Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

Patrick H
Gormley


GOD CAN'T HAVE A JUSTIFIED PURPOSE FOR THE SUFFERING OF HIS CREATURES

God is wholly against injustice and hate and suffering yet they happen.   He does not stop them for he respects free will and sets them up to backfire so that good will overcome. 

 

So evil and hate will destruct and good will sweep in.  If evil leads to a greater good that makes God wise for letting the evil happen then why can't evil simply lead to a lesser evil?  In reality that is what happens. Why are we to say that evil leads to good but not that good leads to evil?  It has to cut both ways.  Religious people are simply condoning divine evil.  They are biased and unrealistic and thus crueller than they realise.

 

Some say they take a chance.  They deny they are condoning outright.  We don't believe them but anyway, it is evil to ask anybody to condone how you risk condoning somebody’s seeming evil. It does not matter what the justification is. Unless the reasons are plain and obvious and not far off in the future it is different. Condoning evil is wrong and that is a principle. That principle matters more than God or any worldview that is made by man to "explain" what God is like and what he is about.  It is because condoning is so bad that risking condoning unawares is so intolerable.  You cannot risk condoning without being open to condoning.

 

Let us do some logic now.  God is said to detest our evil and how we suffer for he loves us. Yet he lets these things happen. Is this a contradiction?

 

We are to be treated holistically which means our reason is what matters first and foremost in regard to the matter of suffering and death.  Reason is about connecting to truth.  We need to do that for the truth is the truth and knowing it protects you and if it is horrible at least you can start to try and accept what you cannot change.

 

The claim that evil and suffering is a mystery we will never solve is just a cop out.  It is an evil claim for we need evidence and reason to help get or guess an answer.  If no rational answer works then there is no answer.  It is an evil claim for if you take evil and suffering seriously you cannot afford to risk justifying them when they are unjustifiable. 

 

Hence the theodicy.  It is an attempt to show that the idea of God letting evil happen and making bad viruses agrees with his perfect and all powerful love.  There are several theodicies.  Let us look at them all.


There are theodicies and then there is THE theodicies.  There are two of those.

THE theodicy - without it the others are unacceptable and need condemnation.  It is what is implicitly assumed by the others.


THE TWO FUNDAMENTAL THEODICIES -------------------


THE FIRST THEODICY: “Free will is the reason for evil and suffering not God.  God's creatures chose to bring about evil and God is not responsible”.

This idea which is the basic theodicy implies that we are to blame for pain and suffering and evil. If you do evil freely then logically you deserve to be punished. Religion shies away from saying that the sick are being punished for their sins because nobody will take that abuse from them but this theodicy says it is possible that they are and it is as insulting to say my sins can lead to somebody else suffering in innocence down the line as to say that if I suffer I am being punished for my sins.

Surprisingly some Christians admit the free will defence cannot get God off the hook (An Intelligent Person's Guide to Catholicism). They have to for it is now clearer than ever to more people that the defence is wrong.

 

The argument assumes that free will is all about doing God's way for God or otherwise.  But atheists who believe in free will say it is about being free and it is up to us to make it about moral choices.  It is not inherently about morals.

 

The defences of God's goodness all depend on the validity of the Free Will Defence. If it is wrong they are all wrong.

THE SECOND THEODICY: “Evil is simply the absence of good so it does not exist in the sense that it is not a real thing. God is right to allow it for it is a negation and nothing more. There is no evil as such - just misused good. God is not to blame for evil for evil isn’t real.”

 

So when you do wrong it could be 99% good and the remaining 1% is the problem - but it is not a 1% for there is nothing there.  Good demands that we look at the good not the bad so really this is a repudiation of morality. Evil is parasitic on good so the best evil and the most dangerous long term will be the kind of evil that manages to latch on to 99% good!  Thus all immoral acts are as bad as each other. There is no difference in evil intent when you are kicking somebody on the shin or when you are planning a genocide.  To give evil the best chance of incurability it has to be very hard to notice if not impossible.

 

This theodicy reading between the lines blames the victim for experiencing evil as something that has nothing to do with good.  It has exactly the same psychological effect - negative - as the previous theodicy.  It amounts to saying cancer is good in itself and it is just the time and place and the person's attitude that is the problem.  It is very personal.  It is wholly abusive.

 

The theodicy is presupposed by all the others for if evil is real and God alone has the say in what happens then he cannot be defended.  He made evil.  The free will defence needs this theodicy because if God makes all things from nothing then if we create evil then it is his power we are using to do it so God still ends up creating evil.  So it assumes there is nothing there which is why it can keep God out of it and impart no blame to him.

 

The defences of God's goodness all depend on the validity of this one too. If it is wrong they are all wrong.  The Free Will Defence supposes we know what evil is otherwise we cannot choose it in a way that makes us accountable so it needs to argue that the evil we choose is evil as a non-thing.

 

If there is no free will then we cannot really know what evil is or choosing it is.  If there is no evil there is no free will if you define free will as deciding whether to be moral or immoral.  In a sense we could have one theodicy here instead of two: "Evil is not real but we choose it with our free will instead of choosing good so we are accountable.  God is in no way to blame and evil is an attempt to be independent of him."  Free will then is defined as trying to make good fall short or to reach its full potential.

 

THE LESSER THEODICIES --------------- [the need for further defences shows the believers suspect that the ones we have seen already are not enough on their own!]

THE THIRD THEODICY: “Suffering and evil are for disciplining us or to make us grow in holiness.”

This theodicy is so important that it deserves a chapter on its own. It implies that God is only concerned with our moral qualities and not with the harm we do or endure. The harm is good in the long-term for it disciplines in the best way the greatest number.
 
The theodicy is outrageous because it is men and theologians who expect us to take their word for it that it is true. You would need to hear it from God and get outstanding evidence that he really said it. It is not the kind of thing that should be based on weak evidence or human testimony or philosophy. It is vulgar when the pampered and the well-off religious leader tells you that sickness and depression and infirmity are gifts from God for our betterment. Religion refuses to look at belief in God through the humanitarian lens but likes to present it as being about thinking and philosophy and theology. This hides the inherent vulgarity in the concept of God.
 
So anyway religion would have you believe that if there is a God the harm we suffer is good for us. Cruelty is a sin only when it is intended to be malicious but if it is intended to make the person a better person then it is good and is doing the person a favour. Obviously, the theodicy is a charter for total anarchy and worldwide misery. Love becomes treating a person as badly as possible. If you get the chance to hurt somebody terribly then the chance is given for a greater reason. If God is all-powerful he can make sure the chaos leads to good so the results are his concern and not ours. We understand then how the Church was able to forbid the quarantine of the first AIDS victims. It was so that it would spread and kill off gays and they make themselves feel good about this psychopathic outlook by pretending that it is for their spiritual welfare.
 
God was evil for making us in such a way that we get and supposedly need much vicious discipline.

We must remember that only a small proportion of suffering is caused by illness and the vast majority of it is caused by other people. God could have put us in a world of fewer bad people but he didn’t so he wants to use the abuse others heap on us. It makes no sense to say then that it is wrong to hurt others. It’s only wrong to do it with the wrong motive.

If it is wrong for us to discipline others to make them holier though they do not want it then how could it be seriously wrong when they need discipline? We might be treading on God’s toes but it is nothing serious if we are.

Why don’t all people have the same amount of sickness in their lives? The answer would have to be that all people are not equal in development and so cannot respond in the same degree of holiness to suffering. This makes the theodicy more malevolent and not less for the bad are supposed to need the suffering.

Nobody teaches that God sends suffering to make us good in every way. He wills something bad to make us work on say our patience with a child or something. If the theodicy is true, then a really good God would tell us what we need to change about ourselves and what he wants changed so that it might not be necessary for him to try and change us by force by sending suffering. Religion says he has told us but we need to be told directly by God to waken us up.

If you change because God hurts you then you are changing partly or fully to avoid further pain. If you never suffered that pain and changed, it would be better because you changed more because it was right to change than you would if you had suffered. I mean the goodness of the change is reduced by the fact that the wish to avoid pain took the place of the wish to for performing improved moral goodness. Suffering always increases unholiness. Thus the theodicy is destroyed and showed to be callous.

Believers in God these days believe that the free will he gave us consists of this scheme: environment and heredity and free will result in free actions. In other words, the will is not controlled by anybody or anything and is totally free but the options on the menu that it has to choose from are forced on it. It’s like forcing a free agent into a room leaving him with the choice of whether to break out the door or the window. When a person who needs correction receives a sickness from the Lord for a purpose, the purpose is to give him the choice between change or sickness. If he changes he will not need the discipline of illness. If he changes and not just to avoid sickness then he did not need the discipline in the first place for he is very brave and virtuous and it was not discipline for him but punishment. If he changes to avoid sickness then the sickness will stay and he is asking for it and so he deserves it because God wants him to repent because he loves God and puts God first and not because of self-interest.  Though God would want us to help him it is a sin for him to look for help from others when he has brought the sickness upon himself. The defence is an apologetic for the view that sickness is always punishment.

What sense does it make to say that God allows suffering to discipline us when much of that suffering hits one person and another so obviously in a random fashion? Often the person who never gets the discipline is the one who needs it the most. Religion says that God going after the worst would be like God blackmailing them to be good or better which is why he can’t centre on the worst people for then it would be too obvious that if you become like them you will be disciplined severely too and you will be afraid to sin and he wants you to feel free to sin to see if you will love instead of sin. But he can do this because only he knows who really is the worst. And we don’t. And religion itself believes in moral blackmail (page 45, Christ and Violence) as does the state. The doctrine of Hell would not have been permitted by God to be so popular if he was that worried about our freedom. When the theodicy leads them to say such hypocritical things how could it be good? The theodicy would mean that God would make religion better through discipline than anything else because it is his representative. So if you are religious you are in danger of a direct hit of God’s disciplinary actions.
 
God has to be believed to bring about suffering for a better good. The sick thing about such an idea is that it indicates that suffering should be welcomed! Since suffering is the experience of worthless existence, it is a liar and nothing can justify it. You either get this point or you don't. And naturally you cannot welcome the experience of worthless existence. Suffering is not pain for pain doesn’t stop you being happy but if pain is strong enough it will cause suffering. The suggestion that suffering is good for the soul and God uses it for that purpose says more about the person saying it and believing it than God! If you don't get the point, and no religious person will, then your empathy for suffering is faulty.
 
The discipline theodicy has to be rejected entirely because it is easy for me to praise God and condone the suffering of others when I am okay so it increases the very pride that it pretends to obliterate. You say God starves young people to death in Africa and he is right to allow this to happen. But would you like to starve to death or let him do it to you if you could stop him?

THE FOURTH THEODICY: “There is no love without sacrifice and we have to suffer to love so God is right to allow suffering. If there were no suffering there would be no good works such as giving your life to save others or feeding the poor. In other words, we have to suffer as a sacrifice so that good might be done.”

 

The notion that without evil and suffering there would be nobody giving their lives to save others is interesting. It assumes that evil and suffering is worth those painful choices.  And it assumes that the risk of it going wrong is worth it.  If God is very in control then there is no real risk.  If God is all-mighty then risk does not really exist.  And if there is a risk it makes more sense to be atheist and do good.

 

The argument denies that happiness comes first. So why make people happy then?

 

Are people assuming that it is worth it to suffer terribly for the sake of others because it is worth it or because it happens?  It is the latter.  We see people doing it and we think it is right even it is hard or impossible to say if it was worth it.  That is not a religious view. It does not justify involving God.  Why would you involve the God idea where it is not wanted or needed?


The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil says that we do not love because we suffer but we suffer because we love whenever we sacrifice out of love (page 167). This is true but it has nothing to do with refuting the idea that love is sacrifice. The Church says that the person who goes walking about in crazy weather conditions to get a doctor for a sick stranger is showing more charity than a person who gets in a car to do it in normal weather. Jesus said that if you love your loved ones, you deserve no praise for any sinner can manage that. If you love and then seek to suffer to show that love, that solves the dilemma. Then you are indeed suffering because you love. The love starts the minute you choose to accept the suffering so that it is true that you suffer because you love and that love is sacrifice.
 
It is simply a lie that there is no good work unless sin and evil exist. We can freely do good and never sin. When you do good you often forget about the existence of evil and sin.

This theodicy is simply the free will defence for it says we have to choose between self and God. To not choose self is to sacrifice.

THE FIFTH THEODICY: “Without suffering we cannot know what happiness is.”

This is a truly strange cliché. Religion likes to promote it knowing fine well that it is untrue. While we are happy we forget our suffering so we can be just as happy if it never happened. We even forget that suffering exists. If experience of suffering enhances our joy when we are happy then that does not have to be the way. It is just the way we are and we could have been made another way in which it could have been done without. If the answer were true it would be God’s fault that it is true.

The theodicy is a wilful lie because we know we cannot focus on more than one thing at a time and we are still happy. When you are happy this moment you are unconscious of the unhappiness of the past.

The less you suffer now, the theodicy says, the less happy you will be in the future. This doctrine commands cruelty like the rest do.

You should hurt yourself really badly now to enable yourself to be happier later. You should neglect the sick and try to worsen them for this is really helping them.

Incidentally, people should not be saying that happiness cannot be defined. It is simply an emotion. They only get away with it for religion likes to make people unrealistic in many things so that mystical Gospel truths are seen where they are not present.

The argument fails to justify the suffering of babies and animals and the pain of the insane. Also, only a tiny piece of pain would be necessary for us to get some idea of the importance and meaning of happiness assuming it is necessary at all which it is not.

And if pain is necessary for pleasure then pleasure is necessary for pain and why then are people who have suffered nothing but pain from birth able to be happy and find some enjoyment?

THE SIXTH THEODICY: “God is right to hurt us as long as he makes it up to us later.”

This is ascribing acts of gratuitous savagery to God. The only way one can make up for having done evil or let it happen is to undo the past. One can do all the good in the world but the crime is not undone or really made up for. The victim feeling that it is does not mean that it is.

If God is allowed to harm people as long as he makes “atonement” then it is bigotry and hypocrisy to declare this behaviour out of bounds for human beings. It is no answer to say that it is wrong for God forbids it for we have rights too and that is arbitrary. If God is all-powerful he will see that it does work for the best.
 
The thought that God can see to it that if somebody hurts you badly that you will get compensation in Heaven has to be the reason believers in God find comfort in their faith. But they are clearly delusional for there should be no comfort in thinking somebody is doing you a favour by knocking your teeth out as long as they offer you a million dollars in a month's time. There is no self-respect.


The general outlook of the New Testament is captured in a line given by St Paul which says that sufferings on earth are nothing at all compared to the glory that will come. That is an evil statement. The truly good person sees suffering as an abomination and any good future is not a consideration. It is not right to use a good future - especially one that may not be real such as Heaven, to try and trivialise suffering. If there is a problem of evil, Christianity adds to the problem and is an evil religion with a smile on its face.

 

Is it safe to assume that most or all believers act as if they hate evil and then condone what they see as God's part in it because they are obsessed not with the now but the future when the supposedly good purpose for evil and the rewards for enduring it patiently unfold.  Hitler's monsters were monsters simply because they did what they did seeing it as an evil but kept their focus on the future "good" results of the evil - the pure race that would exist when "subhumans" were out of the way!

 

Believers in God show remarkable endurance when in times of persecution - again this is vile if the attitude is, "God is putting me through hell now but its the future that counts."  You cannot hold such a position alone - you need others to inspire you to keep it up for it is toxic and terrifying - missionary groups for example are like a hotbed.  You are evilly making others feel they should do that to themselves for the sake of a reward that may never happen.  No worse - its for a reward that will not happen.

THE SEVENTH THEODICY: “God allows suffering for a greater material good. Plagues, for example, urge science to cure diseases. Famine leads to people taking better care in the future.”

This implies that evils are useless and are to be fought when God wants them all fixed. Then why didn’t he make everything right in the first place?

The theory implies that disaster is our fault for not being determined enough to make others happy and take precautions. If so, God agrees that everything should be right and everybody should be happy. The suffering caused by famine and earthquakes is not intended by him. So who made famines and earthquakes – us, the Devil? It is all so wrong for God could have kept the power we or the Devil have used to destroy the creation.

The theodicy is callous – it is telling a sick person that an all-good God wants them to get well and won’t make them well though he should and is still a nice God!

Why would God want us to make mistakes and struggle to correct them? Clearly because it disciplines us. This theodicy harbours the notorious discipline defence in the background.

The theodicy is accepted by the Catholic Church as I found in the booklet, God and the Problem of Suffering.

If this theodicy had any force then the absurd idea that God makes the good happiest and the bad unhappiest would be true. But the idea is so outrageous that nobody needs even to start a statistical check.
 
THE EIGHTH THEODICY: “Suffering and our weakness in the face of temptation are God’s way of getting back at us for sinning.”

Believers have no choice but to accept this. They cannot blame all suffering and weakness directly on how we use our free will. But they can blame it all indirectly on our free will IF our free will is so badly used that it draws retribution on us. No theodicy works so if you want to believe in God and in free will you have to say that all evil is punishment from God. Believers in God may not realise it always, but they are siding with a notion that implies that sufferers deserve all they get. It may imply it by a process of elimination but it is still implying it.

 

If the theodicy were true then sick people who repent their crimes and get God’s forgiveness would be instantly cured.

It cannot be right to help a person when God wants them to pay for their sins. This is a lethal theodicy.

THE NINTH THEODICY: “God allows evil and suffering to warn us about the horrors and ugliness of sin. They tell us what will happen if we will continue to sin and give bad example.”

Then why won’t he let us do evil for the same reason? You may say that the thought of God using our evil to warn others makes no sense for the point is he wants rid of evil. But he is in control - if we can do the evil then it is part of his plan. And the evil need not be malicious. It is enough to do it while feeling that God needs it. You are a criminal with a heart.
 
It is no reply to say that it is up to God to do the warning not us for he could use our evil for that purpose for he pulls all the strings in world affairs.

He could warn without causing any suffering and by force for lessons like that have to be forced on us anyway. A few nightmarish visions would suffice if suffering were required at all. He could warn us by mouth.

If suffering is blackmail then why does God not try harder to stop us doing wrong?

This theodicy is saying that God is vindictive in spite of itself for how could a sin that causes little or no pain be worse than suffering? Sin should be bad for it causes suffering which implies that God hates suffering more than sin. But God denies that. If sin is bad because it causes suffering then private and harmless sin is not bad and suffering would refute God for God regards it as number one candidate for destruction.

Another problem is that suffering and evil turn people off belief in a good God. It diminishes the fervour in many believers. Many believers who are not that religious may find God creepy. Evil is the reason why many become atheists.

THE TENTH THEODICY: “God lets us sin and suffer to teach us the lesson that we cannot do without him and to teach us what love is. God wants us to love him alone and others just for him so that is the only lesson that suffering can be meant to teach us”.

This is an official theodicy of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Its wrongness is apparent from the fact that many people go through life without the suffering that is supposedly required to drive them to the realisation that they really need God. What they need is not God but the philosophy in The Gospel According to Atheism.

Declaring that some people should suffer more than others as the theodicy does is inhuman.

It is replied that the more you sin the more you suffer for the more you have to learn. This is untrue for sinners are often better off than anybody else. And if you have to learn how to treat God how can you sin? If you sin you know you have done wrong and have no lesson to learn.
 
And the reply suggests that when suffering befalls you it is your own fault for not being holy enough. Sympathy would be out of order.

One phase of suffering would teach you the lesson so why do we often suffer again later? God would give us a better memory concerning the lessons of suffering if he existed when we all want to remember what important things we learn.

It is better to let people ignorantly do harm than to hurt them to enlighten them. You don’t beat your children to make them learn a lesson they can learn without it. The theory approves of hurting the innocent.

Suffering would not last long if it were for making us realise things for God has the power to influence our thoughts.

The theory forbids compassion. It says the sufferer can learn the lesson so they have not tried hard enough to learn it for they still suffer meaning they are being accused of bringing their suffering on themselves. To help a sick person is letting yourself be used sinfully and must be a sin. The only help you can give them is to try to help them to see the lessons. Apart from that you may neglect them and not even give them a cup of water.

The theory is an insult to the sick. Yet God must allow suffering to teach us or to discipline us or both. This is seen more easily from the religious and biblical doctrine that the need for God and to love him most or totally is in us all in the first place and that to love God really this way is to fulfil all his requirements. We need a sermon to learn, not suffering.

Jesus said we must love God with all our being so we do not do good to end suffering but to please God. So that is the only lesson, we need to do everything for the sake of God. Anybody who knows it and all Christians are taught it would not suffer if there were a God.

The idea that you need to suffer terribly so that you will know if you serve God not for any benefit he offers but for God himself and for the love of him only is very wrong. Who cares if you know it or not as long as you practice it?

Some say the theodicy accounts for God letting us do extreme evil. God has to make us totally free so that we will see the awful results of rebelling against him.

First of all, this tell us that God is more interested in proving himself right than in making us right. If we think that God is not right then that is our problem and not his and so he should not degrade himself to prove a point. God’s inability to accept this shows he thinks it is better for us to be let loose and do all the evil we wish than for God to be thought wrong. To be misunderstood is better than to be maligned and rebelled against. We cannot accept this.

Secondly, we are not all free to do the evil we wish.

Thirdly, most of us die before we can see the awful results in full.

THE ELEVENTH THEODICY: “Evil does not exist – it is an illusion. When an all-powerful God of love exists evil cannot exist”.

Advocated by the Christian Science cult and the Unity School of Christianity the fact that the illusion of evil, if that is what evil is, is a painful or evil one is forgotten. It is real to us. If evil does not exist then there is no illusion so what are they doing talking about an illusion? Whoever can look at a sick baby and deny that baby is suffering is mentally sick and twisted.

 

If God is thought to create the illusion then you still have a God creating evil and he is evil for trying to use "but its not real!" as a pathetic excuse.  So you can assume that we are blamed not God for the illusion.  But the fact remains that we do not deliberately create the illusion!

THE TWELFTH THEODICY:   “God cannot protect us against all suffering for that would mean turning bullets into paper and sending angels to catch anybody that falls off a cliff. It is better for things to be as they are instead of having endless miracles that turn life and the universe into chaos.”

A protective force field around the body is the only miracle God needs to do. How anybody who watches science fiction movies could equate protection from harm with chaos is mind-boggling or is it just plain untruthfulness? The theory shows a lack of compassion for others when it says they should be allowed to suffer for chaos must be avoided when it is obvious that they should not.

God should have made earthquakes and volcanoes and plagues impossible in the first place. If God does not have the power to correct his creation now without doing constant miracles but by just doing one big renovating miracle then he is not a God.  He shouldn’t have wasted his power making the stars and the planets but devoted all his energy to helping us.

THE THIRTEENTH THEODICY: “A creature is not God and so is limited and always will be. This makes us prone to temptation and evil and making mistakes. There is no limit to the level of goodness that we can obtain. For example, if we suffer a countless million centuries to save some person from eternal torment we can suffer more and more than that and more than that and so on and on forever. We will always be imperfect for God alone is infinitely or fully perfect. God cannot stop us from sinning or suffering for it is logically impossible for him to make us literally perfect. Better some evil than no evil for no evil means nobody exists.”

 

This rules out the Christian doctrine of permanent and eternal salvation from sin and makes such a doctrine sinful.
 
THE FOURTEENTH THEODICY: This is the notion that evil is good when God does it.  Few accept that view for it amounts to saying that if God could become man then that man has the right to rape and murder little girls for fun.  It is desperation when you would condone human suffering with an excuse like that.  What does it say about you?  A theodicy that shows you have no moral compass at all is not a theodicy.
 
LAST WORD
 
We have shattered the illusion of rationality that hangs over the free will defence and the notion that evil is a void so God cannot be said to have anything to do with it.  Every excuse for God letting people suffer and for his making viruses to hurt us with fails. Every excuse is actually evil itself! And we need to prove that God and his creating beings who can go wrong is possible. This does not amount to proving that it is true.  But we cannot even get as far as to prove it is possible which is a bad sign for belief in God.

 

Belief in God is evil. And there are plenty of fanatics in the world who see that and who carry out reprehensible acts because of they have been desensitised against cruelty thanks to their belief in God.  The believer has to silence or ignore or battle that desensitisation in order to do good.  The problem of evil needs evidence that there really is a problem. If the creator is a non-moral artificial intelligence then there is no problem.  You need evidence for God that is stronger than the overwhellimg Then you need evidence that there are possible understandable solutions.