According to the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey temperament theory, I am not primarily a ‘thinker’ but a ‘feeler’, and a lot of my writing is trying to explain in a rational fashion how I feel about things. Intellectual abstractions, words, rationalizations cannot do justice to the subjective experience of God’s power in my life. “Truth” is encountered not just by the 5 senses and rational faculties, but it is also perceived by the subconscious, the spiritual. I am not trying to ignore the problem of evil in my references to the beauty of creation etc; but to me it speaks of a greater reality than the problems of this middle Earth.
The spiritual realm is real. Many faith traditions attest to that fact. Human actions have consequences beyond the immediately visible. Call it ‘karma’ or ‘sowing and reaping’. The line between good and evil passes through the heart of every person… However only Jesus Christ offers humanity the way to real freedom from the curse of sin and death.
Atheists have made a “faith” decision to not believe. I respect their choice. But I actually do believe. Even though Christianity may be a flawed enterprise and seen in “a terrible light”, God is faithful. I choose to accept the testimony of miraculous interventions throughout history, fulfilled prophecy, the blood of the martyrs, my personal encounters with the Holy Spirit, the Word, and the majestic Creation. He is Risen, He is Lord! It’s a faith that fills the soul with hope and makes me sing.
Yes, utterly despicable things happen all over the world. I appreciate the force of the argument. I live here too, you know. Rotten things have happened to me and my friends and family. I know a lot of Christians who are suffering. There are also a lot of charlatans out there acting as though you can just say a few prayers and everything will be groovy. They make the Gospel out to be some kind of escape from reality. It’s the opposite! Evil and suffering should challenge any thinking person’s conviction that God is Love. I’ll admit it’s not easy sometimes. However after years and years of doubt and darkness, God has brought me to a place of humble acceptance where I freely admit my desperate need for redemption. Jesus was the scapegoat and willingly took the blame for all the heinous things that are wrong with the world. God is engaged with the suffering of the world, but his kingdom is still being established in this time of Grace. When Jesus returns in glory, he will wipe away every tear.
Some atheists enjoy a fanciful black-and-white view of the world, where every christian is some kind of Brian Tamaki clone, and obstinately refuse admit that ID might be a valid alternative to the extreme materialist scientism preached by Dawkins, Hitchens etc. Perhaps they could tell us exactly what drove the Cambrian Explosion!?
It is unfortunate that polarised thinking leads people to feel their religion is challenged by science. Conversely, metaphysical beliefs often inform and motivate the scientific enterprise; atheists should not feel threatened by those who perceive an unseen intelligence in the wonders of nature. Creation ex nihilo is a philosophical question just as much as a scientific one. Cosmologists have some far-out theories about the early universe and deep time, but they aren’t really forming testable hypotheses. When the laws of physics break down, we look to metaphysics. Also, no historical proof is ‘incontrovertible’. But there’s more manuscript evidence for Jesus Christ than any other ancient figure. Yes he was (is) a real dude! Is intelligence, creativity, love, beauty, complexity, an inherent property of mindless physical processes? Does Something come from Nothing?
As the high priests of modernity and materialism, Western academics have a vested interest in denying the existence of the supernatural. It’s a peculiar modern conceit. Life itself was formed by an unfathomable chain of ‘coincidences’. Many unusual things occur that materialists struggle to explain away with the rational mind. In fact the evidence is ignored by a skeptical media elite and a culture whose idolatry of money and material wealth mocks authentic faith with such derisive terms as “fundy”. Perhaps C.S. Lewis was right, that “pain is God’s megaphone to a deaf world”.
Suffering occurs because Earth is the domain of humanity, and God’s will is NOT done. Adam chose to follow the serpent (a choice which all people shared in BTW), God and Man had a bit of a falling out, sin and death are embedded in our DNA. Evil prospers because people have allowed it. God is constrained by His respect for our free will and giving humanity authority to “fill the earth and subdue it”.
When the modern world chews you up and spits you out, one tends to seek deeper answers than the empty secular humanist platitudes that are inserted into your cranium by the idiot box every night. I meant so say that sh!t happens to everybody. Only in this post-Christian, Moloch-worshipping society, is pain used in evidence against God. Such an attitude is unthinkable to other cultures.
Even Job (oldest book of the Bible, found before Psalms) was not so hasty to accuse the Almighty, despite all his trials. During his agony upon the Cross, Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” but he still willingly accepted death in order to redeem this lost world. God cares about this planet. The Earth is given to people to live in, and God’s intervention and presence among us is greatly constrained. We see “through a glass, darkly”.
That’s why we pray for the Kingdom to come; to help make poor old Earth a nicer place.