Here is a conversation between an Atheist and myself. He brought up 9 common arguments against the existence of God. His concerns were legitimate, but I believe the Bible has the answers to these emotional statements.
1. Objective Morality? Please. Rather, please explain the strange sense of whimsical morality and justice within the Christian tradition. First, I am born guilty and deserving of eternal punishment because of something someone did 6000 years ago – the original sin.
This statement presupposes the imputation of Adam’s sin on the whole human race. I don’t believe Scripture teaches in total depravity or being born as sinners. Psalm 51:5 is the most common verse used: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me (ESV).” The English Standard Version and NASB both have the most literal translation from the Greek. Other translations say “I was sinful at birth.” This is not what Scripture is teaching here. His mother conceived him out of wedlock.
The other verse commonly used: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned (Rom. 5:12). The last phrase “because all sinned” reveals that each individual is personally responsible for their sins. Have you lied? Said the name’s Lord in vain? Coveted after something that doesn’t belong to you? I know I have. Therefore, our own sin condemns us, not the sin of Adam.
2. Even though babies are sinners based on Adam, they will still go to heaven if they die before their age of accountability.
Once again, I don’t believe your examples are consistent with what Scripture teaches. Babies and children don’t have the cognitive ability or moral framework to understand right from wrong. When they take something that doesn’t belong to them, it’s not considered stealing. They are exploring the world and learning their boundaries. However, if an adult steals money from their employer, no one would ever say, “He is still exploring his environment.” The individual would be fired and put in jail for embezzling money.
3. Someone receives the death penalty for what I did as I go free – the vicarious atonement.
The vicarious atonement of Christ is a gracious gift to you and I. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might receive the righteousness of Christ. While I was reading John Loftus’s book “The end of Christianity” I came across this statement: “So as a Christian, it seems one ought to believe it is wrong for the innocent to suffer in the place of the guilty on the basis of his implanted sense of right and wrong and the clear teaching of the Bible (p. 185).”
Absolutely. John Loftus is exactly right. And it parallels with what Jesus said in John 10:18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” The greatest injustice that ever happened on this planet was for the sinless one, Jesus Christ, to die for us, who rebelled against Him by our own free will (not determinism).
4. Jesus paid it all – really?
God’s eternal being can take on the eternal weight of God’s wrath. Jesus confirms this connection in Gethsemane when he prayed, “My Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus drinks the cup of God’s wrath, a cup that has accumulated the fury of God against sins of all types. Heinous crimes, adultery, careless words, dishonoring thoughts, lies — all of it will be punished by God.
5. Someone deserves eternal torture by burning because of 70 years of sin – eternal torture in the lake of fire.
Personally, I think Hell is locked on the inside. People love their sin more than they love God. People worship themselves rather than God. They would rather burn with their lustful thoughts than transform their mind to what is holy and good and righteous. They won’t want to enter a place where all attention and focus will be upon Jesus Christ. They would rather gnash their teeth in defiance forever than bow their knees to the holy one of God. As Desmund Tutu said: ‘I’d rather go to hell than worshiping a homophobic God.” There is a book entitled: Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment. They may be able to address some of your emotional concerns on Hell.
6. I have the power to save the whole world, but I don’t want to. I’ll save a few because I want to – The Calvinist tradition and its understanding of God and election.
Once again, you are assuming a Calvinist position. I don’t follow Calvin, but the Bible. Read these words from 2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The same can be said in the Old Testament. “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel (Ezek. 33:11).”
7. I had the thought of enjoying a bad action, so I am just as guilty as doing the bad action – the excessive application of Matthew 5 and a personal favorite in the repertoire of Christian preachers wanting to make sure that not even one person sits in the pew feeling innocent from sin.
All evil actions start from a thought. Just because one doesn’t carry it out doesn’t mean they are innocent of it. In fact, read through some documentaries by serial killers who started out with an evil thought that led to their acts of murder. It’s all about the intentions and attitude of the heart. Someone may be bitter and angry against their friend and never incite violence. However, their relationship will always be in question until they get rid of that thought or try to reconcile back. Restoration is the key to why thoughts should be good, pure, and holy. God is concerned about both the heart and the action.
8. Sin is sin – how most American evangelical and fundamentalist Christians think.
I never said all “sin is equal.” Good verses you alluded to. Here is another one that Jesus said in Matthew 11: “But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No, you will descend to Hades! For if the miracles that were performed in you had happened in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
9. One more example for free. Most Christian traditions will not touch this one. Noah gets drunk. One son sees him naked and makes fun of it to his other brothers. The result: Noah is allowed to control the destinies of people for the next 4500 years and sets up systems of slavery and oppression. The black skin descendants of Ham and Canaan are cursed to live lives of slavery, slave trades, slave ships, oppression, cruelty, rape, etc. because Ham saw his naked drunk father and made fun of it? Huh? A strange sense of justice.
If the type of slavery that happened in Africa in the 19th century was in the Bible, the Mosaic Law would sentence that person to death. Exodus 21:16 reads: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God and they would have been put to death for it. Contrary to popular belief, God did not condone antebellum slavery in the Bible.