'I don't believe in God. Religion causes all the wars in the world.'
A generalisation? Of course. Perhaps, like me, you have heard that said many times as a reason for not believing in God. Obviously, not all the wars fought in the world are because of religion. Nevertheless, many feel that because people who claim to represent God slaughter one another, or do other things which they know to be wrong, that there cannot be a God. If there is a God, they reason, then his people would not be doing these things.
They are right to a point. HIS people would not be doing these things. But it doesn't mean that God does not exist. Why?
Everyone who has connection with Christianity in any form knows that Jesus said 'You must love your neighbour as yourself,' and he gave the story of the Good Samaritan to prove the point. Love of neighbour is fundamental to Christianity, just as much as love for God. Love for one's neighbour does not allow a person to kill someone else, or even to hurt them, except in self-defence, or in defence of one's family. Yet the two most murderous wars in history broke out in countries which are predominantly Christian. The first and second world wars had Christians on each side killing each other. Catholics killed Catholics, Protestants killed Protestants. The various churches in each land involved preached that it was one's duty to kill those on the other side.
But, a person may ask, what would happen if people refused to defend their country because they were Christian?
The simple answer is that if all Christians on both sides had refused to fight, there would have been no war.
A friend of mine, now dead, had been a nineteen-year-old in command of a tank division in France during the second world war. One morning, as they were preparing for battle, he watched and listened as an army chaplain said prayers for the men about to go into the battlefield, asking for God to help them. My friend felt that God had no part in this, so he left them praying and went over the hill to see what the Germans were doing. And there he saw an army chaplain also saying prayers for the German soldiers. He asked himself, which side was God on? Could God have been with both sides? Or either side? Would God bless those about to kill others? What about those who died, were they blessed? When a tank received a direct hit, and bits of bodies were scattered around, was God with them then? My friend had the unenviable task of writing to the relatives of his slain men to explain how their son/husband/brother had been killed. By the time I knew him he was anti war - and anti God.
So, then, who is responsible for wars? Is it God? Or is it people?
Take another reason why people stop believing in God - the misconduct of those who claim to represent him. What about priests in various churches who have been accused of sexual misconduct, particularly with children? Of course, those in control of the different religions cannot oversee every single thing an individual does. There are always going to be those who rebel. But what do the various churches do about it? What can they do?
In the first century, Christians were exhorted by the Apostle Paul: 'I am writing you to stop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man . . . "remove the wicked person from among yourselves."' - 1 Corinthians 5:11-13. Surely such a person should not only be removed from the church altogether, but also be dealt with by the law of the land? But what has happened? The scandal appears to be that such men have been moved from the parish where they committed the act to another parish where they continued their disgusting conduct.
Would God approve of dealing with it in such a way? Clearly His Word says not.
So, then, do the actions of the various churches prove that there is no God? Not at all. They prove that these ones do not represent Him.
Jesus said: 'Be on the watch for the false prophets who come to you in sheep's covering but inside they are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will recognise them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.' (Matthew 7: 15-19)
The warning is clear. What we see is people who claim to represent God, but who clearly do not. But we are brought up to believe that this or that church represents Him so that we do not check any further, and then we are shocked by what we see.
Is it an evidence that there is no God? No. Because certain ones misrepresent Him and break his laws does not mean he does not exist.
It means that they are not the ones God is using.