Five Big Rocks (part one)

Having been a believer for the bulk of my life, the decision to cross over the other side has not come easy. Once upon a time, I was a zealous Christian apologist, not unlike many who frequently this blog. I know most of the arguments in favor of the Christian faith intimately. Please understand, if I could believe them I would, if for no other reason than it would make my life a lot less complicated. My family is a bunch of strong, dedicated believers. The vast majority of my friends believe, as well. Many times I have questioned myself—-am I doing the right thing? Just how much do I really doubt the existence of God, the veracity of Scripture, and the Gospel message?

To understand why I remain steadfast in my unbelief, I need to introduce you to some of the obstacles that stand in the way my faith. I call them, simply, the Five Big Rocks:

1. The Problem of Evil & Suffering
2. The Problem of Communication.
3. The Problem of Scriptural Errancy
4. The Problem of Theological Incoherence
5. The Problem of Religious Toxicity

I plan on dealing with each "Rock" in a separate article. I know that some of our antagonists will enjoy dissecting and minimizing each point. That’s fine—-at least they will have heard me out! That’s really all I ask. Ready?

Rock #1: The Problem of Evil & Suffering

One day I was watching Ingmar Bergman’s powerful film The Virgin Spring, in which the beautiful virgin daughter of a nobleman is savagely raped and murdered while on her way to the candle-lighting ceremony at the village church. When the father goes to search for his daughter and discovers what has happened, he is shaken with grief and turns his eyes toward heaven, seeking some kind of consolation. Suddenly it hits him: “God, you were there! You watched this happen. You could have stopped it, but you did nothing.” In one powerful scene, Bergman had encapsulated years of doubts for me; I could not contain my tears.

I am no longer a Christian because I cannot reconcile the existence of a loving God with the superfluous nature of evil in our world. There’s just too much moral and physical evil in the world today. We’re in it over our heads. We're drowning in it! As a minister, I used to tell people, “It’s not a question of if God will put a stop to evil, it’s a matter of when.” There’s a Greek word for that argument: bologna!

If God is all-knowing he can perceive evil plans while they are but a dim conception; he can predict earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes with pinpoint accuracy. Yet he does not impart this knowledge to us, and we suffer.

If God is ever-present, he is there when a child is being abused, a teenager raped, an innocent pedestrian hit by a car. Yet he does not make his presence known.

If God is all-powerful then he can prevent evil acts from happening (theoretically, he can do this and still allow for free will). This means that the tragic loss of life in recent years due to tsunamis, hurricanes, and suicide bombers could have been entirely avoided. All the pointless bloodshed of the 20th century could have also been bypassed. Yet God's power is not evident.

If God is all-wise, then he knows that his failure to act in opposition to evil leads common-sense thinkers like me into a state of unbelief. Yet he provides no rational alternative.

And (here’s the clincher) if God is all-loving, then he WILL DO SOMETHING to stop evil—not sometime in the distant future, but NOW, as any feeling, caring sentient being would. Yet he does nothing.....NOTHING.

In the end, the problem of evil is too big a rock to scale, and this is why I no longer believe.

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