By Nathan Jones
Are Atheists correct that because there is so much evil in the world then there cannot be a God?
Dr. David Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of Eric Barger of Take a Stand! Ministries. Eric is an authority on the cults, the New Age, and rock music today. From his past as a former drug addict and rock n' roll musician who was deeply involved in the New Age movement, Eric has emerged since he gave his life to Jesus Christ to become a great defender of Christianity in America. He joined us to discuss why Atheists think the way they do.
Dr. Reagan: The number one attack I hear from Atheists against Christians of all time is, "How can a God of love tolerate so much suffering and evil in the world? If He really exists then why does He tolerate it?"
Eric Barger: The fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden is exactly why we have the evil that we have. Every problem we've got, every disease, everywhere, every evil of all kinds, all emanates from the fall of mankind in the Garden. God is bringing rectification to it. It's not happened yet, but we are living in that period where man has his own free will. He's his own moral agent. He gets to do his own thing, but there is still a God who is ultimately in charge of all things.
Dr. Reagan: God has always created creatures with free will — both angels and us. With free will, because God doesn't want to be worshiped by robots, He wants to have a relationship with people. But, men instead have used that freewill to rebel against God. Why blame that on God?
Eric Barger: People do want to blame all their problems on God. In that process, they claim there is no God and ask, "How could a God that's loving allow all this evil to take place? How could God allow little children to suffer the way He does?"
And yet, God came in the flesh to die for our sins. He's given everyone of us a way out of the punishment for our sins. Every one of us have a way out through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who went to the cross to pay the price for me and for you and for everyone else. In having accepted Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, we will never perish but have eternal life.
Separating God in the Testaments
Dr. Reagan: Richard Dawkins is one of the leading Evolutionist and Atheist spokesman in the world today. He loves to attack the Bible on his basis that it reveals a God who is vengeful and wrathful and arbitrary. Dawkins claims the Old Testament ought to be x-rated. How do you respond to that?
Eric Barger: Go back to Church History and to Marcion who was one of the original Gnostic cultists in the Church. He said that the God of the Old Testament couldn't be the God of the New Testament. Dawkins isn't claiming anything new. It's the same old idea spouted by Marcion.
Here's what's happening, God has revealed to man his sinful nature and condition by the Law set up in the Old Testament. Jesus then comes along and proclaims He is the way out of our sin and that He is going to pay the price for you and me.
Dr. Reagan: If you study both testaments carefully you will see that the God of the Old Testament is a God of grace, love and mercy just as the God of the New Testament is also gracious. God never did change His personality or His character.
Nathan Jones: People seem to picture Jesus like as a weak lamb, and surely Jesus gave up for a time a lot of His power and strength being God incarnate. Jesus came peacefully. People forget though that Jesus whipped the money changers out of the Temple. When Jesus returns He's going to slaughter all the armies of the Antichrist. He's going to judge people and send them to Hell if they continue in disobedience to Him. This is Jesus we're talking about. So, Jesus clearly is not some weak cosmic teddy bear. He's God.
Dr. Reagan: We've got to look at both sides. God is a God of love, grace and mercy, but He is also a God of justice, righteousness and holiness. This false idea that Jesus is some willy-nilly type of person is just not accurate. Listen to Revelation 2 where Jesus is speaking to the Church at Thyatira. "Behold, if you don't repent, I will cast her [this evil woman Jezebel in the Church] upon a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts." That doesn't sound like a patsy to me.
Eric Barger: Right along with this, we have a lot of people in the Church or who claim to be the Church who want only a God of love and never to be a God of justice. We also have the same problem from the opposite angle coming from the Atheists against us. They're saying God is only a God of justice.
Dr. Reagan: But how can a God of love ignore a pedophile who is hurting children? How can He ignore a cold blooded murderer? He's not a God of love if He ignores that. If He is a God of righteousness, He has to deal with those sins, otherwise He's not just or loving.
Eric Barger: The Bible says God definitely is going to deal with sin, and indeed God even now is dealing with sin on a daily basis.
Christians have to understand that we are still living behind enemy lines. That's really part of Christian living. We have to look at the whole picture of where we are in this time during the Church Age, and the big picture view shows we are truly living behind enemy lines. We have an enemy that is still prowling around like a roaring lion looking to devour God's children.
Dr. Reagan: What do you consider to be the most powerful argument in behalf of the existence of God?
Eric Barger: I think Creation would be the first argument. I think the second argument is the fulfilled prophecies of Jesus Christ the Messiah, because no one could have orchestrated the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Just think about the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. To me that says it all. And, Jesus, what did He do? He continually over and over pointed to His Father in Heaven.
Dr. Reagan: I say, "Amen, amen, amen" to that!
Let's go back to your very first point about the Creation, Eric. The Bible says that all of Creation points to a Creator, and it does. I have a watch here, yet I don't believe that watch came into being by a wind blowing through a junk yard. There had to be somebody who conceived that watch, drew a design for that watch, and put that watch together. When you look at the Creation there has to be a Creator.
Nathan Jones: Darwin said that single cell organisms were very simple. My son just recently did a project on plant cells. He marveled, "Dad, there are thousands and thousands of little organic machines inside each cell. They all have to work together for that cell to survive. And that's just one cell."
Dr. Reagan: Darwin lived before we had the microscope so he didn't know those things.
Nathan Jones: True, but a kid can look at a cell and obviously see something important that Darwin couldn't see.
Eric Barger: Tragically, though, the Atheists of today still look at Darwin as their leader.
Nathan Jones: Yes, or they call themselves Neo-Darwinists.
Eric Barger: These people today have so much that they now understand due to Science that Darwin couldn't understand in his day, and yet still they depend on his Theory of Evolution. It is a theory, and that's all it is.
We have empirical proof that there is a God who had interaction with men and who sent His Son. At some point before death, we have to make the decision concerning whether we are going to follow Jesus Christ or reject Him.
In the fourth segment on why Atheists think the way they do, we'll explore how we know the Bible isn't just a fairy tale.