This is a response to Sam Harris’ article: There is No God (And You Know It). The major assumption in the article is that Harris has the correct view of reality given the problem of evil and suffering. Harris’ major argument is the incompatibility of a benevolent God and evil. Let me develop, why I think Harris is simply making a rhetorical appeal in light of Christian theism.
Harris’ arguments fail if; it’s even possible that a perfect God is compatible with the reality of evil. The Christian Theist believes that, God is good, and he made good creatures, with a good power called free will. Unfortunately, his good creatures used this good power to bring evil into the universe by rebelling against their Creator. So evil did arise from good, not directly but indirectly, by the abuse of a good power called freedom. Freedom in itself is not evil; but with freedom comes the possibility of evil. So God is responsible for making evil possible, but free creatures are responsible for making it actual. That is to say, God produces the fact of free choice, but each human performs the act of free choice.
Evil is not a substance in and of itself, but a corruption of the good substances God made. Evil is like a shadow that cannot exist without the light; though, light can exist without shadows. Evil then, is a deprivation of some good that ought to be there. Therefore, God’s goodness is a necessary presence, not an absence, to even comprehend evil! Because of this, a Ying and Yang view of good and evil fails. That view does not connect with Christianity or reality.
Now if God were going to destroy evil he would have to destroy free choice also; this would leave no room for the moral good. So how does God deal with evil? God overcomes evil by defeating it!1 The fact that it is not yet defeated does not diminishes the certainty that it will be defeated. Even though evil cannot be destroyed without destroying free choice, nonetheless, it can be overcome. Which gives the Christian hope that injustice will be resolved and things will be restored to how they ought to be.
Harris claims that the “atheist” is “in touch with reality,” and that everyone else is living in a “fantasy.” This reminds me of Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” from his book –The Republic (Book VII), but I doubt that atheism can save you from your chains and shadows considering, according to Harris, it is not a “worldview” and not a “philosophy”. It is unclear how Harris has gained this privileged perspective to escape that “fantasy life.” The only comment in the affirmative is his “confidence” in “statistical laws,” but I can’t help but notice that confidence, from the Latin, literally means “with faith.” Harris has faith that the laws themselves are a sufficient warrant; however, only the theist can justify such a claim with a Law Giver – which is the sufficient cause.
In his article Harris simply creates a straw man argument against Christian theism, and fails to land an argument that connects. It’s possible that a perfect God is compatible with evil; therefore your arguments fail. God is our only hope for moral restoration in the future. Harris has not convinced the reader how he has escaped the shadows of the “fantasy life.” That is why I’m convinced Harris is merely making a rhetorical appeal, and why -God’s existence is possible (and you should know it).
1 Consider this argument for God defeating evil.
- God is all good and desires to defeat evil.
- God is all-powerful and is able to defeat evil.
- Evil is not yet defeated.
- Therefore, it will one day be defeated.
Not only can a theistic God defeat evil, but he will also do it. We know this because he is all-good and would want to defeat evil and because he is all-powerful and able to defeat evil. Therefore he will do it. The guarantee that evil will be overcome is the nature of the theistic God. Also consider:
Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Therefore, Christians have a hope for the restoration of all things to how they ought to be.