Objector: John W. Loftus
“So Christian apologist, I put it to you. Why didn’t God do anything about the Black Death pandemic? Be reasonable here. Why? This is but one example. There were many other pandemics. I argue that Christianity is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter who dies, or how many, or what the circumstances are when people die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being burned to death. It doesn’t matter. God is good. Death doesn’t matter. People die all of the time. In order to justify God’s goodness Christianity minimizes the value of human life. It is a pro-death faith, plain and simple. I argue that Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die. Or, you can prove me wrong.”
On the contrary, it is written “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:54b-56)
I say that God did in fact do something about the Black Death pandemic—something which science could never do. Namely, He took death upon Himself on the cross and defeated it once and for all. Rather than dismissing the tragedy of death, Christianity faces death head on. It teaches us that death is a great evil and entered the world through Original Sin which subjugated the world to corruption, dissolution, and ultimately bodily (physical) death. Furthermore, it teaches that human beings perpetuate the cycle of death and dissolution by means of their own personal sin. We see this played out in the environment through pollution and the overuse of natural resources, we see this on an international scale in the form of wars, acts of terrorism, human trafficking, and a host of other evils, and we see this played out in our communities in the form of substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, divorce, theft, greed, abortion, gluttony, and many other evils.
However, the Word of God, by Whom and for Whom all things were made, would not sit back and watch as His beautiful creation destroyed itself but saw fit to humble Himself, taking on flesh, in order to redeem—to save, renew, heal, and restore—the Image and Likeness of God in man and to unite all of Creation to Himself: thus, bestowing upon all of Nature the gift of incorruptibility, eternality, and freedom from pain, suffering, loneliness, and death. For, as St. Athanasius pointed out: “it were unseemly that creatures once made rational, and having partaken of the Word, should go to ruin, and turn again toward non-existence by the way of corruption. For it were not worthy of God’s goodness that the things He had made should waste away, because of the deceit practiced on men by the devil. Especially it was unseemly to the last degree that God’s handicraft among men should be done away, either because of their own carelessness, or because of the deceitfulness of evil spirits.” According to Christian Theology, it is unthinkable that God, in His goodness, would sit back and do nothing to save His creation. It is because of God’s goodness and love that He sent His beloved Son into the world to save it. As St. John states: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not parish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15).
The Atheist, however, does not have a foundation upon which he might build the argument that anything is intrinsically evil. A physical event–such as the movement of atoms, or the falling of an apple from a tree, or bodily death–has no inherent value. Physical events simply happen; they just “are.” Any value judgment that an Atheist makes about a physical event is totally subjective—for, ultimately, values amount to nothing more than statements about one’s inner feelings (which, by the way, are merely physical events that he has no control of). When Mr. Loftus laments over the death of millions of people—as if death were an objective evil—he is merely sharing his personal feelings. He has no grounds to claim that death is “evil’ in any real sense at all. Furthermore, the Atheist, unlike the Christian, has no ultimate hope. No matter how much power man gains over nature through science, he will never be able to change the fact that he is corruptible, dissoluble, finite, limited, contingent, and mortal.
Conversely, in the face of death, Christians have metaphysical grounds to believe that death is a horrendous evil and hope for a new life and a restored world.