Answering Atheism (Five)

It is written:

“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually.” (Psalm 52:1)

The atheist often uses the suffering in our universe as an argument against God. As we hav noticed in previous articles, this argument simply does not hold water and in fact goes to demonstrate the existence of God.

When atheists argue against all the evil in the universe and pontificate about how angry they are that God should just stop it all, they really demonstrate that they are arguing against the freewill of mankind. The Word of God is clear that evil exists because angelkind and mankind have freely chosen to rebel against the Creator. The misuse of freedom is the basic definition of sin in Scripture.

Freedom itself is a good thing. When God had made the universe-including the freewill of His creatures-He declared it all to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Atheists will sometimes tell you that freedom is not a good thing; yet they obviously don’t really believe that since they are using their God-given freedom to complain about it!

Philosopher Dinesh D’Souza has written about the beauty of freewill powerfully:

“Why does God allow evil? Why doesn’t he stop it? These questions carry an understandable sense of bewilderment and even outrage. Yet the answer is staring us in the face. Of course God didn’t perpetrate the Holocaust; that was Hitler and the Nazis. Stalin and Mao committed their own crimes, as did Pol Pot. In case after case, we find that human beings are the ones responsible for crimes against their fellow creatures and, in some cases, against God’s creation itself. So why did they do these monstrous things? The simple answer is that they chose to. In perpetrating these outrages, human beings exercised their free will. It is free will, not God, that makes possible all the moral evil in the world and all the suffering that results from it….Obviously the next question is this: Why did God create man as a free creature? What are the benefits of free will, to man, and perhaps even to God? One possible answer—in fact, the Christian answer—is that God wanted to create a special type of creature that could relate to him and love him. While God loves all his creatures, he sought to create one in particular that could reciprocate his love. Now, it is in the nature of love to be free: love cannot be compelled. Consequently, God made humans free so that he could love them and they could love him in return. All very good for God, you might say, but what value does free will bring to us? Theologian John Hick gives an interesting answer to this question. Free will, he argues, enables us to make of the world an arena for self-improvement and self-perfection, a project he calls “soul-making.” Hick got his phrase from the poet John Keats, who once described the world as “the vale of soul-making.” In establishing his point, Hick cites the biblical statement that God made man in his “image” and “likeness.”70 God himself is free, and in making us in his image, he made us free. This alone gives us human dignity, which is the source of human self-worth and human rights and so much else. But if dignity is conferred by the Creator, respect and esteem are things we have to earn for ourselves. We do this by exercising our free will—this is the key—on behalf of virtue. For Hick, this is how we come to resemble God, to be in his “likeness.” In reciprocating God’s love and also performing acts of love in the world, with the help of grace, we start living our calling as imitators of a loving and holy God. So freedom is much more than the right to do what we want; it is the God-given ability to learn from the workshop of life and to make of ourselves a finished work that our Creator would be proud of. Why do we need free will to do this? Because freedom is the necessary prerequisite for virtue: coerced actions have no moral value, so without free will, there is no virtue. More than this, freedom is also a vehicle for human development. Sometimes we make bad decisions, but we can learn from them, and in this way we can progress and grow.71 While Hick frames his argument in religious vocabulary, it can also be understood in a secular way. Freedom is a school of responsibility for human beings. We all understand this very well when we send our children out into the world, allowing them freedom so that they can grow up and learn to be responsible adults. We don’t want to keep them in perpetual childhood, choosing the good for them; we want them to be good choosers themselves. Hick’s contention is that without freedom, we would be incapable of evil; but without freedom, we would also be incapable of good. I think this is inarguable, but I want to go further than this. Without freedom, I would argue, we would not be human at all. Freedom is not an incidental characteristic for humans. One can give paint to a building, but one cannot give roundness to a circle. That’s because roundness is an intrinsic characteristic of circles; without it, circles would cease to be circles. Freedom for humans is like roundness for circles: without it, we would lose our humanity.” (Dinesh D’Souza, Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is There A God Who Cares? YES. Ere’s Proof, 81-83 (Kindle Edition); Carol Springs, Illinois; Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.)

Simply stated, the only way that mankind can be free is if he is allowed to choose evil-even when that evil hurts God or himself.

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: