Below are all excellent questions and areas of concern for both the atheist and the religious. These questions were posted on our facebook and twitter pages. I thought I would share some of our responses:
Q: What about "genocide, rape of children (even under a Christian guise), manipulation of the poor, having those in authority being psychopaths"
A: These are all acts of men, not acts of God or inherent natural laws. I am reminded of the quote: "For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing." Versions of this quote are attributed to Edmund Burk, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr. At the macro level, God has provided a means to prevent these acts - Good Men.
At a micro level, preventing each instance of evil would require that God intervene and force his will on an individual. I can imagine a world where: the next time I have a bad thought, God reaches into my brain and changes my mind. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a slave to any deity (even one that only does good). As American's, we are willing to tolerate a lot of preventable crime in order protect individual liberties and privacy. I like to think God takes a similar stance.
Q: Isn't it "just overwhelmingly evident [that God is not just]"
A: I honestly struggle with this idea of "evidence." For every school shooting, there are 100 nurses and EMTs working to save lives. There are thousands of acts of kindness every day that get little to no press. Those who "sell" us their candidate, product, or solution need us to believe there is a problem only "they" can handle. Therefore, it is helpful for them to promote unsolvable problems.
I tend to judge the world based only on firsthand knowledge. Or, I deeply consider the source of secondhand knowledge. Everyone filters and suffers from selection bias. Being analytical means being analytical about everything. The world will seem very evil and bad - if all you tune into is evil and bad.
Q: Will God "go as far as burning people for all eternity for being analytical."
A: I am not sure about the premise of this statement. If you choose not to believe and follow God then you are choosing to be apart from God. I tend to think that this separation from God (hell) is the default state, and our loving God created a crazy simple way out.
Q: "Is there even a God"
A: I think the best scientist are putting the chances of life just popping up at 1 in a Trillion. I am willing to leap and give God's existence at least similar odds. If given equal odds, then which truth do you want to bet on. Logic gives you no help because they are both crazy odds. A dollar put on either will return more money than you could ever spend.
So, I choose the idea that there is a caring an loving God out there and that he wants the best for me. It is better than the alternative: I am on my own, when I die - I am dead, and that the sum total of all meaning is my 80-90 rides around the sun. The funny part is - once you make your bet, facts will come out of the woodwork to support your point of view. That first choice between two impossible odds (an act of faith) will set the course of your life.
Q: Doesn't God have "more important things to do" than to worry about me
A: This assumes that an infinite and timeless God is somehow bound by the constraints that you and I are. When your nature is "eternity", you have time to do anything. In an instant, he can worry about every decision you have made, every decision you are going to make, and every decision your grandchildren will make.
Q: "I believe in Science and things that are real!"
A: If you are not following the latest in scientific thinking you are really missing out. Things being discussed are creating cracks in our understanding of reality. What you consider real may just be a holographic projection. Some scientists have gone as far as to suggest that we are in a simulation. Which of course, presupposes that someone (not us) created the simulation and that there is a base reality beyond our reality. Now, I cannot help but think how "God created the heavens and the earth" and of course God must exist on some base reality that is beyond our own. Feels like science and reality are getting a lot closer to the 2,000-year-old understanding of God and the Universe.