Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. -Gandalf to Frodo in The Lord of the Rings
I was at the doctor the other day, and as usual when the lady pulled up my sleeve to draw blood I braced. The nurse studied my arm for a minute, then I barely felt a prick (she should teach others how to draw blood correctly). I thought to myself: “That’s it?”
Recently I watched an atheist named Michael Shermer on John Stossel’s Fox Business show. Shermer had three reasons for being skeptical about God: 1. Where you happen to have been born tells you which God you happen to adhere to. 2. Why does God allow innocent children to suffer? 3. The moral problem. The creator of the universe couldn’t even get it right on slavery and how women should be treated, the OT is abominable in that regard, etc.
That’s it? Don’t get me wrong, there are unfathomable mysteries here, but… The essential similarity between all these issues is presumption and arrogance.
Is where you were born a good predictor of your beliefs? Of course. It always has been in Scripture. God called Abram, but not presumably thousands of others from that region. Israel was God’s chosen, but all that time people lived in Asia and America without a true knowledge of him. In 500AD, many in what is today Turkey knew the Lord; today most do not. Millions of Americans are Christian today; there were few 2,000 years ago. The examples are endless, but here’s the point: God is above nations and cultures. He works through them to accomplish His means, and His spirit goes where it will. It’s always been assumed that way in Scripture.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Technically they don’t, because none are righteous (Romans 3). So why does God allow children to suffer? For His glory. How exactly? We don’t know. We aren’t invited to God’s counsel. We don’t know eternity. We can’t see behind the curtain. Isn’t that a key point in the book of Job?
As for the moral reason, Who are you, o man, to think you have a greater capacity for love and morality than God? Why do you think your view of morality is righteous?
We are men. God is God. God is good. We are corrupt. God sees all and knows all. We see little. God it the alpha and the omega. We aren’t. God is holy. We are sinners.
There’s an apocryphal story that I’ve heard in multiple contexts, but it goes something like this. A lady is on a train with two rambunctious kids. A nearby passenger is annoyed with the rude behavior of the children, and the mother’s disinterest in controlling them. Murmuring under his breath, he finally says as calmly as possible that that they are rather loud. The mother sadly responds that her beloved husband and their beloved father has just died and, given the circumstances, she is letting them have a bit of fun. The passenger is humbled. It’s a parable of presumption.
We don’t know the whole story.