Today we continue with Chapter Sixteen in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Sixteen, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact! Index page here.
[Audio Intro] – Jonathan Morrow introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 16 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.
Chapter Sixteen: Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians?
Chapter 16 examines the most difficult question raised against Christianity: the problem of evil (or of suffering). The authors lay out the problem as it is most commonly expressed in two different forms, showing that the logical problem of evil has been put to rest and the probabilistic problem of evil is not as strong as some would claim. In addition, the authors point out that everyone (not just Christians) must give an answer to the problem of evil. In doing this, they show that Christianity offers the greatest answer to the problem of evil.
Randy Alcorn contributes an essay which points the reader to take an eternal perspective on the issue of pain and suffering, showing that there is a purpose behind it, as well as a better future which awaits.
The writings of the New Atheists aim to put God, especially the God of Christianity, on trial for evil. This diversionary tactic is often effective because it draws attention away from their own view of the world and they are rarely forced to grapple with the gravity of the problem of evil on their terms. (p. 210)
The incarnation of Jesus demonstrates that God is not aloof or uninvolved in our world. He stepped into our existence, experienced all that we have ever experienced and more, and was crucified in our place to conquer death and evil, to redeem all of creation, and to make all things new. (p. 216)
As N. T. Wright points out, it is almost as if the entire story of the Bible is God telling us what he is doing about evil at personal, social, political, and cosmic levels, and the culmination of that story is the person of Jesus Christ. (p. 217)
When the storms of life hit, remember that God is always with us in the midst of whatever evil we encounter; he will never leave us or forsake us. Moreover, God will redeem the evil he allows in our life for good, even if we don’t see it immediately or at all. Finally, suffering is temporary and leads to increased faith now and glory in the future. The cross is the greatest reminder of God’s goodness and love. He knows, he cares, and he is with us in the midst of it. (pp. 218-219)
- What does the story of Joseph teach us about God’s purposes?
- Does God’s answers to Job shed any light on how we should approach the problem of evil?
- How would you describe the Bible’s answer to the problem of evil?
- If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil by Randy Alcorn
- “God, Evil, and Suffering.” by Daniel Howard-Snyder in Reason for the Hope Within, edited by Michael J. Murray