Big Questions Section
This section includes answers to some big questions. We don’t claim to have the answers (only God has all the answers!) But we hope and pray this helps you and the young people you work with. These are not definitive and you may way disagree or be able to add more, but they hopefully act as an inspiration or starting point.
There are 18 questions answered here. We must credit “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler and “Cosmic Codes” by Chuck Missler, “It makes sense” by Stephen Gaukroger and the website http://carm.org/ (Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry). We’ve tried our very best to give easy answers to the questions and then more advanced / detailed answers and even further study.
Isn’t the Old Testament God a mass murderer like Richard Dawkins says?
No. Why would we trust what Richard Dawkins or anyone who hates God says?! But it is hard when we read through the Old Testament as sometimes God tells the people of Israel to go into a city of place and ask them to kill everyone or everything in that city. We may look on in great horror (despite the fact that many countries have done similar things over the centuries). But people question how God who is loving could order people he created to be killed. Isn’t he just an angry God who takes it out on people who won’t obey him? No. It’s actually the opposite, but it does show us the power of God is nothing to be taken lightly.
In fact, people like Richard Dawkins like to say things against Christianity – much of their life is dedicated to opposing Christianity (not a very constructive thing!) But everyone is entitled to their opinion. So what about God? Well, actually God’s heart is that no-one should be lost. But time after time mankind has rejected God and his ways – these ways are offered to us as the best way. But each time mankind rejects God’s ways, there are consequences. Each time through the Bible and today, God’s voice calls out to people to turn back to him. He gives people opportunity after opportunity, time after time, to turn back to him. God shows great kindness, great patience and great love for us. But most of the time people don’t think about God.
In the Old Testament times as today, God’s purpose was to give people the opportunity to be delivered from evil and to turn back to him. In the Old Testament, God had to use judgement. He had to show people there were consequences and he had to protect humanity, the created world and keep a people who would be loyal to him. Why? Otherwise humanity would destroy itself and the world, and because he loves us so much and longs that no-one be destroyed. So when there was really serious evil in the Old Testament, God had to cut out the evil (as we’d cut out a cancer from a human body). God realised that humanity has fallen away from his goodness and that the only thing that can help us is a death and resurrection (coming back to life). So he sent Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus then rose from the dead. Now if we accept Jesus, our ‘old self’ (the sinful bit of us) dies and God renews us inside (in our spirits, to be right with him). Just as in the Old Testament, the only answer is to put the evil to death and bring new life. That is what Jesus did and that is the role of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of every person who believes in Jesus.
First it’s important to understand where people like Richard Dawkins are coming from. Many people like him are opposed to God or to any idea of the existence of God. Many of these people have even said in their speeches and books that it is OK to lie as it’s so important to ‘disprove’ God! So just be aware that some of the things that people like Richard Dawkins say have a very negative agenda. They don’t approach things in a balanced way!
Here’s what we wrote in one of our quiet-times, speaking about how good God is…
“From the very start of time, God who is awesome and all-powerful, decided to create humans like us! He didn’t need us, but he wanted to create and enjoy his creation. He created an incredible planet earth, animals, nature and the whole universe. Then he created man – Adam. Then he saw that Adam, was lonely so he created Eve (he cares that much!). Then God spent time with them, giving them free choice. He said, ‘guys go for it and enjoy creation and each other, just don’t eat from the one tree otherwise you’ll die.’ (Genesis 2.16). But man and woman did eat from the tree and sinned. God could have killed them for their sin but he didn’t. Instead he had no choice but to boot them out as they had sinned and God can’t look on sin because he’s perfect. God then covered Adam & Eve himself with skin (signifying that one day Jesus would cover our sins with his life). Death was introduced for the first time – but even this is kind. Imagine a world of evil where people couldn’t die! God didn’t kill them, but allowed them to die naturally over time. Then Cain killed Abel, but God didn’t kill Cain. He confronted Cain, there were consequences, but just like Adam and Eve, he was kind and showed mercy.
God said he’d spare Sodom & Gomorrah if he found just ten good people (Genesis 18). He allowed Moses to intercede with him for people to not kill them for terrible stuff they’d done. He made an everlasting promise to Israel. Then over time, the people of Israel rejected him. He gave them Kings as they asked. He sent prophets to continually warn them. When peoples like the Amalekites did terrible things like killing children, throwing them off cliffs alive and burning them, he waited patiently for them to repent (over 400 years!!) But they didn’t. Then God sent his only son, Jesus, who willingly came into the world which he’d created as a baby. He grew up, suffered and took on every pain, sin, punishment, disease, sickness, rejection that is possible and died so we could be made right with God. He left us his Word, the Bible to teach us and show us the way to truth. He promises us life on this earth and then eternal life with him in heaven doing things that are so amazing we can’t even imagine. So next time someone disrespects God, just tell them all this and how God’s love is incredible!”
It is interesting to think about God’s options. He had created a world where people were free to believe what they wanted – even to the point of rejecting him! The Bible tells us that the world by the time of Noah was full of terrible evil where all people did and thought about was only evil. God would give people hundreds of years to turn to him. He did many things to guide people and help guide them. But ultimately if God didn’t act then people would have completely destroyed themselves in their evil. The Bible tells us this is what satan wants to happen. So God had to act to cut off sin. If you have a cancer in your body, you don’t leave it in or leave a bit of it in there. You cut it out so it doesn’t infect further and kill. This is what God did. Today, we live in a time after Jesus so if we believe in him, he is able to save us and ‘kill off’ our sin through what he did when he died and paid the price of our sin. Just like you pay for shopping, Jesus ‘paid’ the ‘cost’ of our sin so we can now be free if we believe him and allow him to ‘pay’ for us.
The story of the Bible is about perspective. People like Richard Dawkins with their anti-God agenda deliberately approach the Bible in a negative and hostile way. This means that when they read the Bible they do it in such a way that it ‘confirms’ their way of thinking. But actually the story of the Bible is one of God’s constant love, kindness and dramatic acts to draw people he cares for back to Him. God is patient, he is loving and he is kind. He longs that no-one should die without knowing him. But God is tough on sin. In the Old Testament, he gave people many chances but they rejected him and eventually reaped the consequences. It seems really harsh to us, but God was doing everything to keep a pure people, in spite of the incredible evil all around them.
One day Jesus will return to this world and judge sin. Hell is a very real place and is about suffering, fire and torment. You see, God is a God of justice. Sin is so bad it has to be dealt with. The way to deal with sin is to believe in Jesus. But as a God of justice, if people reject Him and bring punishment on themselves, God has no choice but to allow this to happen, as much as it hurts him to see people he created destroy themselves. But this also speaks of God’s love. He’s so caring that he didn’t make us as robots but allows us to reject him.
In Romans 1 the Bible says this (in a version called the Amplified) – “Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].”
Don’t be one who knows of God and rejects him!