Thursday, August 16, 2007

Is God Evil? (redux)

I spent this morning writing two very long responses to another blog which takes issue with an old article of mine.

The first of two parts is here.

The second of two parts is here.

I responded to both in the comments section, but I will post them here as well for your convenience.

Response to Part One:

First of all, thank you for looking at my site and posting about it. I’m always open to debate/discussion regarding these issues. I appreciate the discussion about my site. Us fellow bloggers need to help each other out when it comes to spreading the word.

You wrote, “Think of it this way. My daughter has a tooth that needs to come out. She hates going to the dentist, but going to the dentist is the only way to extract the tooth and prevent infection from setting in. By making her go to the dentist and undergo the anxiety and pain of the dental chair, am I an “evil” father? Wouldn’t it be more “evil” of me to let her become infected and continue to suffer? Is the pain and anxiety she experiences, even though it is intense, in her best interest in the long run?”

This, including your other examples, does nothing to counter the argument that god is evil. You say that if my definition of evil is correct, then god IS evil. The only way you can counter this is to show that my definition is incorrect. First I would like to say that if the definition of evil from Webster is not good enough for you, I don’t know what else would be. In my article you discuss from 2004, I did use, but Webster’s definition is the same. In an attempt to show that my definition is incorrect you presented an excellent case-book example of a straw man argument.

God does not simply pull our tooth out, causing pain, because it will get worse for us. Nor does he kill some who would end up killing more if allowed to live. Well, actually, he does do that in the bible, but he doesn’t stop there. If that is all he did, your argument might hold some water; however, as we both know he does not stop there.

No one would fault you for pulling a child’s rotting tooth. Killing people to prevent killing wouldn’t reach much objection either. However, think about this situation, which is taken from my article you are discussing here in your post. I’m not sure why you didn’t address this in your post - I can only assume you didn’t read the whole thing.

“Imagine a father were to tell his son that by the time he is twelve, he must decide whether or not to love his dad. The father says the child is free to choose whatever he wants, but if he chooses to not love his father, then the father will put his son in the oven and cook him. What sort of freedom of choice is this? I don’t think it is any choice. Surely a man who did this would be considered one of the most insane, sick, twisted, and evil person you could meet. He would be thrown in prison for child abuse, neglect, and infanticide. Even the criminals in prison would look down on this child murderer, most likely taking out revenge in the child’s name. How ironic is it then that when God does this, we worship him, say “God is Love”, and build churches in his honor. ”

So we can see that god does not just punish us for “rotten teeth” or even killing people. God causes pain and suffering simply if we choose not to love him through use of the free-will that he gave us. That is the main point of my article, and I believe it still stands, as you didn’t really address it directly in your counter-article. You simply brought brought up a simple-to-argue metaphor (pulling teeth, nazis) that nobody would really argue with and then wrote an article against that instead of my article’s main point.

Response to Part Two:

“I am aware of no serious religious teaching about God which contends that he inflicts pain in the way Matheson hypothecises - purely out of indifference or spite.”

Here are a few…

” For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” Genesis 7:4

Here god has wiped out every animal on the planet when it was humans that were sinning. These animals were innocent.

“All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.” Genesis 7:22

Here, it says god kills everything that breathes. That included every one-day-old human child that wasn’t a part of Noah’s family. There were at least thousands of them. The only logic that would say these children were not innocent is the logic of the bible, which punishes the son for the crimes of the father. Everywhere else in existence, this is counter to everything that is considered moral and “good.” I am pretty sure killing innocent children is “evil.”

All through the passages in Exodus when Moses confronts Pharaoh, Pharaoh would have listened to Moses and let the people free. However, god forces Pharaoh, through mind control (”And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…” Exodus 7:3 among other passages), to not let the slaves go. Why does god do this?

“…that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” Exodus 11:7

So god forces Pharoah to ignore Moses so that God can kill every first-born child in all of Egypt, not so that Moses’s people can be free, but so that there is a difference between the Egyptians and the Israelites.

“I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come,” Exodus 23:27

Here god leads his people into a land full of people that god created. God has Moses’s people commit one of the first recorded instances of genocide on these people just to show god’s power and to give the Israelite’s somewhere to live. Again, don’t forget that god created these people and was in control of everything they did. Now he is destroying them. That seems pretty spiteful to me. The main reason they are being destroyed is because they are sinners - sinners that god created.

“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool’s back.” Proverbs 26:3

Here, we are told to beat the foolish. Well, god made these people foolish, yet he wants us to beat them. Why would someone make a fool, and then command people to beat fools? Again, spite, malice, indifference, and “evil.”

“Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.” Ezekiel 21:3

Here, god is deciding to pull his sword out and kill everyone. EVERYONE. Not just the “wicked” but also the “righteous.” The good and the bad. All of them.

I can go on and on and on. The best example, as always, is Hell. God creates us, knowing we’ll mess up. When we mess up, he punishes us in eternal darkness and fire. He knows we will mess up, and yet makes us and then punishes us anyways. He has foreknowledge of everything, being omniscient.

Here is the old Epicurius quote, which to this day has not been answered to any decent degree…

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Epicurus - Greek philosopher, BC 341-270

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Anonymous nmitchell076 said...

I put this exact comment on your original blog, but I thought that maybe you might find it easier on here, so here's my problem:

if God (if you believe in him) is purely good, he would have created a perfect world, but he didn't, he allows for suffering.

Therefore, since the world isn't perfectly good, he is not perfectly good. Next comes “if He’s not perfectly good, he’s evil” that’s paraphrasing and I realize this, but you basically call God evil.

Here’s my point, IF God is the ultimate evil, He would have created a world that is perfectly evil, but we know this to be untrue, there is good in the world, everyone can admit that. If God is evil as you describe, then as a good God wouldn’t allow evil, an evil God wouldn’t allow for good. Therefore, he must be more centrist, a passive God if you will.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Nat said...

I would like to comment on the lack of christian rebuttals on this page.

I guess this blog is kind of like the bible, you pick and choose the bits you talk about.. best to keep quiet about the inconvenient.

Awesome blog, keep up the good work.

5:12 PM  

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