By Vexen Crabtree Like this page: Share this page: Comments: FB , LJ determinism evil god life philosophy religion suffering theodicy theology. If God is all-powerful and all-good, it would have created a universe in the same way it created heaven: with free will for all, no suffering and no evil. But evil and suffering exist. Therefore God does not exist, is not all-powerful or is not benevolent good 1. Such arguments have been used by many philosophers as evidence against belief in god 2 , 3.
A theodicy is an attempt to explain why a good god would have created evil and suffering. The most popular defence is that it is so Humans could have free will. However the entire universe and the natural world is filled with suffering, violence and destruction so any Humanity-centric explanation does not seem to work. Theological Problems with Heaven, Paradise and Nirvana : If there is free will in heaven but no suffering then it negates any reason for there being suffering on Earth Infanticide and Heaven: Killing Babies for God : If dead babies go straight to heaven, doesn't that invalidate any reason for the existence of evil?
Other more modern writers such as Freud and Marx sought to show that religion's explanations of the presence of evil and suffering were based on delusions. Or better still create it with the plan achieved?
If he is omnipotent, yes. Why then does he fail to do so? This devastating argument was deployed by David Hume: if the evil in the world is the intention of the Deity, then he is not benevolent.
Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil - Oxford Scholarship
If the evil is contrary to his intention, he is not omnipotent. He cannot be both omnipotent and benevolent as most religions claim. Benevolence perfect goodness and omnipotency all-powerful are two of the most frequently assumed traits of God in monotheistic religions :. This problem is specific to the type of monotheism where God is said to be omnipotent and benevolent.
Gods were not always quite so capable as that, for example in Zoroastrianism good and evil really were fighting against each other and neither was all-powerful. Primitive gods could literally and physically fight against evil. But as philosophy and science taught us the true depth of words like 'creator god' and 'creation', and we understood more and more of the psychological, incidental and mechanistic causes of apparent 'evil', it became quite obvious that the whole system was designed with the possibility for 'evil' in its very fabric.
Omnipotency is incompatible with benevolence. The reasons that such contradictions appear between the existence of god and the existence of aspects of reality is because the whole idea of god is problematic. If there is no god and if suffering and pain result from purely biological effects and the physical laws of the universe, with no underlying divine cause, then the problem of evil disappears.
There is no real "good" and "evil", there is just evolved life, struggling to survive in an uncaring universe. It happens that this atheistic state appears to match perfectly with the truth of the matter. Disabled people, stillborn babies, the suffering of children and adults alike has all, from time to time, been explained as punishment for their sins. If not actual behaviour, then for thought crime, and, sometimes, the punishment itself is in order to prevent some serious sin happening in the future.
The theory goes that God never punishes people through random bouts of suffering by accident: everything is part of God's plan. If suffering seems unjust and unfair, then, it is merely the case that God is judging and punishing people for reasons that their fellow Humans do not comprehend. Thoughts like these kill all sense of compassion and caring, and scupper any chance of granting relief to the victim. Everything is our fault: there is no suffering of innocents, for there are no innocents.
It is not our job to try and alleviate the pain that God has seen fit to bring upon us!
I am sure that most modern, moral, readers, must react in horror to such an inhumane dismissal of evil. Many may even, through wishful thinking and ignorance, disclaim that no-one has held to such a monstrous justification.
But you'd be wrong. In other words: blame the victim. Christopher Hitchens Lawrence Krauss 7. That is, we all deserve punishment simply for being human, until such a time as we are saved, if we ever are.
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This was not mere philosophizing - the Christian church in the dark ages really did ban medicine and physicians on the grounds that our bodies deserve their pains and diseases. Midwifery was banned. Their activities were seen as a "direct affront to the divinely ordained pain of childbirth" and, according to a Scottish clergyman, "vitiating the primal curse of women" 9. For the same reasons, "when the great American discovery of anaesthetics was applied in obstetrical cases, it was discouraged [because] it was an impious attempt to escape from the curse denounced against all women in Genesis iii.
Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, taught the same: The following statement epitomizes the Christian approach to female welfare: "If they become tired or even die", Luther wrote, "that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth - that is why they are there" This outright dismissal of pain and suffering arises because religious theology cannot answer the fundamental question as to why there is evil and suffering in the world.
The result is a morality that can have a profoundly negative effect on human compassion. Good and evil are to many an 'obvious' reality but with thought, the concept of these opposites makes little sense. What is good for one being is frequently bad for another.
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For example in nature the whole cycle of biological life is based on death and recycling. Hence why major religions have historically been based around these themes, especially vegetation gods who are reborn every Winter Solstice. All predators find it good that prey is available; if you protect the prey you harm the predators, and whilst it is bad from the prey's point of view to be eaten, it is necessary from the predator's point of view.
In nature, survival is violent and competitive. Bacteria 14 feed on biological chemicals to survive and breed. What is good for them is bad for us. While antibiotics are good for us and reduce our suffering, their usage creates suffering and death for countless other minor species. What is good for one species is bad for others. While one culture may consider multiple marriage to be a virtue of love and positivity, another considers it an evil sin.
What is good in one culture is bad in another. What was good in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible is bad in the New, what is good in the Buddhist Pali scriptures is wrong in the Therevada, what is considered an ethic by one group in society is considered wrong in another. Contraception may be evil according to Catholic doctrine, but, overpopulation causes suffering for all. What the homeless rightly do to survive is a "social evil" to those with homes, and how governments collect tax is evil to the poor person but a social necessity.
Good and Evil are impossibly complex, inherently subjective. Moral subjectivism is not limited to the human concern for other humans. A nuclear attack is bad for billions of people but may well be good for undersea creatures who suffer from our pollutants. Eliminating environmental toxins from our waste may make industry less efficient and slow the economy, but is good for other species. A life-saving vaccine may be good for many people but could be atrocious for the environment and create suffering due to overpopulation.see
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There are no actions that are "good" or "bad" from the point of view of all peoples, cultures, societies, species and interests. There are no actions that are absolutely good for life, and there are no actions that are bad for all species. There is no "opposite" to good or evil; there is no scale with "good" on one side and "evil" on the other: There are only conflicting subjective interests. It is all personal opinion, compromise and discord. If we, as fallible Human beings, are to attempt to be "good", and also what is good for God is not always what is good for us, it means God is not "absolutely good".