I am a recent convert to the faith and I never been happier. An atheist friend of mine asked a question about the faith, and I would appreciate some help in answering. He asked me why God allows people to be deaf and blind? How can the child know God? Is this not proof of a cruel and capricious world, devoid of the love of God and a divine plan.
Does someone absolutely need to hear and have sight in order to “know God”? I don’t think so. These people can certainly know God in other ways – how is it that they are able to breathe? How did they get life in the first place?
We can all know God in different ways, but the very fact that there is a world is “knowledge” of God.
Your friend’s real question sounds like the age-old objection based on the problem of evil. That has been pondered for millennia, and many good answers can be found.
Basically, it is our job to show that child, or any person, God through our care for them. The parents, family, community, etc. all play a role.
If God swooped in and rescued us from every bit of suffering how would we exercise empathy and care for others. What purpose would we have? Keep building bigger and smarter things. Well, yes, I think those who have the gifts to do that should, especially if it will help others. But everyone can care about and assist someone, and if not that child, then help the parents, if not the parents, then perhaps somehow indirectly by supporting educational and vocational opportunities and, this is a biggie, by being a champion for those who have challenges of any kind and by not supporting abortion that might suggest that certain people are undesirable.
Part of what I’m getting at is from this idea which I heard about on CAL yeeeeears ago. This really stuck with me and I share it when I can.
It is indeed the age-old problem of evil. The larger question is why does man seem to live in a fallen world to begin with. That’s the genesis of a conversation about the Fall. The atheist actually recognizes the “evil” even though atheism largely aligns with materialism that logically cannot claim anything good or evil. Part of the conversation must involve whether or not the world is “fallen.”
Also, what is the greatest form of love? Is it greater to love another when things are going great? Or is there an elevated love at work when we love each other even when there is suffering? In the face of suffering, the greatest form of love can permeate the world. Jesus exemplifies this principle when he said, “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13)
And finally, we have the Passion of Christ as our benchmark. If there was no value to suffering, why would God Incarnate will to endure the most unjust suffering in human history? Simply by that example can we understand as a child understands that there must be some value to suffering regardless of whether we can understand it (just as a child can understand some benefit to a painful medical injection even if the child has no capacity to understand how). And another part of the conversation must therefore confront whether Christ was God and rose from the dead.
I see that no one has yet answered, so allow me. (Even though I’m Pentecostal)
My answer is that those things are not God’ s will for us, but we live in a fallen world. As proof of this, read the Gospel of Matthew. You will see that Jesus always healed everyone, unless it was people’s disbelief that PREVENTED Him. Jesus never went to a funeral and let the dead stay dead. Jesus is still the same today. Only He is not here, but now we (Believers) are His hands and feet. He gave us the authority to do what he did. So don’t blame Him, blame the Church for not being the Body of Christ. Are you with me? Do you think this is unreasonable? Well let me tell a little story.
About a man born in Canada in 1870, and grew up in Michigan (my home state) who’s family was always plagued by illness and death. He grew frustrated enough to do something about it. His wife became deathly ill and he heard about a man in Chicago who had a healing ministry and brought his wife and she was healed. Once he understood that God heals he decided he would stay and be instructed in healing. From this point on, his whole family would walk in health. This man, John G.Lake, was a man of extraordinary determination. He became a successful and wealthy business man in Chicago, but gave it all up to become a preacher of the Gospel. He followed a vision given by God and soon was traveling to S. Africa were he would found almost 400 churches. 200 among the white population and 200 among the black. God then sent him back to America to take part in the Azuza St. Revival in 1906. Following this, he went to Spokane Wa. in 1910 and established what he called the “healing roomes”. There he instructed believers in healing and wuold then send them out to whoever called. Lake was a man who was very strick in matters of faith. He would never accept that faith would fail. He instructed his ministers not to return until the sick were well. No one ever took longer than two days. He was so successful that one of the two hospitals eventually closed down due to lack of business. Spokane was declared the healthiest city in the nation. This is a matter of public record. I’m just saying all this as an example of what can be done by faith. It is really Jesus caring for us. Actually anyone can have the faith to be healed if they take God’s promise in the Bible and do not doubt. Jesus is still the same.
God allows sin in the world so that He can show forth His Glory and Righteousness. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.
Jesus demonstrated the love of God and divine plan by suffering and dying on the cross to redeem those He created in love. The cross is always the best answer to questions like this. Jesus endured the cross for what lay beyond - the glory of the resurrection.
There is a difference from suffering as a result of our witness to the Gospel and suffering that is a result of Satan’s meddling. God always desires to counter it. The Bible says healing is the bread of the children. It is our right. Jesus suffered for it. The Bible says He bore our illnesses. This is so, even if you don’t accept that Satan is behind it. It is still evil.
Helen Keller (late 1800s) was deaf/blind, yet certainly “knew God”.
Sadly, the material of our natural bodies is subject to the law of entropy, and there is no reason why the human special senses (which, especially the eyes, require a LOT of “mechanism” to work) would be immune to that.
In the next life, our “spiritual bodies” will be freed from all such burdens.
I think you may be suffering from lacunae in your Scripture.
There are many passages that contradict this point of view.
I am curious what you mean by this. If Jesus healed everyone, why did Paul not have his thorn in the flesh healed? When Jesus told him it would make God’s strength perfect through his weakness, was that an excuse?
Devoid of God, in a way, but not devoid of a plan. This world is a sort of exile from God and into chaos, relatively speaking, the chaos that occurs when humankind prefers itself to Him and His providence and control. Here we experiment with life apart from God, so that we can begin to learn, with the help of grace and revelation, of our exceeding need for Him. That’s a good thing. That’s what Adam lacked.
Please be more specific, if you can. What exactly did I post that “is not what Jesus thought or wanted”? Where did I write that illness and malformation is from God? And expound on Jesus healing everyone and what excuses I may have suggested he made.
Your friend is presenting you with what he considers to be the knock-down argument against theism: the problem of pain.
However, what your friend may be unaware of is the significant contributions made by Alvin Plantinga who has successfully (in the eyes of many skeptical philosophers!) argued that the existence of evil/pain/suffering is NOT proof that an all-powerful, omnipresent and omniscient being does not exist.
Dave Armstrong provides a great overview of Plantinga’s argument here:
Since the logical problem of evil claims that it is logically impossible for God and evil to co-exist, all that Plantinga (or any other theist) needs to do to combat this claim is to describe a possible situation in which God and evil co-exist. That situation doesn’t need to be actual or even realistic. Plantinga doesn’t need to have a single shred of evidence supporting the truth of his suggestion. All he needs to do is give a logically consistent description of a way that God and evil can co-exist. Plantinga claims God and evil could co-exist if God had a morally sufficient reason for allowing evil. He suggests that God’s morally sufficient reason (MSR) might have something to do with humans being granted morally significant free will and with the greater goods this freedom makes possible. All that Plantinga needs to claim on behalf of (MSR1) and (MSR2) is that they are logically possible (that is, not contradictory).
[MSR1: God’s creation of persons with morally significant free will is something of tremendous value. God could not eliminate much of the evil and suffering in this world without thereby eliminating the greater good of having created persons with free will with whom he could have relationships and who are able to love one another and do good deeds.]
[MSR2: God allowed natural evil to enter the world as part of Adam and Eve’s punishment for their sin in the Garden of Eden.]
Since (MSR1) and (MSR2) together seem to show contra the claims of the logical problem of evil how it is possible for God and (moral and natural) evil to co-exist, it seems that the Free Will Defense successfully defeats the logical problem of evil.
In the article, Armstrong quotes numerous atheist philosophers who concede that Plantinga’s work has taken the sting out of the “Problem of Evil” argument against theism.
i imagine God could have created a world where the effects of sin do not exist, but then neither would we exist.
i like it that God loves me despite my sins and decided to create me because of His infinite love for me.
additionally, God did not create sin. He created human beings whom, because He treasured there free wills above the consequences of their sins, were not perfect but possessed free wills and as a consequence were susceptible to the temptations of the Prince of Darkness.
why would God treasure the free wills of human beings enough to create them despite the consequences of their sins?
a possible explanation could be that it is only because of our free wills that our ultimate purpose in being created could be realized. that ultimate purpose being the freely chosen union with Perfection.
i would welcome speculation on how God could have created free wills without allowing the possibility that the agents possessing these free wills could sin. adam and eve were free from sin before they ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil.
sin entered in to creation through the free choice of Lucifer, possibly the greatest of all of God’s purely spiritual creatures. it is because of the evil spirits and adam and eve’s choice to submit to the temptations of the devil that sin entered in to the physical world.
in any case, given the choice between not existing and existing in a world subject to the pain and suffering that comes with defying God, i choose existing.