Christianity --Youth Issues/evolution
QUESTION: Hi.I have a degree in anthropology and am currently working on my masters in genetic anthropology. I had a debate with my stepmother who told me she doesn't believe in evolution. I don't get this. How do Christians explain the fossil record? How do you explain the fact that all living things share DNA? How do you explain the genetic similarities in species? How do you explain that bacterial evolution has been observed (and if bacteria evolves, why not us?) (I'm sorry if this question is in the wrong category)
ANSWER: Hi Sonja,
Thank you for inquiring with All Experts.
I hope this email finds you and your mom well. Your mom is obviously has a different perspective in regards to how living things came to be. So, lets play Devil’s advocate for a moment and go into fossil records, DNA, genetic similarities, bacterial evolution, and so forth. Then, we will discuss my Creator.
Fossil record is the collective accumulation of the remains of organisms that have been preserved, particularly in rock, all over the world, and which are generally at least 10,000 years old. When viewed as a whole, it can provide interesting information about the evolution of life on Earth. Scientists consider the remains they have found to be extremely precious and apply what they learn from them into multiple disciplines. They routinely try to fill in gaps in the record to have a better understanding of the world. Now, Darwin acknowledged: “If numerous species . . . have really started into life at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of evolution.” (The Origin of Species, New York, 1902, Part Two, p. 83) Does the evidence indicate that “numerous species” came into existence at the same time, or does it point to gradual development, as evolution holds?
Now Sonja, we can agree that we have enough fossil specimens to draw a conclusion that scientist have enough to make scientific research. How do we know this? Smithsonian Institution scientist Porter Kier says: “There are a hundred million fossils, all catalogued and identified, in museums around the world.” (New Scientist, January 15, 1981, p. 129) A Guide to Earth History adds: “By the aid of fossils palaeontologists can now give us an excellent picture of the life of past ages.” (New York, 1956), Richard Carrington, Mentor edition, p. 48.
Now, does the proof now in existence reveal that biological matter appeared or that it was a gradual process? The Bulletin of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History pointed out: “Darwin’s theory of [evolution] has always been closely linked to evidence from fossils, and probably most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument that is made in favor of darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true. . . . the geologic record did not then and still does not yield a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution.”—January 1979, Vol. 50, No. 1, pp. 22, 23.
Now in the book of A View of Life states: “Beginning at the base of the Cambrian period and extending for about 10 million years, all the major groups of skeletonized invertebrates made their first appearance in the most spectacular rise in diversity ever recorded on our planet.” (California, 1981), Salvador E. Luria, Stephen Jay Gould, Sam Singer, p. 649.
Paleontologist Alfred Romer wrote: “Below this [Cambrian period], there are vast thicknesses of sediments in which the progenitors of the Cambrian forms would be expected. But we do not find them; these older beds are almost barren of evidence of life, and the general picture could reasonably be said to be consistent with the idea of a special creation at the beginning of Cambrian times.”—Natural History, October 1959, p. 467.
To add impetus to this research, Zoologist Harold Coffin states: “If progressive evolution from simple to complex is correct, the ancestors of these full-blown living creatures in the Cambrian should be found; but they have not been found and scientists admit there is little prospect of their ever being found. On the basis of the facts alone, on the basis of what is actually found in the earth, the theory of a sudden creative act in which the major forms of life were established fits best.”—Liberty, September/October 1975, p. 12.
Carl Sagan, in his book Cosmos, candidly acknowledged: “The fossil evidence could be consistent with the idea of a Great Designer.”—(New York, 1980), p. 29. A Great Designer?! Is he talking about a Creator?
Now granted the methods to prove age of fossil records is undeniable; however, The dating methods used by scientists are built on those assumptions that can be useful but that often lead to very contradictory results. So, dates given by them are constantly being revised.
A report in New Scientist of March 18, 1982, reads: “‘I am staggered to believe that as little as a year ago I made the statements that I made.’ So said Richard Leakey, before the elegant audience of a Royal Institution evening discourse last Friday. He had come to reveal that the conventional wisdom, which he had so recently espoused in his BBC television series The Making of Mankind, was ‘probably wrong in a number of crucial areas.’ In particular, he now sees man’s oldest ancestor as being considerably younger than the 15-20 million years he plumped for on television.”—P. 695.
From time to time, new methods of dating are developed. How reliable are these? Regarding one known as thermoluminescence, The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1976, Macropædia, Vol. 5, p. 509) says: “Hope rather than accomplishment mainly characterizes the status of thermoluminescence dating at the present time.” Also, Science (August 28, 1981, p. 1003) reports that a skeleton showing an age of 70,000 years by amino acid racemization gave only 8,300 or 9,000 years by radioactive dating.
Popular Science (November 1979, p. 81) reports that physicist Robert Gentry “believes that all of the dates determined by radioactive decay may be off—not only by a few years, but by orders of magnitude.” The article points out that his findings would lead to the conclusion that “man, instead of having walked the earth for 3.6 million years, may have been around for only a few thousand.”
It should be noted, however, that scientists believe that the age of the earth itself is much greater than the age of man. The Bible does not disagree with that. So Sonja, science has it merits when it comes to biological aspects; however, the standard measurement has been less than accurate. Would this be a comfortable conclusion on your part?
Lets dwell for a moment in regards to mans evolution from ape. Dr. King stated, “The flesh and hair on such reconstructions have to be filled in by resorting to the imagination. . . . Skin color; the color, form, and distribution of the hair; the form of the features; and the aspect of the face—of these characters we know absolutely nothing for any prehistoric men.”—The Biology of Race (New York, 1971), James C. King, pp. 135, 151. More apropos was the conclusion drawn by the Science Digest which says, “The vast majority of artists’ conceptions are based more on imagination than on evidence. . . . Artists must create something between an ape and a human being; the older the specimen is said to be, the more apelike they make it.”—Science Digest, April 1981, p. 41. Author Dr. Lissner also concluded, “Just as we are slowly learning that primitive men are not necessarily savages, so we must learn to realize that the early men of the Ice Age were neither brute beasts nor semi-apes nor cretins. Hence the ineffable stupidity of all attempts to reconstruct Neanderthal or even Peking man.”—Man, God and Magic (New York, 1961), Ivar Lissner, p. 304.
Sonja lets look at this as an investigative point. Like a crime scene. We know that one plus one equals two and two plus one equals three.(the “and” in the previous sentence is not addition. I am talking about simple arithmetic) We know that science is just another word investigating the facts. I selected some books by scientists with impeccable credentials—all evolutionists. I would adopt Jesus’ way of dealing with the false religionists: “By your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37) My research limited itself to evolution’s major steps en route to life: (1) a primitive atmosphere, (2) an organic soup, (3) proteins, (4) nucleotides, (5) nucleic acids called DNA, and (6) a membrane.
First needed, an atmosphere on early earth that, when bombarded with lightning or ultraviolet rays or other energy sources, would produce simple molecules necessary for life. In 1953 Stanley Miller reported on just such an experiment. He selected a hydrogen-rich atmosphere for early earth, passed an electric spark through it, and produced 2 simpler amino acids of the 20 required to make proteins. No one knows, however, what the early earth atmosphere was like. Why did Miller choose this one? He admitted prejudice in favor of it because it was the only one wherein “the synthesis of compounds of biological interest takes place.” Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, by Robert Shapiro, 1986, p. 105; Life Itself, by Francis Crick, 1981, p. 77., Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, pp. 96-7., The Origins of Life on the Earth, by Stanley L. Miller and Leslie E. Orgel, 1974, p. 33.
I discovered that experiments are often rigged to give the desired results. Many scientists acknowledge that the experimenter can ‘manipulate the outcome profoundly,’ and ‘his intelligence can be involved so as to prejudice the experiment.’ Miller’s atmosphere was used in most of the experiments that followed his, not because it was logical or even probable, but because “it was conducive to evolutionary experiments,” and “the success of the laboratory experiments recommends it.” Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, p. 103., Technology Review, April 1981, R. C. Cowen, p. 8; Science 210, R. A. Kerr, 1980, p. 42. (Both quotes taken from The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, 1984, p. 76.)
Nevertheless, evolutionists hailed Miller’s feat as a great breakthrough. Many experiments followed, using various energy sources and different raw materials. Through much manipulation and doctoring, and ignoring the conditions existing in a natural environment, scientists in their rigidly controlled laboratory experiments obtained additional organic chemicals relevant to life. They made a Mount Everest out of Miller’s molehill. It opened the way for an organic soup of life’s building blocks to accumulate in the ocean. Or did it?
Miller’s molehill was flawed, and with its demise their Mount Everest collapsed. Miller used a spark to break up the simple chemicals in his atmosphere to allow amino acids to form. But this spark would even more quickly have shattered the amino acids! So again Miller rigged his experiment: He built a trap in his apparatus to store the acids as soon as they formed, to save them from the spark. Scientists claim, however, that in the early earth the amino acids would have escaped the lightning or ultraviolet rays by plunging into the ocean. Thus evolutionists seek to save the soup.
But for several reasons, to no avail. Amino acids are not stable in water and in the ancient ocean would exist in only negligible quantities. If the organic soup had ever existed, some of its compounds would have been trapped in sedimentary rocks, but in spite of 20 years of searching, “the earliest rocks have failed to yield any evidence of a prebiotic soup.” Yet “the existence of a prebiotic soup is crucial.” So “it comes as . . . a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence.” Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, by Michael Denton, 1985, pp. 260-1, 263; Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, pp. 112-13.
Allow the soup that nature disallows. Millions of amino acids in the soup, hundreds of different kinds, roughly half of them in a left-handed form and half right-handed. Would the amino acids now connect up in long chains to make proteins? Would only the 20 kinds needed be selected by chance out of the hundreds of kinds in the soup? And from these 20 kinds, would chance select only the left-handed forms found in living organisms? And then line them up in the right order for each distinctive protein and in the exact shape required for each one? Only by a miracle. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, pp. 234-8.
A typical protein has about one hundred amino acids and contains many thousands of atoms. In its life processes a living cell uses some 200,000 proteins. Two thousand of them are enzymes, special proteins without which the cell cannot survive. What are the chances of these enzymes forming at random in the soup—if you had the soup? One chance in 1040,000. This is 1 followed by 40,000 zeros. Written out in full, it would fill 14 pages of a 8-1/2” by 11”. Or, stated differently, the chance is the same as rolling dice and getting 50,000 sixes in a row. And that is for only 2,000 of the 200,000 needed for a living cell. So to get them all, roll 5,000,000 more sixes in a row! The Intelligent Universe, by Fred Hoyle, 1983, pp. 12-17.
By now I felt that I was beating a dead horse. But I continued. Assuming that the soup did give us proteins, what about nucleotides? Leslie Orgel of Salk Institute in California has indicated nucleotides to be “one of the major problems in prebiotic synthesis.” They are needed to make the nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), also called an overwhelming difficulty. Incidentally, proteins cannot be assembled without the nucleic acids, nor can nucleic acids form without proteins. It’s the old riddle in chemical garb: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, p. 188., Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 238; Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, pp. 134, 138.
But let’s set that mountain aside and have evolutionist Robert Shapiro, professor of chemistry at New York University and a specialist in DNA research, dispose of the chance formation of nucleotides and nucleic acids in early earth’s environment:
“Whenever two amino acids unite, a water molecule is released. Two molecules of water must be set free in assembling a nucleotide from its components, and additional water is released in combining nucleotides to form nucleic acids. Unfortunately, the formation of water in an environment that is full of it is the chemical equivalent of bringing sand to the Sahara. It is unfavorable, and requires the expenditure of energy. Such processes do not readily take place on their own. In fact, the reverse reactions are the ones that occur spontaneously. Water happily attacks large biological molecules. It pries nucleotides apart from each other, breaks sugar-to-phosphate bonds, and severs bases from sugars.” Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, pp. 173-4.
The final step of the six listed at the outset: a membrane. Without it the cell could not exist. It must be protected from water, and it is the water-repellent fats of the membrane that do this. But to form the membrane a “protein synthetic apparatus” is needed, and this “protein synthetic apparatus” can function only if it is held together by a membrane. That chicken-and-egg problem all over again! Ibid., p. 65., Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, pp. 268-9.
The evolutionists’ dream was discovery of a supersimple first living cell. Molecular biology has turned their dream into a nightmare. Michael Denton, specialist in molecular biology said,“Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10−12gms, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.
“Molecular biology has also shown that the basic design of the cell system is essentially the same in all living systems on earth from bacteria to mammals. In all organisms the roles of DNA, mRNA and protein are identical. The meaning of the genetic code is also virtually identical in all cells. The size, structure and component design of the protein synthetic machinery is practically the same in all cells. In terms of their basic biochemical design, therefore no living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slightest empirical hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredibly diverse cells on earth.” Ibid., p. 250.
Not surprising, then, that Harold Morowitz, a Yale University physicist, has calculated that the chances of getting the simplest living bacterium by random changes is 1 in 1 followed by 100,000,000,000 zeros. “This number is so large,” Shapiro said, “that to write it in conventional form we would require several hundred thousand blank books.” He charges that scientists committed to the chemical evolution of life ignore the increasing evidence and “have chosen to hold it as a truth beyond question, thereby enshrining it as mythology.” Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide, pp. 32, 49, 128.
One scientist specializing in cell biology says that millions of years ago “just a single cell could make weapons, catch food, digest it, get rid of wastes, move around, build houses, engage in sexual activity straightforward or bizarre. These creatures are still around. The protists—organisms complete and entire, yet made up of just a single cell with many talents, but with no tissues, no organs, no hearts and no minds—really have everything we’ve got.” She speaks of a single cell percolating with “those hundreds of thousands of simultaneous chemical reactions that are life.” The Center of Life, by L. L. Larison Cudmore, 1977, pp. 5, 13-14.
What an unbelievable maze of chemical traffic within the confines of a microscopic cell, yet without a traffic jam! Obviously, this demands a Master Designer of supreme intelligence. The information content coded into a speck of DNA weighing “less than a few thousand millionths of a gram” is enough “to specify an organism as complex as man.”Even the information content of a single cell, “if written out, would fill a thousand 600-page books.” How awesome! Intelligence far beyond our powers of comprehension is an absolute must to start life on earth. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 334., National Geographic, September 1976, p. 357.
My conclusion after all of this: Without the right atmosphere, no organic soup. Without the organic soup, no amino acids. Without amino acids, no proteins. Without proteins, no nucleotides. Without nucleotides, no DNA. Without DNA, no cell that reproduces itself. Without a covering membrane, no living cell. And without intelligent design and direction, no life on earth.
Now Sonja, I was very fair in stating scientific fact in regards to your inquiry. I, for one will just use a few Bible texts to base my God’s whole existence and his works . By the way, he has a name and it’s Jehovah.
I believe the creation account as recorded in the Bible book of Genesis. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not what you might think of as creationists. Why not? First, many creationists believe that the universe and the earth and all life on it were created in six 24-hour days some 10,000 years ago. This, however, is not what the Bible teaches. Also, creationists have embraced many doctrines that lack support in the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses base their religious teachings solely on God’s Word.
Furthermore, in some lands the term “creationist” is synonymous with Fundamentalist groups that actively engage in politics. These groups attempt to pressure politicians, judges, and educators into adopting laws and teachings that conform to the creationists’ religious code.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are politically neutral. They respect the right of governments to make and enforce laws. (Romans 13:1-7) However, they take seriously Jesus’ statement that they are “no part of the world.” (John 17:14-16) In their public ministry, they offer people the chance to learn the benefits of living by God’s standards. But they do not violate their Christian neutrality by supporting the efforts of Fundamentalist groups that try to establish civil laws that would force others to adopt Bible standards.—John 18:36.
Now for my Creator:
The apostle Paul gave a brief explanation of our existence in Hebrews 3:4 which states, “Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God. . . what are the things that Paul, a mild manner Jewish-Christian attorney was talking about?
In Romans 1:18-23 he said, “For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way, 19 because what may be known about God is manifest among them, for God made it manifest to them. 20 For his invisible [qualities] are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable; 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened. 22 Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish 23 and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things.”
The Bible very briefly describes astrophysics, molecular biology, and human anatomy, which are hard to explain by chance whether one is inclined to accept evolution or creation.
Although his power sustains the universe and the living creatures in it (Psalm 136:25; 148:2-6; Matthew 5:45), Jehovah is not like an impersonal power plant; his acts prove he is a personal and purposeful God. He is also a historical God, as he has perceptively intervened in human affairs at definite dates of history, at specified places, and with regard to particular persons or peoples. As the “living and true God” (1Thessalonian 1:9; Joshua 3:10; Jeremiah 10:10), he has shown himself aware of all that is taking place in the universe, reacting according to what has occurred, as well as taking the initiative in furthering his purpose.
In every case, his varied expressions of power have been in harmony with his righteousness (Psalm 98:1, 2; 111:2, 3, 7; Isaiah 5:16); they all bring enlightenment to his creatures. They show on the one hand that fear of him “is fitting,” for he is a God “exacting exclusive devotion” and “a consuming fire” against those practicing wickedness, making it “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Jeremiah 10:6, 7; Exodus 20:5; Hebrew 10:26-31; 12:28, 29) He is not to be trifled with.—Exodus 8:29.
On the other hand, his use of power is even more wonderfully manifest in rewarding righteous-hearted persons sincerely seeking him, strengthening them to do assigned tasks and needful work (Psalm 84:5-7; Isaiah 40:29-31) as well as to endure under stress (Ps 46:1; Isa 25:4), providing for and sustaining them (Psalm 145:14-16), protecting, saving, and liberating them in times of danger and aggression. (Psalm 20:6, 7) “His eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2Chronicles 16:9) Those who come to know him find his name to be “a strong tower” to which they can turn. (Proverb 18:10; Psalm 91:1-8) Knowledge of his mighty acts gives assurance that he hears the prayers of his trusting servants and is able to answer, if necessary, with “fear-inspiring things in righteousness.” (Psalm 65:2, 5) In a figurative sense, he is “near” and hence can be swift in responding.—Psalm 145:18, 19; Jude 24, 25.
Humans see evidence of power in all physical creation, in the immense and countless stellar bodies (compare Job 38:31-33) as well as in all earthly things. The very soil is spoken of as having power (Genesis 4:12), producing food that gives strength (1Samuel 28:22), and power is seen in all living things—plants, animals, and man. In modern times the tremendous power potential in even the minute atomic elements forming all matter has also become well known. Scientists sometimes call matter organized energy.
Throughout the Scriptures the power and “dynamic energy” of God as the Maker of heaven and earth are repeatedly highlighted. (Isaiah 40:25, 26; Jer 10:12; 32:17) The very term for “God” in Hebrew (ʼEl) probably has the root meaning of “mighty” or “powerful.” (Compare the use of the term at Genesis 31:29 in the expression “the power [ʼel] of my hand.”)
The first man knew Jehovah God as his Creator, his only Parent and Life-Giver. God endowed man with a measure of power, intellectual and physical, and gave him work to perform. (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:15) Such exercise of power must harmonize with his Creator’s will and hence be governed by other qualities divinely granted, such as wisdom, justice, and love.
Here is a scripture for you to consider:
(Isaiah 40:25, 26) 25 “But to whom can YOU people liken me so that I should be made his equal?” says the Holy One. 26 “Raise YOUR eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one [of them] is missing. –
Jehovah is raising a question? Who made the stars and knows all of them by name? It’s a simple question that invokes a simple answer. Not a complicated lie Sonja.
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QUESTION: As far as amino acids, evidence is building that they developed in outer space (we've found amino acids in space) and were carried here by meterorites. It's called panspermia and is currently my favorite theory. No one can explain the Cambrian explosion. I don't understand how that happened either. The one thing that's always bothered me about the idea of creation, and this is philosophical not scientific is the existence of suffering. How could a good God allow suffering? And if humans must suffer as punishment for sin how do you explain the suffering of animals?
It’s nice to hear from you again.
Panspermia is an interesting theory in regards to microbes hitching a ride on meteorites. I’m curious that they (theorist) speculate that it comes from Mars or another planet. What is the basis for that hypothesis? Please let me know.
You ask a philosophical question in regards to why permits God permits suffering? And why do animals too? This was not God’s original purpose Sonja. In the beginning, it was very different, a 180 degree difference.
The Bible tells us that God gave man a perfect start. (Genesis. 1:27, 31; Deuteronomy. 32:4) Man’s continued enjoyment of God’s favor, however, depended on obedience to his Maker. (Genesis. 2:16, 17) If man was obedient, he would continue to enjoy perfect human life—no sickness, no suffering, no death. The Creator would provide man with needed guidance and would use His power to safeguard mankind against any calamity. But man rejected God’s guidance; he chose the course of self-rule. In trying to do something for which he was never designed, he has brought calamity upon himself. (Jeremiah. 10:23; Eccleastes. 8:9; Romans. 5:12) Yet, over the centuries God has been patiently seeking out those who, because of love for him and his ways, are willing to serve him. He sets before them the opportunity to enjoy all the blessings of which they have been deprived because of man’s imperfections and misrule. (Revelation. 21:3-5) The provision God made by means of his Son to redeem humans from sin and death is a marvelous evidence of God’s great love for mankind. (John 3:16) God has also set an appointed time when he will destroy those who ruin the earth and will cause lovers of righteousness to enjoy life in harmony with his own original purpose.
So Sonja, how did suffering get started? Examination of the causes focuses attention on our first human parents, Adam and Eve. Jehovah God created them perfect and put them in paradise surroundings. If they had obeyed God, they would never have got sick or died. They could have enjoyed perfect human life forever. Suffering was not part of Jehovah’s purpose for mankind. But Jehovah clearly told Adam that continued enjoyment of what He had given them depended on obedience. Obviously, they had to breathe, eat, drink, and sleep in order to continue living. And they had to keep God’s moral requirements in order to enjoy life fully and to be favored with such life forever. But they chose to go their own way, to set their own standards of good and bad, and thus they turned away from God, the Life-Giver. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:1-6) Sin led to death. It was as sinners that Adam and Eve produced children, and they could not pass on to their children what they no longer had. All were born in sin, with inclinations toward wrongdoing, weaknesses that could lead to illness, a sinful inheritance that would eventually result in death. Because everyone on earth today was born in sin, all of us experience suffering in various ways.—Genesis. 8:21; Romans. 5:12.
I’m going to try and cover as many questions as possible in regards to wickedness and suffering. Why does God not do something to bring relief to mankind? Why should we all suffer for something that Adam did? In the Bible, God tells us how we can avoid much suffering. He has provided the very best counsel on living. When applied, this fills our lives with meaning, results in happy family life, brings us into close association with people who really love one another, and safeguards us against practices that can bring much needless physical suffering. If we ignore that help, is it fair to blame God for the trouble that we bring upon ourselves and others?—2 Timothy. 3:16, 17;Psalm. 119:97-105.
Jehovah has made provision to end all suffering. He created the first human pair perfect, and he lovingly made every provision so that life would be pleasant for them. When they deliberately turned their backs on God, was God obligated to intervene so as to shield their children from the effects of what the parents had done? (Deuteronomy. 32:4, 5; Job 14:4) As we well know, married couples may have the joys that go with producing children, but they also have responsibilities. The attitudes and actions of parents affect their children.
Nevertheless, Jehovah, as an expression of marvelous undeserved kindness, sent his own dearly loved Son to earth to lay down his life as a ransom, to provide relief for those of Adam’s offspring who would appreciatively exercise faith in this provision. (John 3:16) As a result, the opportunity is open to people living today to have what Adam lost—perfect human life, free from suffering, in a paradise earth. What a generous provision that is!
But why would a God of love allow the suffering to continue so long? Have we benefited because he has allowed it until now? “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) If God had immediately executed Adam and Eve, following their sin, none of us would be in existence today. Surely that is not what we would want. Moreover, had God at some later time destroyed all who were sinners, we would not have been born. The fact that God has allowed this sinful world to exist until now has afforded us the opportunity to be alive and learn his ways, to make needed changes in our lives, and to avail ourselves of his loving provisions for eternal life. That Jehovah has granted us this opportunity is an evidence of great love on his part. The Bible shows that God has a set time to destroy this wicked system and will do so soon.—Habakkuk. 2:3; Zeph. 1:14.
God can and will undo all the harm that may come upon his servants in this system of things. God is not the one who is causing the suffering. But by means of Jesus Christ, God will raise the dead, heal obedient ones of all their illnesses, root out every trace of sin, and even cause former grief to fade from our minds.—John 5:28, 29; Revelation. 21:4; Isaiah. 65:17. We personally are anxious to have relief. But when God takes action, it must be in behalf of all who love what is right, not just a few. God is not partial.—Acts 10:34.
Illustrations: Is it not true that a loving parent may allow a child to undergo a painful operation because of beneficial results that can come from it? Also, is it not true that “quick solutions” to painful ailments are often only superficial? More time is frequently needed in order to eliminate the cause.
Why did God not forgive Adam and so prevent the terrible suffering experienced by mankind? Would that really have prevented suffering or would it, instead, have made God responsible for it? What happens when a father simply overlooks deliberate wrongdoing on the part of his children rather than take firm disciplinary measures? The children often get involved in first one form of wrongdoing and then another, and much of the responsibility lies with the father. Similarly, if Jehovah had forgiven Adam’s deliberate sin, it would really have made God a party to the wrongdoing. That would not have improved conditions on earth at all. (Compare Ecclesiastes 8:11.) Furthermore, it would have resulted in disrespect for God on the part of his angelic sons, and it would mean that there was no real basis for hope of anything better. But such a situation could never have occurred, because righteousness is an unalterable foundation of Jehovah’s rulership.—Psalm. 89:14.
Why does God allow children to be born with serious physical and mental defects? God does not cause such defects. He created the first human pair perfect, with the ability to bring forth perfect children in their own likeness.—Gen. 1:27, 28. We have inherited sin from Adam. That inheritance carries with it the potential for physical and mental defects. Rom. 5:12; This inheritance of sin is with us from the time of conception in the womb. It is for that reason that King David wrote: “In sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm. 51:5) If Adam had not sinned, there would be only desirable traits to transmit.
Parents can harm their unborn offspring—for example, by drug abuse or by smoking during pregnancy. Of course, it is not true that in every case the mother or the father is responsible for birth defects or poor health of their child. Jehovah lovingly extends to children the benefits of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. Out of consideration for parents who faithfully serve God, he views their young children as holy. (1 Corinthians. 7:14) This motivates God-fearing parents to be careful about their own standing with God, out of loving concern for their offspring. To young ones who are old enough to exercise faith and demonstrate obedience to God’s commands, Jehovah extends the privilege of having an approved standing as his servants. (Psalm. 119:9; 148:12, 13; Acts 16:1-3) It is noteworthy that Jesus, who was a perfect reflection of his Father, showed special interest in the welfare of young ones, even raising a child from the dead. Surely he will continue to do that as Messianic King.—Matthew. 19:13-15; Luke 8:41, 42, 49-56.
Why does God permit “natural disasters,” which cause extensive damage to property and life? God is not causing the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, and volcanic eruptions that are so often in today’s news. He is not using these to bring punishment on certain peoples. To a large extent, these are caused by natural forces that have been operating since the earth’s creation. The Bible foretold great earthquakes and food shortages for our day, but that does not mean that either God or Jesus is responsible for them, any more than a meteorologist is responsible for the weather that he forecasts. Because these are occurring along with all the other things foretold in the composite sign of the conclusion of this system of things, they are part of the evidence that the blessings of God’s Kingdom are near.—Luke 21:11, 31. Humans often bear heavy responsibility for harm done. In what way? Even when given ample warning, many people refuse to get out of the danger area or fail to take needed precautions. Proverbs. 22:3; compare Matthew 24:37-39.
God can control such natural forces. He empowered Jesus Christ to calm a storm on the Sea of Galilee, as an example of what He will do for mankind under His Messianic Kingdom. (Mark 4:37-41) By turning his back on God, Adam rejected such divine intervention on behalf of himself and his offspring. Those who are granted life during Christ’s Messianic Reign will experience such loving care, the kind of care that only a government empowered by God can give. Isaiah. 11:9.
Are people who suffer adversity being punished by God because of wickedness? Those who violate godly standards of living do experience bad effects. (Galatians 6:7) Sometimes they reap a bitter harvest quickly. In other instances, they may seem to prosper for a long time. In contrast, Jesus Christ, who never did wrong, was cruelly mistreated and put to death. So, in this system of things prosperity should not be viewed as proof of God’s blessing, nor should adversity be considered proof of his disapproval.
When Job lost his possessions and was afflicted with loathsome disease, that was not because of God’s disapproval. The Bible clearly says that Satan was responsible. (Job 2:3, 7, 8) But companions who came to visit Job argued that Job’s plight must prove that he had done something wicked. (Job 4:7-9; 15:6, 20-24) Jehovah reproved them, saying: “My anger has grown hot against you . . . for you men have not spoken concerning me what is truthful as has my servant Job.”—Job 42:7. Wicked ones may, in fact, prosper for a while. Asaph wrote: “I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people. They are not even in the trouble of mortal man, and they are not plagued the same as other men. They scoff and speak about what is bad; about defrauding they speak in an elevated style. Look! These are the wicked, who are at ease indefinitely. They have increased their means of maintenance.”—Psalm. 73:3, 5, 8, 12.
The day of accounting with God will come. At that time he will punish the wicked, destroying them forever. Proverbs 2:21, 22 says: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.” Then the upright ones, many of whom have suffered adversity, will enjoy perfect health and a generous share of earth’s.
God is not to blame Sonja as the Bible has pointed out. He gave mankind a perfect start, but humans have chosen to ignore God’s requirements and decide for themselves what is good and what is bad. (Deuteronomy. 32:4, 5; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genensis. 3:5, 6) By doing this, they have come under the influence of wicked superhuman forces.—Eph. 6:11, 12. Lets look at a few Bible texts Sonja about who really rules this world.
1 John 5:19: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”
Rev. 12:7-12: “War broke out in heaven . . . the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. . . . ‘On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’” (This increased woe to the world has occurred since Satan was hurled out of heaven following the birth of the Kingdom. See verse 10.)
2 Tim. 3:1-5: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” (This is the fruitage of centuries of apostasy from true worship. These conditions have developed because people who have professed to be religious have ignored what God’s Word really says. They have proved false to the power for good that true godly devotion can have in one’s life.)
At times it may seem to us that the best thing would be simply to get rid of everyone who is wicked. We long for an end to wickedness, and yet we have experienced it for relatively few years when compared with the time that wickedness has existed. How must Jehovah God feel? For thousands of years people have blamed him, even cursed him, for the bad conditions they have endured. Yet, these are caused, not by him, but by Satan and by wicked men. Jehovah has the power to destroy the wicked. Surely there must be good reasons why he has exercised such restraint. If Jehovah’s way of handling the situation is different from what we would recommend, should that surprise us? His experience is much greater than man’s, and his view of the situation is much broader than that of any human.—Compare Isaiah 55:8, 9; Ezekiel 33:17.
There would be no wickedness if God had not endowed intelligent creatures with free will. But God has given us the capacity to choose to obey him because we love him or to disobey. (Deuteronomy. 30:19, 20; Joshua. 24:15) Do we wish it were otherwise? If we are parents, which makes us happier—when our children obey us because they love us or when we make them do it? Should God have forced Adam to be obedient? Would we really be happier if we lived in a world where we were forced to obey God? Before destroying this wicked system, God is allowing opportunity for people to demonstrate whether they really want to live in harmony with his righteous laws or not. At his appointed time, he will without fail destroy the wicked.—2 Thessalonians. 1:9, 10.
Wisely he is allowing time for the settling of vital issues: (1) The righteousness and rightfulness of Jehovah’s rule was challenged in Eden. (Genesis. 2:16, 17; 3:1-5) (2) The integrity of all of God’s servants in heaven and on earth was called into question. (Job 1:6-11; 2:1-5; Luke 22:31) God could have destroyed the rebels (Satan, Adam, and Eve) immediately, but that would not have settled matters. Might does not prove that one’s cause is right. The issues raised were moral ones. God’s allowing of time was, not to prove any point to himself, but to permit all creatures with free will to see for themselves the bad fruitage produced by rebellion against his rulership, also to afford them opportunity to demonstrate where they personally stand on these vital matters. With these issues settled, never again would anyone be permitted to disrupt the peace. The good order, harmony, and well-being of the entire universe depend upon the sanctifying of Jehovah’s name, the treating of him with heartfelt honor by all intelligent creatures.
Illustration: If someone made a charge before the whole community that you abused your position as family head, that your children would be better off if they made their own decisions independent of you, and that all of them obeyed you, not because of love, but because of material benefits you provided, what would be the best way to settle the matter? Would shooting the false accuser put the charges to rest in the minds of the community? Instead, what a fine answer it would be if you gave your children opportunity to be your witnesses to show that you are a just and loving family head and that they live with you because they love you! If some of your children believed your adversary, left home, and ruined their lives by adopting other life-styles, it would only make honest observers realize that the children would have been better off if they had heeded your direction.
Have we in any way benefited by God’s permission of wickedness down till the present?
2 Pet. 3:9: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (Because his patience has extended down till our day, we have the opportunity to demonstrate that we are repentant and that, instead of making our own decisions as to good and bad, we want to submit to Jehovah’s righteous rulership.)
Rom. 9:14-24: “What shall we say, then? Is there injustice with God? Never may that become so! . . . If, now, God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction [that is, he tolerated the existence of wicked people for a time], in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory [that is, he would use the time to extend mercy to certain ones, in harmony with his purpose], namely, us, whom he called not only from among Jews but also from among nations, what of it?” (Thus God put off the destruction of the wicked so as to allow time to select people whom he would glorify with Christ as members of the heavenly Kingdom. Has God’s doing that been an injustice to anyone? No; it is part of Jehovah’s arrangement for blessing people of all sorts who will be favored with the opportunity to live forever on.
Soon Sonja suffering will end and the earth will be transformed into Paradise conditions as it was long ago. Feel free to ask any more questions.