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The Problem of Evil Atheism

From antiquity to today, the evil in the world has always been a powerful mandate for evolutionary thinking. God would not have designed or created this evil world, so it must have originated by the blind play of natural law. For centuries this solution has fueled atheism, but from where did evil-ness come?  Read more
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33 Responses to The Problem of Evil Atheism

  1. The “problem” of evil, as far as I can tell, is the only basis for atheism in the first place and even then it is a problem for it. As you say, how can they even show that there is such a thing as evil and then how does one deal with evil if it is recognized that there is such a thing.

  2. What do you mean by ‘evil’?

    I would consider acts such as slaughtering an entire population of enemies except for virgin girls who are distributed amongst your soldiers as concubines to be evil. I would consider kidnapping the women of another tribe to provide wives for your men when there is a shortage of your own women to be evil. I would consider drowning almost the entire population of Earth, save for a few chosen ones, to be evil.

    Christians apparently do not.

    Which is why I asked the question at the beginning of this post.

    Which is why I find it deeply offensive when some so-called Christians presume to tell me I am not and cannot be ethical when they and their God endorse acts such the above.

  3. Phaedros wrote:

    As you say, how can they even show that there is such a thing as evil and then how does one deal with evil if it is recognized that there is such a thing.

    You don’t have to accept the existence of objective evil in order to press the case against the existence of the Christian God. It’s enough to show that he is evil by Christianity’s own standards.

    Seversky’s examples do this in spades.

    It amazes me that anyone finds such a God worthy of worship.

  4. Seversky,

    I would consider acts such as slaughtering an entire population of enemies except for virgin girls who are distributed amongst your soldiers as concubines to be evil. I would consider kidnapping the women of another tribe to provide wives for your men when there is a shortage of your own women to be evil. I would consider drowning almost the entire population of Earth, save for a few chosen ones, to be evil.

    But not real evil, right? There is no such thing as real evil, right? Just your personal preference, right? Surely you don’t expect others to agree with your personal preference, right? Surely you know that this would be like exhorting others to prefer to wear black hats instead of blue hats, and nothing more, right?

  5. What use is an objective standard for evil when acts that would without a shadow of a doubt be called evil are automatically deemed to be good if they are commanded by God?

  6. Seversky,

    I’ve heard it said that in order for one to posit that there is such a thing as good there is also such a thing as evil and one must appeal to some sort of moral law to differentiate between them. Objective moral laws demand an objective law-giver.

    But this is what you are trying to refute. And without an objective law there can be no real differentiation between what you label as good or evil.

    Not to be glib here, but to what are you appealing and what is your point?

  7. Seversky and Pealgius:

    Please explain the standard by which the Creator of everything other than Himself cannot rightfully do as He pleases with that creation.

  8. EvilSnack @6,
    I believe that if a Creator of everything gave us free will, he gave up ownership of us at that point.

    We don’t own our children and can’t just do what we wish with them.

    That is the whole point of the anti-abortion movement, that the life of someone else is not yours to do with as you please even if you are the mother.

  9. Clive Hayden @4,

    Seversky gave examples of what he thought was evil and then said, he considered it to be evil.

    Here’s one.

    I would consider kidnapping the women of another tribe to provide wives for your men when there is a shortage of your own women to be evil.

    1)Since he made a serious statement, why did you respond to it with such a mocking tone?

    2)Does his example fit your definition of evil?

  10. Clive

    “Surely you know that this would be like exhorting others to prefer to wear black hats instead of blue hats, and nothing more, right?”

    Subjective does not necessarily mean trival.

  11. Pelagius,

    those examples don’t show anything. I guess i could say that atheism is evil because it’s adherents were responsible for mass slaughtering throughout the twentieth century, but no atheist would accept such an argument. I find it incredibly funny that atheists attack the “christian” god and then say there is no god. First of all there are many ways ofthinking about god even within christianity. For example, many uses of “God” in the old testament is actually “elohim” which is plural and are perhaps a type of angel. Another way to look at it is that thhe gnostics saw the god of the old testament as the demiurge or one of the archons and not the monad.

  12. Please explain the standard by which the Creator of everything other than Himself cannot rightfully do as He pleases with that creation.

    I think that’s their point. When you argue that anything that God commands is, by definition, “good,” no matter how evil it would be considered to be if man had committed those acts without a supernatural mandate, then you reduce objective morality to little more than the whims of a tyrannical dictator.

  13. EvilSnack wrote:

    Please explain the standard by which the Creator of everything other than Himself cannot rightfully do as He pleases with that creation.

    EvilSnack,

    Please explain the standard by which the creator can do anything he wants to his creatures.

    Suppose that a human eventually succeeds in creating conscious life-forms. Do you think that entitles him to do anything he wants with them, including torturing them mercilessly?

  14. I guess i could say that atheism is evil because it’s adherents were responsible for mass slaughtering throughout the twentieth century, but no atheist would accept such an argument.

    You could, but it would be a terrible analogy. No atheist I’ve ever met has claimed that those “mass slaughters” committed by Stalin and others last century were morally good acts.

    Conversely, many Bible-believing Christians are quite happy to claim that the mass slaughter and raping of women and children that are documented in the Old Testament were not only subjectively moral acts, but objectively moral acts, because they were done with the express wishes of God.

  15. Phaedros:

    I find it incredibly funny that atheists attack the “christian” god and then say there is no god.

    Then you’re not paying attention. Atheists argue against both the Christian god and against gods in general.

    The reason we spend so much time refuting Christianity on this blog is that the majority of theists here are Christians.

  16. 16

    Toronto,

    Seversky gave examples of what he thought was evil and then said, he considered it to be evil.

    Here’s one.

    I would consider kidnapping the women of another tribe to provide wives for your men when there is a shortage of your own women to be evil.

    1)Since he made a serious statement, why did you respond to it with such a mocking tone?

    2)Does his example fit your definition of evil?

    His example of his “evil” is on the level of personal preference, nothing more, he may as well tell me that he is very serious about wearing black hats instead of blue.

  17. Pelagius,
    And just what shall you do when you see the “Christian” God at the judgment?

    Revelation 20: 11-15
    Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
    And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
    The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
    Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
    If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    ————–

    Born once die twice, Born twice die once.

  18. bornagain,

    What will you do when you meet God and he asks, “Did you really think I was the genocidal maniac described in the Bible?”

    Let’s hope he has a sense of humor.

  19. Here is the video that won the $5000 dollar contest for “Why do you believe God is good?”
    http://memelabs.com/godornot/i.....mode=votes

  20. pelagius,
    It won’t be God who is the one being being judged at that time! It will be you!!! In fact, as far as God being judged, God received the judgment, and punishment, for the entire sin of the world on the cross! Do you think your works, or anyone else’s works for that matter, will be enough to balance a perfectly righteous judgment? Will anyone’s works, including Mother Teresa’s, be enough that would surpass the perfect work that was done on the cross? I know my works, my life, doesn’t even come close by light years! As a matter of fact I think that I am more likely to do some totally selfless act of love ,,free from any ulterior motive, totally by accident than by any concerted effort on my part. I have taken a good honest look at my heart, and what I see is tainted to its core in selfish motives. That is why I gladly accept the merit God has earned for me, as he deemed fit, in Christ for such a fallen state I find myself in so that a may be able to stand before Him in glory! Let’s hope you also accept Christ as your mediator, as God has saw fit, so that you may stand in glorious His presence.
    If you think standing before the creator of the universe will be a joking matter you are sorely mistaken!

  21. bornagain77 wrote:

    Here is the video that won the $5000 dollar contest for “Why do you believe God is good?”

    The video maker’s answer:

    God is good because we can slowly become His eyes, His legs, His thoughts, His mind, His spirit, His mercy, and His arms.

    Okayyyyy….

  22. 22

    pelagius,

    The video maker’s answer:

    God is good because we can slowly become His eyes, His legs, His thoughts, His mind, His spirit, His mercy, and His arms.

    Okayyyyy….

    Does that strike you as odd? I’m assuming it does by your long “okay”. It strikes me as odd that we would have eyes, legs, thoughts, mind, spirit and mercy in the first place. And the only thing that has deadened this wonder is repetition of seeing these things in our experience. As IDEAS, they are as wondrous and baffling as us becoming God’s attributes in the next life. What the video is referring to there is believers being the Body of Christ, which is a transcendental concept, which has no place with reductionist or materialist thinking. In the same way that we read books so that we may see through other people’s eyes, and think other people’s thoughts, so that we are not shut up in our own mind or experience. And in so doing, we ourselves are gratified and expanded, not lessened, but increased. When first things are put first (our relationship with our creator) second things (ourselves) are magnified and increased, not lessened. In becoming one with God’s attributes, we will be more of our natural selves. I know this is peculiar to the materialist, who has become shut up within a prison of matter, with no chance of transcendental experience.

    But the expansion of which I speak was much more evil than all this. I have remarked that the materialist, like the madman, is in prison; in the prison of one thought. These people seemed to think it singularly inspiring to keep on saying that the prison was very large. The size of this scientific universe gave one no novelty, no relief. The cosmos went on for ever, but not in its wildest constellation could there be anything really interesting; anything, for instance, such as forgiveness or free will. The grandeur or infinity of the secret of its cosmos added nothing to it. It was like telling a prisoner in Reading gaol that he would be glad to hear that the gaol now covered half the county. The warder would have nothing to show the man except more and more long corridors of stone lit by ghastly lights and empty of all that is human. So these expanders of the universe had nothing to show us except more and more infinite corridors of space lit by ghastly suns and empty of all that is divine.

    In fairyland there had been a real law; a law that could be broken, for the definition of a law is something that can be broken. But the machinery of this cosmic prison was something that could not be broken; for we ourselves were only a part of its machinery. We were either unable to do things or we were destined to do them. The idea of the mystical condition quite disappeared; one can neither have the firmness of keeping laws nor the fun of breaking them. The largeness of this universe had nothing of that freshness and airy outbreak which we have praised in the universe of the poet. This modern universe is literally an empire; that is, it was vast, but it is not free. One went into larger and larger windowless rooms, rooms big with Babylonian perspective; but one never found the smallest window or a whisper of outer air.

    G. K. Chesterton, The Ethics of Elfland, Orthodoxy

  23. Clive,

    It strikes me as an odd answer because it doesn’t make sense.

    Even supposing that we could become God’s legs, whatever that means, I don’t see how that demonstrates God’s goodness.

    Couldn’t we also become the legs of an evil God?

  24. Seversky,

    I think you are right to say that those things, attributed to God’s command, cannot be anything but evil. If we are really made in God’s image, then I think we have enough of an understanding of evil to know that slaughter of children (for example) can only be evil.

    But the issue for me is actually concerning the inerrancy of the bible. I think I’m a minority, but I believe that those evil acts you have mentioned were not commanded by God, but were after-the-fact justifications for them.

    I anticipate your next comment: how do we know what in the bible is really from God and what is from man?

    My answer: Ask Him.

  25. Collin wrote:

    But the issue for me is actually concerning the inerrancy of the bible. I think I’m a minority, but I believe that those evil acts you have mentioned were not commanded by God, but were after-the-fact justifications for them.

    It’s striking that so many Christians would sooner believe that God committed these atrocities than admit that the Bible contains errors.

    No wonder the inerrantists are sometimes accused of bibliolatry.

  26. 26

    pelagius,

    Even supposing that we could become God’s legs, whatever that means, I don’t see how that demonstrates God’s goodness.

    Couldn’t we also become the legs of an evil God?

    That wasn’t the answer to the video, it was just a part of a larger picture, and you know this.

  27. Clive,

    Okay, let’s look at the larger picture:

    God is good because we can slowly become His eyes, His legs, His thoughts, His mind, His spirit, His mercy, and His arms.

    How does this demonstrate God’s goodness? Couldn’t we also become the eyes, legs, thoughts, mind, spirit, mercy, and arms of an evil God?

    (And yes, even evil people can show mercy.)

  28. pelagius, given the sheer weight of evidence testifying to God creating this universe, and to Jesus, His Son, rising from the dead, should you not seek resolution to this gapping hole in your materialistic evidential basis, instead of just pointing to the fact that people very often become “evil gods” unto themselves by rebelling against God and doing their own selfish wills instead of doing God’s good and perfect will? How in the world does the existence of evil help you in the least in the first place? In fact since you admit to the existence of evil, just so as to try to call God evil I would guess, does this not in fact testify that there must be a ultimate source for evil, an ultimate source of the rebellion from God? The same with good, since good exists, does this not dictate that there must be an ultimate source of good? Or will you now deny the existence of both good and evil, and say they are merely illusions, as many materialists do once they realize admitting to the existence of evil defeats their primary purpose of trying to deny God in the first place.

  29. I am honestly surprised to see atheists insisting on banging on the problem of evil card.

    Their ideology is completely devoid of any ethical standard yet when it suits them they try to hijack said standards from Theism and then consequently use them to launch an attack.

    Moral relativism, which is all the atheist can ever claim is evidently an incoherent account for ethics, that may easily be dismissed or shown to be self-refuting. So I really don’t see any merit in their argument.

  30. 30

    above,

    You might enjoy this essay by C.S. Lewis: De Futilitate

  31. Thanks Clive,

    It’s always a pleasure reading C.S. Lewis. :-)

  32. What I have failed to see, amidst this incredible stream of babble, is the simple point that all monotheists believe in the afterlife. I am not personally religious, but I have a lot of respect for a certain man of prolific output by the name of G.K Chesterton and if you were to read his fantastic book, that is enjoyable for even the most adamant athiest to read, ‘the man who was thursday’ you would understand profoundly the point that suffering is a test. Evil is necessary as a test, a short life of suffering, no matter how intense it is, is nothing next to an eternity of paradise. Men experience this suffering so that they can say, when the angry wretched nihilist questions them as they sit in the unimaginable comfort of paradise, “we have suffered too”.

    This is merely a point that I wanted to enter this debate and I personally am an agnostic because I believe that scientists and religious men are both as arrogant as each other in believing so strongly that they know how this unimaginably large universe originated.

  33. ^I am as arrogant as both these breeds of men in presuming that this collection of learned gentlemen had not heard of chesterton.

    Apologies, however, I stand by my points.

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