Hello friends! I don't have any really cool credentials, but I am doing my best to understand more about the God I will never be able to fully wrap my head around. I hope you like what I have to say, let me know of any questions/disagreements you ever have, I love any opportunity I get to talk about God. Thanks for checking this out!
Friday, January 20, 2012
If God Loves Us, Why Are Children Still Starving?
One of the main arguments I hear from atheists is that starving children in Africa are proof that God doesn’t exist. The rationale behind this is that, if God loves us and could do anything He wanted, He would save those dying of starvation in third world countries. The fact that He doesn’t do this proves that either a) He does exist, but is cruel and doesn’t love us (which would then make the Bible false), or b) He doesn’t exist at all.
Before I tackle this issue directly, I want to back up and give an overview in regards to how God views our sin.
He hates it .
He absolutely hates it, yet allows us to do it. Why? Does He not have the ability to stop us in our tracks before we sin?
For those of you who have experienced being in love, I think you’ll understand this pretty well. Those of you who have never experienced love will probably understand it even better. Love is only worth something when it is voluntarily given away. When it is forced, it is worth nothing. Those who have never experienced being in love (yet have the desire to) will recognize that it is not the easiest to find. But that’s what gives it its value. If we could force another person to love us whenever we demanded, it would immediately lose its significance, and its power.
‘The problem of evil’ is the philosophical question, “Why, if God had the power to do whatever He wanted, would He create a world where we had the ability to choose evil?”  The problem of evil, ultimately, stems from the choice God made to give us free will. God wanted to be in a relationship with us, where He would love us, and we would love Him back.  Of course, this is only possible if we have the ability to freely love Him. If God had removed our capability to choose evil when creating us (as some suggest He should have), we would only be able to do good. Since good can be defined in this context as doing that which God would do,  then by removing evil we would be left with only one choice in every circumstance. If then, our only choice was to act in the way God would, our free will would be gone, thus making it impossible for us to truly love Him, or love each other.
So then, it is necessary for us to be able to choose either evil or good in order for us to truly love (both God and other people). Because of this though, there is the danger of those rejecting good and choosing only evil. This brings us back to the main question posed: “Why are there starving children in Africa?”
According to Oxfam International (an international organization dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice in over 90 countries), there is enough food grown in the world to feed everybody that inhabits it . Yet, over a billion people go hungry every day. Since there is no shortage of food on the planet, the blame cannot be given to God, as He has endowed us (the population of the earth) with more food than we need. Yet it is because of greed (over half the world’s food is thrown away as waste) and corruption  that the poor in third world countries continue to starve.
Furthermore, if there is one thing I have noticed about zealous atheists, it’s that their main goal is to delegitimize religion, and secularize culture. Why then, does a group so passionately against the inclusion of God in society, get so upset at Him for not doing what they ask (fixing poverty)? The message from atheists (at least to me) is clear: “We don’t want God in our culture, or our lives.” The surprising thing about God (which I will never fully understand) is that at times He says “okay” and backs off.  However, when society as a whole tells God not to get involved with anything, it doesn’t seem fair to then be upset with Him for not imposing His will into situations that they do not like. The argument “God must not exist because there are injustices in the world and He hasn’t gotten involved” is poor in my opinion. The obvious response (to me) is “No, He hasn’t gotten involved because everybody has told Him not to be involved.”
It seems clear that starvation, poverty and injustice in the world is not a God issue, but a human issue. Because God loves us and respects our free will, He gives us the ability to choose whether or not we do good, even if it greatly upsets Him. God has the ability to get involved, but waits for those who agree to act out His will for the world, so as to not violate the choices He’s given us.
So, what are we to do, if we love God and care about social justice? Well the cool thing is that God wants to help out those who are less fortunate,  He’s just waiting for an invitation. God will give us the ability to fight injustice around the world, and in our own city. The answer is not to just accept evil as something that will always be here, (as God does not just accept evil ) but instead to fight against it.
Admittedly, this is something I don’t do enough of, so for those of you who are interested and have some cool ideas of things we can do as Christians to fight evil in the world, let me know. In the meantime, I hope this cleared some things up about the nature of God, and if anybody has ideas for what I should write about next, please leave a comment.
 – This is a slight simplification of the problem of evil. For a more detailed version of the question, and a far better, more logically sound response to it, visit here.
 – Obviously, examples of God’s love are all over the Bible, but I think probably the most clear (and most famous) verse would be John 3:16. Jesus also gives us the commandment to love God with everything that’s in us in Mark 12.
 – I wrote a paper on the definition of good in response to the Euthyphro dilemma, which asks "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” last year. Perhaps at some point I can go into detail about why such a question sets up a false, mutually exclusive dichotomy, and why good can only be defined as that which is inherent to God, but in the mean time I ask you to humour me if you will in believing that the definition of good, at its simplest, is “that which God would do”.
 Here is a PDF file that goes into detail about the corruption among African elites while the poor in their countries continue to starve.
 – My pastor often says “God is a gentleman, He won’t force Himself on you.” This reminds me of Romans 1:26, where God says He gave people up to their sinful desires.
 – One of the best verses that captures this fully I think is 1 John 3:17-18.
 – I feel like I should have spoken more about the consequences of evil eternally, but this post was already getting rather long. Although his message is directed towards those who live comfortably, instead of those who are committing active social injustices, Francis Chan sums up nicely how the decisions we make on earth affect our eternity here.