There is a popular story that circulates the internet and social media that pits an atheist college professor and a Christian student. You all have probably read this thousands of times over email, Facebook posts, and dozens of other venues. But, just in case you haven’t, here it is……
[“LET ME EXPLAIN THE problem science has with Jesus Christ.” The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand. “You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”
“So you believe in God?”
“Is God good?”
“Sure! God’s good.”
“Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”
“Are you good or evil?”
“The Bible says I’m evil.”
The professor grins knowingly. “Ahh! THE BIBLE!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help them? Would you try?”
“Yes sir, I would.”
“So you’re good…!”
“I wouldn’t say that.”
“Why not say that? You would help a sick and maimed person if you could… in fact most of us would if we could…God doesn’t.” [No answer.] “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?” [No answer] The elderly man is sympathetic. “No, you can’t, can you?” He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax. In philosophy, you have to go easy with the new ones. “Let’s start again, young fella…..Is God good?”
“Is Satan good?”
“Where does Satan come from?”
The student falters. “From… God…”
“That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he?” The elderly man runs his bony fingers through his thinning hair and turns to the smirking, student audience. “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun this semester, ladies and gentlemen.” He turns back to the Christian. “Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?”
“Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? Did God make everything?”
“Who created evil? [No answer] “Is there sickness in this world? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All the terrible things – do they exist in this world? “
The student squirms on his feet. “Yes.”
“Who created them?” [No answer] The professor suddenly shouts at his student. “WHO CREATED THEM? TELL ME, PLEASE!” The professor closes in for the kill and climbs into the Christian’s face. In a still small voice: “God created all evil, didn’t He, son?” [No answer]
The student tries to hold the steady, experienced gaze and fails. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace the front of the classroom like an aging panther. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me,” he continues, “how is it that this God is good if He created all evil throughout all time?” The professor swishes his arms around to encompass the wickedness of the world. “All the hatred, the brutality, all the pain, all the torture, all the death and ugliness and all the suffering created by this good God is all over the world, isn’t it, young man?” [No answer] “Don’t you see it all over the place? Huh?” [Pause] “Don’t you?” The professor leans into the student’s face again and whispers, “Is God good?” [No answer] “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”
The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor. I do.”
The old man shakes his head sadly. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen your Jesus?”
“No, sir. I’ve never seen Him.”
“Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”
“No, sir. I have not.”
“Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus…in fact, do you have any sensory perception of your God whatsoever?” [No answer] “Answer me, please.”
“No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”
“You’re AFRAID…you haven’t?”
“Yet you still believe in him?”
“That takes FAITH!” The professor smiles sagely at the underling. “According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son? Where is your God now?” [The student doesn’t answer] “Sit down, please.”
The Christian sits…Defeated.
Another Christian raises his hand. “Professor, may I address the class?”
The professor turns and smiles. “Ah, another Christian in the vanguard! Come, come, young man. Speak some proper wisdom to the gathering.”
The Christian looks around the room. “Some interesting points you are making, sir. Now I’ve got a question for you. Is there such thing as heat?”
“Yes,” the professor replies. “There’s heat.”
“Is there such a thing as cold?”
“Yes, son, there’s cold too.”
“No, sir, there isn’t.”
The professor’s grin freezes. The room suddenly goes very cold.
The second Christian continues. “You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than 458 – You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. Because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just..,” [Silence fills the room] “…the absence of it.” [More silence. A pin drops somewhere in the classroom.] “Is there such a thing as darkness, professor?”
“That’s a dumb question, son. What is night if it isn’t darkness? What are you getting at…?”
“So you say there is such a thing as darkness?”
“You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something, it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, Darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker and give me a jar of it. Can you…give me a jar of darker darkness, professor?”
Despite himself, the professor smiles at the young effrontery before him. This will indeed be a good semester. “Would you mind telling us what your point is, young man?”
“Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with and so your conclusion must be in error….”
The professor goes toxic. “Flawed…? How dare you…!”
“Sir, may I explain what I mean?” The class is all ears.
“Explain…oh explain…” The professor makes an admirable effort to regain control. Suddenly he is affability itself. He waves his hand to silence the class, for the student to continue.
“You are working on the premise of duality,” the Christian explains. “That for example there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science cannot even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism but has never seen, much less fully understood them. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, merely the absence of it.”
The young man holds up a newspaper he takes from the desk of a neighbor who has been reading it. “Here is one of the most disgusting tabloids this country hosts, professor. Is there such a thing as immorality?”
“Of course there is, now look…”
“Wrong again, sir. You see, immorality is merely the absence of morality. Is there such thing as injustice? No. Injustice is the absence of justice. Is there such a thing as evil?” The Christian pauses. “Isn’t evil the absence of good?” [The teacher is temporarily speechless.] The Christian continues. “If there is evil in the world, professor, and we all agree there is, then God, if he exists, must be accomplishing a work through the agency of evil. What is that work, God is accomplishing? The Bible tells us it is to see if each one of us will, of our own free will, choose good over evil.”
The professor bridles. “As a philosophical scientist, I don’t view this matter as having anything to do with any choice; as a realist, I absolutely do not recognize the concept of God or any other theological factor as being part of the world equation because God is not observable.”
“I would have thought that the absence of God’s moral code in this world is probably one of the most observable phenomena going,” the Christian replies. “Newspapers make billions of dollars reporting it every week! Tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”
“If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.”
“Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?” [The professor makes a sucking sound with his teeth and gives his student a silent, stony stare.] “Professor. Since no-one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an ongoing endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a priest?”
“I’ll overlook your impudence in the light of our philosophical discussion. Now, have you quite finished?” the professor hisses.
“So you don’t accept God’s moral code to do what is righteous?”
“I believe in what is-that’s science!”
“Ahh! SCIENCE!” the student’s face splits into a grin. “Sir, you rightly state that science is the study of observed phenomena. Science too is a premise which is flawed…”
“SCIENCE IS FLAWED?” the professor splutters. The class is in uproar.
The Christian remains standing until the commotion has subsided. “To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, may I give you an example of what I mean?” [The professor wisely keeps silent.] The Christian looks around the room. “Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?” The class breaks out in laughter.The Christian points towards his elderly, crumbling tutor. “Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain…felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain?” No one appears to have done so. The Christian shakes his head sadly. “It appears no-one here has had any sensory perception of the professor’s brain whatsoever. Well, according to the rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science, I DECLARE that the professor has no brain.”
The class is in chaos. The Christian sits… Because that is what a chair is for.]
This classic argument, showing the astute student dismissing the argument of science and atheism is often credited to the great scientist Albert Einstein. Unfortunately, this is not the case. And besides that , this is not the argument I am making today.
I wanted to key in on part of the argument, however. The part I want to discuss is where is talks about the absence of things. This concept of duality (good vs. evil, light vs dark, cold vs. heat) is where many of us get tripped up. I get asked all the time- “If God created everything, why did he create evil?” To which my answer is this- God created choice and we chose poorly. Evil is not the opposite of God, it is the absence of God. Sin is not the opposite of God, it is the absence of God.
The moment Eve took a bite, the moment that Adam allowed that to happen and then followed her in taking a bite, evil was created. It was created because they made a choice without God- they made a decision that was not bathed in the attitude of what would God have us do.
If we truly desire consistency in our spiritual walk, we must be in the habit of including God in the decision making process. He must be considered in everything we do. Some may say- “So, you want me to include God in what I order from McDonalds?” To that I answer- absolutely. God has spoken to me through doctors, my wife, and my kids about taking care of myself and losing weight. He wants me to take care of myself so that my sons will have a daddy. For me, God is in on the decision making process at McDonalds & it is usually Him telling me to leave and consider eating a salad. All joking aside, the point I want to make is that our sin is an absence of God in the decision making process. He gave us a free will to choose. We have to learn from our past and our ancestor’s past; because historically speaking, we are not very good at making decisions without Him. All it takes is a simple look back at our own past to realize that the best decisions we made were bathed in prayer and God’s council. It is very hard to sin when God is involved in all of your decision making processes. I’m not saying you won’t sin- I am saying you will sin again because God was not involved in the decision. Sin is not the opposite of God, it is the absence of God.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach