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by Logan Judy
“Between tornadoes in OK, droughts in TX, and Hurricanes in AL, there are a lot of natural disasters going on in the places God loves.”
That’s a quote from a video by a man who calls himself The Friendly Atheist, on reasons you should stop believing in God. It’s a common objection raised by atheists and skeptics to contest the existence of God, or at least the existence of a loving God: how can someone who cares for His people, who is also omniscient and omnipotent, allow or cause horrible things to happen to them?
There can be no denying that these things are horrible. The Holocaust, Hurricane Katrina, Columbine, these are all things that, whether coming from the morally evil actions of people, or the natural evil of horrible disasters, are certainly bad things, often happening to good and godly people. Even granting that God’s definition of righteousness is not our own, God’s people are commonly subjected to the same terrors as those around them. So the question remains: how is it possible for a loving God to allow these things to happen?
But while this question comes from, I believe, a sincere astonishment at the evil in the world, and sometimes evil that the questioner has felt in a very personal way, it’s really asking the wrong question. The question to begin with ought to be, how can you, an atheist or skeptic, propose that there is such a thing as evil? By surmising that there is evil in the world, are you not admitting that there is such a thing as an objective morality in the world? Are you not suggesting that there is indeed something objectively morally wrong about the Holocaust, and mass shootings that we’ve seen in the United States? Are you saying that there is something morally aberrant about tragedies happening to people who are, in your estimation, good people?
You see, in order to make the claim that if there is a God, he allows morally evil things to happen, we have to nail down what we are defining as moral and immoral. There are some common things among most systems of morality in the world, that is true – typically we recognize that murder is wrong, kindness is good, sacrifice is commendable, and many other things. The fact that we do seem to have, generally speaking, a similar sense of morality is, I believe, one of the greatest arguments for the existence of a moral lawgiver. But as it pertains to the discussion, we must ascertain what the questioner means when he says moral…
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