Do People Perish For Lack Of Evidence?
I’ve done a lot of study the past couple of weeks on the doctrine of Hell because I was studying for a debate with Counter Apologist and another atheist on the Therefore God Exists podcast (click on the "My Video Debates" link on the sidebar if you want to watch it). My studies inspired me to write two blog posts on the doctrine of Hell, two of which were rebuttals to articles my debate opponent wrote on the subject. I scheduled those posts to be published some time after the debate because I didn’t want muddy the waters beforehand. Anyway, this blog post is also inspired by my studies. This has to do with an objection to the doctrine of Hell I, oddly enough, don’t receive very often. It’s the atheist’s complaint that if God exists, there’s insufficient evidence to believe in Him and therefore, God is unjust in sending people to Hell. After all, how can you expect people to believe in you without evidence? Moreover, how can you punish someone for not believing in you if they would have believed had more evidence been given to them?
How should we Christians respond to such criticism? Is God really unjustified in sending people to Hell because people simply don’t have good enough reasons to become Christians?
God Is Not Obligated To Save Anyone
I’d like to start off by arguing that God is not obligated to save anyone from their sins. We have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23, Psalm 14:2-3), and God’s Word tells us that we deserve spiritual death because of that (see Romans 6:23). If God did not send Jesus to die on the cross to die for anyone’s sins, He would still be justified. Salvation is a gift, not a right (see Ephesians 2:8-9). However, I would agree that it would be unloving of God if He had no salvation plan for us. If God loved us, He would try to save us. After all, it would be very odd to say that you loved someone yet saw them headed for destruction and did nothing. However, I would disagree that that would make Him unjust. God would be unloving if He had no salvation plan, but NOT unjust.
So even if God arranged the world so that no one could come to belief (meaning, there’d be no evidence of His existence), He would not be unjustified. We don't deserve salvation. We deserve Hell.
Fortunately, this is merely hypothetical. The reality is that God IS loving. 1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16 say that His very nature is love. God loves everyone. He doesn’t want “any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). That’s why Jesus died for “the world” (John 3:16), “the whole world” (1 John 2:2), for “Everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). As I mentioned in my debate with Counter Apologist and in my critiques of his articles, God has paved the way for everyone to be saved.
But how can this be? If God wants the whole world saved, why leave so little evidence for His existence? If He really wanted all saved, wouldn’t He be more obvious?
There’s Good Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence For Christianity.
The Bible shows us a Being who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, who created the entire universe and designed the living creatures in our universe, and who exists outside of space and time, at least prior to bringing the universe into being. The Being The Bible describes as God is also a personal agent, that is to say, an agent who is a person instead of an impersonal force.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument, if both of the premises in that argument are true, shows us a Being who is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, supernatural, and is a personal agent. He is the agent that brought all of matter, energy, space, and time into being at The Big Bang.
The scientific evidence for intelligent design (I.E The Fine Tuning Arguments, the DNA-To-Design Argument, and The Irreducible Compexity Argument), if the scientific data is accurate, point us to the existence of a Being who designed our universe and local galactic region to permit the existence of life, and once our universe and local area were life permitting, this Being designed the first living cell.
The Moral Argument, if the premises are true, shows us a Being who is morally perfect.
The Ontological Argument, if all of its premises are true, shows us a being who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Morally Perfect, and Neccesarry in its existence.
Now, I can’t defend the premises of these various arguments for God’s existence given my time constraints, but this is one reason why I believe, and why you should believe, that The Bible’s God is the true God and all of these others are phonies.
The arguments from natural theology show us being whose attributes, only the God of The Bible has. All of the arguments from natural theology reveal a being who is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, supernatural, personal (The Kalam Cosmological Argument), intelligent enough to design a life permitting universe, galaxy, and planet, (The Fine Tuning Arguments), intelligent enough to design life (The DNA-To-Design Argument, irreducible complexity), morally perfect (The Moral Argument), and a being that is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, necessary in existence, morally perfect, and all loving (The Ontological Argument). None of the polytheistic religions and none of the pantheistic religions give us a being that has all of these attributes. Only Judeo-Christianity does.
Now, I don’t have the space to defend each of these arguments. So if you want to learn why these arguments are sound, click on the links above (i.e the highlighted letters).
Even Without Natural Theology, The Orderliness Of The Natural World Points To God’s Existence.
But some might object that if they hadn’t read these articles, books, and lectures on these scientific, philosophical, and historical arguments, there’d be little reason to become a Christian. To this, I’d appeal to Romans 1. In verse 20, Paul says that God’s handiwork is evident from everything that He has made, so evident in fact, that people are without excuse in denying He exists.
Not only does science point to a transcendent Creator-Designer, but even without the scientific evidence, which not all generations have had access to, creation still points to a Creator. Although science gives God's general revelation a mega phone, it's still audible even on the intuitive level. Even Christians who are not scientifically or philosophically minded have appealed to the orderliness of nature, the complexity of the human body, and the beauty of nature to justify their belief in God. I would agree with anyone who says that the existence of a Creator is a very intuitive belief. Design is evident on an intuitive level.
For example, who wouldn’t conclude that we were designed by an intelligent agent as soon as they saw an anatomy chart like the one I’ll post below?
The human body is extremely complex. You possess 3,000,000,000,000 (three trillion) nerve cells all coordinated by the brain. You have 30,000,000,000 (thirty billion) working sections in your brain. Your eyes are connected to your brain. If they weren’t connected to your brain, you wouldn’t be able to see. Your eyes contain 131,000,000 photoreceptors, without which, you wouldn’t be able to see. You have 24,000 hair-like cells in your inner ear which react to sound and convert it to nerve impulses.
Your head has an opening called a mouth which has 32 teeth which grind food to allow you to swallow. The food then goes down the esophagus and into your stomach where it will remain for short time before being dissolved by the acids in your stomach. These acids help you absorb the nutrients from the food to give you energy. After the food is dissolved, it will turn to feces and then travel through your colon and exit your rectum. The digestive system exhibits complexity. In fact, it appears like someone purposefully designed the body so that it would be able to process food correctly.
There are many, many other complex features of the human body. Most Christians believe that God exists on the basis of such complexity. Christians who have never studied apologetics appeal to this complexity. Even in the first century and before hand, people could understand such a teleological argument. The Apostle Paul mentioned the complexity of the human body in a completely different context in 1 Corinthians 12.
The problem with this argument is that the skeptic of God’s existence will appeal to various arguments for evolution to refute this argument. That’s why I never use it anymore. I give other evidence for intelligent design such as The Universal Fine Tuning Argument, The Local Fine Tuning Argument, I explain how DNA needs a designer, how irreducible complexity points to a designer, and I also point out the flaws in the evolutionist’s argument. But I don’t use the “See how complex our bodies are” argument anymore.
Nevertheless, it is an intuitive argument. And this intuition is universally accessible. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to reach this intuition. You could be in a third world country and get this evidence. I'm reminded of the Psalmist's words that the voice of creation "goes out into all the Earth, their words to the ends of the world." - Psalm 19:4
Aristotle would agree. Aristotle imagined what it would be like if there were a race of men who lived underground all their lives in a cave and who suddenly, through an earthquake or something, managed to escape and come out and see the external world. This is how Aristotle describes the impact that seeing the world would have upon these men:
“….when thus they would suddenly gain sight of the earth, seas, and the sky; when they should come to know the grandeur of the clouds and the might of the winds; when they should behold the sun and should learn its grandeur and beauty as well as its power to cause the day by shedding light over the sky; and again, when the night had darkened the lands and they should behold the whole of the sky spangled and adorned with stars; and when they should see the changing lights of the moon as it waxes and wanes, and the risings and settings of all these celestial bodies, their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity – when they should behold all these things, most certainly they would have judged both that there exist gods and that all these marvelous works are the handiwork of the gods.”
The Holy Spirit is Witnessing To Everyone.
If Christianity is true (and the atheist is assuming it is in order to make his case against God), then The Holy Spirit is witnessing to the hearts of everyone in order to get them to repent and turn to The Lord. This is why some Christian Philosophers argue that belief in God is a properly basic belief. A Christian can be justified in believing God even in the absence of any arguments for His existence, these philosophers will argue, because The Holy Spirit is speaking to them. People encounter God.
God Leads Everyone To The Level Of Evidence They Require
When people refused to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, Jesus said that they were without excuse, since the evidence of His divine identity had been amply demonstrated: “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father” (John 15:24). God understands that people need evidence to believe. He understands that it’s unreasonable to ask people to believe in something without good reasons. That’s why God leads people to the evidence that they need in order to believe the truth of Christianity.
A great deal of atheists I’ve talked to on the internet are well acquainted with the arguments I’ve linked to above. Arguments such as The Kalam Cosmological Argument and The Fine Tuning Argument. This is because God knows they need a deep argument to believe.
Others have to come to faith through having a religious experience (i.e having a radical encounter with God). Others have come to believe in a Creator through simply observing the orderliness of nature and intuitively inferring God. Not everyone needs an argument to be convinced of Christianity, but for those who do, God leads them to it. Why else do you think He’s lead you to this blog? ;-)
Not all evidence is the same, not all of it is equally convincing, but I believe God grants sufficient evidence in the type and strength to each person who requires that particular type and strength.