Sunday, October 18, 2009

God's place in this dangerous, fallen, yet redeemed universe

From the debate between Michael Shermer and John Lennox on God's existence:

The question of an imperfect universe, is that or is that not the hallmark of creator god?

Michael Shermer
It is entirely possible that God exist and he is just a nasty bastard that likes to screw up people's lives. You know, an evil god, a god that is not so good. That's entirely possible. All kinds of different variation of god there might be. The god that John believes in however will have problem to explain why he would let that sort of things happened? Not human evil where he would let humans to do bad things to one another. "That's free will." Okay, I can buy that. But why innocent children should die? Why would god allow that, and again, what god got against anti-theist? What's with that? Can't do it?... Why he chose to do it yet chose to do other things? I'm sorry, I just can't accept that god works in mysterious ways answer. That's not an answer.

John Lennox:
I mentioned in my introduction very briefly that this is the hardest problem. That is very clear. And when people, and perhaps some of you in the audience, have suffered, it is a problem that needs to be handled with extreme care. I have the problem because I believe in a god of love. And if I did not believe that there is going to be ultimate justice, I would immediately leave this lecturn. This is a damage world, we all aware of it. And any philosophy that doesn't have regard for that damage is seriously wrong. And one of the things that disturbs me about the new atheism is that it's an utopianism. It seems to believe that the perfectability of humanity has no real answer to this except to say, "that's exactly what you would expect if the universe is a product of flying chance and necessity." I believe that's not the case. I think if you look at a cathedral that's being bombed, you can see evidents of its original structure and beauty. And there is not one of us who hasn't seen that this universe doesn't just present a one sided picture of unmitigated disaster and evil. It presents a mixed picture. And so my question is this: Are there sufficient ground for trusting god in the midst of a universe that's got ragged edges? And that's what brings me inevitably to the point where I finish my introduction. Without the cross of Christ, that makes no sense to me. But if god has really come into our world, and taken part in our human suffering, I find there enough evident to trust him even when there are major problems. Let me just briefly illustrate this. I nearly died last Christmas. And if it fits in with what Michael was saying earlier. And the medics got to me in the last minute and saved my life. But last year, my sister's 22 years-old daughter died of a brain tumor. I was spared, she wasn't. And if I didn't feel my Christianity with robust enough, it's all very well that Michael is dead right, he is absolutely dead right, this nonsense of says wonderful, I was spared, I got to have something that I could talk to my sister about. She and I can both understand the one thankfulness that I didn't die but helped her with the fact that she lost her daughter. And these are very difficult things that I have discovered in my experience, that faith in Christ in god has given people a bedrock of hope and enable them to go through that kind of trauma.

Dr. Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University.

Prof. John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College. In addition he teaches on Science and Religion in the University of Oxford and on Apologetics and Biblical Exposition at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. During the Cold War he made repeated visits over 25 years to many of the Communist countries and since the collapse of communism has visited Russia repeatedly speaking in Universities and Academies of Science.

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