Does Evil Prove God Exists | Dr. Frank Turek
Let me ask you this. What is the one thing that most people dislike about Christians? Hypocrisy. You say one thing, and yet you do another. And you’re very judgmental. Some would even say you’re bigoted, and you’re always trying to impose your values on other people, and that’s wrong. So, they’re going to point the finger at you, if you’re a Christian, and say those things. In fact, Christopher Hitchens, whom I had the opportunity to debate a couple of times — in fact, Christopher Hitchens was a brilliant British atheist, and he sounded more brilliant than he was because he had a British accent.
He wrote this book: “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” At one point, he said this: “I am absolutely convinced that religion is the main source of hatred in this world.”
Can we get an “amen” for that? Is religion the main source of hatred in this world? That’s what Hitchens and many others are saying. Of course, Hitchens tragically passed away about 10 years ago, but he still has cohorts that say these things. In fact, when somebody points his or her finger at you and says, “You’re judgmental, you’re bigoted, you’re putting your values, and imposing them, on other people,” they have just given you evidence for God.
You say, “Well, how can that be?”
In fact, I was just talking to Pastor Chip, this morning, that what we’re going to talk about is one of the most powerful arguments for the existence of God. And Chip and I are in agreement that the one I’m going to talk about tonight is probably the most powerful. Now, for those of you that have been here longer than a year, I’ve been here before and we talked about three arguments for a theistic God. That’s a God who’s beyond the world, who created the world, and sustains the world. Of the three arguments that we talk about quite a bit, particularly on college campuses, the first is known as the cosmological argument. It comes from the beginning of the universe. “Cosmos” is a Greek word meaning “world” or “universe.” It says that if the universe had a beginning, it must’ve had a beginner. Now, even atheists are admitting the universe had a beginning.
The second argument we talked about last time we were here was the fact that the universe and life is design. This is known as the teleological argument. “Telos” is a Greek word meaning “designed” or “purpose.” It says that if there’s design in the universe and design in life, you, then there has to be a designer. Now, we’ve covered this before, and there’s scientific evidence behind these two arguments.
The third argument is not scientific in nature. It’s more philosophical. It’s the argument that all of you have known since you were a very small child. It’s the argument from morality, known as the moral argument. It says if there’s one thing morally wrong out there, just one, like it’s wrong to be judgmental, or it’s wrong to be bigoted, or it’s wrong to be a hypocrite, or it’s wrong to torture babies for fun, or it’s wrong to kill six million Jews in a holocaust, then there has to be a God.
Why? Because if there is no God, if there is no standard beyond humanity, then everything is just a matter of personal opinion. It would be just your opinion against a baby-torturer’s opinion. Or your opinion against Hitler’s opinion. Well, we know these things aren’t just a matter of opinion. It’s not just my opinion that torturing babies for fun is wrong, or that murdering people is wrong. If that’s the case, there must be a standard beyond us that’s represented by God’s nature, and anything that deviates from God’s nature is what we would call evil.
So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take a look at the moral argument. Now, you’ve got to admit it was worth coming out here tonight just to see God do that. Wasn’t it? In fact, some of you are saying, “I’ve never seen God move.” Oh, really? Check this out. Alright. In order to talk about this argument, let’s start with football. How do you know that your quarterback throwing a touchdown is better than your quarterback throwing an interception? How do you know that? It’s not just the rules. What do you have to know about the game? You have to know the purpose of the game. If there’s no purpose to the game, you can’t say a touchdown gets you closer to the purpose, and an interception takes you further away from the purpose, unless you know what the purpose is. Right? Without purpose, you can’t say, “Here’s a good play and here’s a bad play.”
The same thing is true in life. You can’t say, “Here’s the right way to live life, or the wrong way to live life,” unless there’s a purpose to life. If there’s not purpose to life, you can’t say one way of living is better than another. They’re just different. And without God, there is no purpose to life. It’s just your opinion against someone else’s opinion.
Now, think about football for a second. The purpose and the rules of the game come from outside the game. When a couple of teams show up to play football, they’re not making up the rules. The rules come from someplace else. In this case, the commissioner and the owners get together and decide what the rules are. So, when the teams show up to play, the rules and the purpose have already been set. Now, football is an arbitrary game. Right? There could be different rules, and they do change them every now and then. Okay? But the point here is that the purpose comes from outside the game. The rules come from outside the game. The same thing is true in life. We don’t make up the rules of life. We discover the rules of life. We don’t make up the purpose of life. We discover the purpose of life. If there’s nothing outside of us, you can’t say something is ultimately good, bad, right or wrong.
Here’s another way of looking at it. How can you discover who’s right and who’s wrong? Mother Teresa — those of you who are a little bit younger might not know who she was. She was a Catholic nun who served the poor, most of her life, in the streets of Kolkata, India. She was trying to do good. Of course, Adolf Hitler, the murderous dictator of World War II, murdered millions of people. But how can you discover who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, let me ask you this. How do you know which map of Scotland is better? Is it Map A or is it Map B? What would you need to see in order to know which map was better? This is the interactive portion of the program. What would you have to see? You would have to see a real, unchanging place called Scotland. Right? If Scotland didn’t exist, then these two maps here would be meaningless. But since Scotland does exist, you can say, “Well, Map A, while it’s not perfect, is a better representation of the real Scotland than is Map B.”
In other words, there’s an external standard by which you can measure these two maps. If there was no external standard, you couldn’t say one was better than another. Are you guys with me, so far? Well, that’s exactly what we do when we compare Mother Teresa and Hitler. Mother Teresa isn’t the standard. Hitler isn’t the standard. There’s a standard beyond both of them by which we measure both of them. And we say Mother Teresa, while she wasn’t perfect, measured up to the standard better than did Hitler.
Now, by the way, do you have to be a Christian to know this? Do you have to have a Bible to know this? No. In fact, it may surprise you to know that the Bible actually says this. Pastor Chip is a wonderful Bible teacher, and one of his favorite books, like mine, is the book of Romans. Here’s what the Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans, Romans 2. Check this out.
He says, “When Gentiles [people who are not Jews, at the time], who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)”
In other words, basic right and wrong is written on your heart. You don’t need the Bible to know this. In fact, if you needed the Bible to know this, then God was unjust for judging the entire generation of Noah. They didn’t have a Bible. He was unjust for judging the Canaanites. They didn’t have a Bible. Everybody intuitively knows objective right and wrong on the big issues. Now, the Bible gives us more details. The Bible talks about other right and wrong issues, as well. Paul said, “I wouldn’t even know coveting was wrong unless God told me it was wrong.”
But this natural law that everybody has is something that Paul is talking about here, in Romans 2. And by the way, this is what inspired the government of The United States of America. When the founders got together and declared their independence from King George and Britain, they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men were created…” — and endowed by their government? No. It doesn’t say that.
“…that all men were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And governments are instituted among men to secure these rights.”
In other words, your government does give you rights. Your government should protect your rights. It doesn’t give them. It doesn’t take them away. Now, in Jefferson’s day, he said that if the government is not protecting your rights, then the people have the right to get a new government. That’s what the Declaration of Independence was all about. So, everybody intuitively knows right and wrong. In fact, if there is no God, then the Nazis were not wrong. Sorry. That’s just the way it is. In fact, I had a debate, many years ago, with a Jewish atheist by the name of David Silverman. You can see this on our YouTube channel at Cross Examined. He was the head of the American Atheists at the time, and I kept asking him the question, “David, on what grounds can you say the holocaust is wrong if there’s no god?”
Finally, he admitted, “You’re right. The holocaust wasn’t really wrong.”
I said, “Now, look, if your worldview is telling you that the holocaust wasn’t really wrong, you need a new worldview because you already know it’s wrong. I can’t convince you of something you already know. You’re just denying it. You’re suppressing it,” as Paul talks about in Romans 1. You know when we suppress the truth because we don’t like the truth because we want to go this way and God says go that way? Of course the Nazis were wrong. In fact, how did we judge the Nazis in Nuremberg? They said, “Oh, we were just following orders.”
And we said, “Your government isn’t the ultimate authority. There’s a standard beyond your government.”
That standard is now called International Law. C.S. Lewis called it the Moral Law. Thomas Jefferson called it Nature’s Law. What is all that? That’s God’s nature. If God’s nature doesn’t exist, you can’t say the Nazis were wrong. I mean, you can say it, but you can’t justify it. In fact, if there is no God, love is no better than rape. Oh, you may like love better, but it’s not objectively better. It’s just your opinion. If there is no God, there are no human rights. You know, our country has been arguing about rights more and more. People seem to be inventing new rights. They have a right to this and a right to that. And yet, many of these people doing this are atheists. Do they realize that unless God exists, there are no rights? I don’t care where you are, politically, on this. Do you know if there’s no God, not only is there no right to an abortion, but there’s no right to life. Do you know that if there’s no God, there’s not only no right to same-sex marriage, but there’s no right to any marriage — natural marriage or otherwise. There’s no right to anything. It’s just your opinion.
If there is no God, murder, slavery, and racism are not wrong. Just your opinion. If there is not God, then religious people have never done anything wrong. You can’t complain about people being judgmental, bigoted, or imposing their values on you. What’s wrong with that? Crusades? No problem. Everything is just a matter of opinion. In fact, if there is no God, tolerance is no better than intolerance. By the way, are Christians commanded to be tolerant? Be careful how you answer, not that you’re answering anyway. No. Christians are not commanded to be tolerant. Tolerance is too weak. Tolerance says, “Hold your nose and put up with them.”
Love says, “Reach out and help them.”
If you truly want to love people, you can’t tolerate the evil that they want to do. If you do that, you’re unloving. In fact, how many parents do we have in here? How many former children do we have in here? Okay, that’s everybody. Alright? Question: If your parent tolerated everything you wanted to do when you were a child, would that parent be loving? No. They would be unloving. They have to stand in the way of evil. If you don’t stand in the way of evil, you’re not loving. Tragically, our culture now thinks love is approval. Love is not approval. If you approve of what somebody wants to do, and you know that’s wrong, you’re not loving them by telling them what they want to hear. You’re being unloving. In fact, the great economist, Thomas Sowell, who’s almost 92 years old now, said this: “When you tell people what they need to hear, you’re helping them. When you tell people what they want to hear, you’re helping yourself.”
Do you know why we tell people what they want to hear? Because we don’t want them to be mad at us for telling them the truth. So, do you know what we’re doing? We’re sacrificing them so we can feel better. Jesus said, “The new command I give you is love one another as I have loved you.”
How did He love us? He sacrificed Himself for us. Yet here we are sacrificing other people so we can feel better. And by the way, if there is no God, you can’t complain about the problem of evil. Why? Because if there is no God, there’s no such thing as evil. Why? Because there’s no such thing as good. And if there’s no such thing as good, there can’t be anything called evil. Again, it would be just your opinion.
Now, C.S. Lewis, many years ago, was an atheist. He went through World War I, a terrible war, and couldn’t figure it out. How could there be a good God since there was so much evil in the world? Then, one day, he had an epiphany. He actually wrote it in the book called Mere Christianity. What Lewis discovered was evil requires good, and good requires God. Here’s how he put it in the book.
He said, “As an atheist, my argument against God was that the universe seems so cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”
You see, you wouldn’t know what a crooked line was unless you knew what a straight line was. You wouldn’t know what un-justice was unless you knew what justice was. You wouldn’t know that something was not right unless you knew that something was. Something can be immoral unless something is. So, when anybody complains about evil, do you know what they’re doing? They’re actually giving evidence for God. You say, “How can that be?”
Well, look, because evil doesn’t exist on its own. Evil only exists as a lack in a good thing. Evil is like cancer. If you take all the cancer out of a good body, you’ve got a better body. Right? What happens if you take all the body out of the cancer? Nothing. It doesn’t exist. Right? Evil can only exist in a good thing. Evil is like rust in a car. If you take all the rust out of a car, you’ve got a better car. What happens if you take all the car out of the rust? You’ve got a Pinto. Right? You’ve got nothing. It doesn’t exist on its own. Evil can only exist in a good thing, but good can only exist if God exists. Otherwise, good is just your opinion, just my opinion.
In fact, you could put it this way: The shadows prove the sunshine. In order to have shadows, you’ve got to have sunshine. In other words, in order to have evil, you have to have good. You can have sunshine without shadows. You can have good without evil. But you can’t have shadows without sunshine. You can’t have evil without good. So, if evil exists — and we all know it does — then God exists. Not because God is doing evil, but because He’s the standard of good by which we’d even know what evil was. Now, you can ask the question, “Why does God allow evil?” That’s a whole other question. We don’t have time to get into here. But you can’t say it disproves God. In fact, evil may prove there’s a devil out there, but evil can’t disprove God because there’d be no such thing as evil unless there was good, and there’d be no such thing as good unless there was a standard known as God.
Are you guys with me so far? So, what do you say? Let’s go back to the guy who said, “Wait a minute, you hypocrites. You’re judgmental, you’re bigoted, you’re evil. You Christians claim to be following Jesus, but you don’t really do it very well.”
Here’s what I think you should say. You should say, “Let me ask you a question. When somebody plays Beethoven poorly, who do you blame?”
You don’t blame Beethoven. You blame the player. So, when somebody plays Christ poorly, who do you blame? You don’t blame Christ, you blame the player. And it’s true. We don’t play Him very well, but if we did play Him very well, like perfectly, we wouldn’t need Him. In fact, Christopher Hitchens’ book, if you look at his book, it says, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”
This word “poison” is just a fun way of saying religion is evil. But if there’s no God, religion can’t be evil, murder can’t be evil, rape can’t be evil. Nothing’s evil. In fact, you could put it this way: Religion does not poison everything. Everything poison’s religion. Look, I poison religion. I can’t live up to the pure words of Christ. But if I could, I wouldn’t need Him. In fact, in our second debate — which, again, you can see on our YouTube channel — I said to Christopher, “You know, a lot of the things you write in your book, that really happened. It’s true. Religious people have done a lot of evil things. But by what standard can you judge them evil? I’ve done evil things. In fact, I’m a hypocrite. I can’t live up to what Jesus told me to live up to, being perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. I can’t. But if I could, I wouldn’t need Him. The reason I need a savior is because I’m fallen. And much of what you write in your book is true, and you’re sort of proving our worldview. The worldview is that we’re all fallen. We all need a savior. We can’t make it on our own.”
So, when people say, “Look, I can’t go to church. There are too many hypocrites down there,” I always say, “Come on down, pal. We’ve got room for one more.”
Of course, we’re all hypocrites. I know, theologically, we’re saints because when you trust in Christ, you’re given His righteousness, but we’re still fallen. Paul’s even fallen. Read Romans 7. “What I want to do, I don’t do. What I don’t want to do, I do.” So, just because we don’t play Jesus well, that doesn’t mean Christianity is false. In fact, just because I’m not true and beautiful doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t true and beautiful. Jesus is true and beautiful. And newsflash: Christianity is not Christians. Christianity is Jesus. So, we need to keep our focus on Jesus.
Now, if you want to go further in this, I brought a couple of books. I want to point out that all the proceeds from the sale of the books will go to feed needy children. Mine. Okay? Just so you know. If you really want to get into the argument, not just for morality, but the other arguments I mentioned, and the reason we know Christianity is true, we have some copies of the book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.” I did a short segment of that here, today. But the brand new book that my son and I just wrote is called “Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God.”
If you want a fun way of communicating this, get Hollywood Heroes. In fact, we go through some of the big fantasy and superhero movies and point out how all of the heroes point to the ultimate hero, Jesus of Nazareth, and even movie-makers that are not Christian — they might even be anti-Christian — can’t help but put Christian lessons into some of their movies.
Let me give you one. Iron Man. How many here have seen Iron Man or The Avengers? Okay. Who does Iron Man start out as? He starts out as an amoral billionaire, playboy, and arms dealer. He’s got everything you think you would want to be happy. Right? He’s got all the money he needs. He’s got power. He’s got a great girlfriend. He should be set. Right? Those are the three things we think we all need to be happy. Sex, money, and power. If we’ve got that, we’re great. But Tony Stark is miserable. He’s got everything to live with and nothing to live for. Why is he miserable? He’s got no identity. He’s got no purpose. And then a weapon, one of his own weapons, blows up and puts shrapnel in his chest. He has to have a device installed into his chest in order to guard his heart from the encroaching shrapnel. If that device fails, he dies.
So, this, for me, is a beautiful picture — and I don’t think it was intended. This is a beautiful picture of what I think is the second most important verse in the Bible, today, for today’s culture. Other than the Gospel, this is the most important. It comes from Proverbs.
Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.”
Above all else, guard your heart. Notice it doesn’t say to follow your heart. That’s what Tony Stark has been doing. He’s been following his heart and he’s miserable. You want to have a life of purpose and contentment? You don’t follow your heart, you guard your heart. So, over a number of movies, his character ark goes to the point where not only does he guard his heart, but he realizes what’s most important. And at the very last minute — spoiler alert — he sacrifices himself to defeat the ultimate evil, Thanos, and dies doing it. Movie-watchers are going, “Wow. That’s inspiring.”
Well, let me ask you this. What do you think would’ve happened if they wrote the movie this way? Tony Stark, with his Avenger buddies, is about to take on Thanos, he looks at him and goes, “Do you know what, guys? I just don’t want to take on Thanos today. I’ve got to get back to following my heart and taking care of just me. I’m out.”
Would anybody be inspired by that movie? Would you be enchanted with that? Would you go, “Wow, that’s great?” No. You’d go, “He’s following his heart? That’s wrong. He should’ve sacrificed himself to save everyone, and he didn’t do it. What a wimp.”
Do you realize that despite the culture saying, “Follow your heart, follow your heart,” what really connects with all of us, when you really think about it, is sacrifice? That somebody’s going to give of himself to take care of others. That’s why we’re enchanted with these movies, by the way, because they take us from a place of pain and suffering to a place of bliss. Somebody’s going to come sacrifice. Someone’s going to come do that and take us from this world of pain and suffering to a place of bliss, and that’s what Christianity promises. And these movie-makers, even though many of them are not Christians, can’t help but put those themes in because that’s what connects with us when we really think about it.
In fact, sacrifice is what our worldview is all about. Jesus of Nazareth came to sacrifice Himself to save us from ourselves. He said the greatest love is to sacrifice yourself to save your friends. He also said this: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. Now, ransom? You’re probably thinking, “Ransom? What’s this ransom business? I don’t need anybody to pay a ransom to get me off the hook because I’m a pretty good person.”
That’s probably what we’re thinking in here, right now. Right? At least our culture thinks, “Oh, I can make it to God on my own. I’m a pretty good person.”
Do you know why we think that? Because we have a relative moral standard in our mind. From the moral giant, Mother Teresa, to the immoral tyrant, Hitler. And next to Hitler, we put criminals. We know they’re not quite as bad as Hitler, but they’re bad. Next to criminals, we put all the immoral people we all know. You know, our immoral friends and relatives who aren’t quite as good as we are because our picture’s right here, next to Mother Teresa. And then, if we believe in heaven or hell at all, we arbitrarily draw a line in the sand. We say, “These are the bad people. They’re going to hell. We’re the good people. We’re going to heaven.”
I’m here to tell you this is not the way the moral universe really works, ladies and gentlemen. You shouldn’t be comparing yourself to one another anyway. Oh, yeah. You might be good compared to an ax murderer, but you’re not good compared to Jesus. In fact, the moral line does not run up and down. God’s perfect moral standard runs across the top, and all of us have fallen short of that line, from Mother Teresa on down to Hitler. And what Christ has come and done is He’s lived a perfect life in our place, and paid our punishment for us. And by trusting in Him, you can not only be forgiven, but you can be given His righteousness. So, when someone comes up to you, points his or her finger in your face and says, “You hypocrite. You’ve done evil. You’re bad.” Do you know what you can say? Do you know what? You’re right, but I have a savior. And you’ve been a hypocrite, too. You don’t even live up to your own standards, do you? Would you like to know this Savior? Because this Savior has given you a free gift. A free gift of grace to where you can be not only forgiven, but you can be given His righteousness. And this Savior didn’t just die. He also rose again to prove His claims were true. And you will one day rise again. The only question is to where?
In fact, next Sunday, we’re going to talk about the evidence that Jesus actually did rise from the dead because, as Pastor Chip talked about a couple of weeks ago, that’s the center of Christianity. Without the resurrection, Christianity isn’t true. With the resurrection, it is. And your sins and my sins, my hypocritical sins, can be forgiven.
Father, I pray that if there’s anyone here who’s never accepted the gift that You have provided us, today would be the day they would. I pray You’d rededicate the rest of us to pointing out that, yeah, we’re hypocrites, yeah, we’ve been judgmental too often, yeah, we’re imperfect, and we all need a Savior. Help us to make the invitation to people that grace is what saves us. Not being more moral than anyone else, but just grace. That’s why we’re here at Grace Community Church. Father, help us not to just be about truth. Truth is important, but we have to be about grace, as well. Jesus was 100% truth and 100% grace. Help us to be like Him. In Christ’s name, amen.