Questions are good things because they make you think. The thing about questions is that they often reveal greater issues that exist within the person asking the question, namely certain assumptions or misapprehensions that they may have. Questions, as were demonstrated in an earlier post, often demonstrate a level of incoherence.
Our old friend Bob Sedensticker resurrects a number of bad questions in a short series of posts. Titled, “10 Questions Christians Must Answer”, Bob drags out some questions that have, in various ways, have been responded to in one way or another. But perhaps you’ve never seen them answered. This is probably going to become something of a series on its own in order to respond to Bob’s own answers to the questions that he poses. So, let’s dig in.
The first question,
Why doesn’t God heal amputees?
This question could be substituted with every conceivable disease or disorder, but the answer is relatively simple and straightforward: God isn’t obligated to. Full stop, no further response required. But we could go a little farther and get some words defined, like “heal”, what does one mean by the term?
As a verb, “heal” simply means “a return to health.” One could say rightly say that a “healed” amputee is one who has gained sufficient strength and capability to leave the hospital. One could also rightly say that seeing an amputee with an artificial limb that they were, in fact, healed. What the question really means is, why doesn’t God stop amputations? It’s attempt to smear God’s character and paint him as either incapable or incompetent, rather than admitting that one lives in a fallen world and that amputations, regardless of their cause, are merely reflections of that reality. I could shift the burden to the questioner by asking why don’t doctors heal amputees or even asking from their worldview what is wrong with amputations? Both questions have to be answered from within the boundaries of the presuppositions.
Bob recognizes that Christians have certain presuppositions and have to operate within them; however, his own answer betrays how incapable he is of responding to the question from within his own presuppositions when he dismissively says,
Because there is no God to restore their limbs or to answer prayers. “Answered prayers” are just wishful thinking and coincidence. You can pray to God, Shiva, or a jug of milk and get equally poor results.
He doesn’t bother to prove anything, he just asserts it.
The second question,
Why are there so many starving people in our world?
This question isn’t really one that a Christian needs to answer, because there is no real challenge here. It is a question that needs to be answered, simply on principle, but there are, quite literally, a multitude of reasons that people can be starving, the burden on the person who asks the question is, why should it matter? The Christian has reasons to care about the question, why it matters, and how to resolve the problem.
Why does it matter? Because people are image bearers of God. The unbeliever has no coherent grounds upon which to pose the question without presupposing that God exists and has expectations in regard to his creatures in their relationship to one another. Bob’s own answer displays this when he says,
Because life is sometimes difficult, nature has no desire to make people either happy or unhappy…
Bob’s answer can be summed up thusly: tough luck.
Very inspiring, Bob. On to question three.
Why does the Bible contain so much anti-scientific nonsense?
Let’s just throw out the most vague question possible that puts all of our ignorance and biases on display. There’s a number of category errors in the question itself, namely because the Bible is not a science textbook. Bob’s own answer is really the best answer to supplement that statement,
Because it is a product of an Iron Age culture and has no more knowledge than people of Mesopotamia had at that time.
The problem is that, as much truth that is in that statement, it’s simply being used to dismiss scripture. I could use the same argument in any number of ways. As I’ve written here, atheists often confuse the types of statements that are found in the Bible with being scientific explanations when the Bible is merely making an accurate reporting of the experiences and beliefs of people at the time. That means that the authors of Scripture recognized that there are different kinds of explanations for different things and did not dismiss one explanation in favor of another. It’s just as foolish to reject Henry Ford as an explanation for the Model T in favor of an explanation drawn from mechanical engineering as it is to reject the explanations of Scripture.
The fourth question.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
I think that the better question is, “why do good things happen to bad people?” The Christian necessarily begins with the assumption that man is fallen, sinful, and fully deserving of the just wrath of holy God. There is no reason that anyone deserves any good from God because of their sin and rebellion. In fact, there’s no grounds apart from the Christian worldview that can account for such concepts as “good” or “bad”, especially in a moral context.
Bob’s reply is stolen from scripture,
Rain falls on good people just like bad people.
Bob misses the point, as usual, because he doesn’t have any grounds by which to declare anyone “good” or “bad” and he demonstrates this in his next statement,
There is no God to adjust the balance of luck in favor of the good ones.
Bob clearly hasn’t spent much time reading within the confines of his worldview, because he’s clearly forgotten that in a godless world, there’s no good and no evil, only blind and pitiless indifference.
How do we explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you?
As if the Almighty is required to appear before anyone. It’s a nonsensical question, just as nonsensical as Bob’s answer,
Jesus is imaginary.
Yeah, about that…
[For] anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not have been the Jesus that your mother believes in or the Jesus of the stained-glass window or the Jesus of your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the local megachurch, or the California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we can say a few things, with relative certainty, about him. (Bart Ehrman Did Jesus Exist?)
Jesus is no more obligated to appear before anyone as Bob is to appear before an ordination board in the Presbyterian Church. It’s not something that is required to be explained.
That’s all for this part. Stay tuned for part 2 of this response.