Just wanted to throw a couple of things out there for discussion.
A COUPLE OF PHILOSOPHICAL OBJECTIONS
First, there is the philosophical "Problem of Evil" which was succinctly formulated by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus:
"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?"
In other words, the fact that evil exists in this world (which I think no one would argue with) means one of two things: Either God is unable to prevent evil, or unwilling to prevent evil. Therefore, if there were an all-loving, all-powerful God, there would not be any evil in existence! As we all see what is called "evil" all around us every day (9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the fortunately recently apprehended "Beltway Sniper", hundreds of cases of priests molesting children, etc.), and furthermore, I draw the conclusion that there indeed is no all-powerful and all-loving, at least not a God who is all-loving and all-powerful!
Second, when thinking of God as being a perfect Being, we must ask ourselves this: If something is defined as "perfect", then nothing can be produced or created by that Being which is imperfect. Otherwise, how could we reasonably call that Being perfect? Something which produces anything imperfect cannot by definition be called "perfect." I think you would agree that there are many examples of imperfection that we can see. Just open your eyes and look around... Therefore, one is forced to the conclusion that a "perfect" Creator cannot exist, since imperfection obviously exists.
The Bible states in Genesis 1:27 that God created man in His own image. I suspect that the opposite is true: Man created God in his own image. Why else would the God of the Bible have so many human weaknesses such as anger, jealousy, and murderous rage. These are traits of man, not of God. Step back, open your mind, and think about it...
By the way, I completely support your right to free expression. But I ask you to consider taking a look at the evidence. Look at what is. In this way, you can free your mind from the shackles of superstition.
Your atheist friend,
My response is in Green:
Thank you for allowing me to have my right to free expression. I have looked at the evidence and I ask you to do the same. My mind is not shackled by superstition, but if you want to think it is that is fine with me. I will address your first point first and I will tell you it will take a little bit of space, because it is not just a simple one sentence answer. I understand that you don't believe any of what I am about to tell you, but I ask you to at least read it with an open mind. You ask me "if there is a God..." so how about reading it as if there is a God. My point being as you read if you keep saying in your mind, "yeah great but there is no god to start with" then you are not reading it with an open mind and not really wanting an answer. Which is fine, but it just wastes both of our time.
The problem is not with God it is with us and how we view things. We are physical and we view things from a physical stand point. In other words we view things in the here and now, but God views them from a very different perspective.
It is not that He is incapable of stopping the evil in our world. He could stop it in the blink of an eye. It is not that He does not care about the injustices taking place all around us. It is not that He is busy or other wise distracted or removed from our plight.
The bottom line is simple but it is also one of the hardest answers to convey to someone who does not know God. The reason God allows evil to continue is that He loves us; all of us. We all came from the same vile stock: (Romans 3:22-24 NIV)  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Not one of us deserves to live, yet God loves us and sent His only Son to die in our place. He did that out of His love and mercy.
We need to understand a little bit about God and His character before we go on. God is holy: (Leviticus 11:44 NIV) I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. We also know that God demands death for our sins: (Romans 6:23 NIV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. There are also consequences for our sins: (Genesis 9:1-6 NIV)  Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.  The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.  Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.  "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.  And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.  "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."
God is just in His judgments: (Ezekiel 18:4 NIV) For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son--both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die. He is merciful: (Nehemiah 9:31 NIV) But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. And again we see God's love and mercy: (Romans 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So we know that God is holy, just, merciful and loves us, but what does that have to do with Him allowing sin to continue? It has everything to do with why. We see it in this passage: (2 Peter 3:9 NIV) The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God wants everyone to come to repentance. Unlike us, God loves everyone, including those we think are unlovable. The Sheriff's Department that I worked for had two Deputies killed in the line of duty. They answered a domestic disturbance call and were shot dead. As I prayed for these men's families and the other officers God laid it on my heart to pray for their killer. I struggled with it because I did not want to pray for him. He is unlovable in my natural (human) heart, but God reminded me that He loves this man. I find myself much like Jonah, I know God is merciful and I know that if this man truly repents and asks for forgiveness God will forgive him. I struggle with that. My heart tells me that he deserves to be punished for eternity for what he did.
He does deserve to spend eternity in hell for killing those two Deputies, but so do I for the things I have done and so you do, so do all of us.
As we saw God is holy and can't abide sin, His holy nature demands payment for sin. In His mercy He has postponed that payment until our physical death so that while we are alive we have the choice to repent and be saved or to rebel and ultimately pay for our sins in eternal torment. There is no "little" punishment for "little" sins; death, spiritual death is always the punishment for all sins.
That is important because if God were to stop evil in its tracks today, His holy nature would demand that those who sinned be punished. So those people who sinned would be put immediately into eternal torment. Since we have all sinned, only those who have repented and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior would be left. There would be no chance for the rest to repent. Think about this, if God put people in hell the moment they sinned, who of us would be here? None. Adam and Eve would have had no children. But even if they did, which one of us would still be here? Which one of us can say that we never sinned and therefore never would have been sent immediately to hell? None of us and that is the point.
Yes God could stop evil and sin today but because He loves us (mankind) He is patient and allows the evil to continue so that more people will come to know Him. I praise God that He did not destroy everyone who sinned while I was a sinner.
Bad things do happen to good people and good things happen to bad people, but again we look at things with human eyes. Who are the good people? Jesus said that only God was good. God will one day stop all evil and demand an accounting but in the mean time He is showing His love for us by allowing things to continue. God could rapture out of this world every person as soon as they repent and take Jesus Christ as their Savior, but He doesn't and again it is for the same reason. He loves the sinner and wants them to repent. (Romans 10:14-15 NIV)  How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
God addresses the idea that people who don't know Him will not understand His position: (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For those who do not know God, the fact that He allows evil to continue because of His great love is foolishness, but to someone who does know God, we praise Him that He loves us enough to allow evil to continue a short while longer.
Now let me address the reason evil exists in the first place. Your idea that a perfect being could not create anything that is not perfect is not the question. It is just a smoke screen. What God created was perfect, period. But He also gave His perfect creation the ability to think and to choose to follow Him or to rebel. Rebellion is sin and it is wrong. Did God create rebellion? No, it was created in the heart of those who rebelled.
So the next question is, does giving us a choice make God the author of evil? No, it is a choice that we make. He did not create perfect robots, He created perfect beings to whom He gave the ability to either follow Him or reject Him.
It is the same question you could ask about darkness. Did God create darkness? God created light and the opposite of light is darkness, so did God create darkness? It is the old half empty half full debate. The problem is that like I said it is a smoke screen that is meaningless. It is just about as meaningless as the question can God made a rock He can't lift? If He can then He is not God because He can't lift it, and if He can't then He is not God because He can't do something. Cute, but meaningless, just a smoke screen to make weak minds stumble.
If I allow one of my children to make a choice and they choose to do something wrong, have I made them choose what was wrong by giving them a choice? Of course not.
You need to figure out what God's image is before you can decide if God created us in His image or we created Him in ours. If there is no God as you claim, then where did you come from? Talk about the shackles of superstition, that describes evolution. Evolution is just as much a religion as Christianity, with the exception that people refuse to admit it. Show me the proof for evolution. There is none. You can show me micro evolution, because it is a well documented fact, but you can't show even one example of macro evolution. Macro evolution is the religion taught in public schools, it must be taken as a matter of faith, not fact.
Does that prove there is a God, no but it sure doesn't prove there isn't either. Be honest with yourself. If you can't prove there is a God to your satisfaction, fine, choose not to believe, but don't believe in something that has no more proof just because it helps you feel you are right about there being no God.
I am told all the time that there is plenty of proof for evolution. For example look at all the fossils in all the different layers of earth which equate to the billions of years the earth has been around. Yet not one, I repeat, not one of those fossils supports evolution. Plus that it is a sham. Do you know how they determine the age of a fossil? They determine it by the age of the layer of earth it is found in. Hey, that sounds pretty good, until you realize that the way they determine the age of the layer of earth is by what fossils are found in it. Talk about a smoke screen.
I hope you will at least think about these things. One day you will stand before that God you claim does not exist. What then? You can deny Him, you can claim there is no proof for Him, but none of that makes any difference. I can deny cars exist, I can claim there is no proof for cars, but if I walk out into the highway, guess what will happen.
Take care, I hope you find what you are looking for before it is too late. I have.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)
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