Straw God

I don’t want to sound like a jerk about this, but I probably will anyway, so here goes.

cosmic-christThe vast number of oh-so-clever arguments that I see and hear from atheists are, at their core, straw man arguments.

“Straw Man” is a logical fallacy used to reach the desired conclusion, in this case, that God doesn’t exist, because He doesn’t meet your requirements.

For instance, “God doesn’t exist because no all-powerful being who is truly good would create evil and suffering.”

If you’re going to argue against the existence of God logically, you have to argue against the existence of the God that believers believe in, the God of the Bible, the God who not just created everything, but redeemed it after the fall of mankind at the cost of His Son’s life.

But He didn’t create evil. Someone else came up with that, and He knew it would happen from the beginning, and He had a contingency planned for it in advance. That’s what scripture says.

Work within the mythos, if you you believe it to be mythic, but work within it as a matter of integrity.

You can have all kinds of theodicy-based problems with God — believers do too; welcome to the club — but if you’re going to argue against His existence logically and honestly, then argue against the same God that believers believe in.

If you accuse God of being evil because He allows heinous evil in the world, you’re not accusing the God of scripture. The God that believers know embodies good and yet allows evil to exist because He is good. It’s not an oxymoron: He gives His created children a real choice between good and evil because having a real choice is good for them.

We chose wrong, and hideous evil infests the world to this day because we continue to choose it — to choose self; to be our own gods in our own lives — and He allows it so that we can learn from the real consequences of our real choices to wise up and choose good instead.

The God of scripture doesn’t delight in suffering, but He does suffer along with His children when they perpetuate suffering. He became human to experience it first-hand. He loved His children enough to suffer the consequences of sin — including death itself — just as we do, even when He had not sinned at all.

But there’s the sticking point: That word “sin.” If you’re an atheist and there is no god in your life beyond yourself, there can be no “sin,” can there? Whatever you choose is right and good, because you’re in charge of your own life and you determine where the moral high ground is.

And that pretty much vanishes if you turn that job over to Someone infinitely more qualified than yourself.

So, the thing to do is create a god in your own image and discredit that god according to your moral code, which is better that Straw God’s code. And that justifies your choice.

Sorry, your logical slip is showing.

I know, because I’ve made it and worn it myself, a hundred times, even as a believer in the real, genuine God of scripture and grace and the universe.

Been there.

Done that.

It doesn’t work.

Just trust me on this. Be honest. Argue with the God of scripture, and if He still doesn’t measure up, be willing to dive in deeper and study more cogently and accept it if you get an answer that doesn’t elevate your code of morality above His.

And let me share with you what always brings me back the real, genuine God of scripture and grace and the universe:

When He was tortured to death at the hands of those He loved, He forgave, and died, and death could not hold Him because ultimately death is a consequence of self-indulgence that He could never deserve — because He created us, and loved us more than Himself even though we love ourselves more than Him.

God is ever so much more than any attempts to make Him a Wicker Man of straw.

He is God, and though we may never fully grasp what that means, He is also Jesus of Nazareth, scourged within an inch of death, pinioned to a cross, buried in a tomb, raised to guarantee that life need not end.

And that is His argument for Himself that you must discredit, if you discredit Him at all.

Sorry if it makes me a jerk to point this out.

But not very sorry.

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3 thoughts on “Straw God

  1. Thanks for the post. I would disagree with you. You say, “If you accuse God of being evil because He allows heinous evil in the world, you’re not accusing the God of scripture. The God that believers know embodies good and yet allows evil to exist because He is good. It’s not an oxymoron: He gives His created children a real choice between good and evil because having a real choice is good for them.”

    What?

    Most of our suffering is not from evil acts. For example, your child runs into traffic and gets killed. The child wasn’t evil. The driver wasn’t evil. But God allowed it. And you suffer. Really, most of our suffering is from the fact that we live in a violent, random universe. We’re prone to all sorts of terrible diseases. We’re having our life slowly wrung from us. Existence is a bitch. Even the wonderful sun that God gave us is actually cancer-producing. Sin doesn’t cause earthquakes. Sin doesn’t cause SIDS. Sin doesn’t cause most of the suffering. Our suffering comes from the fact that God has left us unprotected in a universe that means us harm.

    How do you account for the suffering that’s not related to sin or evil?

    • I can’t account for it and I don’t try. (Those are questions of theodicy, and we’ll probably never have satisfactory answers to them, ever, in this life.)

      The best I can do is not contribute to it and not blame God, who isn’t responsible for creating it. It’s all here to remind us that we are broken people living in a broken world, and even when we can’t connect the dots between the evil we’ve done and the evil that’s in the world and the consequences of it, we still need to be repaired and made whole and complete.

      • Keith, I’m not into blaming. But, in one sense, I guess, God is to blame. He’s the one that created the universe in this manner–that is, random and full of perilous danger. Apparently, a meteor crashed into the earth and killed the dinosaurs. What’s preventing another from hitting, say, tomorrow? The answer is, nothing is preventing it, certainly not God, I think. The universe follows laws that he set up, for our good and for our ill. But, as I said, I’m not wasting my time being mad at God about the way He created the universe. What is, is. Like you said, let’s just get started taking care of each other in the fix He’s put us in.

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