by Jay Johansen | May 19, 2008
There is a very common criticism of Christianity that I find rather irrational. It goes like this: The presence of so much evil in the world proves that the Bible is false. If there really was a loving and powerful God, he would prevent all the hatred and violence.
This is, no doubt, a telling rebuttal to any religion that teaches that the world is a good and pleasant place filled with friendly, loving people. But Christianity is normally understood to be based on the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible say that the world is all good and wonderful. Quite the opposite. "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5) And: "There is no one righteous, not even one; ... All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Romans 3:10,12)
Similarly: We have seen a number of prominent Christian leaders who have been revealed to be complete hypocrites. They have been caught with gambling problems, prostitutes, or gay lovers. This kind of hypocricy totally discredits Christianity.
Umm ... where does the Bible say that Christians should expect their leaders to be infallible? Quite the contrary, the Bible gives example after example of leaders who failed badly. Sampson was cruel to animals and had an illicit affair. (Judges 13) The apostle Peter was guilty of prejudice and discrimination. (Galatians 2:14) King David committed murder and adultery! (2 Samuel 11-12)
"There is no one righteous, not even one." The Bible tells us again and again to expect our leaders to screw up. It specifically warns against giving our allegiance to a man rather than to God. (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)
Suppose Smith is a political analyst. He predicts that Senator Jones will win the election. All the other analysts say that this is impossible, because Jones would make a terrible president. Then when election day comes, Jones wins by a landslide. Would you say that this proves that Smith was wrong?
Surely the question is ridiculous. How could being shown 100% right prove that someone was wrong? What was proved wrong was the other analysts' theory that Jones couldn't win just because they didn't like him.
That's the argument being made against Christianity. Some people make up a religion that bears little resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Then they look at the world around them and see that the world fits what the Bible says and does not at all fit the religion they made up. And so they conclude ... that the Bible is wrong. How does that follow?
You might, of course, say that you do not like the kind of world or the kind of God that the Bible describes. But whether or not you like it has nothing to do with whether or not it is true. We could debate whether the God of the Bible is truly good, and I'm happy to debate that question elsewhere. But whether he is or not has nothing to do with whether he is real. Saying "This book has a very sad ending" tells me nothing about whether the book is truth or fiction.
They say that the world doesn't fit their idea of what God ought to have created. But Christianity doesn't claim that that is the sort of world God created. You made up your own religion and then discovered it didn't work. Too bad for you. Don't blame us for that. We told you it was wrong.
© 2008 by Jay Johansen
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