The Problem of Evil is probably one of the most popular arguments against the Christian religion. The problem states that there is a contradiction with the nature of god, specifically god being all powerful and being all loving. If god has infinite love and infinite love why does god allow for evil and suffering to occur? This problem states that these three things cannot all be true at the same time. Either god is not all powerful, he is not all loving or evil doesn’t exist. Any sane individual would say that evil clearly exits so either god isn’t all loving or all powerful.
Now what does a sane Christian do when faced with such a conundrum? Well they they try to justify evil obviously! Some of the most popular defences being that evil is necessary to know/appreciate good or for humans to have free will they need the option to do both good and bad. Both I consider valid arguments. Having a bad day can certainly help us appreciate and acknowledge a good one and to truly have free will we must have the option to do both good and evil.
Despite the fact I see these arguments as valid they don’t solve the problem of evil as a whole because they fail to see the bigger picture of the problem. I don’t think I have to tell you that genocide, rape, torture and the many many more horrific acts that have been committed are unnecessary to help me people realise the good in this world. Secondly the free will argument fails to see the problem at hand, we are aware people do evil acts and god doesn’t have anything to do with them the problem is that he does nothing to stop such evil with his power and “love” he has for us. Some may say well hell is the punishment for the people who commit evil acts. Again that doesn’t excuse him, he loves us and could stop an innocent person from being raped or killed and yet he doesn’t regardless if the criminal is punished with damnation that innocent person has suffered and god could’ve stopped that. This truly puts into question his so called love for us but it gets worse…
Now I’m sure if you’re a Christian apologist you’ve heard this all before and have a list of ‘counters’. Now I’m going to talk about my problem with it. What is it like to be all loving? Surely impossible for a human to know what its like and so I have no right to talk about it? Well I know what its like to love someone else. Get any self respecting parent, get their child, name any evil act and inflict it upon that child. Any parent if they could would do anything to stop their child from suffering and their finite love is infinitely smaller in comparisons to gods infinite love. The parent with their tiny finite love would do anything to stop their child from suffering and god with his infinite love and billions of children who he equally loves does nothing.
It gets even worse when you consider the scale of human suffering. Humanity has been around for roughly 200,000 years. Human history that we are aware of is about 5000 years from 3000 BC to now. In those 5000 years people in the hundred of millions have suffered with plague, starvation, executions, torture, genocide, mass slavery, rape, abuse, child murderers, wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and so much more has happened in the millions and yet that is only 5000 years. There is 195,000 more years we are not aware of. To say the least humanity has gone through a lot and with the billions of humans who suffered throughout history and there’s somehow a god who loves us all infinitely and has all the power in the universe to stop it and yet. He. Doesn’t. Do. A. Thing. Conclusion: Our world reflects one that was created through random chance, good, bad being irrelevant and not one of an all loving god.
The Problem of Evil is a incompatible trio but why stop their! God is also all knowing on top of him being infinite powerful, infinite loving he also has infinite knowledge. God has the power, the love and the knowledge to make a perfect world and yet he hasn’t. Now I already know what you’re going to say. Well what if this world is the best he can make it while saving as many people as possible. You may also say god made the world perfect in genesis but Adam and Eve ruined it. Firstly god is literally has infinite power and knowledge if he wanted to make a better world where its 100x better while also saving 100x more people in the process he could! There’s nothing stopping him, his qualities are just incompatible with our reality. Now secondly if you use take the Adam and Eve story literally well sorry to break it to you buddy but science made your god unnecessary with the big bang and evolution a long time ago.
This in it self is more then enough shake any self respecting Christians faith in their so called all loving god. Yet despite that there’s still even more to put to death the idea that the Christian god is good. The Bible is a gold mind of examples of god doing or condoning evil acts. Here’s just a few but I promise there are many many more.
* 2 Kings 2:23-24: Some children make fun of a bald man called Elisha and in response he curses them in the name of the lord and sends two bears to maul 42 children. Now with any Bible passage that contradicts a Christians worldview they point to a different translation to try and make an otherwise evil passage slightly less evil. No one in their right mind could justify this passage and yet they try. Some say it doesn’t explicitly say they are children, well most do and even if they didn’t mauling 42 people over making fun of a bald man is horrid. Others say it was Elisha who sent the bears not god, pretty poor argument as he does it in the name of lord which god doesn’t condemn plus who sent the bears Elisha? Unless they want to make the claim humans have super powers he did it in the name of god with the powers of god and yet god doesn’t stop him or condemn in anyway for abusing his name or his powers. I have heard some try to justify this passage by saying since there was 42 people so Elisha’s life was in danger but that’s not stated or even hinted at in the slightest. In conclusion you can’t justify this passage even if you tried and trying to justify such a clear evil passage from a so called loving god is a pathetic attempt to stop your fragile worldview from falling apart.
* Numbers 16:1-49: Moses goes into a community and 250 prominent men in the community complains to Moses so the 250 are burned alive. But wait there’s more! The people of this community come and complain to Moses for killing the 250 men. So what does god do? He sends a plague killing 14,700 people for complaining about killing people. (Wow how loving this guy is he truly loves us all! )
* Genesis 32:22-31: God wrestles Jacob and somehow loses having to resort to using magic to win. (Not evil by any means but very weird for a passage that an all powerful god lost. )
* Judges 14:1-19. Samson makes a bet with 30 men that if they can’t solve his riddle they he gets their money and if they solve it he owes them money. His wife tells them the answer so Samson owes them money. So god being the great guy he is gives Samson powers, Samson then kills all 30 men and stealing their money. ( I mean he lost bet so god lets him kill a large group of people…try explaining that to their mourning families. )
* Hosea 13:16: Samaria rebelled against god and her punishment for this is to be stabbed, children will be killed and unborn children will be killed. I guess god isn’t pro-life after all. )
* Deuteronomy 23:1: No man whose testicles have been crushed or penis has been cut off won’t go to heaven.
* Leviticus 24:16: Whoever utters the name of the Lord must be put to death. The whole community must stone him, whether alien or native. If he utters the name, he must be put to death. (How loving of him)
* Judges 18: God allows and supports a city being destroyed and burned to the ground and explicitly says that no one survived because no one supported them. (If you’re on god’s team he will let you get away with mass murder what a great boss)
* Isaiah 13:16: God threatens to kill children Infront of fathers, their houses looted and their wives raped all Infront of them. (No joke here this is just genuinely horrid and evil)
* Numbers 25:6-13: one of gods followers murders a mixed raced couple to stop them from corrupting the purity and god makes him a holy priests as a reward. (God loves you! Just don.=’t date outside your race)
* Judges 11:30-39: a man burns his daughter alive and is awarded by god for it. (Yikes and I thought my parents were strict)
* Deuteronomy 22:28–29: if a man rapes a virgin his punishment is to pay the father money, marry her for life. (No joke here either the passage describes her as damaged goods as apposed to an innocent women being violated and that’s his punishment?? your god is a monster beyond monsters.)
* Joshua 6:20–21, Deuteronomy 2:32–35: mass murders women and children, whole cities massacred with gods blessing. (I put two because let be honest it happens a lot in the bible and defiantly more then twice. )
* Numbers 31:7–18: massacre everyone except the virgins because they can keep them as their own.
* Deuteronomy 21:18–21. stone disobedient children.
These are only a few examples of the many that are in the bible. They clearly and continuously show god as a horrid monster who shouldn’t be in the same sentence with love or even kind let alone all loving. Now I can probably guess what you’ll say next they are metaphorical not meant to be taken literally, well kinda hard to tell the difference between metaphors and the literal events when I could easily say Jesus walking on water or raising from the dead should be taken metaphorically when it probably should. Plus a lot of these are said in the least metaphorical way possible, they are said quite plainly and literally. You may also say some are describing the future punishments, well even if it hasn’t happened it wouldn’t change a thing. Or perhaps the more popular excuse that this is the old testament the new testament rectifies it all! No these are rules that god has commanded people to do and expected them to uphold but he changes his mind and they are no longer valid? You might say those laws for their time and so don’t apply to ours. An all knowing god should implement a universal set of rules that transcends time but he didn’t and don’t say the 10 commandments they are a complete joke and miss so many crimes.
However god’s cruelty seems to have no end and I continue to show more and more examples of god being an evil deity. To demonstrate this I will use the case of homosexuality. The bible not only condemns homosexuality is states they should be killed if they engage in sexual acts. Here’s some examples from the loving bible.
* Leviticus 20:13.: If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
* 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.
So all gay men should be killed, be denied entry into heaven and sent to hell for all eternity. Now you can make a logical argument for murder, theft or adultery for being sinful but there’s no Christian on this planet that can except from saying its not what god intended. Well funny a lot of people say that when homosexuality is a perfectly natural thing, it happens in nature humans and animals share a similar percentage for homosexuals in the population it is in their DNA to be attracted to the same sex they cannot help this and yet they are to be punished for it. This is the reason I use gay people to show god’s cruelty because it has been empirically proven that homosexuality is natural and is not a choice. So god made gay people, put it in their DNA so they can’t help it then punish them for it so the whole god didn’t intend for it argument is objectively false. Plus if god didn’t intend for it why did he put the make g spot up men’s ass? Seems to me he intended for it.
This is just one argument against Christianity and unless someone brings out some mystical knowledge I’m not aware for these arguments and examples from your own book that dismantle your god and your religion. There’s more examples many more just using common sense to not believe a so called holy book about ancient mystical stories that have no basis in reality.
Here’s a few things I know some of you will say so I’ll address it now so I don’t have to later.
You might say gods nature is beyond us so we can’t understand and shouldn’t question it because we can’t. I personally don’t like this argument mainly because its an ass pull. It isn’t beyond me and I’ll tell you why. God being all loving and all powerful contradicts the reality we live in, your god can’t even hold up to my level of comprehension let alone anything greater.
You might say I’m just full of hate and hate god. Firstly refute any of my arguments before you say that.
You could also say that I should respect peoples beliefs. Respect my intelligence to not believe such complete illogical crap from a clearly evil monster.
But thankfully in the west Christianity is decreasing. In the UK more people identify as agnostic, atheist or having no belief then having a religion. Iceland is almost 100% atheist or agnostic and many more countries are following this trend. Sadly America is quite far behind on this trend but their behind on most things let’s be honest. So Christianity just like any ignorant, racist, homophobic, misogynist, immoral, stupid, ancient belief that has occurred in human history it. Will. Die. Out.
You bring up a lot of points and some of the particulars of the nuance of biblical interpretation have been addressed by others so I want to focus on what I think is your strongest argument: needless/excess suffering.
I will try to give at least a rational, although admittedly not so persuasive argument, for why one could believe God could allow for the suffering we see in the world.
Firstly you acknowledge that up to a certain point suffering can have a benefit and I agree. Many people who could otherwise have an “easy” life seek out challenges or ways to make life more difficult. This can be done either for perspective, or for the virtue of overcoming or simply facing a challenging situation.
Secondly I would like to acknowledge that suffering, while extreme, does indeed have a physical limit. I am incapable of feeling empathy for all of the suffering I rationally know exists in the world. Also due to the biological limits of my nerves and brain there is a limit to the amount of physical pain I can experience. This is further reduced by biological triggers like shock or nerve damage that would reduce physical suffering.
In order to have a problem of evil in this case we must say that the feeling of suffering, be it physical, emotional, or empathetic, are not worth the benefits. And we could be jumping to conclusions there.
To use your example of loving parent:
Children often say “that’s unfair” when a parent makes them experience something that hurts them because they don’t value the benefit as much as the parent does. Many examples from drinking fowl tasting medicine, exercise, getting an education, or simply saying sorry.
*While I do not find this type of argument convincing, as it belittles the very extreme and abhorrent suffering that people have experienced throughout history.*
I also do not find it inherently irrational to believe that God in his wisdom might have granted us the ability to suffer to a biological limit that is [despite our most empathetic judgements] most beneficial for us and only *feels* like needless excess while we are living it in ignorance of his wisdom.
That is my best “devils advocate” argument/food for thought because your post felt a little harsh on believers.
You raised a lot of good points, but…
While I understand your point about how the person afflicted still suffers and God could’ve prevented that, I think you brushed the idea of hell under the rug, hell is exactly the justice people deserve regardless of whether or not it’s delayed to a degree, because God balances justice with mercy, so people are given the chance to repent and are punished in the end
Many of the biblical references you gave aren’t accurate though, imo the only place to go for Old Testament references is the original Hebrew Bible not a new American Christian Bible, so,
In the actual original Hebrew Bible*
Numbers 16:1-49, tough pill to swallow, but *the people were being judged according to their own law*, it wasn’t God randomly doing it for no reason, the people rebelled against Aaron and Moses (as) leadership
Genesis 32:22-31, God didn’t wrestle with Jacob, an Angel of God did
Deuteronomy 23:1, talks about people being cut off from the assembly of the Lord, not being banned from heaven, many rabbinic commentaries considered this as being forbidden from marrying a Jew as a Jewish convert
Leviticus 24:16, actually says, whoever “blasphemly pronounces the name of the Lord,”
I could keep going for more of them, there are some that are as you said though, the important thing to realize though is Christianity is seen as correcting this, because Jesus (as) coming down and through his teachings he brings balance to what should be, instead of retaliating with equal force and getting revenge, Jesus (as) taught peacefulness and almost, “taking a beating” within reason so you don’t have to kill everyone who disobeys the law all the time like the ancient Hebrews did
Once again, you brought up a lot of really good points (could be nicer about it XD but…) truthfully, and a lot of what you described is what led me to Islam and converted away from Christianity
But I think it’s important to realize it’s not exactly as you’ve made it out to be, and Christianity is seen as the correction of the imbalances of the Old Testament laws because people had a hard time following them
Another thing you mentioned are the 10 commandments, and you say they miss a lot of stuff, to a degree this is true, but the 10 commandments are the foundation of all divine revelation, if God revealed the ruling on every single issue all at once it would fill the whole world, the 10 commandments were almost like idealized legal principles, that could be interpreted to and case that may have been presented, they’re the foundation of rulings in the Abrahamic religious world, not the actual physical solution for every problem that arises
The problem of evil cannot be solved, at least not in an argumentative way. After the Second World War and the Shoa, there have understandably been intense discourses in Judaism about the problem of evil and the inactivity of God, and also literary approaches, e.g. the accusation of God before a rabbinical tribunal, etc. The problem of evil, i.e. the existence of evil, is an existential problem, both for the believer and the non-believer, in different ways. I think it is problematic to approach the problem of evil “apologetically”.
And a second: I always warn against using exclusively texts which are genuinely and first and foremost Jewish scriptures for attacking Christianity and its image of God (the examples above are all from the Tanakh). Since early Christianity with Markion, there is an effort to exclude the Old Testament, and there is also this tendency today in some movements. Without accusing OP of this, I consider the topic of “OT atrocities” to be inherently dangerous, because it implicitly attacks the Jewish religion and identity as well, because it only uses selected passages from books that are genuinely Jewish. (Apart from the fact that the selected passaged do not really represent the whole character of the respective texts.)
From a Calvinist perspective I would say the flaw in your argument is thinking God has to treat us a certain way. We tend to think He does by comparing our relationship to God to any human relation or our interaction with animals, but this analogies are not precise. A better comparison would be between a human and a inanimate object, such as a rock or a pen. As the owner of the pen you can do whatever you want with it, clean it, use it, or break it. The same is true to God, if He destroyed a stone you wouldn’t say God failed to love the stone. And although it hurts to admit it, we are not more important to God than any other of His creations, we don’t have any inherit value to Him.
The all loving part comes true by the fact that even though He could treat us any way He wanted without being unjust, He chose to love us, He chose some of us to be with Him for eternity. And even those who He separated to hell, lived lives much better than they deserve.
I believe the point I’m trying to make can be summarized in Romans 9.11-21:
11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand:
12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”
20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ”
21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
i’m especially curious about how anyone could defend that passage that explicitly states we are to put gay people to death
Comments are closed.