3. "It is safe to say that almost every person living in New Orleans at the moment Hurrican Katrina struck shared your belief in an omnipotent, omniscient, and compassionate God. But what was God doing while Katrina laid waste to their city? Surely He heard the parayers of those elderly men and women who fled the rising waters for the safety of their attics, only to be slowly drowned."
Sam Harris, "Letter to a Christian Nation"
Now obvious you can go the Douglas Wilson route and say atheists do not have a basis for objective morality. This is true, but the Christian does have objective morality and the Christian makes objective claims. Two of them being, God is all powerful and all loving. Given these two attributes why do we see so much senseless suffering? The atheist need not believe that evil exists in order to point out the unlikelyhood that there is not an all powerful and all loving God in the world we are living in. Isn't it hard to see a moral justification in permitting childhood cancer? Again, which worldview fits the best explanation of what we see around us?
Let's assume that he is correct: the majority of people stuck in New Orleans during Katrina believed in God. Furthermore, let's also agree that they accepted his omniscience, omnipresence, and compassion. What does this have to do with the price of apples in China, as the saying goes?
Matthew 5:45: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Once again, the questioner glosses over the reality that we live in a fallen, cursed world; he ignores orthodox Christian acceptance of the concept. It's another in an endless list of examples of people questioning or criticizing Christianity, without making effort toward understanding what Christians believe, or why they believe as they do.
In addition, scripture indicates that God does not obligate Himself to answering the prayers of the wicked:
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. -- Proverbs 28:9
See Proverbs 15:29 and John 9:31 for supporting examples.
Please show me scriptural evidence that God promises us earth - bound lives of ease, devoid of peril -- whether we are His own, or inveterate sinners.
This may sound cruel, but the truth often hurts, and it bears repeating: Many of the people who died succumbed to the hurricane for no good reason. They chose to live in an area prone to hurricanes and flooding. They chose not to evacuate, when warned of the coming disaster ahead of time. They crawled into attics, which is like painting oneself into a corner. I'm interested in hearing why this person believes that God should be held responsible for saving people from their own stupidity and poor judgment.
And yes, God is all - powerful and loving, though I don't know where he gets the idea that God is "all - loving." God hates sin. But He also is a God of wrath and judgment, and justice, and holiness. And more. If you're going to analyze His actions, then look at all his attributes -- not just the ones that make you feel warm and cozy inside.
As for questioning "needless" suffering, I'll ask a counter - question: "Needless," according to whom? The person who doubts God's existence? And what does the sad reality of suffering -- needless, or otherwise -- have to do with God's existence or non - existence? They're two separate issues. It does not follow that just because you lack full understanding of something, then it therefore must not exist. Imagine if I said: "I don't understand how hydrogen bombs work; therefore, there are no hydrogen bombs." How is this substantially different from saying: "I don't understand how God works; therefore, there is no God." ? Both are variations on the same fallacious argumentation.
In grasping the Christian (biblical) worldview, comprehending that we live in a sin - marred creation is essential.