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Archive for the ‘Problem of Evil’ Category

Q: I really do believe in Jesus, but sometimes I wonder if it’s all too good to be true. What I mean is, how can God possibly love us and forgive us when we treat Him so badly? If I were God, I don’t think I’d bother with the human race, let alone let us into heaven. — G.R.

A: There is very little (if any) truth in the bible. It is both too good and too horrible to be true. It’s too good to be true because it says that people who perform horrible acts throughout their lives can repent on their death bed and go to paradise when they die. It’s too horrible to be true because it says that its all-powerful god not only allows evil to exist, but perpetrates mass murder and genocide. It’s also too absurd, too bigoted, too misogynistic, and too contradictory to be the true word of a loving god. If I were you, I don’t think I’d bother with any gods. If you consider belief in a supernatural deity and think for yourself, you are likely to reject any such beliefs as irrational.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Devil Belief

Q: I’ve always said I don’t believe in the devil, but we had a terrible case of murder-suicide in our town a few weeks ago and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe the devil is real after all. What happened just didn’t make any sense, and I can’t find any other explanation for it. — L.T.

A: There are many, many things that happen that are hard to understand or that don’t make sense. Some of these are awful (the murder you mentioned) while some are wonderful (inception of life on Earth). However, while these may be difficult to understand, they are not necessarily impossible to understand or the work of a god or a devil. Our understanding of the universe, our world, and ourselves is progressing greatly, and many of the things we don’t understand may be explained in the future. It may be easy to default to “God did it” or “the devil did it” but its not honest to do so.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why a loving, all-powerful god would create evil and allow horrible things to happen such as the Haitian earthquake, child rape, murder, etc. I also can’t understand how otherwise intelligent people not only believe that such a god exists but also praise that god.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Q: Why didn’t Jesus stay on earth longer? It seems to me that He could have done a lot more good if He’d lived a long time. After all, He could have avoided getting arrested and put to death, couldn’t He? — N.N.

A: If Jesus had existed and was a benevolent god, he certainly “could have done a lot more good if He’d lived a long time.” He also should have had the power to avoid capture and execution. You could also say that any god that exists could remove oppression, sickness, suffering, birth defects, etc. from our world with a thought. The most logical reason these did not happen is that there are no gods.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Good Times

Q: Will God give us a second chance after we die to believe in Jesus and go to heaven? I sure hope so, because I’m having too good a time now to bother with God, but I admit I don’t want to go to hell. — D.H.

A: As I mentioned just last Friday, heaven does not exist. Whenever I am asked this type of question, I cannot help but think of the problem of evil. This is one issue (of many) that leads me time and again to conclude that an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing god does not exist.

There is nothing inherently wrong with having a good time as long as it does not cause undo harm to others, society, or our environment. Religions are notorious for condemning enjoyable behaviors, i.e., things that all of us do. This gives them a reason to exert their influence on the “unfaithful” and maintain their influence and power in our society.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Q: If Jesus was without sin, then why was He baptized by John the Baptist? I thought baptism was a sign of repentance and our faith, but Jesus didn’t need to repent, did He? — S.C.T.

A: This is another example of the muddled logic and plot of the bible. It is possible to view this as an inconsistency: Jesus did not need to repent, but did anyway. On the other hand, many Christians would say that Jesus took the burden of all of mankind’s sins onto himself, and was repenting for these. The latter is also hard to accept. Why did the Christian god need to introduce the Jesus character to forgive sins? According the to powers attributed to it in the bible, it could have done this with a thought. There are more questions to ask here. Why did god create man with the ability to sin? What did god create the evil that allows man to sin against it? It could have forgone the Jesus sacrifice and the need to forgive sins by not creating evil and sin in the first place. These types of stories appear in many religious texts (not only the Christian ones) as an attempt to rationalize mankind’s capability to harm others with some god’s perfection and infinite power. However, the simplest and most rational way to resolve this issue is to realize that none of these gods exist and that there is no “higher power” that we must obey.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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People in Heaven

Q: Do people in heaven know what happens on earth? If so, wouldn’t it make them sad to see all our suffering and evil? Isn’t heaven supposed to be a happy place? This puzzles me. — J. McF.

A: As I said before (here, here, and here), there is no rational reason to believe that any type of Heaven (especially the Christian one) exists. Therefore, any discussion of what people in Heaven do is ridiculous. However, I will mention something that puzzles me. If a god created humans and loves us, why does suffering and evil exist in the world? I addressed this question in this previous post .

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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Q: I believe in God, but where does Jesus fit into the picture? Why do I have to believe in Him, in addition to believing in God? — C.L.

A: There are many problems with the Jesus story as told in the Christian bible. In addition to the large number of internal inconsistencies there are more fundamental questions about it that cannot be answered rationally. I will just address two of these.

  1. The god of the bible sends his son, Jesus (who is really part of the god), to Earth as a man so that he can be sacrificed by crucifixion to forgive the sins of humans against the god. In other words, the god sacrifices itself to itself so that he can forgive the sins of humans against itself. Also, an individual’s sins are only forgiven if they believe this fantastical story to be true. According to Jesus in the bible, the god does this because it loves humans. Here’s the problem: Why could the god just not have forgiven the sins of humans without going through the Jesus process of virgin birth, performing miracles, crucifixion, etc? If this god exists, that should have been well within its power. Some Christians may say that the god chose this method so that we could be tested. However, it should also be within this god’s power to know beforehand whether an individual would pass this test.
  2. The discussion above brings up another problem: the presence of evil. Why did the god allow evil to be created? According to the bible, this evil led to the sins of humans which then required the birth and death of Jesus. If the god created the universe and loves us humans like the bible says, why did it create evil?
There are no satisfactory answers to these questions. The only rational explanation is that the Christian bible is a work of human fiction.

For a humorous look at the issue of “the god making itself human and sacrificing itself to itself”, watch Mr. Deity and the Identity Crisis.

Update: The BEattitide blog addressed this same issue today.

Billy Graham’s answer.

Feel free to leave your answer to this question in the comments.

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