Arguments Against the Existence of God? Think Again…
When I was an atheist, the mere suggestion that my unbelief could be the result of a grudge that I was holding against God would infuriate me. My mother, best friend, and other concerned Christians who were constantly trying to get me to see the errors of ways would often reduce my grand, philosophically impregnable, common sense atheism to a hatred of God’s Sovereign rule over the affairs of His creation. But I just knew that I wasn’t one of those unbelievers. I had “good reasons” for rejecting Christianity.
My reasons, I’d argue, were solely the by-product of existential reflection, philosophical rumination, and a thorough investigation of all available data that was being put forth as evidence in support of Christianity. It would be absurd to think that I somehow had a personal issue with the way in which God chose to run the universe. After all, how could I be offended by a God I didn’t even believe in?
I. The “Argument” from Gratuitous Evil
It wasn’t until I came to know Christ personally as my Savior and Lord that I began to see all of the atheistic arguments against the existence of God for what they were: Accusations of sin, attempts at indicting the very Creator of the Universe as having acted immorally or as presently acting in a manner that is immoral.
The most obvious example of accusing God of having behaved/behaving in a manner that is immoral is seen in the so called “Argument from Evil against the Existence of God.” The traditional argument takes the following form:
Major Premise: If an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God exists, then He has the desire, power, and knowledge necessary to eliminate gratuitous evil in the world.
Minor Premise: However, there is gratuitous evil in the world.
Conclusion: Therefore, an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God does not exist.
This simplified version of the argument is logically valid, but it isn’t sound, since God’s goodness, power, and knowledge in no way necessitate that He eliminate evil now. The conclusion, therefore, that God does not exist can only be secured if one assumes that an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God would certainly eliminate gratuitous evil now and not at some other point in time. In order for this to be the case, one would have to further presuppose that eliminating gratuitous evil now is intrinsic to the exercise of God’s omnibenevolence.
As an atheist, I didn’t understand that God will eliminate all gratuitous evil, but in His own time. It is precisely because we are not all knowing that we cannot state with certainty that the elimination of gratuitous evil now would be the best course of action. God, however, is omniscient. He knows with absolute certainty when to exercise His omnipotence in the elimination of gratuitous evil.
An objector might respond, as I once did, by saying that an all good, all powerful, and all knowing God should want to eliminate gratuitous evil now. Such a response only reveals the animosity that the objector has toward God, seeing as it is nothing more than a moral objection to the manner in which God has chosen to exercise (a.)His omnipotence (in not eliminating gratuitous evil now) in accordance with (b.)His omniscient comprehension of the best possible manner in which to exercise His omnipotence.
The argument from evil against God’s existence, therefore, really reduces to a complaint about the manner in which God exercises His omnipotence in light of His omniscience. Neither the goodness, nor the power, nor the knowledge of God is shown to be either absent or deficient in any way. The unbeliever is merely opining about the manner in which God does things.