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When an atheist asks if there is a God why does he allow child abuse? Why does he not intervene and prevent it from happening? How do you respond to that?
JOEL - Most people who don't believe in God are basing such a question on their own personal definition of who they think God should be and what they think He should do if He exists at all. Hard to have any kind of a productive conversation with them; all you can do is give them your religious perspective of what you believe.
Our only valid source for a deffinition for God is found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets. Someone's personal deffinition can only be considered opinion, of which there are millions.
If you are able to converse with the person with the understanding that you are going to use scripture, you might explain that there are very few places in the scriptures where God has intervened when someone is doing something bad to someone else.
We have agency to do right or wrong to others and God will not normally interfere with that so that our final judgment will be based on our works (Rev. 20:12-13), be they good or bad. And the crimes of the perpetrators will stand as a witness against them when final judgment is made by God.
A scripture in the Book of Mormon explains this very well. Some people who believed in the words of Alma and Amulek were being thrown into a fire by those who did not believe:
"And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day." (Alma 14:10-11)
That is why God allows it to happen. And for the victims who keep their faith in God, He makes this promise:
2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand. (D&C 58: 2-4)
And as the Proverbs tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths(Pro. 3:5-6).
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