In this installment of “Responding to Online Skeptics,” I’m going to be responding to a YouTube video put out by the channel “The Thinking Atheist.” Run by Seth Andrews, this is a channel dedicated to advocating for secularism and criticizing religion. Especially Christianity.
Despite the name of the channel, I have to say that I do not believe that the arguments in this video are very well thought through. You can watch the full video for yourself here. I will be commenting on this video line by line to show you exactly what I mean. The videos words are italicized:
This is the story of Suzie. Suzie believed in Jesus, and Jesus is the light of the world. Before each meal, Suzie would thank Jesus for the food someone else bred, slaughtered, harvested, canned, prepared, cooked, and presented. No food would be eaten until it was properly blessed.
Is Suzie not allowed to thank God by implication for those who prepared the food she eats? Biblically speaking, Adam and Even harvested and prepared their own food, but they were still thankful to God for it. Thankfulness to God for our food does not in any way abase the efforts of the people who prepared it. In fact, I’ve heard many Christians pray “Thank you for this food and the hands that prepared it.” I see no poor logic in thanking God for food.
Before bedtime, Suzie would pray for Jesus to heal the sick, comfort the afflicted, and ease the suffering in the world. Of course, when Suzie awoke, the world’s problems were still there. But somehow, it was all a part of God’s divine plan.
I’ve been studying the Bible for almost twenty years at this point and I’ve never once read that God would immediately ease the suffering in the world. Actually, Jesus said the world would continue to be full of suffering until He comes back to restore everything to perfection. (Matthew 24:6-13) This is not to say that there aren’t instances when God eases people’s suffering. It is to say that, biblically speaking, God doesn’t always alleviate suffering. That’s consistent with what we see in nature.
One more point before we move on: if not knowing why God allows suffering in the world is your best assault on the mounds of archeological evidence confirming the Bible and the sophisticated scholarship that has been done within the field of philosophy of religion, I think you’re going to want to do some more research on the topic of God’s existence. When there’s as much evidence as there is for the Bible, the problem of evil should then become a question about God, not an argument against God.
There is coming a day when all of God’s people’s suffering will be eliminated and the fullness of joy will be restored. God has not simply left us to suffer. If you would like a more developed view on this argument, Tim Keller does a wonderful job of unpacking it in this video.
When Suzie got sick, she prayed for healing. Then she paid a doctor, took prescription medication, and took weeks to recover naturally.
This technically falls into the same category as the last argument made. God does not always heal miraculously. People, including Christians, get sick and have to recover naturally because we live in a broken and sin-cursed world. This isn’t to say that we can’t pray for healing, or pray for wisdom on the part of medical professionals, or that treatments will work. However, it’s not as if this is expected to happen every time.
One may argue that this is evidence that God isn’t there. It actually proves nothing. The fact of the matter is that we know how God works by reading the Bible, and what we observe is consistent with what we know about the nature and character of God and, as I mentioned before, we have plenty of other evidence for God’s existence, so, at the end of the day, this argument falls apart.
When Suzie was confused, she prayed for answers. When her ears picked up no audible reply, she simply guessed and called it divine inspiration.
There are very few instances in the New Testament where one prays for answers and directly receives them. Rather, we’re encouraged to pray for wisdom. (James 1:5) God’s ultimate goal for us is for us to grow in holiness. (1 Thessalonians 4:3) One way for us to grow in holiness is for us to grow in wisdom. I’ve seen this to be true in my own life and the lives of others. As with most of the examples in this video, this argument puts expectations on God that He never promised to fulfill.
When Suzie’s mother was in a car accident, Suzie thank God that her mom was only horribly injured and not killed immediately. Suzie then prayed to Jesus for healing and then paid thousands of dollars to trained medical personnel.
We technically already covered this argument earlier. I should mention that the Bible advocates for medical treatment. Luke, who wrote the books of Luke and Acts, was actually a doctor. You may also remember that in the parable of the good samaritan, the good samaritan, in fulfilling the command of loving his neighbor as himself, took his enemy to the doctor and paid for it himself. Jesus also makes reference to a physician when He said: “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17) It’s worth thinking about.
Suzie went to church thanking Jesus for being so good when the pastor was suddenly gunned down by a crazed madman during a sermon about divine protection.
Anyone who preaches a sermon on divine protection has probably never read Matthew 24:9, where Jesus said that we would likely not receive said divine protection. There are very few instances of that in the New Testament, and there have been very few instances in other times of history. Most of Jesus’ apostles were murdered. It’s a part of living in this broken world. Once again, this is a strawman argument.
The rest of the video is made up of basically the same arguments. You can go back and watch it for yourself if you would like to see what they say. There is one more point that I would like to touch on with this video, however. At both the beginning and end of the video, they state mockingly that “Jesus is the light of the world.” What does it mean for Jesus to be the light of the world?
A great place to start with answering this question is by asking what the purpose of light is. Where would you need light? Do you need it out on a soccer field at one in the afternoon? No, you wouldn’t. You only need light where darkness is potentially present, right? I usually only flick on the lights in my bedroom when it gets dark outside. You might only use a flashlight if you have no other source of light to light your path. In the same way, as this video correctly pointed out, this world is a dark place in more ways than one. There are diseases, famines, natural disasters, etc. It’s also dark because of all of the injustices in the world. Injustice is so prevalent, that we see new ones every single day. So much for humanity being inherently good. Jesus came to be a light in this dark world.
However, if that’s the case, why does God seem so silent and distant when all of this suffering takes place?
It’s because Jesus being the light of the world doesn’t entail Jesus bringing immediate relief to the suffering we see all around us. That doesn’t mean that Jesus hasn’t done that. Jesus healed diseases and disabilities while He was on Earth. However, Jesus ultimately came to give us hope in the midst of suffering. There is coming a day when Jesus will return and He will make all things right. Every injustice will be corrected, every loss will be compensated, and every tear will be wiped away. (Revelation 21:4)
He also came to actually do justice. Jesus’ death and resurrection were Him taking the punishment for our rebellion against Him and for every wrongdoing we have ever committed. Every lie told, every instance of theft, and yes, even every murder can be forgiven because Jesus has taken the punishment for those sins on the cross.
The fact of the matter is that we do not deserve anything better than we’re getting. Yet, God has done justice on the cross, and justice will be done when He comes again, and all evil is officially punished, and creation is restored to what it was originally supposed to be: a perfect paradise in a perfect community dwelling with a perfect God.
I’m afraid to say that the arguments presented here are not substantive. This debate isn’t as simple as the makers of this video would have you believe. I would encourage further investigation and a deeper consideration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: that Christ was crucified and raised from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins and to put us back into a right relationship between ourselves and God.
It is my prayer that the makers of this video will be saved and come to see the light of the glory of Christ.