults. But the child was silent. "Where is God? Where is He?" someone behind me asked. At a sign from the head of the camp, the three chairs tipped over. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting. "Bare your heads!" yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping. "Cover your heads!" Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. But the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive... For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. Behind me I heard the same man asking: "Where is God now?" And I hear a voice within me answer him: "Were is he? Here He is - He is hanging here on this gallows... " Elie Wiesel Night The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him. This time the camp executioner refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him.

11 Answering the Problem of Evil “Theodicy”  Derived from two Greek words (theos, God, and dikē, justice)  The justification of the goodness and righteousness of God in the face of the evil in the world.

12 Famous Theodicies Augustine (d. 430AD).  “Free will defense”  Evil is not a ‘thing,’ but the absence of good. (e.g., darkness is not a ‘thing,’ it is the absence of light). Luther (d. 1546)  God is not to be justified, but man. To assert the problem of evil is, itself, to declare man’s unrighteousness. Calvin (d. 1564)  “For God's will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever He wills, by the very fact that He wills it, must be considered righteous. When, therefore, one asks why God has so willed you are seeking something greater and higher than God's will, which cannot be found."

13 Greg Bahnsen’s Theodicy Student of Cornelius Van Til, the ‘father’ of presuppositional apologetics M.A. and Th.M from Westminster Theological seminary PhD in Philosophy from the University of Southern California Presuppositional Apologetics = The non-believer is on trial

14 Evil must be Taken Seriously… …by both sides. Acts of cruelty naturally evoke feelings of outrage and moral indignation… …not only in the believer, but in the unbeliever as well. This point is crucial and must not be disregarded when we defend the faith.

15 Evil as a Logical Problem It is important to realize that the Problem of Evil is really a charge of logical inconsistency in the Christian worldview.  The Law of Non-Contradiction Something cannot be A and Not-A at the same time and in the same way.  The existence of the God of the Bible is contradicted by the existence of evil. Therefore, we cannot simply offer evidence for the good God has done, nor suggest that the “good outweighs the bad.”

16 For Whom is Evil a Problem? Two Premises about the God of the Bible:  God is All-Powerful  God is Good One Premise that contradicts the other two:  Evil Exists For the contradiction to exist, all three premises must be regarded as true.

17 For Whom is Evil a Problem? Atheists think that their worldview does not suffer from this contraction because they do not believe in God (the first two premises). But their argument succeeds only if the third premise is true – not only in the Christian worldview, but in their own.

18 For Whom is Evil a Problem? If evil did not really exist, there would be no contradiction to the Christian worldview. So, does evil exist?  Christian answer: Of course!  Atheist answer: Of course! Which answer can be proven in a manner consistent with its worldview?

19 Evil and the God of the Bible The foundation of the Christian and Jewish worldviews is that a Transcendent Creator God, whose character and will are the basis of a universal standard of Good and Evil, has revealed Himself in human history.

20 Evil and Atheisim? In a world without God…  There are no “universals.” Universals = Truths that transcend the human mind.  “Good” and “Evil” are contingent concepts They depend on humans to define them Subjective  The “New” morality of the 1960’s (and beyond)  Differing concepts of morality between cultures The Atheist who assumes any universal, especially universal morality, is being inconsistent with his worldview!

21 Some Pointed Questions What do you mean by “good?” What standard do you use to determine what is “good” and what is “evil?” How does that work in a universe in which there are no moral absolutes?

22 Atheistic Answers Good is what causes the least suffering (or the most happiness).  Counter-argument: In the Sudan, the government claims it is reducing starvation in the Muslim majority by killing Christians. Why is that wrong? Good is determined by one’s culture  Counter-argument: The Nazi culture said it was moral to kill Jews. Why is that wrong?

23 Evil is a Big Problem… …for the unbeliever! In order to use the Problem of Evil against the Christian worldview, the atheist must be able to show that his judgments about the existence of evil are meaningful – which is precisely what his unbelieving worldview is unable to do!

24 In a World Without God… All this doesn’t matter. Humans are just another animal – bags of protoplasm. 35 million deaths is just 35 million bags of weak protoplasm being destroyed by stronger bags of protoplasm. In an atheistic world, you’d better be a strong bag because neither good nor evil exist.

25 The Origin of Moral Outrage Atheists feel moral outrage.  Indeed, the more seriously the atheist feels morally outraged, the better. Where does their outrage come from, if their worldview cannot account for the existence of evil? The reality is: Evil Exists! Thus, the atheist is actually ‘borrowing’ from our worldview when he or she feels moral outrage and uses the Problem of Evil to question God’s existence.

26 Suppressing the Truth… For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 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. (Rom 1:18-20 NASB)

27 Why? Why does the atheist feel morally outraged?  Because he lives in the real world.  Because he knows in his ‘heart of hearts’ that evil exists.  He knows evil exists because he is a Divine image-bearer; because God has revealed His Divine Nature (His Goodness) to all people, everywhere. The very empathy and anger that he feels against wanton cruelty cries out that God exists, that God has set a standard of goodness and those who violate it deserve a righteous and final judgment.


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