A pastor in Indiana was recently shot fatally while preaching from the pulpit. Bob Dutko today discussed this and other tragedies that are in some sense inexplicable for Christians. Christian missionaries were shot out of the sky over Peru en route to missionary work. In another almost inconceivably sad story a Christian couple lost six of their children to flames in an auto accident. Bob himself has had more than his share of life's difficulties. His 17 year old daughter collapsed in his arms and died several years ago on Mother's Day. Today he recounted how his wife on that day saw the ambulance carrying his daughter and prayed that whoever was in it, may God not let them die, because it would be all the more awful to lose a child on Mother's Day. Little did she know that it was her own daughter.
Sadly this is not the only health difficulty Bob has had to endure with his children. I don't know exactly which of his sons has the various afflictions he's described, but apparently one is legally blind, another is Diabetic (Type 1 I believe), and he recently discovered that a third son, the one that he thought was the one without any serious afflictions, in fact has the same heart defect his 17 year old daughter had, and he nearly died from it. He has since had surgery to protect him.
Anybody that needs a belief in God to cope with such tragedies has my full support. I wouldn't begrudge anyone this grieving mechanism. And of course belief in the Christian God can be reconciled with the above described tragedies and health problems. Nobody knows the mind of God. God has brought the dead to a better place. Etc, etc. Bob took calls today from Christians to get their thoughts, and of course this is how they responded. Bob expressed the same reasoning.
But the problem here is obvious. It seems that tragedy befalls the believer and unbeliever alike. That's exactly what we would expect if there was no God.
But if there was a God, then there is no reason to assume that the world would look this way. It might. It's possible. Who can know the mind of God? But it would also be possible that God would shower his blessings more on those that follow him and less on those that do not. If that was what we observed that would be consistent with God belief as well, right?
So a better question from Bob would be this. Are the facts about the tragedies we observe more likely on theism or less likely on theism. Given that this is exactly what we would expect on atheism, and given that there would be no reason to expect a world that looks like this on theism (at best one could say it might be either way), this is evidence for atheism. It's not a proof. Atheism can never be proved. But it can be shown to be more plausible. Atheism makes better sense of this data.