Answering “Questions Christians Can’t Answer” #3 – An Imperfect World?

50 Questions for Christians

Some several years ago, an internet pundit named R.E. Pucket made what may very well be the most notorious thing he was ever to write: a hefty piece with the ostentatious title “Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer“.

Prior to firing off his list of questions, Pucket launched into his story. Once a Christian himself, he began to have questions (up to 50 of them, apparently), and was shut down from asking them by claims that he needed faith, and that things were just part of “God’s Plan.” Frustrated with Christianity’s inability to address the larger questions of life, he renounced the whole thing. This did not, apparently, stop Christian attempts to proselytize him, and consequently, he began to ask questions he knew would shut Christians up. Says Pucket:

“Don’t get me wrong, they will have an answer for them. You will find, however, that their answers have no basis in verifiable fact or evidence whatsoever, and will be largely based in their blind faith forsaking all reason.”

This series of articles will examine Pucket’s list – question by question – and respond to them accordingly. Below, find question #3

3.) If God is so perfect, then why did he create something so imperfect allowing pain, suffering and daily atrocities?

The previous question in this series asks “Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” The abbreviated answer this writer provided was that the healing of one particular flaw or injury in this very flawed and injurious world would do little to solve the larger problem of pain, evil, suffering. This problem was solved, in the Christian worldview, through the person and work of Christ. Regardless of what one suffers in this life, the hope lies in the life to come. God did not offer salvation from injury and death – he offered resurrection and eternal life. Healing any single injury has little purpose if the person will still age, get sick, and die.

This question – about the imperfection, pain, and suffering within the world – is a nice transition from the previous question. Establishing that God has provided for the types of suffering in the world, now the issue arises, “how did the suffering come to be in the first place?” The Bible does explicitly state that God created a good world. It lays the blame for suffering on the rebellious nature of humans who largely reject God in favor of self-interest. Of course, in addition to human atrocities, there are also natural problems – like disease and hurricanes. So perhaps a bit of a thought experiment is in order.

Say that God eliminated natural evil. No disease, no hurricanes, etc. Would this make for the perfect world so-desired? Probably not. As it happens, people are a big problem, as they murder, rape and war with one another. In order to “fix the world,” God would have to perfect the natural world, and perfect the people within it. This is exactly what Christianity claims that God will do. So God will, in fact, fix the mess that people made, after he created a good world. He will do this by recreating a good world – this time with good people in it, who have already been conformed to the nature of Christ.

It is not necessary that one believe this series of claims, which are:

  1. God created a good world
  2. People messed up God’s good creation
  3. God will fix the world

But this can’t really be leveled as the final blow to logically disprove Christianity, since Christians actually have the answer to this question.

As to Pucket’s claim that there is no verifiable evidence for this (or any) Christian answer, at the very least, it is evident that people themselves are responsible for most of the suffering of other people in the world. Not a great deal of evidence required there.

Commenting on the story of “The Fall,” Journalist and Lecturer (and former atheist) Philip Van Elst says the following:

“If you find this hard to believe, consider the evidence. Look at all the many examples there are of benevolent and intricate design in Nature: the nest-building instincts of birds, the incredibly complex structure of the human brain, the navigational systems of bats and whales, the biological software of DNA in every cell of our bodies, sexual reproduction, etc. All this exists side by side with harmful viruses, disease and death. Can its obvious implications be ignored? Consider, too, the significance of the fact that human beings possess an inner moral code they cannot get rid of yet seem unable to obey. Does all this not suggest some process of deterioration from hopeful beginnings? Is it not also significant that many ancient peoples and cultures, including the Chinese, have some tradition of a lost Paradise in the dim and distant past?

“…For the reasons I have already mentioned, I have no doubt that the ‘Fall of Man’ was a real historical event, but what gives the whole story its ‘ring of truth’ is its totally convincing picture of the disastrous consequences of turning away from God. A creature rebelling against its Creator, [C.S. Lewis] argues, is like a plant refusing to grow towards the sunlight. It results in a broken relationship which separates that creature from the eternal source of all life, love, truth and well-being, including its own. It was therefore inevitable that when the human race separated itself from God through that original act of disobedience long ago, hatred, disease and death came into the world.” (“From Atheism to Christianity: A Personal Journey,” Philip Vander Elst, 2011)

The evidence for the case that humans tend to be imperfect, and that the world is more imperfect than it once was are both there. The evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is not inconsiderable (although space forbids to make that case in this article). So there is, at the very least, some evidence to support this answer, and the question is not insurmountable for Christians.

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