this is why i am an atheist. long ago a friend died, and i had to try figure out why. i was still a mild believer. my grandma had repeatedly fed me the mantra, god is love. so why wud a just, benevolent god, who is love, create this world, filled as it is with evil? thats my question.
nother query. how many of you were turned to atheism by this?
I had to sit and think a bit of what I remember first hearing that I thought was 'not right' or as you put it EVIL.
I was around age 6 in Sunday School Bible class learning about Noah and the really big flood. When I learned all the humans and animals were drowned - I didn't care one bit about the humans as I didn't know any of them anyway.
What I do remember was feeling really bad for all the baby kittens and puppys that GOD drowned. I never could put together exactly what they 'did wrong' to deserve such a fate. I said nothing - it was just the beginning of what was to take another 10-years or so of putting most of it together - realizing that nearly ever word spewed from the mouths of Christian teachers somehow relates to EVIL.
I do remember a couple years later learning about those 'Native Americans (Indians) and those EVIL black people...why how dare they think they're anything cloe to what us WHITE and DELIGHTSOME people are? We're not descended from that EVIL man Cain. And this was just the start...it got worse.
um a lil more detail. i was 18, in the coast guard. i was stationed at coos bay life boat station in oregon, one day we went out in our 36 footer unsinkable boat to train our new 3rd class bosn mate, who we all called "frog". coming back across the bar, he lost control and we surfboarded and were hit by a wave broadside. i hauled another coastie back on board and looked up and saw frog 50 yards off waving at us. the first class bosn mate who was training frog took us out again, and brought us back when the tide changed. three days later we found frog, on the beach dead. while our boat had been under water i had a fleeting thot, god save me.
of course to me then god had heard my thot and saved me and took frog. god answers prayers, right? so by my praying i had killed frog. simple, i was a murderer. no wait, i hadn't done a thing except pray, god had killed frog. so that made god a murderer. id never before considered that god was a murderer. this was quite a shock to me. then i realized that god kills all of us. man this god has to be the evilest thing imaginable. postulating a devil was no help to me as a devil has to be a creation of god. so i was supposed to worship this absolutely evil being. i went to the cood bay library and took out some books on atheism, i dont remeber the titles but i think tom paine (a diest) and ol bertrand russel were there, and i was transformed into a free man, the evil god dint really exist and i was so relieved.
I don't think anything actually 'turned' me, but as a very young kid I questioned everything & was not given answers which made sense to me. I kept hearing one thing, but seeing another, & they didn't match. The word hypocrite came to mind very early.
I was a mormon kid in a neighborhood & school where I was the only one so was rather an outcast, which also made me wonder. I attended several different churches as well because with having a mother who was often hospitalized, & a father who wouldn't look after me, I got shipped off to neighbors & had to go to church with them at times. Not one of them ever gave me a reason for belief.
Why were the most innocent always kidnapped, raped, tortured, murdered? Why does a loving gawd keep 'blessing' the poorest of the poor with babies they cannot afford, & then not feed them? Why does a loving gawd keep allowing birth defects & incurable diseases in the tiniest babies? Why do people pray before the next game, or pray for the impossible date with the dreamboat in class, but people are losing their kids to incurable disease, pray or not?
Then the non-criminal animals who painfully kill to eat each other in nature's non-caring way, does not point to any gawd who loves all life!
As a cancer survivior, I cannot buy the gawd thing when seeing kids in years of horrid cancer treatment, & then in many cases, die anyway!
So many questions, & no religion can ever answer them!
Patricia - I was born into a Mormon family and lived in a small Mormon community. I watched the other children harass and be extremely nasty for years towards the very few 'other' Christians children that were in our community.
In 1962 when I was a junior some folks from Washington State moved to our town...they closed a federal army depot and transferred them. One fine young blonde registered for school - completed her 'application' information and went to her first period class. The front office secretary came to her room and said the principal wanted to see her. So - she left class and went to his office.
He asked her why she didn't complete her application? She told him she thought she did. He then pointed to the question: "What religion are you?"
Yes, everyone - they used to have this on applications and it's not all that long ago. She asked him, 'Why do you want to know this?' His response was, 'Are you ashamed to put it down?'
End of conversation - she called her father who straightened it out. This young girl also could not get employment - even at the local Dairy Queen - due to not answering that question. Yes, we've come a long way haven't we? No, they don't have to do this anymore - but they do have many other more evolved ways to discriminate and hurt 'outsiders'.
By-the-way - I married that girl and had 3 children with her. (She was a non-church-going Methodist)
I remember always being told that people had free agency and that's why there was so much evil in the world. That would only make sense if god never interfered, ever. So we'd have no Bible, no miracles, no answered prayers, etc. If god can part the red sea then he can stop a tsunami or a hurricane. So theodicy is a big one for me. I looked and looked and nothing any apologists ever said made any sense. they always ended up with 'god's mysterious/his ways are a mystery' or if god said it was right (genocide, etc) it was right, or they were wicked and that's why it was done. All of that is either a cop-out or completely immoral. So either a god exists and it's pretty shitty or can't do much (thus no good reason to worry about it in my life or a next one)...or there really isn't one. Thus this logic led me into the likelihood of there not being one and that's how my life is lived.
yeah free will is the straw man they love to throw at you when you bring up the prblem of evil. did i ask for free will. no. did i even mention it. no. in fact i dont want to do evil, but my ability to do it has nothing to do with the evilness of god which remains. there mysteries and there free will dont change that.
I don't know how much exactly this obvious problem caused me to be an atheist, but it certainly made a real contribution! Of course, I was raised Jewish, so I never got the whole "Jesus loves you" crap, but what I did get was a lot of Old Testament (Torah) Yahweh anger and revenge and destruction, like the instructions to commit genocide against the people living in the promised land and stuff. Not to mention stoning gays, stoning women, slaying of the first-born... and sad to say but I was just like Steven was, it didn't even bother me because I didn't know any of them...
I never did bother to learn the religion though, because it was so obviously fantasy from the beginning. But I did notice that this supposedly good god allowed a whole lot of awful stuff to happen. If the Jews were the chosen people, how could he allow a full half of them to be killed in the Holocaust? Not just killed, but torn from their lives, from their friends and families, from their parents and siblings and spouses, stuffed into trains (where conditions were so bad that many didn't even survive the trip), thrown into a merciless prison, forced to do hard labor, starved, tortured, experimented on, raped, turned against each other, robbed of every last shred of their humanity, then gassed, or burned, or shot, or just left to die from disease or starvation. And then the pictures of what those people looked like when they were finally rescued, just skin sagging over bones, skeleton-people. And then after they were killed, tossed into piles like pieces of garbage, heaps and hills of people who were first tortured beyond anything I could have ever imagined... Okay, the Jewish people had escaped slavery in Egypt and led to the promised land, only to end up like this? God's chosen people? And then to hear that Jews were persecuted over the centuries in almost every place they went... Either this was some sick, malevolent god playing some cruel trick on the Jews, or he hated them and they were no longer the chosen people, and Judaism was false. Either way Judaism was false. And then looking at Christians and their beliefs, they were loopier than the fairy tales I read as a boy. So that was implausible as well. It was really plainly very obvious that there couldn't be a god out there, not if everyone in America that I knew of had got things so completely wrong.
It's just crazy, all of it. But I did get very serious about learning about this phenomenon called "religion". And the problem of evil is just one of those really obvious arguments that causes religion to collapse upon itself. I said to a close friend once, who was raised Christian but was coming more or less over to atheism, well I brought up the problem of evil, and he responded rather dismissively, "there is no problem of evil". What? Well, apparently it is not a problem because anything that we might take for evil might really just be a test of some kind, or (from someone else) an educational experience. DOUBLE WHAT??? The Jews in the Holocaust, they were just being tested and/or taught a lesson?? People who are raped, or senselessly murdered, or killed as infants, or tortured, or kept inside a basement and raped for years on end by their own father's and having multiple children by him who were also kept in his dungeon of ultimate horror, oh, its just one of the mysterious ways in which god works? Anger boils up inside me at the mere suggestion. But if you can believe in a god, you can believe in just about anything I suppose.
I asked my wife once (a Muslim :-( ) how she could believe that there was a god if there was evil in the world. I had to explain it to her like this: Allah created everything, right? (Yes) And evil exists? (Yes). Then there is no other way to understand it other than that Allah created evil. Oh, she resisted, and tried to squirm her way out of it, and then I suppose she realized she just couldn't, so she just ignored this glaring error in her thinking and changed the topic. C'mon! If that can't convince you, I've got others as well! But she won't engage me with this stuff, cuz I'm sure she knows her beliefs just don't add up, but she doesn't care. It doesn't have to add up for believers. I heard Richard Dawkins tell a story about a guy with a PhD in biology or something, and he knew evolution was true, he knew the world couldn't be 4000 years old, he knew all those things, but he said he still believes in creation because its in the Bible. You can't find a better example of someone simply refusing to accept reason. This religion thing has got to stop!
If you want the classic example of the argument of the problem of evil, first presented by Epicurus, and here given a slight modification by David Hume (my favorite philosopher):
"Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
And here is one which is as logically rigorous as it comes:
thank you all. thank you wanderer, i knew there was a better way to phrase it, but im lazy. lololol.
so why did this argument hit me so hard? hmm i gotta think on that.
You're welcome Carl, and thanks for posting this discussion, it was very thought-provoking and is getting a lot of very good responses!
In point three God is a perfectly good being that would want to prevent all evils is where you go way off track. If there is a god certain rules would apply, each with a certain hierarchy.
Everyone would have to admit the standard model in physics has to be the most powerful. next comes the established truths (facts of life), time goes in only one direction, etc.
Now your EVIL power, being or sin has to come in after these TRUTHS, religion would have you believe God breaks these rules but he does not and can't. He would have created them if he created all and no proof of changes in the standard model or other facts of life have ever been substaiated. We must know this not have faith in it.
If there is a god he does not have to be goog he has to be better than that he has to be fair.
A fair god would put truths before fiction and your actions would have consequences. Every past action is why things are the way theyb are today.
A true GOD needs to be all powerful, if he can create the Universe like the the "creationists claim in only 6 days and he did it with everything having a "history" to appear older then it is (14 billion years of it) he has to be able to do that at anytime. The only way in the standard model allows this to be done is during sub-quantum time periods to small for gravity, mass and size to exist.
That number is Planck time 1/0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000054th of a second and he would have to create all mass in the Universe (not to mention othe dimensions and objects we have not jet detected) of about 600000000000000000000000000000000000-000000000000000000000000000000 kilograms of it and it occupys 100000000000000000000-00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-00000000 cubic meters. If anything can do that WOW. Now the god or thing that can create all things in six days must be able to do what I describe above because he is all powerful.
The magic in it all is quantum mechanics lets all that happen but can not say how or why anything happens. You must have faith in time moving forward and all things (the universe )still being here tomorrow. You do not need faith in superstitiion, supernatural, fairy stories or even yourself. Just know you are here, things are better if your good and god will keep all sub-quantum things in place so we do not going popping in and out of existence, like photons and electrons do.
Seems to me that there is no such thing in the natural world as good and evil. They are concepts that we humans created, based on our ability to empathize with what others might be feeling, and to put ourselves in their shoes.
I seem to remember a book by a rabbi (of all things!), who postulated that god cannot be 1) omnibenevolent, 2) omniscient and 3) omnipotent. Any 2 of those, yes, but the moment you introduce the 3rd one, the other 2 become nonsensical. Especially the part of an omniscient and omnipotent god being omnibenevolent -- if he knows everything, and can do anything, then when he lets things like that earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor breakdown happen, he is certainly NOT benevolent! You can make a scenario for each of the 2 but not 3 possibilities. So I think this rabbi has more insight into the "god concept" than most of the world!
You do not understand the definition of the words, omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent and the most important omnicausal. A benevolent god lets you live from one Planck time to the next, no time period is smaller. An omniscent god would be all things, every point in time or a 4 dimensional quantum holograph projector, omnipotent god would not be motivated to change things he set things in motion 14 billion years ago to see the results in our time line. If he if perfect then so are we and everything here is, today is a perfect explanation of what has happened or the past.
Things suck today because our forefathers did nothing to prevent it. And things will suck to more even worse if you do notthing to improve it. God has no opinion, he does not judge, he created the big bang to see if you would suck at being human and if the timeline you create moving forward would suck worse. Thank GOD there is no religion type God.