Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another pseudo-answer to the problem of evil

I was actually slightly wrong last post. Christians will offer two arguments to try to defend their religion against the problem of evil.

One is the "best of all possible worlds" scenario, which is vapid because a child could think of a better world than the one we've got. One without, say, disease or natural disasters.

The second is "god is mysterious and we can't understand god because we're finite beings". This is also a bad argument because while it is likely true that we can't really understand a higher order of intelligence (much in the same way that a dog can't really understand humans), an omnipotent and omniscient being can certainly understand us. So while a human's motives are totally inscrutable to a dog, the dog is pretty transparent to a human. So we know, even if the dog can't really say it, that it's not OK to beat and torture the dog. And you can abuse a dog in such a fashion that it will continue to show all outward signs of love - we're smart enough to do that, too. But anyone with a mind can see that the paranoid wreck that dog becomes, both angrily lashing out at strangers while being pathetically obsequious to it's "master" isn't actually good for the dog. Much in the same way, one would expect an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent god to understand that people, y'know, don't want to suffer the infirmity of old age, we don't want to get cancer and die lingering deaths, we don't want to be destroyed in natural disasters. And because it is the contention of almost all religious people that their god is all-powerful, they can't say that their god needs for things to be this way or that way in order to achieve an end. They're just stuck with the inescapable conclusion that an all-powerful being must, in some way, want people to suffer horribly and to be aware of that suffering, even when it does not infringe on individual will.

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