El McMeen considers how Jesus would respond to an atheists accusation: "Why should I believe in a God? A good God, if he exists, wouldn't cause or allow babies to get cancer."

How Would Jesus Respond To An Atheist?

I recently watchcd on YouTube excerpts from two debates, each between a smart and committed Christian apologist and a smart and committed atheist. The atheist used the compelling image of a baby with cancer, and demanded an explanation of why God, if He existed, either caused or allowed that to happen. One Christian emphasized the Fall of Man; the other emphasized the decrees of God.

At the outset, I will state for the record four problems I myself have with atheism:

1. It does not appear to me to have a credible explanation for the creation of matter.
2. If my first objection could somehow be met, nevertheless it does not appear to me to have a credible explanation for the self-replicating character of living things.
3. Atheists seem to have great difficulty in giving convincing explanations of the sources of any consistent moral codes they follow apart from theistic sources.
4. Atheism doesn't seem to me to be convincing in its explanation of the obvious yearnings of individual people for significance.

I admire Christian apologists, and, to paraphrase Ravi Zacharias, they live a life of self-imposed masochism, with all kinds of fiery darts flung their way. I do not want what I write below to be construed as any kind of criticism of the efforts and commitment of our brethren who fight the battles in the trenches of apologetics.

All this having been said, here's what subsequently happened to me: I was awakened in the middle of the night (about 2am) thinking about all this! As I lay in bed turning this issue over in my mind, I had the feeling that the Holy Spirit was leading me down a road to some measure of peace on this subject. How was He doing it? It seems to me that He was doing it by leading me to this question: How would Jesus have responded to the atheist's attack? What would Jesus have said to the atheist?

The first response to these questions must be that we don't know how or whether Jesus would have responded to the atheist. We just don't know for sure. He often didn't follow a questioner's line of reasoning, but took charge, probed and revealed the heart of man, and declared the Kingdom of God. So, in a sense, we are speculating, both about the content of the conversation, and about the order and flow of things. We do, nevertheless, find support in Scripture for our speculation, so let's go ahead and lay out this imaginary conversation between Atheist A and Jesus:

A: "Why should I believe in a God? A good God, if he exists, wouldn't cause or allow babies to get cancer."

Jesus: "Haven't you read the Scriptures? Moreover, I have told my followers to pray as follows: 'Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.' I have thereby confirmed that God is my heavenly father, and that we are two persons, yet He is in me, and I in Him, in a way that may seem mysterious to you."

A: "I don't believe that."

Jesus: "I understand that; the reason for your unbelief is that you are evil. [Note: Jesus' comment doesn't sound very PC these days. Jesus wasn't very PC, despite efforts of unbelievers these days to act as if He somehow was warm and fuzzy all the time.]"

"Repent, be baptized, and follow me, and I will give you life in abundance that will never cease. You must have taken into account the words I've spoken and the miraculous deeds I've done. In addition, I must go to the cross, to pay a ransom for the many, and I will be raised on the third day."

A: "Your heavenly father, as you call, him, caused or allowed this baby to have cancer."
[Note that A puts no weight on the manifest supernatural works of Jesus, both in the past and stated by Jesus to come in the future. To him, it's all about his argument.]

Jesus: "Do you believe that I can heal this baby?"

[Note: At this point, A has to decide whether he really cares about the baby, or is just trying to score debating points. Let's hope for the best.]