A start to answering emotional atheism

Last time, I raised a discussion regarding the emotional root of the problem of evil. The problem of evil (or “why do bad things happen?”) is, an intellectual question. However, when it becomes an objection to the faith it is in reality, an emotional response disguised as an intellectual argument. Because the challenge of evil is not an evidentiary case, from an intellectual standpoint, all that Christianity must do is to demonstrate that it is internally self-consistent (that is, we must be able to demonstrate that the problem of evil does not contradict the Christian faith, which it does not). However, the hidden reason that the intellectual argument is not satisfying is because the answer is something that unbelievers will not be willing to receive. My own God-given strength is the ability to answer questions intellectually. Obviously, a blog is not going to answer something as transient or as varied as either the human heart or the human experience. But, I believe there are some points we can present to initiate a basis for answering the question.

• While not always appropriate (because people will assume you are “blaming the victim”), putting the problem in the proper theological frame is helpful. The two types of evil involved in the question are either present in the form of nature (natural disasters, disease, and death) or man-caused malevolence (criminal assaults, murder, war, etc). Theologically, man has corrupted himself, and God has given men free will; the combination brings about the brutality of man committing crimes against man. God did curse the earth in response to the fall, bringing death, disease and disaster. While many may argue that this is not the best imaginable world, it may very well be the best possible world in which freewill exists.
• Because this issue consists of an emotionally fueled argument, then reminding people that Christ is with them through the disasters of life provides stability. Jesus suffers with them as they experience any trauma – and He desires to help.
• Remind them, as well, of the Bible’s teachings concerning the person of Christ. Scripture warns the unruly, but it also tells us of God’s mercy. Jesus said, for example, “Come unto me all you who labor and are overloaded”. While the problem of evil exists objectively, the Christian response is that we do not have to experience our trials alone.

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