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VICTOR JOECKS: How injustice points to God’s existence

The worst tragedies provide some of the strongest evidence for the existence of God. That’s counterintuitive, especially in the midst of hardships.

One of the most emotionally potent arguments against God’s existence goes something like this: If God existed, he wouldn’t have allowed this horrible thing to happen. This horrible thing happened. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

It isn’t hard to find awful things. The shocking murder of Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German has been top of mind this week. That’s a deep injustice.

Sunday is the 21st anniversary of 9/11. Terrorists murdered around 3,000 Americans that day. Families were ripped apart. Thousands more then died fighting overseas.

Some personal tragedies don’t make the news, but they hurt all the same. Divorce and domestic abuse. Cancer and car accidents.

These gut-wrenching moments don’t just happen and go away. They linger, fester, escaping in bursts of anger, isolation or destructive behavior. The healing of deep wounds is a long and agonizing journey with many starts and stops along the way in the best of cases.

There is much evil, injustice and suffering in the world. But before you use that to dismiss God’s existence, you need to wrestle with the unstated assumptions in that argument. For one, if there’s no God, what is your basis for asserting those things are evil, unjust and unfair?

Animals kill each other all the time. Lions, eagles and sharks wouldn’t survive without ripping the flesh off other animals. Some animals even eat their own offspring.

Is that evil? Of course not. They’re just animals. It’s in their nature.

When a human being kills someone in cold blood, however, it’s murder. It’s morally wrong. But you need God to establish a philosophical foundation for the unique value of human life and objective moral values.

If atheist evolution is true, man is only the most evolved animal. It’s a mistake to think there’s a special rule that applies to people, but not other animal predators. Survival of the fittest even implies that one day a new species will emerge that’s superior to human beings.

Further, if the universe only exists by chance, human life has no meaning. We are simply implausibly well-arranged clusters of atoms moving about. Our existence has no lasting value, and our actions, if free will even exists, carry no moral implications.

Abstract concepts like “justice” and “morality” are simply emotional coping mechanisms past societies created for self-preservation.

There’s a reason so few people believe this. Ingrained in the human heart is an intuitive understanding that human life is different. Special. Highly valued. That’s why murders, terrorist attacks and terminal cancers cause such pain. They end a precious gift — human life.

The theist can explain why human life has value. God made people in his own image. God provides a philosophically sound basis for morality, too. He’s the source of objective moral truth, like “Thou shall not murder.”

If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why is there evil and suffering? Because he gives humans free will. People can choose to disobey God, which, unfortunately, Adam, Eve and the rest of us have done. The consequence of those decisions is the death and pain we see today.

The Bible is the story of God reaching down to man, providing a path for redemption through Jesus. It includes the promise of eternal bliss in heaven, but not that one’s life will be pain free now.

It’s easy to miss, but when wrestling with the existence of injustice, you’ve assumed the existence of God.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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