Note: There are many objections that have been raised against the existence of God, and against the Christian faith. Of course, I will never be able to deal with all of them, and I freely confess that I never expect to have water tight answers to every objection that can be raised. I think it goes without saying that if a person will not believe in God until every objection is answered, the person will never believe in God. On the other hand, I submit that if a person will not be an atheist until every objection against atheism is answered, the person would never become an atheist either. Reality is far too complicated for anyone who takes any position regarding the fundamental nature of reality, whether right or wrong, to be able to answer every conceivable objection.
I believe that there is plenty of evidence to make an intelligent decision for God and to have confidence in God's existence and in His love and benevolence, even though unanswered questions remain. This is not to say that there are no honest, intelligent people who are atheists and agnostics who have come to believe as they do through honest inquiry and thinking. But, it is my hope that by dealing with some of the more common objections, it will be easier for the atheist and agnostic reader to consider that maybe God might exist after all, and perhaps ultimately, to take hold of His hand in faith.
Objection: "Why would a God of love torture people forever and ever in hellfire for the sins of a miniscule lifetime?"
That is a very good question. The doctrine of an eternally burning hellfire has probably turned more people away from God than any other. I believe this is very unfortunate, and unnecessary. What do I mean by this? I could write a lot on this topic, and eventually plan to put in a page or two dealing with it. But, for now, let me direct you to an entire website dedicated to this question: www.helltruth.com. The answer may surprise you.
Objection: "What Christians call 'answered prayer' is just coincidence. Prayer had nothing to do with it. For example, some people pray for a loved one in danger and their loved one is spared. Others pray to no avail. It is just the luck of the draw."
All true prayer is answered. Sometimes the answer is "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes, "wait." Why does God sometimes say "no" when it seems to us that the most loving thing to do would be to say, "yes"? There are many questions like this we will not understand completely this side of Heaven. The apostle Paul prayed that his infirmity would be healed, but it wasn't. And yet, if we take the New Testament to be true, unquestionable miracles of healing were performed in answer to prayer in Paul's time that cannot be attributed to purely natural causes. Similar miracles are reported to take place today in answer to prayer. It does not please the heart of God for humans created in His image to be gullible - simply believing everything that is reported by everybody. On the other hand, neither is it wise for us to require that God prove Himself on our terms before we believe. Sometimes the evidence He gives us may be through the word of a trusted friend, or through numerous "lesser" miracles that could perhaps individually be attributed to coincidence but collectively make a strong case for God's intervention. If we require God to prove Himself on our terms, we probably wouldn't believe even if He did.
Objection: "It is not fair for God to protect someone who prays, but not to protect someone who doesn't know to pray."
To answer this question, it is imperative to understand that God does not currently have full reign on Earth. If He did, He would be some cruel monster indeed. It is ironic that many intellectuals are willing to believe in God but unwilling to believe in Satan. Disbelief in the existence of Satan has within itself the seeds to disbelief in God because of the numerous questions that are thereby rendered entirely unanswerable in God's defense. There are various reasons many don't believe in Satan. The concept of the existence of evil spirit beings whom we can't see who are hellbent on enticing earthlings to sin seems far flung in our modern age, especially when popular academia so often denies the existence of sin and of evil itself and claims that we are mere evolved scum in a purely material universe. Further, the ridiculous (and unfortunate) caricaturizations of Satan and his cohorts sporting goofy horns and pitchforks don't make his existence more credible in the minds of the educated public. (It is interesting that many intellectuals are much more willing to believe that the spirits of the dead communicate with the living than they are willing to believe in the existence of Satan. A convenient set-up, by the way, of the master imposter.)
Interestingly, many scholars believe that the book of Job is the first book that was written in the Bible. The entire book, in essence, deals with the question of why there is evil when God is good. The battle between God and Satan motif is not one dreamed up by modern-day apologists to explain the existence of evil, rather, it is foundational to the Bible. As revealed in the book of Job, God is on trial. The willing service of the inhabitants of the universe depends on how God's goodness and justice are perceived by the universe. One of the reasons for prayer is that it frees God to do that which He would not otherwise be free to do on account of the nature of the current conflict and the desired end of ultimately bringing the universal order back to a state of stability and harmony.
Why doesn't God have full reign on Earth? See Why is there so much suffering?
Objection: "If there is a God, that would stifle curiosity and investigation. We would just expect God to give us all the answers."
That all depends upon what kind of teacher God is. While many students might think that the ideal teacher would be one who just sits in the back of the classroom silently reading a book while letting the students do whatever they wish, surely few educators would argue that this would be the most effective teaching style.
I remember my chemistry teacher in a Christian high school relating his view of what learning in Heaven would be like. A student - by the way, everyone will be a student in Heaven - would come to God with a question about science, and God would listen intently to the question. God, the Master Teacher, would then say, "That is a very interesting question. Why don't you go to the lab and study into it for the next 1000 years, and after you've finished, we will discuss your findings." I think my chemistry teacher was right on!
King David would have loved this image of Earth taken from the outskirts of the solar system.
visibleearth.nasa.gov Objection: "Why would a God who is grand enough to create our universe care squat for what we do on our tiny speck of a planet?"
It is interesting that King David, the Psalmist of the Bible, having far less knowledge of the immensity of the universe than we do today, echoed the same question - not as an expression of doubt, but as an exclamation of faith and wonder: "When I consider the heavens, the work of thy hands, the sun and the moon that thou hast ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou dost care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4). Surely, the heavens do make us feel small and insignificant!
But, looking at things from a different perspective, whether we are discussing a bacterium or a hummingbird, a humpback whale or a human being, living things are by far the most exquisite phenomenon in the universe. If the physical universe was indeed created by an intelligent Creator, perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised that He would take special interest in those planets that harbor life, and in those creatures that possess intelligence like Himself, and that seek after their Creator.
Perhaps there is hardly a Christian who would not agree that the grandest contemplation in the faith is that a God so great as to create our incredible universe, loved us so much as to step into our world and become a human being to die an ignominious death, so we can spend an eternity with Him.
Objection: "It is egotistical to believe that God cares for us tiny creatures on our speck of a planet."
Consider the following carefully: Is it egotistical to believe that the Infinite Creator of the Cosmos cares for us tiny wayward creatures inhabiting this tiny speck of a planet in our galaxy amongst trillions upon trillions of other galaxies, and in fact, to believe that God loved us so much that in order to save whom He could, He came to our planet as a human just like us, and yet we spat in His face, flogged Him until His back was covered with blood, mocked Him, nailed Him to a cross, and shouted obscenities into His face while He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"? This would hardly be cause to be egotistical!
Some pride themselves for being wise enough to "understand" that we are only humble scum in a meaningless world. While the Christian has a deep sense of dignity knowing that we are loved and valued by God, he or she has no cause whatsoever for boasting.
"When I survey the wondrous cross,
On which the prince of Glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride."
Objection: "Why couldn't God simply forgive our sins and get over it? Why did He have to have His Son tortured and murdered on the cross?"
(Note: The reader, especially if not a Biblical believer, is not expected to necessarily agree with all the propositions in this answer, and it is not the intent to here defend the propositions. It is the purpose, rather, to show the rationality of the Substitionary Atonement of Jesus Christ in the light of the said propositions.)
This question betrays a level of theological and of even sociological and legal ignorance, so let's begin by clearing up one common misconception from the start: According to the Bible, Jesus did not die in order for God the Father to love us. One has to look no further than John 3:16, which is generally regarded as the foundational text for Christian theology, to discover that it was because God the Father already loved humankind that He sent Jesus to die for our sins. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (NKJV). Clearly, grace existed the moment our first parents sinned, else they would have been destroyed instantly. The Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ, as well as the wrath of God against sin, must be understood within the social context of the world and universe because it was for the salvation of social beings that Jesus died.
Granted, if someone commits a minor offense, it generally isn't too hard for most people to say, "That's o.k." and to get on with life. But, this objection fails to note a couple things. First, as a governing entity, God is not a co-equal with humanity, and secondly, according to the Biblical view, even the apparently tiny sin of disobedience in the Garden of Eden was the seed of rebellion that has mushroomed into the ugly violence and degradation that we see in our world today.
If I am riding with my friend, and he drives over the speed limit, I can easily forgive him, even if he is driving so fast it scares me half to death - so long as he apologizes and promises to never put me through that torture again. On the other hand, if I am a police officer and this guy whizzes past me at 100 miles per hour, I had probably better issue a pretty hefty ticket. Why? Because I am in a position of authority and the law must be upheld as something serious if anyone is to take it seriously.
Most any parent, teacher, or even government knows that rules must be enforced. When rules can be enforced through kindly persuasion, this is often the better manner in enforcing them. Unfortunately, rebellion does not always respond to ordinary persuasion, and more drastic measures need to be taken. In fact, in order to destroy the root of rebellion that infected the human race at the fall and yet to spare the lives of those willing to receive God's grace, the most drastic measure imaginable had to be taken, which, when properly understood, was also the most kindly persuasive measure imaginable, in which God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, bore the penalty of our sin.
As already mentioned, from the Biblical perspective, the violence and suffering we see in our world today are the natural result of what may seem a trivial act, namely, disobeying God's command not to eat of the fruit of a certain tree. Suppose God had merely told Adam and Eve, "Adam and Eve, I'm very disappointed in you, but I love you so much, why don't we just pretend it never happened?" What then? According to Biblical theology, we would still have violence and suffering today, moral laws would be regarded with even less seriousness than they are today, and, assuming the Biblical premises are correct (I realize, of course, that these Biblical premises are very unpopular in modern thinking), there would be good cause to question whether we would even be here today as we may have long ago destroyed ourselves.
The human race has been infected with a spirit of rebellion, a spirit that tends to trivialize, or even glamorize sin. The only cure to save the human race and to completely extricate this weed of rebellion from the heart was for God to take the penalty of sin in our place. When we see and respond to what God did to save us from sin, we begin the process of turning away from sin in both mind and heart with disgust, and ultimately, the last vestiges of rebellion will be vaporized and the power of sin will be forever vanquished.
Objection: "It is nonsensical to speak of God creating the universe. The universe, by definition, is everything that exists. If God exists, the universe would include God Himself by definition."
Consider this argument carefully, what it is and what it is not. It is an argument about semantics. It is not an argument about the fundamental nature of reality, although it may superficially appear that it is. God created the physical universe. God Himself, is spirit. Of course, that is another issue.
It is true that according to the Bible, God the Father and God the Son have a physical form. Personally, it makes sense to me to consider that this form was assumed after the creation of time-space, matter and energy. This is not a doctrinal position, and I believe it is a trivial point to argue over. But, this view makes what may seem a paradox with God existing "before" (or better, apart from) the creation of the physical universe a non-issue.
Objection: "Christians have merely made a God in their image. How foolish to assume that God would have similarities to us, such as desiring companionship, etc."
Christians (and others from the Judeo-Christian perspective) believe that humans were created in God's image as stated in the book of Genesis, rather than the other way around. If this is so, and God has indeed so communicated this to humans, the improbability factor vanishes because it explains why God "just so happens" to have similarities to us.
Objection: "Desiring companionship and so forth are attributes that arise from the circuitry and chemistry of the brain. Does the eternal God have a brain circuitry like we do?"
I cannot authoritatively answer the question whether God has a brain with circuitry similar to ours, although I believe that God innately is spirit and not dependent upon matter to exist. I do not believe that the totality of human experience can be explained by the physical activity that takes place in the brain. Our desire for purpose, our sense of the inestimable value of life, and so forth, I don't believe can ever be explained purely by the physical activity in the brain, although that is not to say by any means that the brain does not play a role. It makes sense to me to suppose that some of what God feels (if you don't mind), He has modeled into our brain circuitry. On the other hand, I think that much of our spiritual experience results from interfacing with God Himself.
Objection: "Christians praise God to give Him an ego boost."
It is hard for me to conceive of any Christian, even a nominal one, who thinks that the reason we praise God is to boost His ego. It is even harder for me to imagine a Christian who would ever feel like praising God if they thought they needed to do it in order to boost God's ego! A true Christian enjoys praising God, and doesn't do so out of a sense of obligation or out of a sense that they are somehow doing God a favor. And yet, this allegation is frequently made nonetheless. Christians praise God for much the same reason that a person says "thank-you" when someone has done a favor. Does God appreciate praise and our expressions of thanksgiving? Certainly. Not because He is vain, but because He loves us and He wants to have a relationship with us, a relationship of love, trust, and appreciation. Is it vain to tell someone "I love you?" Certainly not! And why do we tell someone, "I love you"? Or, why do we give flowers? Because we get an ego boost when the recipient says "Thank you"? I should hope not!
When God shows us His love by the things He does for us, He appreciates our expressions of gratitude that show that we have received, understood, and appreciated His message. God wants a relationship with us. God bestows His blessings upon His creation day after day. Does it blow the ego of the Infinite Creator of the Cosmos that He doesn't get more recognition from us tiny little humans? It would be preposterous to believe so! Does it hurt God's heart? Yes. Why? Little and insignificant as we are, God loves us incredibly, and desires our friendship.
Objection: "There are many good people who are not Christians in our world."
There is a lot of misunderstanding, even among Christians on this point. I will answer this question more completely later, but for now, let me quote Romans 2:14-16:
"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves. Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."
I don't believe anyone will be lost for believing a lie, but for refusing to believe and to live by the truth.
Objection: "The God of the Bible is a violent, bloodthirsty, God."
I don't believe that God is either violent or bloodthirsty, although it can appear that way from a casual reading of the Bible. I would be reckless to give a short, pat answer to this objection. I will be writing a page in response to this objection which I hope to have up soon, although I may have to put it up in increments in which I will deal with individual case studies from the Bible. Keep posted.
First installment added! Go to God's strange act.
Objection: "If we were created by a beneficent God, why is there so much natural evil? Why, for example, are so many organisms intricately constructed to torture and kill?"
Belief in Satan and other demonic angels is much less popular and much more likely to render the accusation of naivety in today's intellectual clime than is belief in God. A simple scoff and sneer accompanied by a sentence or two of modern "wit" is generally considered plenty sufficient to dispel any argument in support of such a belief. On the other hand, belief in the disembodied spirits of the dead communicating to the living is considered much more intellectually acceptable than is belief in the existence of a great Imposter. Such is today's modern wisdom. However, I am persuaded that any belief in a beneficent all-powerful God that is not accompanied by a belief in sentient evil forces at work on our planet is destined for eventual collapse because God unavoidably becomes responsible as the author and direct instigator of the evil that is in our world.
We discover early in the Bible that when our first parents sinned, some marked changes took place in living things. The serpent - the medium used by Satan to deceive Eve - was made to crawl upon its belly, evidently as a token of God's displeasure with sin and of the eventual overthrow of Satan's rule. This change in the serpent suggests that it may have initially had limbs. We are also informed that on account of the fall, the land would produce thorns and thistles. It is not a far leap to suppose that other changes may have taken place in living organisms as well as a result of the curse. Earth was placed under the rule of Satan - although God did not abandon our planet unchecked to Satan's merciless tyranny. Limits were placed upon what Satan could and could not do. Living things today bear the combined impress of both their original Creator, and of the current ruler of this world. The evil traits we see in living things today are the result of the latter.
How much control God has allowed Satan to have over the hereditary traits of living creatures can only be speculated. Far from being a ridiculous looking creature donning a pitchfork and horns, the Bible portrays Satan as a noble, majestic being - arguably far surpassing any human alive in intelligence - who turned against God and led others of God's angels along with him in his rebellion. In recent times, God has allowed humans to genetically modify living organisms, and some of such modifications are arguably good, such as modifying bacteria to produce insulin. Arguably, Christians severely underestimate the abilities of the Adversary when they believe that he is not able to do the same kinds of things for sinister purposes.
To be honest, I am hesitant in most cases to suggest what changes are the result of Satan and which are the result of God. I am reluctant, for example, to use organisms such as the Venus fly trap as an example of God's creative genius because there may possibly have been another power involved in the modification of its design. However, I will say that I believe that thorns on flowers are the result of God's intervention because this seems the most natural way to interpret the Biblical account. The flowers were given thorns to protect them from new evils that entered our world with the fall, namely greed and intemperate indulgence. Features of living things that seem to be especially sinister rather than mere necessary adaptations to survive on our diseased planet, I suspect, are more likely the result of modification by Satan - to bear his impress and to confuse minds in regards to the true nature and character of our Creator. Finally, I do not question the ability of organisms to undergo adaptations that do not increase the organism's meaningful complexity as a result of natural selection, and believe that much of what we see in living things today is a result of such changes.
Objection: "Christian parents and teachers brainwash their children and students to believe in God."
I am in my fourteenth year of teaching high school science in Christian schools. My practice when discussing origins has always been to present both sides of the issue as best as I can during the time that I have for doing so. I even discuss the evidence that I find to be the most challenging to interpret within the creationist framework, and am forthright in admitting the challenge. (Yes, I do my best to take the time to keep myself informed by studying the latest evolutionist as well as creationist sources). I don't tell my students that they had better believe in creation, although I encourage them to believe and explain my reasons for doing so even though I grant that creationists don't have all the answers. I believe that my policy is similar to that of many, if not the majority, of Christian science educators in Christian schools.
The fact of the matter is that evolutionists don't have all of the answers either, although it seems many of their lead promoters would like everyone to think that they do. The discussion of creation is anathema in many public schools. A teacher simply presenting a challenge to evolutionary dogma is in danger of quickly losing his or her job. It appears that science educators in public schools are not supposed to encourage the "undeveloped" and "impressionable" minds of their students to think, but rather to teach them how to regurgitate the textbook, especially when it comes to the matter of origins.
I ask, who's brainwashing who?
Also, when I tell my children that Grandpa and Grandma love them, am I brainwashing them because I'm not allowing them to determine that for themselves? I doubt many would make such an accusation. Why is it different then when I tell them what I believe just as well to be true that Jesus loves them, especially if I encourage them as they grow and develop mentally to think for themselves and not just to take my say-so?
(Note: I recognize and appreciate that because of religious liberty issues, things cannot be exactly the same in the public school as in the parochial school. However, I don't believe that the whole story is being told by those advocating "evolution only" in the public school. I believe that far more can be done to be fair to Christian students, parents, and taxpayers, without violating the rights of non-Christians.)
Keep posted for more additions to this list.
Page added: 2009.02.01
Last modified: 2018.03.13