Monday, October 27, 2008

The question of evil vs. Christians

Almost all Christians try to talk about the existence of god. Like that's the only question. If only, they think, we can get atheists to acknowledge god exists then we've got 'em! Or, anyway, that's what I imagine they're saying to themselves.

Furthermore, the question of the existence of god is nice and . . . abstract. Since they acknowledge the world exists in the form it exists, they can assert the god of the gaps. Wherever we can't look is where their god is, operating in secret.

But there's really a much better way to expose the fundamental absurdity of religion - which is the question of evil. You know, if god is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-benevolent then why is there evil?

They'll try to derail the question with the question of free will. They'll say, "There's evil because people are evil." Don't fall for it! The argument isn't about free will, and what constitutes free will, and the limitations of free will. The question is one of evil.

Say, instead, "Why is there cancer? Why does your god allow little babies to die horrible, lingering deaths because of cancer?" Focus on the fact terrible things happen to innocent people - not as a function of anyone's will. Focus on disease and natural disaster. Focus on real things that happen to people.

Then sit back and enjoy. Because, at that point, they're stuck on the horns of of the dilemma of the problem of evil. Either their god isn't all-powerful or isn't all-benevolent. They will agree that their god can do anything but they can't offer any reason why their god hasn't stopped suffering that does not arise from human agency.

They will not admit, however, that the dilemma is real. Well, none I've met, anyway. They'll look for any kind of excuse they can think of to justify why terrible things happen to good people.

Eventually the have to come down to Leibniz's argument in some fashion: that this is the best of all possible worlds. It'll come out in some twisted version. They won't say that. They'll just insist that everyone happens for a "purpose". They don't know the purpose, but whatever it is, they will assure you, it's worth the untold suffering that disaster and disease bring. They must assert that their god both allows evil and is perfectly good.

It's really a much better way to argue than wasting your time talking about the creation of the universe. ;)


Anonymous said...

I was raised Catholic though I agree with you in most parts. I like to keep my mind open so I believe that if god exists he is very different from how religions describe him. In my opinion he is everything so he is good and bad in one and I don't mind to say "for a purpose".

Ingrid said...

Thank you for shharing this