Atrocities such as genocide exist. The fact that God does not stop any of it means God is either wicked and sadistic or He simply is not powerful enough to. Resulting in God not existing.
A common argument against the existence of God is the argument that God allows atrocities like genocide to exist and at times even commands them (see the Slaughter of the Canaanites Deuteronomy 7:1-2 & Deuteronomy 20:16-18 ). So the atheist may say that if God allows atrocities and even commands them then His morals are worse than theirs and it isn’t a God they want to follow. Or they claim that God must not be omnipotent because He doesn’t stop such atrocities in the world from occurring. Resulting in the idea that God must not exist if He isn’t truly all-powerful. But there is a problem with this argument that is often overlooked. This argument has a major fallacy in it.
Characteristics of God
God has 3, main, overarching characteristics.
- Omniscience – The capacity to know all things.
- Omnipotence – Unlimited power.
- Omnipresence – Being present everywhere at the same time.
What we commonly see with this argument is the removal of God’s omniscience and omnipresence with a strict focus on God’s omnipotence. It is from this jarred or twisted view of who God is do atheists and the like base their argument. This however, is not the God of the bible. The God of the bible knows all things (Hebrews 4:13, Job 37:15-16 ), is present everywhere (Proverbs 15:3, Colossians 1:17, Jeremiah 23:24) and is all powerful (John 1:3,Hebrews 1:3, Jeremiah 32:27). However the argument is usually positioned in a way that attacks the omnipotence of God. It’s an attempt to claim God is simply unable or not powerful enough.
So what exactly is the problem with this? The problem is that by removing God’s characteristics He is subjected to a status that is no higher than that of man. To remove one, is to essentially remove them all. This is where atheists and the like always attempt to place God in order to refute God’s existence. So let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Man and Omniscience
Man is not omniscient. We judge based on the past actions of all human beings. In our justice system, man is considered innocent of all crimes until an offense is proven by court of law. All judgement exercised by man is based on looking into the past of an individual’s history. Is there anything wrong with this? Not at all. This is how it should be. This is the only way it can be…for man. Why? Because man is not omniscient. So this moral argument against God is usually projected from a perspective based on the realities of man and his limitations as a human being. Man judges by what he has seen or done which is past tense. And he can only judge based upon what he is able to catch. Many crimes go unpunished due to the lack of sufficient evidence for an accused offense. So man, doesn’t know all things.
Man is Not Innocent
Those opposed to God like to think they’re good people. They attempt to weigh morality based upon their own scales so as long as it suits their position. They will calmly assert murder is worse than lying. Yet fail to realize that lies have put many innocent people into the electric chair. The bible states that none of us are innocent due to all being born into sin. We are all capable of sin and we will all ultimately sin. Anyone who disagrees is confessing perfection and is…lying.
“None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
The truth is, we are all in fact bad people. A good deed doesn’t make someone a good person. A murderer isn’t considered a good person because they help old ladies across the street or donate to charities. What makes a person bad is their corrupt heart and every person on the planet has one (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 53:1-3, Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21-22, Jeremiah 16:12). This means that even babies, as cute and clueless as they are have corrupt hearts. They just have not had the chance to express their corruptibility. If in doubt, visit a daycare center when you have time.
God is Omniscient
God knows all things. It’s part of what makes God, God. God is the creator of all that exists. God has the ability to orchestrate all things towards one common goal. A goal that not only glorifies Himself but is for our good. Unlike humans God sees all things and knows all things. This means God does not see life based on a linear timeline like we do. If that was the only way God could see, on a linear timeline, waiting for things to unfold before they could become a reality to Him, then God would not know all things. This is precisely where the argument against God breaks down. As humans we make the assumption that all people including babies are good because they have not yet committed a certain action. So we judge based upon this linear timeline, looking only into the past which is the only way we can look. God however, can see where things are headed and has the ability to alter the course of current events for a future purpose. God also see’s the corrupt nature of the human heart as we established. Let’s make this more practical.
Adolf Hitler was responsible for murdering close to 6 millions Jews in the Holocaust. So a question we could all ask ourselves is how many of us would feel that it would be wrong to kill Adolf Hitler as a baby if somehow we knew unequivocally he would grow up to slaughter 6 million people.
Another scenario we could use is imagine having the foreknowledge of knowing a Ted Bundy was going to grow up and break into peoples homes and murder his victims. What if you knew unequivocally that one of the victims was going to be you or someone you loved such as a mother, sister, brother or close friend.
This is where the argument against God’s decisions falls apart. Because any sane human being would admit that they would not lose sleep at night if Adolf Hitler or Ted Bundy were put to death even as infants if we knew ahead of time the atrocities that lay ahead. Despite the fact they are “innocent” babies no sane human being would state that they would be torn up inside about removing these two people from the earth before they could spill blood. But we can only make this judgement call due to hindsight. God doesn’t operate by hindsight. If that was the only way God operated He would not be God. He wouldn’t be any different from us.
God Knows What We Don’t
In order for us to declare God’s actions are wrong we must supplant his omniscience with our own limited knowledge and understanding. This is precisely what the atheists and the like do. Notice we’re speaking of God’s actions, not anyone else’s. God is omniscient. To say it plainly, God knows more than us. For a human to proclaim they know more than God, man has to either lift himself up to the status of a deity or lower God down to the status of a man. Anything else is illogical. So what we’re getting at here is that God knows the future, can orchestrate current events towards a common end or goal and simply knows what we’re going to do before we do it. So yes, God knew Hitler would kill 6 million Jews. God refusing to stop it isn’t a question of His omnipotence but rather His omniscience. Why did He allow it and what was the common end or goal? Why did God allow the slaughter of the canaanites to include women and children?
God Doesn’t Reveal All
It would be dishonest for us to proclaim that we know why God allows or disallows all things to happen. Some things He tells us plainly and some things He doesn’t. In reference to the canaanites, for all we know they could have set out to commit atrocities worse than anything we’ve ever seen on earth. But we simply do not know. To the atheist this may seem like a cop-out of an answer. Yet in reality, it is the only honest answer a human being can give when trying to reason all of the actions of a God who knows more than us. And not knowing why God does everything doesn’t mean God does not exist. It simply means, we’re human, He is God, we don’t know every reason God has for His actions. Furthermore, not knowing, does not make God’s actions morally wrong. Where the atheist falls flat, is in their attempt to lower God to the status of man in order to refute His moral actions, hoping to conclude He doesn’t exist. The tactic of the Atheist is to pigeon hole God into one characteristic such as omnipotence while completely ignoring His omniscience and omnipresence. Why? Because as long as God’s omniscience is ignored it becomes much easier to elevate man to the status of God, claiming to be wiser than God, in order to dethrone the very idea of God.
“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:22-25)