Are there any good reasons to believe God, being all-good and all-powerful, may still choose to allow “physical” evil, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and disease? I believe there are. I’ll offer an argument in support in this week’s post.
We have seen that God has a very good reason to allow pain and suffering in the world—its possibility was the only way he could create us with true freedom and all that goes with it. But what about hurricanes, earthquakes, and diseases? Can God not limit these and still preserve human freedom? He can, but it seem there may be other morally sufficient reasons for him to permit these evils. I’ll offer an argument to this conclusion in the next few posts.
We often say God can do anything—this is what it means for him to be “omnipotent.” But last week I argued there is something God cannot do. He cannot create people who are free and then determine what they will choose. Some object this limits God and makes him less than all-powerful. If they are right, the response to the Problem of Evil from human freedom is derailed. Is this a good objection?
If God has good reasons to permit Evil, the argument against God due to the reality of pain and suffering evaporates. There seem to be two good reasons for God, being all-good, to nevertheless allow Evil to exist. This week I’ll offer the first reason, along with an explanation of why this makes sense.
There seems to be a compelling argument that, given the reality of Evil, God does not exist. But wait—there is more to the story! If we dig a bit deeper we find a problem with one of the premises (and therefore the entailed premise and conclusion). This week I’ll begin to explore “the rest of the story.” But to do so I must first review how to evaluate arguments.
Many argue the reality of pain and suffering proves God does not exist. But this is only true if the premises leading to this conclusion are correct. Last week I discussed why Muslims reject the first premise and why they are wrong. But others think the problem is elsewhere: either God is not all-powerful, or Evil is not real. Do either of these responses solve the problem?
Some believe God exists, but he can’t do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not powerful enough. Others believe God exists, but he doesn’t want to do anything about pain and suffering. He is just not good enough. Both attempts to explain the existence of God given the reality of Evil are common. I also think they are both wrong.
A healthy theology of death also embraces the fact that death is a normal part of life. Note I didn’t say a “natural” part of life. Our nature is not to die—it is not how God created us. But after the fall it became a normal part of everyone’s life. Only by accepting this will we be able to say goodbye well.
There are not only bad arguments against inerrancy; there are equally bad arguments for inerrancy. Today I look at three often-heard arguments in favor of inerrancy that I don’t think are good ones. I conclude by suggesting one argument I take to be adequate, and then outline what I take to be an even better argument in support of God’s Word being without error.
It remains to apply the reasoning of the morality of abortion to three other reproductive technologies: embryonic stem cell research, genetic testing, and human cloning. Are there ever morally appropriate uses of these technologies? I believe so in one case, and not in the other two cases. Let me explain why.
In vitro fertilization, embryonic stem research, genetic testing and human cloning are moral issues of our day closely related to the abortion debate. The underlying issues discussed in this series concerning the morality of abortion also apply to these important topics. Whether one takes and essentialist or functionalist view of personhood will also determine the morality of these practices and procedures.
The alternative to life beginning at conception due to a human soul being present is a “functional” definition of personhood. This is the view underlying all pro-choice arguments. If this definition of life is correct, the pro-choice conclusion is completely reasonable. Yet there are at least five problems with the functionalist definition of personhood.
Many object to my conclusion that life begins at conception. The central objection is that we can’t observe a soul, to know when it begins. However, we can observe when certain life-sustaining functions begin. Therefore only when the fetus functions in these ways can we say it is alive. Yet this is well past the point of conception. So life must not begin at conception.
There are at least three responses to this objection.
Before determining the morality of abortion, we must first reflect deeply on what a human person is, and when a human person begins. Last week I discussed the first issue. Secondly, when does human life begin? There are two ways to answer this question. They both come to the same conclusion, yet by different routes. Each has pros and cons, and we should use them in different contexts. Understanding this is essential in developing both our personal and our social ethic concerning this issue.
The first step in determining the morality of abortion is determining what the fetus is. Is it a part of the mother’s body, or is it a distinct human being? To answer this we first must answer two logically prior questions: (1) what is it to be a human person? and (2) when does a human person begin? I’ll tackle these questions in the next few weeks.
“Roe Isn’t Just About Women’s Rights. It’s About Everyone’s Personal Liberty.” was the title of an opinion piece in The Washington Post on July 8. It is one of many articles written about the possibility of a new member of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. How can Christians best think about and discuss this issue with others?
“Why do you believe God is a person?” asked the CEO sitting next to me on the plane. He was a convert to Tibetan Buddhism and thought it more reasonable to think of God as an impersonal force. Over the next two hours, I shared five reasons I believe God is a person—the same five I have been summarizing in this series. We now come to the third reason, which is that only a Person can be the cause of the moral values we all share (such as “Racism is wrong”).
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)