The Perfect World Does Not Exist

What is the perfect? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“We believe God created this world to be perfect for us to live in.”

My evangelism partner said something similar to this as we went door-to-door. I told him I wouldn’t say that. I gave a brief answer why, but why not spell things out more in detail here?

What I am going to say also has really nothing to do with the age of the Earth. I think someone who holds to a young-Earth if they so choose could hold this. I am not interested in a deep debate about the science behind the matters. I am going by simple observational clues. Those who want to debate deeper science can do that, but I realize I am definitely not knowledgable enough in the area to do that.

I was asked after saying that that if this world wasn’t perfect, what was it? That was a simple question to answer. I said what the Bible says. Good. This world was made good.

Could this world even be perfect? What would that entail? After all, the world is going to be changing constantly. Will it be moving from perfect to imperfect? Certainly not. Imperfect to perfect? Then it wasn’t made perfect. Degrees of perfection? In a certain sense, that is understandable, but that still means we don’t have perfect as most of us understand it.

So let’s move on to other points. For one thing, many animals were created with attributes that make no sense in a perfect world. For instance, the digestive system of creatures that eat meat and their teeth are very different from those that eat grass products.

Also, consider other creatures. My favorite example is the porcupine. Did it ever not have quills? Could the chameleon always change its color to hide? Did poisonous creatures suddenly get the ability to pass on poison to targets? What about mayflies? They live an extremely short time. What would happen if they never died?

But what about Romans 5:12? Through sin, death came into the world!

I don’t see any reason to think that this means all physical death. I take it to mean spiritual death, the death due to sin. Consider two points in addition.

First off, why is there a tree of life in the garden if there is no need for man to sustain life? My theory is that man is created potentially immortal, but that would have been by continuing sustenance from the tree of life. God alone is said to be inherently immortal.

Second, God tells Adam and Eve that if they eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they will die. Imagine if He said, “You will florble if you eat the fruit.” My writing here has the word florble underlined red. It doesn’t recognize it. There’s a reason for that. I made it up.

For the threat to have any meaning, the word would have to be understood by Adam and Eve. They had to know what awaited them if they disobeyed. Somehow, they did.

Also, if you do believe God knows the future, then you would have to have it be that this world went from perfect to imperfect, and if it could do that, well, it wasn’t perfect to begin with. However, you also have to know when God made the world, He knew mankind would fall. He knew this world would have evil throughout it soon.

Okay. Well what about Heaven? Will that be perfect? No. It will not.

It will be good and it will have no evil, but imagine this. Could we not add one more person and it would be a better experience? One more angel? Anything like that?

In Heaven, there will be no suffering and no evil, but there will always be ways things could be better because we are all less than perfect by nature. God alone is perfect. Everything else is good and lacking nothing that is fitting for them, but they are not perfect.

The perfect world doesn’t exist.

The perfect God does.

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

Why Does God Allow Abuse?

If someone has been abused, what do you say about why God allowed it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I wrote about abuse, but I didn’t say much about why it is allowed. This is always the kind of question you don’t really want to get because in many ways, the person is searching for answers perhaps to try to make sense of their lives. Many of us have gone through a trial of suffering and wondered what was going on.

When my divorce was becoming a reality, I prayed hard every night. I wanted a healing for my marriage. I wanted this nightmare to go away and things to be the way they should. I wanted God to show up in a remarkable way, or really just any way, so that the day could be saved and I would have a happy marriage. Surely God would want to do this! Right?

All I can say is God allowed me to get divorced and well, I don’t like it, but I have also learned He didn’t owe me a marriage and I just need to keep serving regardless and hope that door opens again someday. That being said, I know that’s not the same as abuse still. After all, in abuse, you are actively being hurt and seeking an end to pain. I say it though because I want those of us dealing with this to think about what is the greatest pain in our lives we went through that God DIDN’T answer the way we wanted.

The thing is, an abuser in many ways becomes a controller. One lives constantly with the pain that has come about because of the abuse. This is something that occurred to me as I had to move in to my parents’ house again after my divorce, feeling like a failure in many ways as a 40+ year-old man having to do this again. Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful to them for taking their son in again, but it wasn’t where I wanted to be as much as I love my parents.

Yet I told myself that I have been playing games all my life. Will I not try to approach this the same way? I can either keel over and be a victim, or I can get up and be a victor. The motto “Play to Win” became an anthem in my life.

Ultimately, I also encourage people to do this. Choose to be a victor. I know some people going through divorce can seek revenge. I earnestly battle not to within myself. The only exception is this other saying I try to live by. “The best revenge is a life well-lived.” Holding hostility does no good.

For abuse victims, I wonder if it could be the same. Can you learn to be a victor? Can you be able eventually to forgive internally at least your abuser? Could you want their well-being to take place? I think about someone I have met who has made a ministry from overcoming her abuse to helping others overcome abuse. You can find her here.

Yet the question is still unanswered. Why does God allow it?


Folks. Unless you are 100% absolutely sure that you have a divine message, which I seriously doubt you do, the best answer is really, “We don’t know.” Does that mean atheism is true? Not even close. If anything, atheism just makes the problem worse. As I have argued elsewhere, you gain nothing removing God from the equation. After all, you still have the evil. You have just removed the source of goodness and justice.

We can say generally the reasons God allows evil, but why a particular evil is allowed? That cannot be said without divine revelation. Too often we in an effort I suspect to appear spiritual try to act like we know the will of God. We do more harm than good. Scripture instead tells us to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep.

There are good works out there on the problem of evil, but the best answer to one in the pain is not an argument. It is a friendship with them. It is showing them love and being willing to bear their suffering with them. Will there come a time later to discuss the problem of evil? Of course, and it should be done when the person is ready.

Some of you might be disappointed by that answer and were hoping for some major insight you could use in this situation. There isn’t one. Evil ruins so much and we need to realize that. We know Jesus is the answer ultimately, but we don’t have all the answers on an individual level. We shouldn’t claim to.

We do know we should love on an individual level.

Let’s do what we know.

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Conclusion

How shall we wrap this up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In these last two chapters, we find Humphrys being rather charitable. For instance, the main point he wants to get across is how the new atheists want to say we would be better off without religion. John Lennon’s Imagine would have us all think the world would be a better place if we got rid of religion.

Not so fast. Humphrys rightly points out that when you look at the mass killings of people in the 20th century, it wasn’t religion that was largely responsible. It was Communism. When you look at the major wars that happened, religion could be a factor, but it was way down the list if it was.

How about those Muslim suicide bombers? They weren’t the first. It was the Tamil Tigers that came up with the suicide bomber strategy. That was a Marxist-Leninist group in Sri Lanka. He does say that Muslim bombers today are not reflecting mainstream Islam to which I want to say “How are they not?” After all, the first Muslim groups were hardly peaceful.

He also points out that some might say extreme religion is a danger, but materialism and consumerism is also a threat. What about all these kids who are wanting to go on apps like TikTok and become celebrities? What about a culture that wants more and more and more and yet is never happy?

This isn’t to say Humphrys is entirely positive about religion. He says that it’s not that religious people don’t have time to reason out their beliefs. They don’t want to. They don’t want to think about things that have been done in the name of God. His example of this is an alleged Roman Catholic who doesn’t even believe in the deity of Christ, but finds theism comforting.

It is true that God can be a great comfort, but I do not believe in God for comfort. I believe in Him because of the evidence. I am also not bothered by the “Christians have done evil in history.” Yeah. All of us have. That’s because we’re all fallen creatures. I don’t think we should ignore the question, but it’s not a defeater.

In the end, what do I think keeps Humphrys from believing? It’s not reason. He doesn’t really deal with any arguments for the existing of God in this book. If anything, his argument seems to be more emotional. He has a hard time with evil, but if he does, that should make it all the more reason for him to be a theist.

I think about a meme I saw an atheist share yesterday with a woman, presumably in Africa, holding a dead child and crying and for us to think about how easy it is to worship God when we’re not that woman. No doubt, that woman is suffering, but as I have argued before, take away God. What do you have? This is definitely a hypothetical as I think if you take away God, nothing can exist, but you still have the crying woman and the dead child.

The problem is still the same. What you have removed is hope. On Christian theism, there is a God who will deal justly in this situation. There is a God who can bring good out of evil. There is a God who can raise the dead. Atheism takes away the possibility of hope and still leaves the problem. How is that reasonable?

Keep in mind, I am not saying that that makes Christianity true, but it sure gives you reason to consider it seriously and to at least want it to be true on some level, especially if you say you care about the woman involved. If there is no greater source of justice and hope in the universe, well some people just get dealt a very bad hand of cards and it sucks to be you if you get that bad hand. Christianity has someone overseeing the game who will make sure justice will come out right in the end.

That should give us hope and also give us a degree of fear. Justice will come for us as well. We better make sure we are ready.

We can pray that Humphrys reconsiders his opinion. Perhaps those arguments really are better than what an inquisitive child can see through. Perhaps there really is a God who loves Him out there and can give hope and justice.

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 13

Are we just serving our genes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Humphrys makes a list of heroic people and why they did what they did. An atheist like Richard Dawkins will write that we are living in service of our selfish genes. It’s a reversal of sorts of the Christian view. In our view, we are doing what we do in service of God, but in the atheist view, it is in service of ourselves. (Not sure how aborting your children works with that considering they can’t pass on any more genes for you or sterilizing your children through “gender-affirming care”, but that’s another point.)

But Humphrys doesn’t think this works. He talks about the Virginia Tech shooting as one example. Liviu Librescu, a 76 year-old math teacher, held the door shut so his students could escape through the windows knowing this would lead to his death. On another aside, it is disappointing that in these cases, many of us can bring to mind the shooter, but not the heroes that held back the shooter to some extent. Was Librescu doing this to serve his genes?

Humphrys doesn’t find this credible, and again, I agree. In a sense, genes have become a sort of god for Dawkins and others who go this route. Whatever the genes are commanding, this must be obeyed. This is not to say that we don’t have base desires that we all fall prey to. If we didn’t, there wouldn’t be a problem with obesity, broken marriages, STDs, etc. in our world today.

Humphrys goes on to list a number of heroes and it’s worth reading this chapter just to hear what their stories are. Too often when we think about evil, we ask what is it that makes evil people do what they do? Could it perhaps be better to ask “What is it that makes good people do what they do?” and then find ways to make that far more likely to happen? Just a long shot here, but maybe we should consider the virtues that lead to people doing that and celebrate those virtues and condemn the vices that go the other way.

However, there is an unfortunate statement in this chapter in that Humphrys concludes that atheists have the best arguments. What they don’t have is a grasp of what it is that makes human beings what we are. I agree with the latter, but I definitely disagree with the former.

On the latter point, could we not consider that if atheists don’t have that, could that lead to the idea that man is more than just a material being? Could it lead to the idea of essences and substances? Could it lead to a soul, a spirit, or something of that sort? Would this not be a problematic position for atheism to explain anyway? If human beings are just material objects and we have been studying matter for so long and have personal experience with this matter, shouldn’t we have a good idea of what we are?

However, throughout this book, there has been little attention paid to theistic arguments. Even in the chapter featuring Craig, the only response given was that it was nonsense, all of it, and then Humphrys goes on to criticize Craig instead of asking his side how they can better answer Craig. I don’t see the Thomistic arguments ever dealt with nor do I see the philosophers used that have taken on the problem of evil.

Humphrys then is too dismissive. It seems that evil is just something that controls his thinking and that is the real draw. How can a good God allow evil? The problem is this is often a much more emotional argument than a rational one. We see this when Humphrys says that when a cab driver murders his wife and four children, that overpowers an argument.

Could it be atheists actually have the more emotional opinion?

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

Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 12

Does Humphrys understand evil and morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re on the final section of this book. Humphrys begins this with talking about evil, the card he seems to play most often. He talks about the case of a taxi driver  who murdered his wife with a baseball bat. Then he went upstairs, got one of his four small children and took her downstairs and murdered her. Then he did the rest with his other three children.

From here, Humphrys goes on to tell us about theodicies, which are said to be how to justify the ways of God to men, a term I don’t care for. It assumes that God needs to be justified. Still, it has been around a long time and if you mean an answer to the problem of evil, it is fine.

However, he says for those who take a less intellectual approach, the cries of a child resonate more than an elegant argument. This is a quite telling statement. At the start of this book. Humphrys said anyone with the mind of an inquisitive child can see the God arguments fail. Now at the end, he is saying those who do not go the intellectual route are more persuaded by the case of this murder.

Yet at the same time, if there is no God, then ultimately, what this taxi driver did doesn’t matter in the long run. If he was never caught, he got away with it. There will never be justice for the woman and her children. They will never enjoy life again. If there is a God, and especially the Christian God, there is no free pass for this man. He will face judgment. Even if he repents, the consequences of his action will carry over into eternity still.

Later, Humphrys will speak of the view of theists that atheists could develop a moral code, but without God, there is no way of knowing good from evil. Humphrys says that this is rubbish. How is that so many societies who didn’t know that this monotheistic God existed still produce a moral code very similar in many ways to what is had today?

Once again, Humphrys is someone who does not know what the argument is and if anything, his objection actually DEMONSTRATES the claim of theism. No one is saying you have to have knowledge of God to know right from wrong. Scripture even argues in Romans 2 that all men know this because God has placed it on their hearts in some way.

What the argument claims is that if God does not exist, there is no metaphysical basis for good or evil. (Actually, there’s no metaphysical basis for anything, but that’s another post.) Good and evil as ideas make no sense apart from God. As Dostoyevsky said, if there is no God, anything goes. One does not need to know of this God to know good from evil, but this God needs to be for the knowledge to be there.

Right now, I am also reading The Plague by Camus where he attempts to answer the claims of someone like Dostoyevsky by having a plague in a city killing multiple people and so the city is sealed off from the outside world. The hero is a doctor who does not believe in God, and yet he goes about trying to relieve the suffering of the people of the city. Therefore, God is not needed for morality.

The problem is this is still the world and in this world, good and evil still exist and you don’t have to be a theist to believe in those. However, giving a metaphysical basis is different. What is this good? Why should I think the doctor is the hero? Why should I see him as the good guy?

He also says in America, that some Christians are so convinced of the evils of abortion that some doctors fear their lives due to what has happened to their unfortunate colleagues. It is difficult for us to think of people who have been bombing abortion clinics. For me, just one name comes to mind. These are by and far the exception. Of course, Humphrys doesn’t really give a reason why abortion should be allowed and while I don’t agree with murder in response, I do agree that abortion is a great evil, one of the worst actually.

He also asks if theists can produce a moral code atheists can agree to. He thinks there are plenty of rules that we could all get along with, but then says that even Jimmy Carter said that he has lusted in his heart in an interview. He says this caused a stir in the Baptist community, but why should it? Does anyone really think they haven’t committed this sin, especially my fellow men? Besides this, a moral code should be something you strive to live up to. It should not be easy.

He then produces his own moral code that he says our more enlightened society should embrace to put to death the fundamentalist mindset. On top of the list is homosexuality is not a sin. If all he said was the temptation is not a sin, I would agree, but if he means the behavior, he needs to give me a reason why I should think this. We can talk all we want about how progressive and enlightened we are in society, but when you look at the rate of STDs and of broken families and fatherless children, does anyone think we are really better off?

What a shock that the next one is a woman should be allowed abortion as long as the rules of society are followed. Here we have a talk of enlightened society and what do you know? The first two rules are about sex. Why am I not surprised?

He also says there is hardly a soul alive he is sure who does not regret some sexual adventure. Humphrys must not know a lot of people. I could introduce him to several. Odds are, you can as well.

He then goes on to give a study of the trolley problem where atheists and theists by and large gave the same example and someone like Dawkins uses this to show you don’t need God to know right from wrong. What is missed is that as someone like Tom Holland has pointed out in Dominion, this is because also there is a background Christianity in us all. Would Dawkins be appalled by some of what he would see in ancient Greece and Rome? Quite likely. He and Humphrys make the same mistake again. They think that you have to be religious in order to have epistemology here, when the claim is not an epistemological one, but a metaphysical one. This is one of the most common mistakes in atheist argumentation that I see them making left and right.

They never learn.

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



Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 8

What is the impact of bad sermons? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most every speaker has had a bad presentation at times. They have had something happen where they didn’t know what to say or where they said something outright stupid. Unfortunately, when that happens in ministry, the results can be disastrous. Reviewing what I highlighted in chapter 11 where we start today, I saw one pop up immediately and as soon as I started it, I remembered how it ended because of how terrible it was.

Even worse, this took place at a funeral with the wife and kids right there. A funeral is worse not just because the people are grieving, but weddings and funerals are two of the times you are most likely going to have lost people in the church. Your average person who doesn’t want anything to do with a church can come to one of these out of deep respect, and personally, a funeral usually has the closest to a sermon.

So what does the vicar say here?

Terrible though it is to us, God grants the same freedom to cancer cells that he grants even to the most noble and virtuous of us.

Humphrys is right in pointing out that cancer cells are not intelligent agents that can move and make decisions. Of course, Christians need to be able to have a place in their worldview to explain cancer, but this is not a valid parallel at all. God does allow bad things to happen, including deaths from cancer, but are we going to put cancer cells on the same level as human beings?

Fortunately, Humphrys I don’t think sees all ministers like this, but too many will remember this. Sadly, we will have people easily remember the worst things we did to them. “Think of someone who hurt you.” Right now, most all of you have the image of someone in mind immediately.

Moving on from here, Humphrys asks about prayer. Isn’t it a pointless exercise? Isn’t the main emphasis asking for something? Well, no. The main emphasis should be worship and glorification, something I admit I need to work on as well. There is also thankfulness and the asking is not just health and material objects and items like that, but also forgiveness.

Humphrys also says in the Bible, God was performing miracles all the time. Hardly. You have an abundance of miracles in only three time periods, the Exodus and the conquest, the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and the apostolic age starting with the ministry of Jesus. Miracles are recorded not because they are common, but because they are exceptional.

Getting back to prayer after all of this, Humphrys says God hears every prayer that is offered up, and yet doesn’t bother to intervene. I daresay Humphrys knows a lot of people who can speak of an answered prayer, yet will he say that is a coincidence? It seems that he has to.

What about something like Craig Keener’s works on miracles that show miracles specifically coming after prayer? Humphrys and others who do this have a unique method. If you pray for something and it doesn’t happen, that proves God doesn’t answer prayers. If you pray for something and it happens, that proves that coincidences take place.

Rabbi Sacks thankfully does deal with Humphrys well in an interview style saying that Humphrys seems to have this idea that the world ought to be just. This is ironically where C.S. Lewis began as well. Humphrys then says it needs to be like science where we test something again and again and it is proven and religion is asking the opposite.

Well, that’s just false. Having something happen again and again in science doesn’t mean “proof.” It means that it is incredibly likely, the same as in history. It can be so likely it would be nonsense to try to do some things again. If I stick my hand on a hot stove and I burn it, I’m not going to want to try it again. If I drop something and it falls repeatedly, I’m justified in thinking, contrary to Hume, that that is what will happen every time, all things being equal.

Sacks also rightly says that Humphrys buys into a sort of soft scientism where something should be scientifically established before it is acceptable. Much of our knowledge does not come about that way, such as our moral judgments and the rules of math and any number of other ideas we hold. Most of the claims we hold dearest are those that are NOT scientifically proven, such as that our loved ones love us, or that something is good to do, or that beauty is real.

Humphrys lists a lot of things he considers evils and said this would not happen in a just world. Well first off, who said the world is just right now? In a just world, the Son of God would not be crucified when He did no wrong. God promises justice, but He never promises a timeframe to it for us. Justice delayed is not justice denied.

Briefly, Humphrys talks about biblical interpretation with the idea that we are supposed to take the texts literally, though not stating what that means. I contend you should always take the text literally, but not literalistically. If something is written as a metaphor, taking it literally is reading it as a metaphor. If something is taken as a straight forward account, taking it literally is doing just that. Literalistic reading says there can be no inflection or change in language and no stylistic ideas of hyperbole, sarcasm, etc.

So ultimately as we conclude this part, it still looks like again all Humphrys really has is evil. This has just never really struck me as a strong objection to Christianity, especially since Christianity by necessity has an evil action right at the center, the crucifixion of Christ. Christianity is about dealing with the evil in part, so how is evil a defeater for it?

Beats me.

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





Book Plunge: In God We Doubt Part 7

What is Humphrys looking for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re moving ahead now to where Humphrys starts doing interviews. In this, he interacts with a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim. To his credit, he brings on people who are informed about what they believe. WIll he find God doing this?

Doubtful, especially since at the start he says he doesn’t want to convert to Judaism any more than he wants to be a Muslim or recover his Christianity, but he would like to believe in God. But why? What benefit does he get from this? Is God just a means to an end? Will Humphrys feel better about himself if he has God?

If he finds the Christian God, for instance, that will mean repentance. That will mean humility. That will mean he has to accept that God has a good reason for allowing the evil that he complains about. If he accepts Islam, will he be willing to embrace all of the teachings and follow Muhammad as a prophet? Is he prepared to have his good and bad deeds weighed out on the scales? For Judaism, it will depend on the branch, but there’s not much emphasis from what I see usually on an afterdeath.

Humphrys gives no reason, though he admits it sounds pathetic.

But if you only want God as a means to an end for you, it’s not a shock if you don’t find Him. Why think He will let Himself be used?

One big issue he has for his interviewees is evil. This is Humphrys #1 argument against God. Now I have said before that I don’t understand what you gain from the problem of evil if you remove God. The problem is still there and you get rid of a solution of hope to the problem.

Humphrys says that most tyrants seem to die peacefully on their beds. Hitler could have had he not gone after Russia and just stayed in his own land. For Humphrys, this dispels the idea that virtue is its own reward and that God is merciful.

For the first, why would Humphrys want to be virtuous? It is not so he can please God obviously. Is he just wanting to please his fellow man? Does Humphrys do good purely because he benefits from it? These tyrants certainly didn’t care what anyone else thought of them, unless they wanted to kill them. What makes Humphrys different in the long run?

For the second, God is only merciful if He deals with evil on Humphrys timescale? Who says? If Christianity is true, God is merciful to all of us as we all deserve death right now. Of course, Humphrys would likely say he doesn’t deserve that as he’s generally a good person. What about all those evil people though?

Because it’s always someone else’s evil that needs to be dealt with. Whenever I hear atheists complain about evil, they are complaining about what other people do. They are not complaining about what they do.

Rowan Williams is shown in the interview of saying that with God, there is always hope. Of course, this is hard to explain to someone who doesn’t understand the concept of Heaven or especially of resurrection. If you think death is the end of the story, then obviously the story is terrible sometimes. Williams’s view is that it is not the end.

That doesn’t mean those words are always helpful to parents who have lost a child to cancer, but arguments aren’t the purpose of that. Charity is. This is when you come alongside and listen.

Humphrys also said that Abraham was presented with a choice that God said “If you believe in me, you must sacrifice your child.” We can question the premise, but even if we go with it, note something important. Isaac never died. It was just to show how much Abraham believed in the promise that through Isaac his covenant of offspring would be fulfilled. Abraham had to believe that either God would stop it or else He would raise Isaac from the dead.

Sacks, the rabbi, also tells Humphrys that if Humphrys didn’t have faith, he wouldn’t ask the question. I think faith is being misunderstood, but I get at what Sacks is asking. The question is asked because you expect there to be an answer. Why? If this was an atheistic universe, well, it’s just some people are going to get the short straw and tough luck it turned out to be you. You can be comforting and kind to someone suffering, but there’s really no meaning in their suffering nor any ultimate hope.

Humphrys says Sacks ultimately says that if it happened, there must be a reason why it happened and God will use it for good. Can you argue with that? Humphrys says no, which is the problem for the problem of evil. The one using it has to demonstrate that there is no good reason for God to allow evil XYZ. Quite a tall order. Not only that, he also has to deal with all the positive arguments for God’s existence, which thus far Humphrys never does.

Thus far then, color me unconvinced.

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



Good Friday and Evil

What has Good Friday to do with evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine if the Democratic National Committee got together every November and remembered the day when John Kennedy was murdered and called that Good Friday. It wouldn’t make sense to us. One would think most Democrats would see this day as a tragedy. Heck. Many Republicans who would not support Kennedy would still say the president being assassinated as a tragedy.

However, every year Christians get together and think about the day that Jesus was crucified and call that Good Friday. Of course, one could say that Jesus did rise again, yet that is a reason why one would call the day of resurrection good. That makes sense. Why call this day good? Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it Dark Friday or Black Friday or something of that sort?

Many people reject Christianity because of the problem of evil. On an emotional level, one can understand why this is troublesome. Most of us do what we can to avoid suffering. It’s easy in suffering to ask where God is, yet one could ask why do we do that? God never promised us everything would be perfect.

It could be often we have an entitlement idea in our minds. We are owed a good life aren’t we? When I talk about the problem of evil, I do bring up something like this. The first point I want to ask about is “Does God owe use anything?” If anything is owed us, it is justice for what we have done.

It’s not like we gave God any special benefits when we showed up on the scene. One can say the devil was the first sinner and rightfully so, and yes, we listened to the temptation, but we still did the wrong in the end and we bear the responsibility and we have all been suffering the effects of that since then and the creation God made has suffered.

So yeah, we were given a great gift and we committed treason against the giver and decided to take it for ourselves.

Still want to talk about what we deserve?

God could have left us alone in that. He could have abandoned everything and still had immense joy within Himself for all eternity. We don’t better Him. We don’t bring Him more joy.

We were owed nothing, after all. He could have done this. No one could charge Him with doing anything wrong.

This is not what happened. God somehow chose to enter into our suffering. God chose to live a life where He came as a baby who had to pass through the birth canal and came out bloody and needing to be cleaned regularly and would poop his diapers and wet Himself and everything. He would be absolutely helpless and dependent on His parents.

In fantasy, we can easily understand the concept of a deity or deities coming to live in the world. Having them come as a baby is not how we normally picture it. They come in power and glory or if they do come in a weakened state, they’re at least capable of fighting right at the start and build themselves up with acts of glory defeating their villains.

The closest we get to Jesus as a fighter is Him making a whip and even then, He’s not taking on gangs of Pharisees at that point.

Jesus came in a way no one would notice who He was immediately and lived an ordinary life, a life that would still have suffering. Isaiah 53 describes Him as a man of sorrow, familiar with suffering, hardly the way you would want to describe the coming of your deity. This is just the beginning.

Jesus came to die and came to die not just a death, but the worst possible death at the time. It was not just a death, but a shameful and painful and enduring death. It was public and everyone would know about it. It would be unable to be separated from the Christian account, hardly the best motivator to get people to join your movement.

What is amazing about this and evil is that somehow, God entered the suffering we went in. No. I’m not talking about the idea of Patripassianism where somehow, God the Father suffered on the cross. There is no doubt that God the Son suffered. How this works entirely, I will not claim to understand.

What is known is that Jesus didn’t remain aloof from evil. He entered into it. He lived it. He took it on when He had no requirement to do so. It was an act of love.

It’s odd to say that evil is an objection to Christianity. Evil is part and parcel of the story. If there is no evil, there is no crucifixion and there is no resurrection.

Good Friday is good then because this is where the battle took place and Jesus took on the suffering and justice for us. Jesus demonstrated the love He has for the creation. At the same time, He demonstrated the love He has for the Father which in turn shows how the Father loves us.

It is sad to think about what happened on this day. It is a great evil that was done that day. What we learn from Christianity is that this evil was reversed. The promise is also that all evils will be reversed someday. Arguing against Christianity because of evil is a way of really removing hope of overcoming evil while still keeping the evil. It doesn’t make sense.

Today, we celebrate Good Friday. We mourn the evil that we have done, but we celebrate the love God has for us. We look forward to the resurrection on Sunday, and we look forward to the resurrection of all creation in the end.

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

Book Plunge: Armageddon Part 5

Why is the book of Revelation so violent? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re continuing our look at Ehrman’s latest book talking about the violence in the book. At the start, he does say a statement about the Old Testament that is worth repeating.

Many Christians admit they are just not that interested in the Old Testament because its teachings have been surpassed and even superseded by the coming of Jesus and because, well, they find it boring. I wonder what its author would say about that.

There is a lot of truth here. We need to remember the Old Testament is just as much Scripture as is the new. It was the Scripture of the original church and it’s still our Scripture today.

But to the Old Testament we go to talk about the violence. if you expect interaction with people like Flannagan and Copan, you will be disappointed. Walton is not mentioned either. If you want to see Ehrman interact with the other side, it’s not here.

Ehrman paints the picture as if the Israelites were going to these cities and they were just peacefully living out their lives and the Israelites show up and say “God wills it!” and destroy everyone involved. He uses the example of Jericho, which is fitting since this is the most graphic, but it is also not representative. It needs to be established what Jericho was.

For one thing, it could not be that big since Israel could walk around it seven times in one day. Most of these cities were not cities but forts. These would be where the military would be and not the places of women and children. Also, from Rahab, we see that the people knew what had happened and this wasn’t exactly a sneak attack. They encamped outside the city for a week. Anyone could leave if they wanted.

He also brings up the account of the Moabites and the Midianites. In this, the Moabite women come and seduce Israel into sexual immorality. Moses responds by having the leaders of the people killed. Ehrman depicts this as human sacrifice, but this is not what it is. Even if it is done to stop the wrath of God, it is done out of justice in that the people who did the wrongs are put to death for what they did in accordance with the Law.

We are told 24,000 Israelites die and not just those who did the wrong but the innocent. The problem is the text doesn’t say that. It just says 24,000 died. It doesn’t say who they were. Even if they did not participate, this is a collectivist society and each person was responsible not just for himself, but for his neighbor as well. The sin of one could be seen as the sin of all.

Ehrman also speaks with horror about the way that Phineas put a spear through Zimri and Kosbi. What is left out is that this is after judgment had started and the people were weeping. This wasn’t done in private, but was done publicly as the man brought her with him publicly and the text is unclear at least in English, but it looks like they went into the Tent of Meeting, which is a holy place. This is an act of open defiance. Phineas is praised for killing both of them with one thrust of a spear while they were having sex. Violent? Yes, but sin is violent and destructive.

Ehrman is one who complains about evil, but when God does something about evil, he complains about that as well.

Of course, this gets to Numbers 31. I have already written about that here and here.

He also talks about the wrath of God in Hosea and how infants will be dashed to pieces and pregnant women ripped open. Why is God doing this?

Answer: He isn’t. God has laid out the stipulations of the covenant with His people. If they do not obey His covenant, He removes His protection. What happens then? Their enemies have their way and this is what their enemies do. Is God supposed to overrule them somehow so they can do everything else but that? Should the children be made invincible and the pregnant women’s stomachs be indestructible? Ehrman doesn’t answer such questions. Outrage is enough.

Ehrman tells us that when people read the Bible, they tend to see what they want to see. This is true, but it includes Ehrman as well. He wants to depict God as violent. Easy to do. Just cherry-pick some passages and ignore everything to the contrary. It would be just as easy to do the opposite.

He says this is true of laypeople, but it is also true of Christian scholars who see nothing wrong with God destroying people forever in a lake of fire.

Well, it’s Ehrman’s responsibility to show this. Outrage is not enough. Now I don’t think the lake of fire is literal, but is it wrong for God to judge and take life? Why? On what basis? What is the moral code that God is obligated to follow? I can also assure Ehrman that Christian scholars have wrestled with these issues. Unfortunately, we can’t say if Ehrman is aware of these claims since he never cites them. Has he considered Jerry Walls’s dissertation on Hell, for instance?

God is above our understanding of ethics and right and wrong. Whatever he does is right by definition. It would certainly not be right for my next-door neighbor to inject scorpion venom into someone’s veins and allow them to suffer in anguish for five months, refusing to put them out of their misery when they begged to die. And no one could justify a tyrant who chose to torture his people and then throw them into a vat of burning sulfur. But God is not my next-door neighbor or an earthly tyrant, and so he cannot be judged by human standards. If God does such things in the book of Revelation, who are we, mere mortals, to object? We simply cannot judge the Almighty.

But this is an important distinction. We are moral agents put in a universe where we have rules of right and wrong to follow. God is not. There are things God can do that I cannot do. God owes no one life and has all right to take it if He wants to. I do not.

Also, it’s worth pointing out that Ehrman regularly says we shouldn’t read Revelation in a literalistic fashion, but when he wants to depict God as violent, that’s exactly what He does.

It is somewhat ironic that so many readers of Revelation think, as I did, that the God portrayed there is above all human sense of right and wrong. Most of these same readers also believe that our own sense of right and wrong has been given to us by God. This , as you probably know, is a commonly invoked “proof” that God exists. According to this argument, if there were no superior moral being who created us, we could not explain why we have such an innate knowledge of what is good and bad behavior. Our morality, it is argued, must be rooted in the character of God, given to us as creatures made in his image, whether we choose to follow our God-given sense of morality or not.

It is worth pointing out that first off, Ehrman speaks of this as a “proof” of God, but He never shows where it is wrong. He never shows where our ideas of good and evil come from. I also want to say that is not the way I make the argument. I do not say a superior moral being made us. I said a superior good being made us. God is good, but He is not moral. Morality is doing what you ought to do, but God has no ought. God just does what is good. If something is moral, it is good, but just because something is good, that does not mean you have an obligation to do it. It might be good to sell all you have and give it all to the poor (Or it might be foolish), but that doesn’t mean you are morally obligated to do it. It might be good to leave a generous tip that is double what the waitress served you, but you are not morally obligated to do it. It might be good to pay the widow’s electric bill, but you are not morally obligated to.

But if our own sense of right and wrong reveals the character of God, what if God’s moral code requires him to torture and destroy those he disapproves of, those who refuse to become his slaves? (“Torture” is not too strong a word here: Remember those locusts.) 7 If God is like that, and we are told to be “godly” people — told to imitate God in our lives — then surely it follows that we should imitate him in how we treat others. If God hates those who refuse to be his slaves and hurts and then destroys them, shouldn’t we do so as well? Are we to act “godly” or not? And what does it mean to be Christlike if Christ’s wrath leads to the destruction of nearly the entire human race? Are we really to be “imitators of Christ”? Should we, too, force our enemies to suffer excruciating pain and death?

It’s amazing how wrong someone can be in an argument. For one thing, God does not have a moral code. Ehrman will never define what is meant by good and evil. Good then simply becomes that which Ehrman likes and evil, that which Ehrman doesn’t like.

However, I also want to know what is the context in which we are told to be godly and Christlike. I can be told to be godly, but surely I am not supposed to be able to create a universe. I can be told to be Christlike, but that doesn’t mean that I can claim divine prerogatives for myself. I can say I have a mentor I want to be like, but I would not be justified in sleeping with his wife and raising his children.

He also says Jesus is seeking vengeance on those who had nothing to do with his death, but this is embracing the futurist paradigm that Ehrman said is NOT the way to read Revelation. In my Preterist understanding, this took place as judgment on the Roman Empire and especially Jerusalem in 70 AD, which were involved in the death of Jesus and had not repented. Of course, Ehrman has no inkling shown that he is aware of such a view.

In the end, I find this still confusing. Ehrman condemns a futuristic reading of the text and treating it literalistically, but when he wants to condemn the text, that is exactly what he goes to. Ehrman still gives us the sound of one hand clapping. He presents a strong case, but rather a largely emotional one, but shows no indication he has interacted with the best of his critics.

We will continue next time.

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







MAR10 Day

What does it take to be a hero? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You work for a gaming company and you have been given a task. Make a new human hero to fight evil. Okay. You think this could be a fun task. So how will you make your hero?

If you want to make a man, odds are you will make someone strong and muscular. You will make someone who has a no-nonsense attitude. This is someone who can tear through bad guys without a thought. You could also make him a James Bond type who is smooth and seductive and quite the Ladies’ Man. You could make a fighting type like Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris. You could make a Punisher type who would blow away enemies or a Batman type who seems to excel at all of the above.

If you want to make a woman, you could make someone muscular or someone who is more sleek and agile. You could make her a bombshell so that she will stun any man that sees her by her beauty and make all the women want to look like her. She will likely be a great fighter, someone like a Black Widow.

Now let’s look at who Shigeru Miyamoto made.

Odds are, without knowing who this is, he hardly strikes terror in your heart.

Somehow he has taken off. Is he muscular? Nope. Skilled at weapons or combat? Nope. He is actually a little pudgy and his career is a plumber. His sidekick and brother, Luigi, isn’t much better. He’s trimmer and taller, but he’s usually also a coward.

Yet today, March 10th is the day that he is celebrated. It’s known as Mario Day. I tried to see how many games he has had, and all I found was that he has over 200. This is in about 40 years or so. We could say that would be at least five games every year.

Mario has done everything. He has been a soldier, a doctor, a go-kart driver, an athlete in most every sport, an RPG hero, a party game player, and of course, the regular rescuer of Princess Peach. You could pretty much take any game and if you want it to do well, just slap Mario on it.

So what does Mario have to do with Christian apologetics?

In our day and age, it’s easy for us to think that there’s little that we can do to change our world. We can look at Marvel superheroes and think “Yeah, but I can’t do those kinds of things.” Mario is our different figure.

“But he does have power-ups!”

Yes, but if you look at the games and even the TV shows that were made, those power-ups would affect anyone who used them. Princess Peach and Toad could benefit from them. In some games and TV shows, Bowser himself benefits from power-ups. Thus, there seems to be nothing that says only Mario can use these power-ups. If anyone else had these power-ups, they could use them.

What makes Mario a hero for us all is that he is us. Anyone can do what Mario can do. Mario has enough reasons to think that he is not a hero and yet, he keeps going and defeating the enemy every time. He is going against a villain in Bowser who usually has greater resources and power and a personal army and yet, Mario wins every time. (And somehow Bowser gets to play sports, ride go-karts, and play party games with Mario and his friends.)

And yes, sometime this will show up on my new channel. (Please like, subscribe, and share.)

Who is Mario then? He’s you. He’s me. He’s a guy that has a lot of heart. He just wants to go out and defeat Bowser, or whoever the enemy is, and rescue the Princess, or whatever the goal is.

We live in a fallen world and we often think we can’t do anything for the gospel because we are not as great as XYZ. That has never stopped Mario. Mario has always kept going and faced much greater dangers than many of us face.

Mario is a picture for us. We don’t have to work to be like him per se as he has no physique or anything of that sort. (Save his jumping ability) He’s just a guy with an ordinary job wanting to do something great.

I wonder what could happen with our Christianity if we looked at the world and said we just want to do something great and live our lives fighting against the armies of evil.

It’d be nice to find out.

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

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