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One of the reasons some well-known atheists give for their opposition to acknowledging God in their lives is that there is 'cruelty' in nature. Darwin and others like him cite examples from the animal world that appear to disprove any creation by a loving and caring God. 'Nature Red in Tooth and Claw' is their mantra. The Bible is quite clear that when the Lord finished his work of creating he pronounced all that He had made 'very good' - including man. Scripture then goes on to show that it was human sin that brought about a fallen world, where strife and murder entered in and thorns made life miserable for our race. Cruelty does not stem from the Creator but from fallen humanity and the environment that man's sin has infected. Unfortunately there are some Christians who compromise with materialist philosophy (falsely called 'science') and accept naturalism's view of reptiles tearing each other apart 65 million+ years ago. Evolution demands death as an integral part of the world's progress and Theistic evolutionists must therefore see God as setting in motion this cruel process. They then have to reconcile a God of love and perfection with a God of cruelty and imperfection. Sadly there are thousands who follow these teachers of error, for their influence is worldwide. (I won't name names, but they are very well known). Let the Bible be our foundation and not the opinions of men, nor that of demonic philosophy.
My answer is much simpler than the others here and is based on my perception. When I first read the Bible front to back for the first time, I would not say that I thought God was cruel but maybe close to that. Vindictive is also close, but not exactly right either. Like He was waiting to zap us or something. (Remember “thought” is past tense.) Then I read it again and again and again, and the more I read it, the more I understood just how “just” God is and how loving God is. And I discovered, the more of the Word of God we get in us, the more it all “makes sense”. And though I could not even tell you how many times I have read through the Bible now, I still discover something new I didn’t understand before. It is just like getting to know someone and finding out they are not at all like your first perception of them.
Does all the violence, suffering and death in the world mean that God is cruel? What is God's character revealed in the bible? What is his plan and purpose for human life? God created human beings in his image with an eternal spirit, a soul (mind, will and emotions) and a body designed to live forever. God created planet earth as a paradise, a perfect place for humans to enjoy forever. God gave our first humans only one prohibition to prevent them from experiencing evil, but they rebelled against God. As a result, human beings brought evil and wickedness into God's world, and this sinful nature was passed on to every generation. So human beings are actually responsible for all the violence, suffering and death we see in the world today. At first God let humans have their way, but evil got so bad that God wiped out the human race with a worldwide flood and started over with Noah, a righteous man, and his family. Evil got bad again so God chose Abraham to develop a people for himself, a nation that would show the world how to live a God-pleasing life and how richly God would bless them. He gave them his commandments so they would know right and wrong; be able to choose justice, righteousness, love and faithfulness; instead of evil, wickedness, corruption and depravity. But his people wandered away from a close relationship with God again and again. So God sent his Son, Jesus, to fulfill his plan to save the whole world from this captivity to sin, death and evil forces. Jesus showed the world what God is like and how to bring God's kingdom (his rule and reign) to the earth. Jesus sacrificed his life to pay the penalty for all sin, so the whole world (all human beings) could be saved. Jesus' resurrection restored the gift of eternal life. God gives the Holy Spirit to every person who accepts Jesus as their saviour. God gives wisdom and power to every Christian who surrenders to Jesus as the Lord of their life, so they can transform the world around them into the place God intended at creation. Jesus is coming again to restore all things. He will resurrect every Christian and give them a brand new glorious body like his own. He will create a new heaven and earth, where God will dwell with his people; that will be free from violence, suffering and death, and every form of evil and wickedness will be gone forever. Does this sound like a God who is cruel? So, why does God allow violence, suffering and death to continue in the world he created. I believe there are 3 reasons that flow from God's character. God is just God set the standards for human life by giving us his commandments. He expects every person to obey these laws; "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect" Jesus said: "Be holy for I am holy." God said, when we break God's commandments we deserve God's punishment. God is Righteous We reap what we sow. When we sow to please our sinful nature, we reap violence, suffering and death. When we sow to please the Lord, we reap his blessings, such as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. God is Merciful God doesn't want anyone to perish, so he gets the world's attention by sending, or allowing, calamity so people will turn to God and receive his salvation. When Christians stray from a close personal relationship with God, he disciplines us through suffering, so we will turn back to him. So why did God create human beings? For the sheer joy of having an intimate personal relationship of love with every human being. God has a plan and purpose for every human life to reflect his character, express his kingdom, and fulfill his will on the earth. Psalm 139 reveals this God of love, not of cruelty. "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to pass." (vs 15-16)
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