A business man was having a conversation with a minister about faith. The business man stated, "I would like to believe in God, but I just can't. There is just so much evil in the world, and I can't get past that."
The minister was not sure how to respond for a minute, when a colleague of the business man spoke up and said, "Frank, forget about the evil in the world for a minute, how do you deal with the evil in your own heart?"
Likewise, in a recent "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip by Steven Pastis, one of the characters muses, "I think I'm composed of two selves that are constantly at odds with each other for control of my soul."
The other character, being the voice of reason states, "I think those two selves fight in each of us."
Surprised the first asks, "Evil and eviler?"
"Good and evil," responds the now frustrated second character.
To which the first responds, "Good? Oh we wiped him out years ago!"
Funny how we can recognize humorously the evil that exists within all of us, but let the Bible draw attention to the fact, and we reject it offhand. The Bible says, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard," (Romans 3:23, NLT), and we take offense at it.
We don't like to view ourselves as sinners, we prefer to think of ourselves as good, upright people. It is much easier for us good upright people to reject the idea of God (so that we can preserve our own fantasies about ourselves) based upon the evil we observe in the world rather than addressing the reality that the greatest evils we have seen in this world are not natural disasters but man-made disasters.
The businessman mentioned above is right: How do we deal with the evil we find in our own hearts?
Most of us choose to deny the existence of evil within us. Instead we gravitate toward the conviction that it is only the concept of a morally uptight God which makes us believe that anything is truly evil, and if we can only rid ourselves of this notion of God, we can then be truly free.
The Psalmist of old was right when he penned these words, "Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. 'Let us break their chains,' they cry, 'and free ourselves from slavery to God.'" (Psalm 2:1-3, NLT)
Thomas Huxley is quoted as saying "The reason we leaped at (accepting evolution without any real proof) is because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores." Huxley, in his book "Ends and Means," admitted, "I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently I assumed that it had none, and was able to without difficulty to find satisfying reasons for that assumption (in the theory of evolution).
The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem of pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves.
For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.
When all is said and done, the evidence for God abounds and I believe is obvious. Evidence against God on the other hand is stayed and forced. Like Huxley, we insist on our way of things and find satisfying reasons not to believe.
Voltaire was right, "The atheists are for the most part misguided scholars who reason badly, and who, not being able to understand the Creation, the origin of evil, and other difficulties have recourse to the hypothesis of the eternity of things and of inevitability."
It is the evil in our own hearts that keeps us questioning God's existence -- not the evil in the world.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington, GA. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org