i’ve listened to some sound bytes of Rook debating christians during a couple of live chats they’ve hosted. he’s really fun to listen to and really knowledgeable. anyways, on his blog he just posted a story that just happened with him. He was working at the bookstore and ended up getting into a half hour long conversation with a Jehovah’s witness. pressed for time, they decided to continue the conversation via e-mail. Rook’s first e-mail response to the jw bring up some good issues to consider. here’s his e-mail:
(Name with held to ensure anonymity),
Thanks for your prompt e-mail. Yes, it was a productive conversation. If I listed my concerns, in their entirety, I’m afraid your inbox would be so full it would not allow for other e-mails to be sent to you. With that jocularity in mind, we should perhaps focus on one issue at a time. How about we start once more with the problem of suffering. Allow me to hash out my problem for you.
You stated that it all comes down to God’s sovereignty as, per the Bible, God is literally king and this planet represents a part of his kingdom, and as one of the 613 statutes (of which a part contains the ten commandments) states that there shall be no worshiping of other Gods before him (I would note that it does not say that there are no other Gods, as the authors knew of plenty of others that even they felt existed, just that the author only wanted his to come first – although you probably didn’t know that so we’ll assume for the sake of argument that the author intended it to be read as you read it – that God is the only God) thus he is our sovereign ruler. The Bible claims that God knows everything (omniscient) in 1 John 3:20, and that God is perfectly good (omnibenevolent) according to Deuteronomy 32:3-4. Yet, this world does not reflect a perfect being with perfect morals. (Remember that perfect is an absolute term…you cannot be a “little perfect” – that is like being “partially pregnant” and as you know, you can’t be “a little pregnant” just as you cannot be “a little perfect” )
If we look at our species, the human species, it is only recently that the human race has managed to come up with the technology to support our lives for a long period of time. If we go back a few thousand years, the mortality rate among infants was 50% – and an average person could not expect to live past 30(!). If we factor out infant mortality rates, the average person could expect to live past 40, however only 24% of the population would ever reach 40 to begin with. And, if we consider that we have civilizations preceding Judaism by 20,000 years, and many of these civilizations also experienced high mortality rates we should ask ourselves why is this system in place. (Not to mention, the question, why did it take God so long to pop his head out and say “I am the one true God”?) In our modern world, it is only rich nations that only make up 6% of the world which can afford the type of equipment that can keep mortality rates so low. Starving africans with aids would not share your sentiments about a sovereign God – and many would find it hard to swallow. Perhaps that is why Islam, with its harsh ruling God, is so popular in the region?
Now let us look at other species. The Encyclopedia Americana suggests that as of 1992, in most species of birds, the mortality rate is 50%, and that is only relative to certain species. Some species the mortality rate is as high as 90%. What about other types of animals? Well, all one has to do is look at the extinction rate on this planet. Did you know that 99% of all species that ever lived on this planet are extinct? 99%! Now, why does a perfect, all knowing being create a system by which humans and other innocent animals die so easily and at such a high rate? And why does he permit them to suffer so much before they die, like that 5 yearold starving child in remote regions of Africa? Now, you said at the store this is to instill Gods sovereignty. But again, I must ask…why does an all knowing, perfectly moral being need to instill his sovereignty with an iron fist? It seems a bit megalomaniacal to me. And, as an imperfect, moral being, I could think of lots of ways, just using modern science, to solve a lot of the worlds problems without the need to kill off so many people – and I don’t require anybody to worship me in order to present these solutions. And I’m sure you could think of just as many, without needing to kill off 99% of the animal and human life on this planet to show you are the sovereign ruler.
We’ll start with this and we can move on once you send me your reasons for this.
The best to you,