“If God is real, explain all the suffering in the world.”
“If there really is a good and loving God, why doesn’t he stop bad people from doing bad things?”
Questions like these are often used by atheists or agnostics to help them explain away the existence of God. There are very good answers to these difficult questions, and I frequently write about them in this space. But for many of us, we are not going to convince someone who is being argumentative; no answer will suffice, especially when the answer requires us to wade waist deep into the theological waters.
Instead of trying to explain why God allows what He allows, and thus play defense, we can turn that accusation around and go on offense. Dr. Frank Turek, founder of the Christian apologetics ministry Cross Examined, once had a brilliant reply to such a challenge against the existence of God. He said, “Its easy to smell a rotten egg, but its hard to lay a better one.”
The point is that anyone can throw accusations. That is quite easy to do. Listen to a group of sports fans talk the day after a game. People who have never coached a game, or never played quarterback, will tear into the coach for a late game decision, or rip the QB for not making the right read when a 300lb. linebacker was blitzing him. In the same way, we criticize the President or governor for some gut wrenching decisions they had to make, and we often judge them in hindsight. We smell a rotten egg. The team lost the game. The legislation wasn’t perfect. Everybody sees it, and the finger-pointing begins.
Yes, it is easy to smell a rotten egg, but it is much harder to lay a better egg. That is, we might agree the quarterback made a mistake, but how many of us could actually have done it better? As this relates to the atheist’s critique of God, anyone can find something in the world they deem as wrong or unfair and use that as a charge against the goodness or omnipotence of God. “There are children in Africa born with AIDS, therefore, God must not exist.”
But rather than play defense and feel like we must defend God, as if God needs to be defended to mortals by mortals, we can demand the accuser lay a better egg. “OK, if God is not real, you give me a better solution. You explain human consciousness. You explain the ability to think and reason. You explain universal laws of morality, where every people group knows it is inherently wrong to steal and murder. You explain how the universe is fine tuned for human life. You explain how order came from chaos. You explain how there are laws of physics (or planetary motion, or gravity, or whatever) without a lawgiver or judge.”
While I can defend the goodness of God in a sinful world, I shouldn’t have to. The burden of proof lies with the one who rejects what all common sense (and real science) tells us: the God of the Bible is real, and He is the creator. If there are some things you do not like about God, He can handle that, but if you decide He isn’t real, it is up to you to lay a better egg.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”