Some challenges are not worth trying to address. Some demand a level of proof that is unattainable. For instance, one atheist taunted me with this challenge:
- God, being omnibenevolent, can't have a use for evil, as that would go against his very nature. Your turn to show that indeed God could have a use for the exactly the amount of suffering and evil we see, and could not achieve those same purposes with less suffering/evil.
No one can “show” this. Such an answer would require omniscience. It would be like challenging a scientist:
- I will not believe in science until you can explain the origin and precise workings of gravity and quantum physics.
Wisdom might advise, “Walk away from this militant. He is not looking for answers or even a real give-and-take, but rather, one-upmanship.” However, if you do decide to hang in there with him, you will need to redraw the battle lines. Here are several possibilities:
- Ask him for his definition and rationale for evil. If he is a consistent atheist, he is also a moral relativist and therefore lacks any objective basis for good and evil.
- Ask, “What makes you suggest suffering is bad?” Actually, in many respects, suffering produces good!
- You might ask him to explain quantum physics, if he believes in it.
- You might even talk about how God has used suffering in your life. However, this is the wrong person with which to share your life.
But be prepared. He will try to turn the tables on you to put you on the defensive. He might say something like, “The burden of proof is on you.”