One of the main contentions of atheists is that human suffering disproves God because a loving and merciful God would not allow it. Some Christian leaders have tried to counter this by promoting a prosperity gospel in their megachurches. But unfortunately, those efforts are misguided and demonstrate a poor understanding of what Jesus came to do and why God created us. The result is that when many people lose their faith when they don’t experience the promised “health and wealth.”
The fact is that when a population has massive suffering, the Christian population grows. In his book On Guard, William Lane Craig gives three examples of this (pages 164-5):
China – Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution killed 20 million Chinese and generated massive persecution of the Church. However, since 1977 Christianity has grown more than ever in history. Researchers say there were as many as 75 million Christians in China by 1990. Craig calls Mao “the greatest evangelist in history.”
El Salvador – A 12-year civil war, earthquakes, and market collapse caused 80% of the population to live in poverty. As a result, the percentage of Christians in El Salvador grew from 2.3% in 1960 to 20%.
Ethiopia – In 1960, Christians made up 0.8% of the population, and war, repression, and famine killed millions of people. Christian martyrs who tried to address the problems of that country were numerous. In 30 years, the Christian population grew to approximately 13%.
People who believe human suffering disproves God turn to survival of the fittest as the only purpose in life. However, they may lose their will to survive when confronted with human greed, selfishness, and materialism. Christianity has the only answer to pain and suffering in this life.
Skeptics seem to use every crisis or injustice to make false claims about the Bible. In several recent references, skeptics have claimed that the Bible does not accept black people as human. That simply isn’t true. Black lives matter in the Bible.
The word “cush” means “black” in Hebrew, and we find it in numerous biblical passages. Most frequently, it refers to a geographical area in Africa. English Bibles often translate references to the land of Cush as Nubia or Ethiopia, and a person from there is called an Ethiopian.
Archeologists have found a wide variety of remains of the Cushite people because they were excellent soldiers and masters of horses and chariots. In 701 B.C., Tirhakah, king of Cush, defended Judah against the Syrian invasion of Sennacherib. His help and God’s hand saved Jerusalem at that time.
The denigration of black people is a modern, western activity. Ancient Greeks, Assyrians, and Egyptians did not show the racism of recent times. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Ethiopians were the “most handsome of all men.” In Song of Solomon, there is a love song between Solomon and a Shulammite girl in which she tells Solomon not to love her just because she is black.
The Bible and the history of Israel and Judaism do not show any denigration of those with dark skin. The book of Jeremiah credits Ebed-Melech the Cushite as a hero for saving Jeremiah’s life (Jeremiah 38:7-13).
When we turn to the New Testament, we find more evidence that black lives matter in the Bible. In Acts 8:26-39, we read of the Holy Spirit sending evangelist Philip to an Ethiopian who was in charge of the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. He had come to Jerusalem to worship God and was reading the book of Isaiah as he traveled. Philip explained the gospel and baptized him. Jesus made a point of dealing with the racial prejudice that existed at that time. (See John 4.) Galatians 3:26-28 makes it clear that there were no racial, political, or gender boundaries in the early Christian churches–“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Black lives matter in the Bible just as much as every other life because we are all created in God’s image.
For many years the papers have reported on anthropologists finding the remains of human ancestors in Ethiopia, eastern Africa. In the past several weeks there have been headlines saying that “the oldest fossil of Homo sapiens” has been found in Morocco which is in northeast Africa. It seems that each new find makes human evolution theories more confounded.
Anthropologists working in Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, found fossils they claim are much older than those found in east Africa. The specimens have a lower jaw which matches Homo sapiens but the brain cases are long and low which is more indicative of apes or monkeys. They also found 14 stone artifacts which they associated with those fossils. The original report said that the tools were found with the fossils. Later reports indicate the tools were found in the strata above the fossils indicating they might not have been produced by those individuals.
Scientific theories about how humans came into existence are always changing as new data becomes available. The classic theoretical model of human evolution in recent years has maintained that humans arose in east Africa and migrated elsewhere. That is apparently not the case, but this new find will be debated and discussed by the experts for many years.
The Bible does not address the evolution of apes or monkeys. We are simply told that animals reproduced after their kind. There is no indication of how many kinds there were, or how much their genetic makeup varied as the years went by. The Bible says that God created man and woman in His own image. That spiritual quality of humans is the thrust of the biblical account. Modern human’s origin in the Fertile Crescent area of what is now Iraq is not questioned by very many people. That is also what the Bible tells us. Human migration throughout the world and the racial variations that developed to help people adapt to different climates is without a doubt.