Thursday, July 24, 2014

The problem of evil

Based on this title, you probably think I'm going to talk about the classic problem of evil. But I'm actually going to talk about an article from Christian Today that actually claims it's us atheists that face the bigger problem with the problem of evil. Seriously? Oh well, let's see what they have to say...
Lots of people, when asked why they don't believe in God, will say something like, "Because there is so much evil in the world".
You know what, I have a suggestion... How about if Christian Today doesn't  simply purposely create a premise on which to base their entire article, and instead do some real research?

I must say that I've heard very few atheists say that they are atheists because of how much evil there is in the world. I have heard atheists say that the existence of evil made them doubt the whole part about God being all love. But that's pretty much it. After all, there being evil wouldn't disprove God, it only goes so far as to show that if he does exist, he just doesn't give a shit.

You see, most atheists are non-believers because religion hasn't satisfied the burden of proof, or because it just didn't make any logical sense. Not off to a good start David Robertson...
It wasn't the case for me. One of the reasons I became a Christian was studying the horrors of the Holocaust. I visited Auschwitz for the first time last year. It was so upsetting. If there is no God, then to me, this world is hell. What's often used as a reason to not believe in God can be used as a reason to believe.
So David was afraid of reality and retreated to a religion to tell him that it will all be okay and that Jesus will fix the world... someday. Sorry, but belief due to fear is not impressive.
I think that all of us have a sense of evil and a sense of good – I don't think that morality is relative. The modern mantra of "It's true for you but not for me" is false. There really is such a thing as good and evil. To me this truth actually leads to God, rather than away from God.
It matters not that David  doesn't believe morality is subjective. The simple fact it that any way you slice it, it is... Even if you claim morality comes from God. He changes his mind from time to time in the Bible, so that's subjective as well. But looking at morality, we can see that we crafted it and it evolved along with us. We are social creatures that poses empathy (well, most of us). But I go into more detail on that here.

Some things are pretty much universal to us because we are the same species and have gone down the same evolutionary road. But there are still plenty of exceptions from one morality to another. And sorry, there simply being 'evil' doesn't necessitate a god. 'Evil' or 'bad' is simply a term that is comparative to something that is 'good'. Evil is our interpretation, not an actual thing.
So here's the problem of evil in a nutshell. We say that God is omnipotent – that he is all powerful, so he could destroy evil. We say that God is good, so he would want to destroy evil. So then atheists will argue, that because evil exists, a good omnipotent God cannot exist. Otherwise, he would stop evil. It's a simple
argument, but for many people it is devastating.
Yes, it's simple and easy to understand. God as defined by some Christians is contradictory at its core. When you present a God that is all-powerful and all-loving, and than state the existence of evil, you are left having to choose.

1) God either isn't all powerful and can't stop evil.
2) He isn't all loving  but is all powerful and chooses not to stop evil that he could stop.
3) God isn't all powerful or loving.
4) There is no God.

So why is it that when so many believers are shown this that they stridently refuse to believe that their definition of their god is necessarily flawed?
We shouldn't shelter Christians from arguments like this. Some of our young people grow up in churches where they are not asked to think about these things, and we try to protect them.
And they do this because history is showing that education, thinking and questioning are things that usually end up being quite bad for religious faith. Sorry, but if education and thinking are your enemies, that really should tell you something...
So the first time they come across a problem like this, everything gets blown apart and they lose their faith.
Oh no! The kids might actually see logic and recognize it for what it is! *gasp* But let's not be too dramatic. Most don't stop believing just like that. The majority will simply be left with a seed of doubt. A seed that might blossom into a beautiful tree of self discovery, or might be stamped out by religious friends and family should they get a whiff.
That doesn't need to be the case. There are lots of contradictions within this argument, especially when compared to the attitude of many atheists today.
Um, how...? We don't claim to have a super-powered hero that has promised to lock up Captain Evil for his dastardly deeds.
Atheists such as Richard Dawkins claim that evil doesn't actually exist. In his book, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life Dawkins writes: "In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference."
Talk about not understanding what one is reading. The subject of the book should have been a hint. River Out of Eden is about evolution. Dawkins is not saying that atheists don't believe in evil but that evolution doesn't, as it works with total indifference. I sure hope that this wasn't the bedrock this article was built upon. If so, David wasted probably a couple hours writing an article that is a total waste of time.
So for this kind of atheist thinking, there is no evil. There is no purpose. Nothing, but blind, pitiless indifference.
 Congratulations! David wasted any time he spent penning this piece!
Sometimes I ask God why such terrible things happen in the world. I get upset. But I would be in the pit of despair if I thought that the universe had no purpose, no good and no evil, and it all happened for no reason at all.
Doubling down on the belief out of fear and not actually understanding what you are talking about I see...
If you are a naturalist (ie you believe that the material world is all that there is), then you have a real problem with the existence of evil. You have to believe:
1) There is no creation, and no Creator.
Close enough I guess. A naturalist could believe in a creator that doesn't violate the laws of nature. But since we haven't found any of those yet, we'll just go with what David said.
2) There is no life after death. No one to answer to. You are a blob of carbon floating from one meaningless existence to another.
Wrong. The lack of an after-life doesn't make life meaningless. Does the lack of an after-after-life make the after-life meaningless to a believer? My life may not have a prescribed meaning, but don't fool yourself into thinking life is meaningless. Even without divine mandate, life is beautiful and full of meaning. And even better, we get to decide what that meaning is!
3) There is no ultimate foundation for morality. It's just something that happens, and has evolved.
Yes, morality evolved. And because if that it fits us rather well. Even better, that allows us to fix mistakes. Something that an absolute objective morality won't allow. So a well reasoned subjective morality that we created is actually a superior one anyway!
4) There is no ultimate meaning in life. We're going on from one meaningless existence to another.
How is this one really any different than #2? Was David desperate to make his list a nice tidy  five items and couldn't think of anything else?
5) There is no human free will. It means I'm programmed to do certain things. It means I can't be held accountable. It means when you stand in front of a judge for raping a woman, you say, "I can't help it, it was my genes". It takes away human responsibility. Part of being human is being responsible. We have an element, at least, of free will.
Wow, David has a real knack for not understanding things. We can be genetically predisposed to be more likely to act one way or another, but unless one has some form of mental illness, there still is a choice to be made. That or the lives we lead make us into the people we become. Sorry, but David's attempt at an over simplified straw-man simply fails.
The problem with the atheist view of evil, is that logically it doesn't make sense. Either you agree that it exists, or you don't. If it does exist, then on what metaphysical basis does it exist? It can't just "be" in a world that is just atoms and molecules.
Here's the thing. Atheists don't claim that there is no evil! We may counter a believers claim of absolute evil that there isn't really an absolute, transcendent evil. But this in no way equates to us not thinking there is any 'evil'. So no, it's David's claim that 'the atheist view of evil' doesn't make sense that actually doesn't make any sense.
Good old CS... Who claimed that Jesus was either
lord, liar, or lunatic. He of course left out that
possibility that Jesus didn't claim to be God or
didn't exist. Something that confine Jesus to be
no more than a simple legend.
I love CS Lewis' view.
I usually don't, as his work on Christianity that is supposed to be aimed at atheists shows a real lack of understanding about atheists.
As he made his journey from atheism to theism, Lewis realised [SIC] that the problem of evil presented more of a problem for atheism than it did for theism. In Mere Christianity he writes:
Yeah, I actually have my doubts about his supposed atheism. I've seen him claim he was an atheist, but never anything more than that. For someone who claimed to have been an atheist, his knowledge of atheism is staggeringly bad. So he either came to atheism from some illogical path, miscategorized himself as an atheist (maybe he was just angry with God), or was lying.
"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust...? Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies.
Oh, so close! We recognize 'bad' not because we know God, but because we know 'good'. Furthermore, it CS really did have a problem with God due to the problem of evil, it just goes to show that if he was an atheist, he wasn't a logical one. 
"Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist – in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless – I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality – namely my idea of justice – was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple."
Funny... My non-belief stemmed in part from my actually trying to prove God...
It's true. Atheism is way too simple. If you say you don't believe in God because the world is unjust and that there is evil in the world – but you then say there is no such thing as evil, you're contradicting yourself.
Well it's a good thing that we don't say that then, isn't it...
The New Atheist motto "There is no God and I hate Him" doesn't make any sense at all.
David... Please stop making stuff up. Atheism doesn't have a motto, let alone a new one. And if it did, it certainly wouldn't be something as illogical as that!

So lets all thank David for wasting his time and ours by writing about something he clearly doesn't understand. 

-Brain Hulk

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