Does God Exist?: Arguments for the Existence of God – Program 4

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If God is all loving and all-powerful, then He wouldn’t allow evil and suffering to exist

We will examine the greatest obstacle to people believing in the existence of God. It is, “If God is all loving and all-powerful, then He wouldn’t allow evil and suffering to exist. But evil does exist. Therefore God does not exist.”

 

What is the greatest obstacle that keeps people from believing God exists? Many say it’s the problem of evil and suffering, which asks, How could a good God, who’s all loving and all powerful, allows so much evil and suffering in the world? My guest today will address both the emotional and intellectual side of this problem is philosopher Dr William Lane Craig, considered by many to be the top Christian philosopher of our generation. Dr. Craig holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England and also a doctor of theology degree from the University of Munich. Join us for this edition of the Janica Bird Show. Welcome to our programme. I’m John A. Coburg. Thanks for joining me today. We come to a question that may be the main question that keeps many people from believing in the Christian God. It’s the problem of evil and suffering. It goes like this. How can a good God is all loving at all? Powerful allows so much evil and suffering in the world. My guest today is one of the finest philosophers in the world. Dr. William Lane, Craig and Dr Craig, How would you go about answering this question in dealing with this question? John, I think it’s vitally important that we distinguish between what I call the intellectual problem of evil and the emotional problem of evil. The intellectual problem of evil concerns how to give a rational account of the co existence of God and the suffering in the world. The emotional problem concerns how to dissolve people’s dislike or abhorrence of a God who would permit them or others to suffer terribly. And I think this distinction is vitally important because the answer to the philosophical problem will probably appear dry and uncaring to the person who’s actually suffering emotionally from evil. On the other hand, the answer to the emotional problems have to appear superficial on philosophically inadequate to someone contemplating it as a mere philosophical question. So I believe that most people are really dealing with an emotional problem of evil, not an intellectual problem. But it’s important to address both because people think the problem is intellectual and by dissolving that version of the problem, we can then really get to the root issue, which is Thea emotional problem. Let’s start with the intellectual problem, then the intellectual problem again comes in two different versions. It’s important to distinguish the logical version and the probabilistic version. The logical version of the problem says that the co existence of God and evil is logically impossible. They’re like the irresistible force in the immovable object. If one exists, the other cannot exist. And since evil and suffering obviously exists, therefore it follows that God cannot exist. By contrast, the probabilistic version says, well, the co existence of God and evil is logically possible. All right, we’ll concede that. But nevertheless it’s highly improbable, given the evil and suffering the world. It’s very improbable that God exists. Yes, I’ll take the first one. The logical version of the problem of evil basically says that these two propositions are logically inconsistent with each other and all loving, all powerful God exists and evil exists. And since evil suffering obviously exists and follows that in all powerful, all loving God does not exist, that’s the logical version of the problem of evil. The problem with this version, John, is that no one has ever been able to demonstrate a logical contradiction between those two propositions. After all, one is not the negation of the other. So if the atheist is claiming that these two propositions are contradictory, he must mean they’re implicitly contradictory because they’re not explicitly contradictory. But in that case, he must be assuming some hidden premises that would bring out the contradiction and make it explicit. And the difficulty is that no atheist, no philosopher has ever been able to identify successfully what those hidden premises are that would bring out this contradiction and make it explicit. Bill, you say we go once to further and say that we can actually prove the that the existence of God and evil are logically consistent. How the road can you do that? Yes. Not only has the atheist failed to show that they are inconsistent, we can show that positively they are consistent. All we need to do is add a third premise, which is consistent with gods being all powerful and all loving and entails that evil exists. And here is such a premise. God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil and suffering. As long as that premise is even possibly true, it shows that there is no inconsistency between the existence of God and the existence of evil and suffering. So the atheist would have the very heavy burden of proof of showing that it is logically impossible that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing the evil and suffering in the world. And no atheist has ever been able to successfully shoulder that burden of proof. And therefore, I’m very pleased to be able to say today to our viewers that it is widely acknowledged among philosophers, even by atheist philosophers, that the logical version of the problem of evil has been solved. This version of the problem has been put to rest. There is no logical inconsistency between God and the evil and suffering in the world. Yeah, and if folks want to hear all of the reasons why philosophers have arrived at that conclusion, they can read your book reasonable faith. And it’s all in there. And it’s terrific. Well, let’s go back to even a deeper problem. That’s the probable list IQ problem of evil. What is that? Even Mawr difficult? Well, because the conclusion is more modest, it is easier to prove when you make a more modest claims. So this problem says, all right, all right. It’s It’s logically possible that God and evil co exist. But still it’s highly improbable, given the depth and the extent of the suffering the world. It’s improbable that there is an all powerful and all loving God. I bet you say there are three main reasons. Why does not improbable that God exists when there is evil and suffering in the world? Yes, I think that the atheist still cannot bear the burden of proof of showing that the evil and suffering in the world make God’s existence improbable. The first reason he can’t do this is because we’re just not in a good position to assess with any confidence the probability that God lacks morally sufficient reasons for the evils that we see in the world as finite persons. We are limited in intelligence and insight in space and time, and it may well be that God’s reasons for permitting the evil and suffering in the world might not emerge within our finite frame of reference. God is an infinite God who sees the end of history from the beginning and orders events toward his privation dens, and it might well be that the reasons that God has for allowing evil and suffering to enter our limited frame of reference may not emerge in history until hundreds of years from now. Maybe in another country. Every event that occurs in human history, no matter how trivial, sends a kind of ripple effect through history that has completely unforeseen consequences for those who are limited in time and space. Given illustration of this in a rapidly developing field of modern science called chaos theory, scientists have shown that even an event so trivial as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings sitting on a twig in the jungles of Africa can set in motion forces, which will eventually cause a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean. And yet no one observing that little butterfly can even in principle predict such an outcome now. Similarly, the brutal murder of an innocent man or a child’s dying of leukaemia sends a ripple effect through history so that God’s morally sufficient reasons for allowing this to occur may never emerge within our lifetime and maybe so complex that we could never in principle predict such an outcome. So when you contemplate God’s providence over the whole of human history and his directing a world of free persons toward his provisions ends. I think you can see it really is quite hopeless for us to be able to say with any kind of confidence that it is improbable that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting this or that evil that we observe to occur Now. The second reason why you say it is not improbable that God exists while even suffering exists in the world is that we have certain biblical doctrines that acknowledge the existence of evil. How do these relate the Christian faith and tails, certain doctrines that greatly increase the probability of evil in the world if the Christian God exists? What this means is that evil and suffering are really not all that surprising on Christian theism. Now, what are some of these doctrines? Will? The first is that the purpose of life is not human happiness in this life, but rather the knowledge of God. I think the reason the problem of suffering seems so difficult is that we naturally tend to assume that if God exists and his purpose for our lives is happiness in this world, God’s role is to construct a nice, comfortable Terreri, um, for his human pets to flourish, but on the Christian viewed, This is false. We are not gods pets. And the purpose of life is not human happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will bring about ultimate human happiness and fulfilment. And so many evils occur in this life, which may be utterly irrelevant to producing human happiness. But they may not be irrelevant to producing a deeper knowledge of God. It may well be that through the evil and suffering in the world, God actually uses these as a means of bringing people to a deeper knowledge of himself. You say the second reason biblical reason is that man is in a state of rebellion against God and his purposes. Exactly. Mankind is in a state of spirituals, rebellion against God. He has flouted God’s moral law. He has plunged himself into immorality and a generous E and the terrible inhumanity of man to man in this world. It’s simply testimony to the state of man’s moral depravity in this condition of spiritually alienation from God. And the Bible says God does not intervene to stop this, he lets human depravity run its course. And this only serves to underline our need of God’s forgiveness and moral cleansing and salvation. S. O the Christian reading the Bible is not surprised to find evil in the world. Not at all. On the contrary, the Christian will expect it, given our state of alienation and estrangement from God. You say the third biblical doctrine is the knowledge of God spills over into eternal life, which is very important. This is incredibly important. This life is not all there is on the biblical view this life is but the cramped and narrow fire that leads into the great Banquet hall of God’s eternity. And for those who have born, they’re suffering and pain in this life encourage independency upon God. They will look back on this life and say that it was worth going through this a million million million times over in order to know this joy in this happiness that they have in heaven. The Apostle Paul lived a life of incredible suffering. When you think about it and yet he was able to write, we do not lose heart. For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing as for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison because we look not to the things that air scene, but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient but the things that are unseen. Our eternal Paul imagines, as it were, a scale on which the rottenness and the suffering in this life is weighed against the weight of glory, that God will be still upon his Children in heaven. And he says, the weight of glory is so heavy that the sufferings of this life are not even worth being compared to it. And think about this the longer we spend an eternity with God, the mawr, the sufferings of this life shrink by comparison to literally an infinite decimal moment. And that’s why Paul could call them a slight, momentary affliction. He wasn’t being insensitive to those who suffered terribly. On the contrary, he was one of them. But he understood that in light of eternity, the sufferings of this life cannot be compared to the joy and the blessing that God will bestow upon his Children in heaven. The fourth typical reason is the knowledge of God, you say, is an income measurable. Good. Explain that this point is also made by Paul in the passage that I just quoted. He says that the sufferings of this life can’t even be compared to the blessing that we will know in heaven to know God, the source of infinite goodness and love is an incomparable good. The sufferings of this life can’t even be compared to it. And therefore the person who knows God, no matter how much he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still truly say God is good to me because he knows God and in commensurate ble good. These four Christian doctrines, if true, greatly decrease any improbability that the evil in the suffering in the world might be thought to throw upon the existence of God. So I think that at the end of the day, the suffering in the evil in the world do not render the existence of the Christian God improbable. On the contrary, I think the existence of the Christian God makes it quite probable that we would observe the evil and suffering in the world that we do. I build change hats and go back to our ally in here and say that the third reason that shows that it’s probable that God exists and also allows evil to exist is the full scope of the evidence. Exactly when the atheist says that it’s improbable that God exists? We immediately need to ask yourself Improbable relative to what you see probabilities air always relative to background information. For example, let’s suppose that spend is ah, young Swedish fellow and that it’s 90% probable that young Swedish fellows ski well relative to that background information that makes it highly probable that spend is a skier. But now suppose that we acquired the additional background information that’s fin is a double amputee and that 95% of Swedish double amputees do not ski will now, suddenly, relative to this new background information, it’s highly improbable that Sven is a skier. So when someone says it’s improbable that God exists, you need immediately ask improbable with respect of what with respect to the evil and suffering in the world. Well, if that’s all you consider for your background information, it’s no wonder God’s existence would look improbable relative to that alone. But that’s not the really interesting question, is it? The interesting question is relative to the full scope of the background information is God’s existence probable. And I persuaded that when you consider the full scope of the information relative to God’s existence, then God’s existence turns out to be quite probable. Even given any improbability that evil and suffering might be thought to throw upon his existence, there were several bits of information that you say support what you’ve just said. Tell us about that. In my debates and articles, I’ve defended a number of arguments for God’s existence. For example, I think that God is the best explanation of why the universe exists rather than nothing. I think God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe at a point in the finite past. I think God is the best explanation of the fine tuning of the universe for intelligent, interactive life. I think God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties in the world, and I would argue that God is the best explanation for the historical facts concerning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, so that when you consider the full scope of the background information, I think these arguments make it very probable that God exists even given any improbability that evil and suffering might be thought to throw upon the existence of God. Those who propound the problem of evil typically assume there’s nothing on the other side of the scale. But in fact, I think there is preponderant evidence for the existence of God on the other side of the scale that simply outweighs any improbability that results from evil and suffering. Yeah, but you made an astonishing statement. One of your books is that the problem of evil actually proves the eggs distance of God. Explain that this is related to the argument that I mentioned that God is the best explanation of objective moral values in the world. If God does not exist as an absolute standard for good and evil, then there really are no objective moral values. These air, just subjective illusions that air building to us from biological evolution and social conditioning so that we could argue it’s follows. Premise. One. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. Many atheists concede that point number two evil exists. That’s the atheist contention. Three. Therefore, objective moral values do exist, namely, some things are evil, from which it follows for Therefore, God exists. So paradoxically, even though evil at an emotional level seems to call into question God’s existence at a deeper philosophical level, evil actually proves God’s existence because in the absence of God, good and evil as such would not exist. Well, I think it’s so important that people also realise that the Christian faith has something to say. That’s very important about the emotional problem of evil. That’s right. Thes mental match in ations in response to the intellectual problem of evil, may not be very comforting to someone who’s actually going through terrible emotional pain as a result of suffering. And the question is, does the Christian faith have something to say about that emotional problem of evil? And I think it’s certainly does John, because it tells us that God is not some distant creator who stands aloof, cold and indifferent to the university has made. Rather, he is a loving, heavenly father who shares our sufferings and hurts with us. In fact, in the person of Jesus Christ, he enters into human history, and he identifies with us by taking on our suffering and our sin. Alvin Plan Nigga, who is one of the greatest philosophers in the world today has written the following with respect to this problem. As the Christian sees things, God does not stand idly by Cooley observing the suffering of his creatures, he enters into and shares are suffering. He endures the anguish of seeing his son the second person of the Trinity consigned to the bitterly cruel and shameful death of the cross. Christ was prepared to endure the agonies of hell itself in order to overcome sin and death and the evils that afflict our world and to confer on us a life Mork glorious than we can imagine. He was prepared to suffer on our behalf to accept suffering of which we conform. No conception. You see, on the cross, Christ innocently bore a suffering that none of us can contemplate. He bore the punishment for the sin of the whole world so that when we think about the emotional problem of evil, I think meditation upon the cross of Christ and what he was willing to go through because of his love for me can help to give me the strength and the courage to bear the cross that he calls upon me to bear in this finite life until I go to be with him in glory. For those who are absolutely crushed by their health problems or evil that has come into their life, they’ve lost a loved one. What would you say to them to encourage them? I would encourage them to meditate upon the wounds of Christ, to think of the depth of suffering that he underwent for you in order to bring you to God. And that can help to give you the courage and the strength to bear the suffering that he calls on you to bear. Taken example like Johnny Erickson, Tara, whom many of us admire. She was paralysed in a diving accident as a 17 year old and has now lived 45 years as a quadriplegic, had breast cancer experiences, pain. And yet she is a radiant Christian, thankful to know God and living a fruitful and productive life. Despite the terrible evil that she suffered. She could be an inspiration to us to find redemptive purpose is in our suffering into trust God in his goodness, to get us through this life until we go home to be with him for ever and to experience a recompense literally beyond comprehension. Folks, if you’ve got anything from the programme today, I want you to know that God cares about you and is already involved in your life and wants to doom. Or if you’ll call to him and ask for his help next week, we’re gonna turn to the important question of who? Woz. Jesus. How can we tell? He really said that. Things that we see in the four Gospels, it’s an important programme. I hope you’ll join us, then stay tuned for scenes from next week’s programme. Well, thank you for joining us today. Here on the John in cupboards show. If you’re interested in becoming a Christian, please go to our website at j show dot org’s Click on Become a Christian, which you’ll find at the top of our home page Lost. Be able to read information on how you may start a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Saviour. For more information concerning today’s programme, or if you’d like to watch some or other programmes in topics, go to our website at Jake’s show dot org’s Click on Watch. If you’d like to watch our television programmes on your smartphone. Go to your APP store and download our free Johnny Coburg show, and it will open to over 60 of our television programmes that you can watch any time anywhere for free. You’ll also see many other categories of information that are available to you. Join us next week for another episode of the Janica Birds Show What say thank you for watching May God richly bless you. Who was Jesus? How do we really know that he made any of the statements that we find in the four Gospels? You said? Until recently, critical scholars argued that Jesus of Nazareth never claimed to be the son of God or the Lord were any sort of divine figure. But today you say no such sceptical consensus exists. Tell us why. The reason, John, is that New Testament historians have come to appreciate the Gospels as generally reliable accounts of the life and teachings of the historical person Jesus of Nazareth. Sometimes this is called the Jewish reclamation of Jesus. Scholars have come to understand that the proper background for understanding Jesus of Nazareth is not Greco Roman mythology, but rather first century Palestinian Judy ism. Jesus was a Jew and all of the disciples were Jews. And it is against that background that Jesus of Nazareth is to be properly understood and interpreted. And when you do so, the Gospels begin to appear as accurate, generally reliable accounts for the life and teachings of this man. Jesus of Nazareth is referred to in a wide range of sources. In the ancient world, Jewish sources, Christian sources, Roman sources and the earliest of the sources were assembled into the New Testament. It’s important that our viewers understand that originally there wasn’t any such thing called the New Testament. There were just the separate documents in the Greek language handed down out of the first century, things like the Gospel of Luke, Theatrics of the Apostles, the first letter of Paul to the church in Corinth, Greece. And it wasn’t until hundreds of years later that the church assembled these documents under one cover and called it the New Testament

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ABOUT DR. JOHN ANKERBERG Dr. John Ankerberg is an American Christian television host, author, and speaker. Dr. Ankerberg is a graduate of the University of Illinois—Chicago,...

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