As the father of a child born with multiple birth defects, I have struggled with the “Why me?” question as much as anyone who has been through an experience like that. The whole issue of why there is massive human pain in a world supposedly created by a kind, loving heavenly Father, is one that atheists use effectively in casting doubt on the existence of God. The usual Christian response to a discussion of why a baby should be born with massive congenital problems is to say, “This is just for a brief time in this life, and in heaven it won’t be an issue.” That is true, but not very comforting. It is also common for Christians to talk about what the baby brings to others as they serve the infant. I still vividly remember a child in my son’s class for the mentally impaired coming up to me when he heard I was giving lectures on the existence of God. As he pointed to a playground full of running, laughing children behind an elementary school he said to me, “Why did God make me retarded so I can’t do what they can do?”

There is no doubt that things like cancer, birth defects, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and cystic fibrosis bring out good things in those who care for the afflicted. I have written extensively about how my son’s multiple-birth-defect problems have changed me. (The book is entitled Timothy, My Son and My Teacher.) There is also no doubt that Christians have a better answer than atheists in this area, because atheism only suggests death since “survival of the fittest” is their guiding principle. Abortion and euthanasia are the only real options atheism offers. Atheist spokesmen, like Peter Singer, have made this clear, and on a physical level it makes sense.

Another point that has been marginally treated in apologetic literature is the long-term effect of pollution. There is a growing body of evidence that a huge percentage of the problems that come to mankind is the result of environmental irresponsibility on the part of people. We know that a large percentage of cancer is caused by man-made carcinogens in the environment. Even cancers that are not directly caused by chemicals that man has put into the air and water, are sometimes related to our own abuse of the environment. There is strong evidence that skin cancer is related to the depletion of the ozone layer, which seems to be connected to the fluorides that man has dumped into our water and air. Food additives and substitutes can have severe effects on human brains and digestive processes. The disposal of herbicides and pesticides has had catastrophic effects on countless numbers of people. Lead and mercury contamination has caused severe birth defects in all cultures of the earth. In their attempts to challenge global warming, many writers have ignored the unquestionable effects of man’s waste being put into the environment.

We are now learning that medical wastes have been disposed of in our air, rivers, lakes, and oceans, putting hormones and complex organic materials not found in nature into our food chain. In our March/April 2010 “News and Notes” we reported on how chemicals released into the air by plastic manufacturing seem to be having an effect on sexual orientation. This means that even the homosexual/heterosexual issue may be connected to what people have done with the chemicals we produce.

When God created the earth, man and his animals, God repeatedly said, “It is good.” (See Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25.) At the end of the creation process in verse 31 we are told that it was “very good.” When sin entered the picture and man began to do things that were in opposition to what God told man to do, consequences began to appear. Man’s disobedience began to generate strife leading to the first murder. It also produced negative changes in the earth’s environment. Genesis 3:17 – 20 tells us that the ground was cursed because of man and that getting food from the ground would no longer be a matter of gathering, but that labor would be required. From the beginning, man had been told that he was to take care of the world where God placed him (Genesis 2:15). Instead of doing that, mankind has used the earth as a dumping ground for our own selfish use.

It is not our intent here to suggest that science is evil, or that research into things that can improve our life should not be done. The problem is in the greed factor that has caused irresponsible actions by those producing these things commercially. God has given us the tools to do wonderful things, and He has also given us the tools to clean up after ourselves. Our failure to do this has caused massive pain for countless human beings.

The atheist is very likely to say “Why doesn’t God just stop what is happening if He is so loving and kind-hearted?” This is the same challenge as those who were victimized by the horrible things done to the Jewish population by Hitler in World War II. Why did God just not stop the horrible abuses that killed thousands of innocent people in the prison camps of Germany?

From the very beginning of God’s communication with man, God has always told us that we will reap the consequences of what we sow. In Deuteronomy 28 God makes this point clear. He begins by telling His people what would happen if they “fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands” (verse 1). For fourteen verses God tells all the good things that will come from doing everything right. Those commands involved things like giving the land rest (Leviticus 25:5), being careful about wastes,and paying careful attention to diet. It included valid medical practices like quarantine and washing. God then tells in Deuteronomy 28:15  – 29:1 all the awful things that will happen if people live selfishly and fail to follow God’s commands. Some of the consequences are political and social, but many of them involve health and agriculture. This same principle is given in Galatians 6:1 – 10. The positive consequences from doing things God’s way are given followed by the warning, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). That promise is true individually, but it is also true for humankind as a whole.

Can we rationally believe that God should run around reversing all of the destructive things we do? Should God clean up our air as we pump chemicals into it and release man-made hormones that will upset our minds and overwhelm our social institutions? Should God remove the asbestos, lead, and mercury we dump into our lakes, rivers, and oceans so that a few individuals can make more money by not cleaning up the waste their businesses produce? We need to be angry, but not with God. God did it right, and we messed it up. The green revolution is a good thing, assuming we revert to the positive use of what God has given us and that we do not make different toxins that clean up one mess while creating another. We have the tools to do it right. We need to be indignant and angry with the situation, but let our anger go towards the selfish industrial and medical money-makers who have brought incredible pain and suffering to people all over this planet. We must not misdirect our anger toward the God who loves us, cares for us, and weeps with us at the horrible consequences of sin.
--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun10.