Can God Be A Moral Monster

Is it possible for God to be morally wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

He told me that it the flood was wrong. I wanted to know why. The reply was that it brought about a lot of agony. I’m sure it did, but on what grounds does that mean it was wrong? There are plenty of events that bring about agony. Sometimes, it’s needed. I had a lot of agony after my back surgery. Still glad I went through it.

One of the big problems with this kind of objection is that it carries in it a built-in idea about God that many Christians hold to as well. The book Is God A Moral Monster? is a great book and I’m not saying Copan holds the view I am critiquing, but it could be asked if the claim is even possible. Can God be a moral monster?

When objections are raised about what God does, the claim often comes up that it is wrong for God to do X. Why? On what grounds? I am not going the presuppositionalist route here. This is not asking by what authority one can condemn God. It’s asking if questions of morality can even apply to God.

Consider how this works. If God is capable of being moral or immoral, then that means there is a moral law that is objective. Christians agree at this point, but does this mean that it applies to God? God is under the law and is to be held accountable to it? Who could hold God to account for it?

So if God takes a life, for example, on what grounds has He done something wrong? He is the Lord and source of all life. If He wants to take a life, He can. Is there anyone that He owes a life to? Is there anyone that God is in debt to?

Now one objection I can think of to this is that God has made promises. Doesn’t God keep His promises? Doesn’t He have an obligation to do that?

God does keep His promises, but it’s not because He’s moral, doing what He ought to do as there is no ought above Him. It is because He is good. All moral acts are good, but not all good acts are moral. Sometimes, we go above and beyond what we ought to do and that is a good act that is not required upon us.  I may have a moral requirement to help my neighbor in need. It’s going above and beyond if I can somehow pay all of his bills for a year.

If you ask me then if God is moral, I will say no. The question doesn’t apply. If you ask me if God is good, I will say absolutely. The question does apply. This is not because goodness is something outside of God He submits to. It is because goodness is His very nature. He is good because He cannot deny Himself or be untrue to Himself.

Thus, in a debate, I make it a point that my opponent has to demonstrate why God is supposedly in the wrong for anything. It’s not mine to assume God’s actions have to be defended. My opponent needs to show me why they need any defense at all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

A Little Change

What difference can one insignificant event make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with two old friends and all of us knew each other. We all worked at the same Wal-Mart, a different one than the one I am at now, and came from different and yet similar places in life. One of them was my friend Roger, who was involved in ministry and had a background of severe severe fundamentalism. It’s so much so that I would say it’s practically cultlike, and he would not disagree. He and I have discussed this before.

We all just happened to work together and then I went to seminary and we fell out and lost touch. Then lo and behold, Roger gets in touch with me one day and says he needs my help. He’s on the verge of losing his faith. I was absolutely shocked, but I told him I would work with him and for months, I did. I didn’t give pat answers and I demanded that he do his own work and study. Today, he is an extremely strong Christian and a devoted husband and father. If you want the whole story, you can find it here along with links to the story from his side.

As I thought about the way our friendships worked together, I thought about how my Dad and I are watching the Flash together and how parallel Earths are a reality in that. In those cases, there are various Earths and there could be minor differences from life here or there could be major differences, such as one Earth where the Nazis won World War II. I have sometimes wondered what life would be like on a parallel Earth where Roger and I never worked together.

Would someone else have been there to reach him? If not, would he have fallen away? What would have happened to his marriage? What would have happened to his kids? How could that affect matters years, decades, or centuries down the road?

There’s no way for us to tell, but it does show me that even small events in our lives can have a great impact. I was just a guy looking for a job and a way to pay my bills. Wal-Mart was definitely not a career and because of my interest in gaming, which Roger and I share, I just happened to be placed in electronics and worked alongside him as he worked in the cell phone area.

Right now, I hate working at a Wal-Mart again, but I try to remember that even here, I can be having an influence. Most of the kids I work are young enough that I could be their father, and so I try to be an older and wiser figure for them and advise them on their lives. The majority I think do know that I am a Christian. I am a respected individual, at least with them.

Who knows? Maybe sometime in the future I will encounter one of them and they will tell me something I did or said made a major difference for them. Now that doesn’t mean I stay there as God can use me anywhere, but it means like I said yesterday that this is His story and not mine and He does have a way of working it together.

So it could be for you. Wherever you are in life, God can use you somehow to have some influence on matters. Even the worst things in your life can be used.

There’s a story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were thrown into a prison camp and they had a smuggled Bible with them somehow and were able to do a Bible study with the women. Hundreds came to Christ. Corrie’s sister was someone who wanted to give thanks for everything, even the fleas in their room. Corrie thought she was crazy in all of this. How can you appreciate things like this?

Thankfully though, the guards never entered their room so they were able to continue ministry to the women and have an impact. It was only later they found out why the guards never came in. No. It wasn’t a major miracle or anything like that.

The guards didn’t want to be around the fleas.

Thank God for those fleas.

I’m sure many times, Corrie and her sister were not happy they shared their room with fleas, but those fleas even served a good purpose. If simple fleas can be used like that, what else can be? It’s not easy to do this. I know this as I do work that really bores me to no end, but I do try to remember that I have my own goals I want to reach outside of that place.

Maybe someone will be reached like Roger.

Reached because of whatever fleas I have to deal with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Not Just Love Is A Choice

What else is a choice in love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When you go through divorce, there are times as a Christian it seems like God is absent. For me, it’s normally when I’m at work and have nothing to keep my mind going and sadly, it goes downhill. Sometimes I think about matters with my ex and how she struggled with the question of love, including if I loved her. It was in some thinking that I reached a conclusion that relates to God as well.

I could always do more to show love. None of us do it perfectly. We are told love is a choice. If you want to love someone, you just do it. You don’t worry about having a feeling or not. You just do it. That is true.

However, it is also a choice to choose to believe that you are loved by someone. This doesn’t mean if you believe someone loves you, they do. Many a man has been disappointed after all thinking that the beautiful woman that he sees is madly in love with him as well. It does mean that if someone has shown you a loving attitude, you have to trust them by a choice that they genuinely love you, even if from a human perspective, and rightly so, that love is imperfect.

I thought about this with God recently as well. If I was someone who was doubting that God loved me, what more could He do for me to show me His love for me? Whatever else was done, if that was my requirement, would I not always ask for more? Would I not always insist that He go a bit further?

This kind of goes along with the problem of evil. We are told often that there is too much evil in the universe for there to be a good God. Okay. Well how much is too much? Is it that if there’s 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust it’s too much but 5 million would have been just fine? Do there need to be 20% less rapes and then it’s okay? 15% less children being abused and God becomes a possibility then? This is something difficult if not impossible to quantify.

Isn’t the problem of evil also when you get to it a trust problem? I don’t trust that God could be a good God or a real God if this is how He runs the universe? Naturally, we assume that we know better and hey, who can blame us. We’ve got a great track record on knowing how best to handle our problems so many times. Right?

If we are struggling with the reality of if we are loved or not at times, the problem most likely lies with us. Now with people, I can understand questioning at times, but with God, it definitely lies with us. We also know if we’re Christians how easy it is to lose sight. One moment, you’re doing great and saying you will never doubt God again and lo and behold a week later…..Or you go through a hard time and think “I have learned my lesson on trusting God now” and yet again a week later….

Going through divorce, I do get it. When a central relationship in your life shatters violently, it does cause reverberations across the board. I notice now that generally, I have a much harder time trusting people than I did before. I look forward to a new relationship with eagerness and fear. In making big decisions, there’s always a tendency to second guess myself now.

The thing I have to realize is that since I am loved by God, if I am loving Him back, which I strive for, all will work out somehow. God knows my desires and He knows how to provide for me. This isn’t my story. It’s His. I just play a bit part in it.

If you struggle with trust, I hope this helps you out also. This realization has been a good help to me as well. Sometimes we in the apologetics community can give an air of having it all together, which I think happens in ministry, but I have made it a point to want to make sure my audience knows I have struggles just like they do. Maybe they’re not exactly the same, but they’re struggles. I’m thankful many of my readers walk with me in them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Is Morality Constructed?

Is morality a construct? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“You’re telling me that judging right from wrong is just a matter of our personal feelings and preferences, grounded in nothing more substantial than our own views, with nothing external to back it up? That there are no objectively true moral facts out there in the world?
Yes, but admitting that morality is constructed, rather than found lying on the street, doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as morality. All hell has not broken loose.”
The Big Picture by Sean Carroll pg 409-410.
So says Carroll, and he does want to say that this doesn’t mean morality isn’t real, but this depends on what is meant by real. If you mean that there aren’t systems out there that we call morality, that’s false. People who do not believe in any external source of goodness and morality do hold to some idea of morality. If you mean that morality is not something that we discover, that is true though. In that sense, morality doesn’t exist.
Now for my purposes, when I talk about morality, I push it back further and ask about goodness. Very few people bother to even define good when they use the term. I prefer to go with what Aristotle said in the opening of his Ethics.
Goodness is that at which all things aim. Goodness has a being to it. A good pizza is the one that has the attributes a pizza should have. A good squirrel is one that can climb trees and eat nuts. A good book fulfills the purpose of a book. A good human being is one who lives as a human being ought and does actions a human being ought which are good actions.
It’s simplistic in writing it out because the philosophy is much more in-depth. Edward Feser does have a good introduction to it in his book Aquinas. I recommend someone curious go there if they want to learn more.
So now let’s consider what it means to be constructed. Carroll compares it to basketball. Just because basketball is a construct doesn’t mean the rules aren’t real. It used to be played with baskets and the ball would have to be fetched every time it went in, and then we found a hoop with a net worked a lot better. Why can’t morality be like basketball?
It is true basketball was nothing discovered. It was made up by someone. Normally, a shot is worth 2 points, but we could easily imagine a universe where it is worth 3. We can imagine a universe with 7 players on each team. However, imagine if these universes were real and some team from that universe tried to play a team from ours? We would have to bend the format of the game seriously since things were so different.
I’m an avid gamer and I find the history of video games fascinating. One thing I found out recently was that Mario might not have been the mascot of Nintendo. When Donkey Kong was being worked on, Popeye was being seriously considered for the role of the one fighting the big gorilla. We could have had Super Popeye Brothers or something similar. Bowser could have been forever replaced by Bluto.
There is nothing essential to these games, but is morality something like that? It could be I could have grown up in a universe where it was Super Popeye and be thinking, “Wow. I just learned the other day they were going to go with some plumber guy named Mario for a while. Can you imagine how bad that would have been?”
If we try to imagine a world where it is okay to torture babies for fun or where we would praise the Holocaust as a great event in human history or where boys were encouraged to go out and rape women, it sounds like a nightmare. It’s hard to imagine such a world. I can easily picture our scientific theories changing, but I cannot picture some moral principles ever changing.
The question we have to ask is if those principles are discovered or invented by us. If they are invented, then like basketball, we could make them whatever else we wanted eventually. It could happen just like it did with games. The Yakuza series of games went from a fighting style to an RPG style. Breath of the Wild broke the rules for Zelda games by making a truly open world Zelda game and it was the best selling Zelda game of all time. We can say torturing babies for fun is wrong, but we can eventually get to a point where it will be okay and practically celebrated.
If they are discovered though, we can go against the grain all we want to, but we are doing something truly evil if we torture babies for fun. It doesn’t matter if everyone else thinks otherwise. The whole planet could think it is okay to torture babies for fun and they would be wrong.
Now Carroll does say if we have moral differences, we can sit down and talk them out, but to what end? We talk about matters that we disagree to come to some truth, but if there is no moral truth, then why talk about it? We can talk about why we like different flavors of ice cream, but we don’t think there’s some eternal truth on ice cream flavors to be discovered, although if there was, peanut butter ice cream of any kind would be marked as the best of all.
Not only that, but why should I care about what you have to say in a conversation? Perhaps my morality that I construct tells me it’s okay to kill you on the spot and take your money and credit cards. You might not like that. Tough. Why should I care? Why should I be working on any goal with you? Why should I not just do what i want?
You want to tell me that’s wrong and that you will throw me in prison? Isn’t that just you enforcing your own morality on me? You want to punish someone for disagreeing with a claim you hold that is not objectively true anyway but is just your personal opinion?
Let’s go even further. The only reason any of us does anything is we think we are achieving some good. In Hitler’s mind, doing the holocaust was a good thing. In Stalin’s mind, murdering millions of his people was a good thing. The reason anyone does anything is they are pursuing what they perceive as a good.
But if nothing is truly good or bad but thinking makes it so, what reason is there to truly do anything? It’s all still just chasing an illusion. This is quite interesting for someone like Carroll who wants to be so scientific and live in reality.
But if reality is there is no good or bad at all, then why should we create a fake system just so we can survive? Do we have to deny reality in order to make it in this world? We could say all hell has not broken out yet, but if people en masse ever did embrace the idea of moral relativism or constructivism, there’s no reason it wouldn’t.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 6

Is Hell an insurmountable problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not really a shock when an emotional atheist complains about Hell. One expects it really. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist books, but I just found Bradley to be taxing. There was no challenge and it consistently felt like an emotional rant.

It’s not a shock that on a side note, he refers at the start of this chapter to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages. Most historians know that this was not the case at all. Science was very much on the rise in the Middle Ages.

Also in the chapter, he has a reference to an authority on how many times Hell is mentioned in the New Testament. His source is Dial The Truth Ministries on the internet. It would have been awful for him to, you know, pick up a Lexicon and/or Concordance or actually look at what a real Biblical scholar says.

Also, Bradley still always treats Hell as if it’s a burning inferno and never interacts with what evangelical scholars say about it. I do realize I have friends who hold to conditional immortality and I do not hold to that, but I don’t want to make that an issue here. Someone of that position can choose to respond to Bradley in their own way.

Bradley describes burning someone forever as cruel, to which I can say I don’t hold to that so that is not a problem. He also says that one should not be punished forever for crimes done in a finite time, but the length of time it takes to do an evil says nothing about how evil it was. We just had a school shooting recently that could have been done in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, running a Ponzi scheme for years takes a lot longer. Which one do we think should have the biggest sentence? Both are crimes and evil, but one is a worse evil even if it didn’t take as long.

He also says God would not punish someone for lack of correct belief. This is true. I do not hold that He does. God punishes people for their sins. It’s not as if that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, you are sin-free. Even if one is a skeptic of Christianity, most of us know we have all done wrong things in our life and some things we are ashamed of.

He also says God would not be unforgiving forever, and that is true. However, there is no reason to believe those in Hell would ever truly repent. If someone wants to make that case, let them. I hold that they are constantly in a state of sin and rebellion.

Really, these are all basic objections and most any Christian writing a defense of the doctrine of Hell would address these. Even if Bradley thinks the defenses are weak, he should at least interact with them. I kept wondering if he ever really read anyone who disagreed with him. I am skeptical of that.

Bradley thinks one has lost their logical marbles, (Yes. His words) for thinking God could not create a world that lacked moral evil. However, he gives no justification for this claim. After all, if God is going to create free agents who can choose, then it seems like He has to accept some of them will freely choose evil. Bradley does think the only interpretation of Christianity apparently is also a hyper-Calvinistic one.

He does say “What about Heaven? Isn’t that a place of perfection?” Indeed, and it is also a place we go to after we choose that kind of life. It is the result of choosing God. Even the angels had to make that choice.

Bradley also says that all of this is part of fundamentalist beliefs and he should know. After all, he used to be one of them. I would question the used to be part. Bradley, as far as I am concerned, lived his life a fundamentalist and I pray he did not die one. He just took one for the other side. (And once again as I point out, these guys love to give their personal testimonies.)

I really wish there was more to go on, but there isn’t. Naturally, Bradley doesn’t address my interpretation of the doctrine. This isn’t because I’m so special, but because I think Lewis held to this and it’s my understanding that the Orthodox Church holds to a similar view. Bradley only knows one view and that one, he doesn’t know well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

On Those Who Never Heard

What about those who never heard the gospel through no fault of their own? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Going through my review of chapter 5 of God’s Gravediggers, I found out that if I wrote something on those who never heard, I was not able to find it. I needed to clear that up. Therefore, this will be my question about those who through no fault of their own never heard the gospel in their lifetime?

Obviously, many people fall in this category. Even before Jesus, we have several people and many of them devout Jews in the Old Testament who never heard the gospel. What about people living in places like Australia and Japan in 35 A.D. The gospel would not reach there by then and even if it hypothetically had, there is no way it reached everyone.

What about babies who die before any age of accountability? What about people who have a severe mental handicap and cannot understand the message? These are all important questions.

At the start, let’s be clear. The Bible never answers this question I think because God doesn’t want us to have the answer. I believe if we did, it might cause us to grow even lazier in the job of what we’re supposed to be doing. God gives us the Great Commission. There is no Plan-B. He never says “If you should fail, this is what I’m doing instead, just so you know.”

We are told in the Psalms that God will judge the world with equity and Genesis has Abraham saying “Will not the judge of all the Earth do right?” (It’s important to note that for the purposes of this article, I am treating this like an internal critique of Christianity and so any allegation of the Bible not being reliable or anything like that is not relevant to this.) At the start then, one major point is no one will be able to say “It wasn’t fair.”

We also know that God is all-good in Christianity. God will not do anything that is evil. At the same time, God will also treat sin seriously, but He is a God of mercy as well as justice. The cross also shows us that God is working His part to get people into the Kingdom. He is making the initiative. (I will not be getting into Calvinist-Arminian issues, although I am much more Arminian)

We also know the text says that there is no other name given under Heaven by which we must be saved. However, does this mean that everyone has to explicitly know the name of Jesus? If so, then you have a problem with Old Testament saints who would not know that name. So what does it mean by the name of Jesus?

In this case, name refers to authority. When the apostles say this to the ruling Jews, they are essentially saying, “Jesus determines who is in the Kingdom and not you.” We use the same kind of language when we speak of stopping in the name of the Law. So if I am right, then this means that one does not have to explicitly hear the message.

We also know that Jesus said that many would come from all directions to the great banquet in the end while many of the Jews would be cast out. Revelation 7 speaks of a great multitude from all over that no man could number. Some will say that the way is narrow and few will find it, but I really think Jesus is speaking to the audience right there and saying few of the Jews of the time would come to Jesus, and if so, that is correct. One has to have an interpretation of Scripture that balances all of them and I hold that mine does.

My thinking then is God will judge people by the light they have and how obedient they were to it. I also think that if they are seeking more, God will give it. Sometimes, it will be by missionaries who come. It’s amazing how many missionaries have stories of people they came to who had never heard the gospel and yet later tell the missionaries, “We had a tradition here that one day people with a book would show up and they would be the ones with the message of the one true God.” Such events have happened.

There are also cases where miraculous events happen. Many Muslims have stories of Jesus appearing to them in dreams and visions and leading them to come to Christianity. Nabeel Qureshi in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus even tells about his own experience with this. These stories are becoming more and more common in the Muslim world and it has happened in other religions as well.

What about babies and the mentally handicapped? I’m prone to think that God will welcome them all into the Kingdom seeing as they could do nothing good or bad ultimately to affect their destiny. Children are even often seen as a salvation picture in the Bible. Why not go ahead and abort children so they can go to Heaven? Because getting to Heaven is not the only goal of Christianity and we are not to do evil that good may result.

This is a brief run-down, but they are my thoughts on the matter.

Now you know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 5

Is there a moral argument for atheism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Raymond Bradley tells us that there is a moral argument for atheism. Now I did find this intriguing. After all, it usually works the other way. Unfortunately, any such argument is nothing new. It’s all about the atrocities that God allegedly committed and this should show there is no God.

Those who know me know I don’t use the moral argument so much as I do the argument from goodness. I contend that God is not a moral being, but rather that He is a good being. Morality is doing what one is required to do and what one ought to do, but God has no set of laws He has to obey. Morality would have to be something above Him. Instead, God, whose nature is goodness, does the good that is His nature.

At the start, Bradley makes a statement off the cuff saying “Knowing the Bible as I do.”

It’s still a laugh every time I read it.

He also says that God is the creator of evil, no doubt with Isaiah 45:7 in mind. This is just more of Bradley keeping up his fundamentalist reading. Hint. Don’t talk about knowing the Bible if it is clear that you do not.

He also has a statement about it being morally wrong to provide one’s troops with women to use as sex-slaves. Again, no doubt Numbers 31 is in mind. I have responded to that here.

He also says that God allowed the people to indulge in cannibalism when they abandoned the covenant. What’s the problem here? God was very clear and said that if they abandoned Him then they would not get the benefit of His protection. Does God owe them protection in some way?

Finally, there is the sacrifice of Jephthah. I will refer to my ministry partner for that here. Thus far, it’s pretty much Bradley has a PhD and yet is bringing out the same old tropes that any internet atheist would bring out.

Of course, Bradley talks about Hell and the endless torture in Hell. He never seems to have considered that most evangelical scholars today do not believe in a fiery hell but believe that the flames are a way of describing judgment and not to be read in a wooden and literal sense. After all, Hell is also described as a place of darkness. I have my own view on the topic.

He also says Jesus invented the doctrine of Hell. For this, I want to thank my friend Chris Date who I asked if he had any resources on this as I knew Hell came from the intertestamental literature, but since he spends so much time on this doctrine, I figured he had the resources. He was kind enough to supply several passages. Consider Psalms of Solomon 2:31-34.

 the One raising me up to glory, but putting to sleep the arrogant for eternal destruction in dishonor, because they did not know Him.

2:32 And now, magnate of the earth, see the judgment of the Lord, that He is a great and righteous king, judging what is under heaven.

2:33 Praise God, you who fear the Lord with understanding, for the Lord’s mercy is upon those who fear Him along with the judgment

2:34 in order to separate between the righteous and the sinner and to repay sinners forever according to their actions,

Or consider 12:4-5?

12:4 May God remove far from the innocent the lips of the lawless persons in confusion, and may the bones of the slanderers be scattered far from those who fear the Lord. May the slanderous tongue be destroyed in flaming fire far from the saints.

12:5 May the Lord protect the quiet soul who hates injustice; may the Lord guide aright the men who makes peace at home.

Or 1 Enoch 46:4

He shall hurl kings from their thrones and their dominions; because they will not exalt and praise him, nor humble themselves before him, by whom their kingdoms were granted to them. The countenance likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed; nor from that their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.

There are just a few. I was not sure to use some of them because some do come shortly after Christ and I did not want to risk skeptics crying foul. All references are found in Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes. We can disagree on the nature of Hell, but we can be assured Jesus did not invent the doctrine.

Bradley also raises the problem of those who never heard. Again, there is no interaction with any different thought on this. Bradley speaks about how it is under the name of Jesus everyone is saved, thinking that means the phonetic name instead of the authority of the name. One is judged by the light they have and Jesus is the authority who determines if they are allowed into the Kingdom or not. Again, there are plenty of resources that could have been read on this topic by Bradley, but apparently, he chose to not interact with them.

Finally, in all of this, Bradley has throughout the chapter assumed good or evil. I agree he is right on their reality, but he gives no basis for them. This is just a chapter of indignation ultimately. It does not surprise me that emotional outrage is the fountain of many an internet atheist.

We will continue later.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

The Problem of Pleasure

Why is there so much good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We have all seen the problem of evil trotted out. Why would there be evil in the world if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good? This is a good question and I have addressed it many other times before, but let us consider something else.

If evil counts as evidence of the existing of God, shouldn’t it also go the other way? If all the evil counts as evidence against God, then could we not say “If the world is a random accident with no intentional cause whatsoever, why is there so much good in the world?” This isn’t a question original with me. It’s one that was asked by G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton said that we all know that we have to eat in order to survive, but that doesn’t mean food had to be tasty. We have to drink to survive, but that doesn’t mean that water had to be refreshing. We have to reproduce in order to survive, but the intense pleasure that comes from sexual reproduction didn’t have to be there.

The world could also exist in black and white and odds are it would have worked just fine. However, there is a huge multiplicity of colors. As a gamer, I remember when the Super Nintendo was being advertised that it was said to have 32,000 colors. It was impressive for many of us when we got a Crayola box of crayons that had 64 colors. This is 500 times that.

What we have to ask is if the world is mostly evil with some bits of good popping up every now and then, or is it mostly good, with evil being the interruption to it. There is suffering in every life and I know this firsthand with a lot that I have gone through, major surgery, intense depression, and divorce, but overall, I am convinced the world is mostly good. This is my Father’s world.

Ah, but I live in America and I have food and shelter and technology and so many other blessings. What about the rest of the world? However, what is said about the rest of the world often is those people often take their faith far more seriously and have a lot more joy than we do. There’s a reason there’s such a joke about first-world problems.

There are Christians in Iran who are getting baptized and doing so knowing that that can lead to their execution. When I read Craig Keener’s Impossible Love, I remember reading about the attitude of Keener’s father-in-law and thinking that I wish I had the courage that he had. He was definitely facing realities that I had never faced, such as being on medication and having to escape from a civil war and being forced to eat rats when there was nothing else.

So again, what’s the point in all of this? If evil counts as evidence against God, shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t good count as evidence for God? After all, if you are looking at data, you have to look at all data. If the universe has no intent behind it and no purpose, why should I think good would just happen? Why should food taste good or sex be incredible?

As a Christian also, I should give thanks for the good in the world more often and not take it for granted. I should enjoy time with good family and friends and appreciate the little things as well. Actually, that would be good advice for all of us, and if Lewis is correct, the more we enjoy true pleasure for the sake of that pleasure alone, we are more prone to come to God anyway. Perhaps if you focus on evil, you will be further drawn away.

So if you’re an atheist now, here’s something to think about. How do you address the problem of pleasure? Is there more good or evil in the world?

I leave that to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

School Shootings And Evil

Is this proof there is no God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I saw on Unbelievable? in Facebook a thread with a news story about the school shooting yesterday and showing it as proof that God does not exist. The problem with something like this is that proof is a strong word to use. I could understand skepticism, but most philosophers, even atheistic ones, agree that there would be no proof here. The logical problem of evil is not really used that much anymore.

Now I have some political thoughts on this event that I shared yesterday on Facebook and I plan on sharing here as an addendum to this post, but the theological ones are the ones worth talking about. I have said on another post that I do not understand the usage of the problem of evil in this way.

This is not about whether theism is true or not as this point cannot establish theism or atheism. This is on a more matter of living everyday and of practicality. We could consider it a sort of Pascal’s Wager point on how you would want the universe to be.

Let’s suppose we have two universes. In one, there is no God. Now right away, since I think God is necessary for the universe to exist in any way, I am granting a huge point, but this is just for the sake of argument. In this universe, matters are exactly the same for the most part and the school shooting has taken place.

Will the victims ever live again? Not a chance.

Will the parents ever see their children again? No way.

Will the teacher who was killed ever see their family again and vice-versa? Forget about it.

Will anyone who does such a crime and somehow gets away with it ever get justice? Not necessarily.

Is there any hope for healing? Perhaps, but it sure isn’t built in hope of resurrection.

In a Christian universe, all the answers are different. Now this does not show God exists, but it does show we should hope that God does exist. That an atheist wants to use this is practically a way to me of saying, “Let’s push some hopelessness!”

The pushback I received was mind-boggling. Unfortunately, that thread seems to have been eliminated so I will have to go by memory.

First I had said that good can come out of this, and so the reply was “So you’re saying what happened was good?”

Good grief. Do these people not read?

Let’s be clear. Evil is evil. That’s a tautology, but no one can make evil good. God doesn’t even make evil good. God makes evil people into good people and brings good things out of evil things. There is a difference.

But don’t I believe in Heaven in that this gunman could have repented right before death and received forgiveness and gone to Heaven?

He could have, though I think if someone is that bent on evil it is highly unlikely. However, would you honestly want it to be otherwise? If you would rather someone suffer for evil rather than realize the error of their ways and turn, then that reveals very little about the evildoer and much more about yourself. We should always hope someone will change their ways and repent. We should always hope someone would embrace the good.

Right now, I have an ex-wife. It would be easy to delight if something goes wrong with her and her desires and she has to suffer, but why should I want that at all? Note that this is even a woman who has accused me of being abusive to her and shattered my heart to pieces and I suffer everyday because of it. Why should I delight in her suffering? That will not help me at all in my life.

Instead, I pray for her constantly and that God will show her mercy and where I am in error, let justice and mercy come to me appropriately. If I were to pray that she suffer instead, then that reveals nothing about her and more about me.  Anyone can treat their friends well. It’s how you treat those who wrong you and your loved ones that shows who you are.

However, just because someone is in Heaven or in Hell doesn’t mean that it’s all equal. There are degrees of blessing and degrees of suffering. My ministry partner and I have talked about people who will be scrubbing toilets in the New Jerusalem.

There is also the claim that someone who is murdered if their murderer repents could be forced to spend eternity with the person who murdered them.

Yes? And?

That article is sufficient to deal with those claims.

I was also told that I said the murderer is good. Not at all. Scripture tells us none are good but God alone. The beauty of the Gospel is that it takes evil people and makes them good people, people like you and I.

To those who lost loved ones yesterday, Christianity offers hope of resurrection. It says that good can come out of the darkest places. It offers our Lord who Himself was in the darkest place and out of that came the greatest good. It also says that those who turn to Him can have hope.

From just a practical basis, I would hope Christianity was true and I would think any honest atheist would want to know that there could be a way that good could come out of evil and there will be hope. In an atheistic universe, I gain no practical benefit from this.

May we all pray for those involved yesterday and that includes the shooter’s family who has their own suffering as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Political addendum:

So after this shooting, I did watch and saw Biden make a speech where he pretty much immediately went after the gun lobby and called for the passing of stronger laws concerning guns.
I am old enough to remember where the politicizing of a tragedy was normally condemned right after it happened, but I guess that the rules change when the left has power.
But since it has already been done, here are some points to consider.
If someone is really willing to break a law against murder and even kill kids doing it, do you really think they are going to pay attention to a gun law? Does anyone think the only place to get guns is through a licensed dealer or a place that does background checks?
Here are some better ideas.
From now on, police investigate every claim about someone making any sort of threat whatsoever against a school. If it comes out sometime in this that the villain (And here’s a side point. Don’t mention their names. They don’t deserve credibility. Just call them the X shooter for whatever school it was) was reported many times and had a history of threats and the police never did anything, that’s on them then.
When we say a place is a gun-free zone, what we are really saying is “Come in here and start shooting because we can’t stop you!” Everyone should agree that most people who have guns in this country are good and law-abiding citizens. The overwhelming majority would never do what some idiot did today.
If gun laws won’t stop these people, and they won’t, what will stop them?
For one thing, enforce the laws we have. If someone commits a crime that results in the intentional taking of a human life, don’t dilly-dally on it. Get them in and get them in jail and keep them locked up. If we have to use the death penalty, we do. Let people see that crime has a price to it.
Second, there are countless veterans all over this country who would love to have a side job of some kind where they get to patrol our area schools and keep students safe. Let them take security positions in schools. Many of them would be glad to do it on even a volunteer position.
Third, any teacher who wants to should be allowed to have a gun with them. Don’t think you can trust them with it? Then why trust them with your kids? Teachers are adults who should have the right to arm themselves, especially to protect students that can often be like family to them.
A law will not stop a shooter, but what could stop them is the thought that there are several people in that school who could kill them just as quickly before they get to go on a mass shooting spree. The best defense is indeed a good offense. Let the criminals wonder who it is that has guns in a school or any other place for that matter and let them ask if they are willing to take that risk.
Gun laws do not work and gun-free zones do not work. If you want to murder someone, you will not be stopped by a law. Fear is what will work.

Divorce About A Year Later

How is life today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you know I have been applying to NOBTS. If you don’t know that, then obviously you need to subscribe to my newsletter. Recently while filling out the application, I had to explain the circumstances of my divorce. That involved getting out the paperwork and looking at it again. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was this month.

So how is it a year later?

Well, everyday in some ways, it still hurts.  Little things can happen that remind me of something from her. Sometimes, it can even be good things. I can pet my cat and be thinking about missing getting to touch her as well. I can hear someone say something and remember that she used to say that as well. Any time I feel rejection in some way, rightly or wrongly, it brings it back and I think about how I have been rejected.

That’s something that makes divorce so much different than something like death. Divorce is an intentional rejection by someone that is treating you like a problem that has to be eliminated. It doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes it is justified, but in my case, it wasn’t, and the irony is I had plenty of people, even priests and pastors and others telling me I could get a divorce at any time and it would be biblically based. One priest said a divorce was a godly option or I could remain a martyr in my marriage.

Loneliness is a big problem for me. That’s one more reason I want to move to the campus. I have friends, but very few of them are local, though it is nice for something like Final Fantasy XIV to have some people I can play it with. (If you play too, find me on there. My name is Phoenix Skywing.) It would be nice to have fellow men around who share my theological passions.

Of course, there’s also women to consider. A seminary could be a great place to find a devoted Christian woman who’s looking for her MRS degree. I had hoped that I would never be involved in this search again as it’s extremely difficult being on the spectrum and having to approach someone, but it looks like I am. Add in also that I am completely inept at knowing if someone is flirting with me or not.

It’s really odd to think I’m talking with my therapist about women I am interested in and getting advice. Normally, this seems to come up in most every weekly session. I still hate to this day going to bed at night and realizing that I am sleeping alone. I love having Shiro here with me, but it’s hard to think he’s stuck in one room at my parents’ house since they already have a cat and he only has me. He seems to tolerate my Mom some, and is slowly maybe starting to accept my Dad, but there’s no one he ultimately trusts but me.

There are some people who after a divorce seem to take a view that sex before marriage will be no big deal. I still hold the view that I don’t want it to happen, but having been married before and enjoyed that fruit, I also know what a great temptation it is for me. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid pornography still. That’s not about how awesome I am. There’s a great need to rely on the grace of God and His strength when I am weak.

However, as a guy, this is definitely a great want in my life. I find women to be absolutely beautiful and I don’t want to go through life alone. I also still wouldn’t mind being a Dad someday. Therefore, I do strive to be careful with women and have already set up some boundaries for when I am dating to help make temptation less likely to master me.

I have also become somewhat of an advocate for men going through divorce. One man was inspired to tell his story after I shared mine. I have also set up a Facebook group for Christian men going through divorce or who have gone through it or who are about to go through it.

It’s really sad divorce comes with such a stigma to it. We can think that if many churches today heard that Paul was coming back, they wouldn’t question him about coming behind the pulpit despite having been a murderer, but if news came out that Paul was a divorcee, then there would be serious questions as that had to be explained. I am not saying we should not take divorce seriously. We should. I am saying it is not the unpardonable sin.

Something that also stings in my case is knowing I was accused of being abusive by her. There are plenty of people who knew both of us who would tell you that this is not the case. As I said earlier, I have been told that I had grounds and I have tended to choose to not go into that due to my desire to not shame her. The news came out in September because we thought she had gone missing. A few people knew about it before I went public, but I had kept it secret for a reason.

I would be crazy to deny there was also some shame involved in that. I hate having to tell people I’m divorced. Divorce can be a scarlet letter that you wear.

At the same time, I try to not let it dominate my life. Many people can think about getting revenge on their exes. This is actually how Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series came about. She kept thinking of how she could kill her ex and then thought, “Why not turn it into a book series?” For me, I don’t really want that. There is a part of me that wants justice, but I want mercy also for her. I have decided personally that the best revenge is a life well-lived.

Even last night, I had a dream that we found out she had to go to the hospital again. This is just a dream, of course, so don’t take this as a fact, but I woke up from it and going back to sleep, I began praying for her again and her well-being. Can I say she has hurt me more than anyone else ever has? Yep. 100%. Still, I try to think of how I have treated my God and then I remember I too have rejected too many times one who loves me so much and I pray for mercy.

Going to work five days a week is a pain as well mainly because my job requires nothing that gives me any challenge intellectually, but is instead a lot of socializing. It’s one reason I am working on making Deeper Waters self-sustaining so that I can just do apologetics work full-time. Again, please consider becoming a donor to help make this so. The more free time I have, the more I can do the important things, like hopefully starting up the podcast again one day.

This is a season in my life. It’s a sad season, but it is still a season. It will pass. The thing is that when people say that, it doesn’t really help that much. You don’t want to have to wait for the season to end. You want it to end then.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people have been in my corner. I haven’t really lost relationships. If anything, my pain has been something that has helped some other men, and for that, I am grateful. I have one really good friend who has gone down this road and has interacted with me regularly. He had someone do the same for him. I am helping someone else down this road now and hope to help others down it too.

Still, I can’t deny the pain is real. You have to choose to keep going. There were times early on when it was sometimes tempting to just quit. That was never the answer though, although everyone I understand thinks about it at some point. I have chosen to face my pain consistently, but never doubt that it is very much there.

Sometimes people will reach out and say things that I also know are meant to be supportive, but they have the exact opposite effect. Some of it can even be true, such as the importance of being thankful for what you have. I am and should be, but I also do acknowledge there is a real loss on my end and a real desire for other gifts, like a remarriage some day.

Honestly, if you haven’t been through a divorce, one of the best things you can do is just listen. I might just need to vent a bit at times and then I can come to my own conclusions. Naturally, pray as well.

Thanks to so many people who have been there for me. I hope many of you never have to go through the pain of divorce, justified or unjustified. For those wanting to know about seminary, just follow my Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

Thank you again for everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)