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

Some atheists say we should not talk about the problem of evil but the problem of God. They say that if you talk about evil as a problem you have already ignored it as a possible disproof of God. They say that if you talk about the problem of evil you are saying God is real and evil must be reconciled with God's existence even if we don't know how. These atheists are not saying suffering cannot challenge the existence of God. Their concern is to protect the fact that it does.
It would be vile to ignore the suffering of a baby to say there is a God. It would mean that in some way you do not care. Those atheists say you must take evil seriously and not just as a problem and what you should have the problem with is not evil but God. If it is true that evil cannot fit the existence of God, then belief in God will be based on denial and a refusal to see that evil is so bad it is intolerable by God. A God who is good and who tolerates it cannot exist. He would be an oxymoron. If you believe in free will, the person who is in denial is still as much to blame as a person who is dishonest. Denial cannot exist without dishonesty.


Religion says that evil and suffering however cruel and unjust fit the existence of a loving God for God tolerates them and works against them with his grace and love. They are bad for he is good and rejects them.
It follows then that if there is no God, then evil and suffering are proof that there is no God. They are
This seems to make no sense if you assume that if there is a God then they are proof that there is a need for God not a proof that there is no God. So how do we solve that? The conscientious atheist cannot meet the believer on any plane that involves God or prayer.
Evil if a thing is not truly evil for it cannot corrupt good. Oil may look like it corrupts water but it does not. The two may be in the one lake but they never merge. Is evil evil because it twists and degrades good? Evil is more evil so to speak when it does that. It is evil simply because it is fake good.

Don't forget that as far as we are concerned, we are not in a position to say what God is like even if what we say is correct. The Church says that God is perfectly rational and creative which is the same as saying he is totally good. So failure to be rational or creative then is evil. God cannot be evil for he is not stupid and you cannot be evil without being somehow stupid.
And who says God is good? Whoever says that God is good is saying they are in a position to judge that God is good and that they know God as well as God does!
If God wants people to do that and religion says he does, is he really good?

There are two types of arguments against an all-good God being able to let evil happen.
The logical arguments argue that evil and God contradict each other. We have already delivered some of them.
The evidentialist arguments say that even if God does exist, we cannot be expected to say he does for evil makes his existence unlikely. For an evidentialist, God might exist in theory but its hardly likely he does for certain kinds of evil tell against a loving creator. The evidentialist says that though God might allow evil for the sake of a worthwhile good, there are cases that cannot be worth it. What if you cannot prove they are not worth it? Many evidentialists say if you are entitled to suppose they are not worth it, it is enough. It doesn't mean you are sure, only that you cannot be blamed for supposing they are not worth it. A really good person will suppose that assuming there is no way to be sure.
Believers in God have only one answer for the evidentialist. It is that he or she overlooks that evil itself is really good in the wrong place and time. But that amounts to saying that if you come into existence and start an eternal life of endless pain that it is worthwhile. Looking for the good in everything to partly excuse or fully excuse the bad is evil in itself. It is callous to say that there is a problem of good if we have a hypothetical universe in which very little evil happens and there is an equal problem in a hypothetical universe with countless zillions of people who suffer to the extreme from the first moment of their existence and for all eternity. That is just disregarding the suffering to look at the good.
The problem of good argument rejects all evidentialist arguments against God. That is evil itself for if you see evil as terrible you will see it as evidence for no God. You have to see it as evidence in itself. It says something and you have to listen. If you still believe in God then that should be because there is also evidence that God exists and that is stronger and offers hope of triumph over evil. If you are looking for such evidence you will be disappointed. Christian defenders of the faith typically give you arguments based on ifs and maybes and they exaggerate their force. They really give you just opinions masquerading as evidence.
The problem of good argument sees the good in evil and refuses to see the bad correctly. It is watered down.
The problem of good does not and cannot account for there being evil that does no good but only bad. It is not even relevant. Trying to use it to excuse what is possibly terrible neglect by God is itself evil.

To be God, God has to be the origin and essence of all good. So believers make out that if there is no God there is no good. Good exists therefore there must be a God. Not just any version of God will do - he must be an all-good and sovereign and infinite God. A finite God is limited in goodness. So if goodness proves God, it proves his infinite and perfect and unlimited goodness.

But we have an imperfect and limited understanding of good. Good is limited. There is only so much you can do for others and yourself. It is enough. We don't need God's brand of endless goodness. Needing tea doesn't mean you want or need an infinite ocean of tea to exist.
The doctrine of God then is about God and not about what we need. God's concern for our needs is not paramount. God is.
Religion says that is only fair. But even if it is fair then what about us? God mattering not us would be a necessary evil. We can't be asked to be happy about that.

If God is goodness and goodness is this person who is God then surely any form of goodness is a religious experience or perhaps more accurately a spiritual experience? That idea denies that there is any such thing as an atheist for there is good in everything we do. If evil is the abuse of good it follows that evil in a sense is good. If there is no goodness without God because goodness has to be a person to be real then it follows that the argument, "God may exist because we experience his presence" is not an argument for belief. It is an argument for experience meaning that the unbeliever just does not realise she is in union with God and serving God.


Is it proof/evidence that we may/must believe in God?

Plantinga's formal proof for God and evil being logically compatible is as follows:


1    God is all-powerful, all-knowing of the past and present and future and totally and flawlessly good.


2    There is evil in the universe.


3    Every essence suffers from transworld depravity - that is has moral defects for it cannot be perfectly good when only God can be perfectly as in unlimitedly good.


4    God creates a world that contains moral good. 


He concludes that a universe made by an all-good God can have evil in it.


The errors are as follows.


He says that 3 fits God's omnipotence. But who cares?  What is more relevant is the question, "Does it fit God's love?"


The assumption is that God and evil can fit together though God detests evil.  They fit for evil is imperfect goodness and it is because goodness exists we are able to condemn evil.

Spinoza wrote that we only judge things to be good because we want those things (page 204, The Book of Atheist Spirituality). So because we want comfort for ourselves in the face of suffering and because we want to believe that God supports us we warm ourselves to the suffering of nearly all creation. It does not repel us the way it should.
Believers say that theories about why God allows evil to happen may help you adore him but only if they develop your perception of good and your attraction to it. They tell us, "It has to be about perception not theory. It would not be right to accept the problem of evil being solved theoretically when it should be solved perceptually." Perceptual is more holistic. Theory leaves the heart out. Perception includes it. Suppose you can see the good that results from evil and that it is justified. It is explained. You perceive why God let the evil take place so now you can create a theory but you don't really need to. What believers really mean is they want us to look at evil and no matter how bad it is and if the whole universe turns into a hellhole they want us to twist our minds and see this as somehow justifiable and good as far as God let it happen. It is not about perception of reality but perception as in seeing what we want to see.
It is strange that God urges you to see how evil leads to good and how evil has a good side and believe in him because of this but does not let you try to test him! It is too strange to contemplate! It is man that does not want you testing in case you find out there is no God! To cause something to be untestable is bad for it is too risky in many ways. To blame God for engineering spiritual affairs to put them outside the range of testing is blasphemy.
Christianity says that many things are good and all things have good in them. Moral good is a different kind of good.
Some say good will exist whether there is a God or not. Some also say that moral good will exist whether there is a God or not.
Which one is the most important - good or moral good?
If it is good then God is evil because we suffer and should have only good things. This shows that there is something terribly wrong with the problem of good argument. It would be more than just wrong intellectually but as far as the heart is concerned it would be a sign of religious hardness towards those who suffer.
Moral good can only matter if good matters more. So good matters more than free will to do evil. If love is important good is more important for what use is love if it is not good?
If, this is only an if, the two matter equally then what?
We have a God who could have put us in a universe with no risk of evil or harm. He is not much of a God for when he had a choice he should have chosen the choice that is painless for us.
The believers say we could have had a universe where evil is not the problem at all but good is. So if there is no evil there is a problem of good. If there is evil, evil is not a problem - the problem of good is the problem. So either way evil is not a problem. But does such an argument make sense? No - a universe with a painful non-problem is not as good as a universe with a painless non-problem of the same kind.
The good person does good automatically and does not need to reason that there is a God in order to be good. If you need to believe in God to be good then you are not a good person and are manipulating yourself to act good.
Belief in God does not solve the problem of good. It makes the problem worse and corrupts our intentions.
Suppose good and evil would exist whether God exists or not. Suppose we exist. If we have free will then it is not about loving God or otherwise but about good and evil. God has no right to use our free will as an excuse for his letting evil happen for good and evil are not about him but independent of him. The believers themselves do not understand good and evil properly when they make excuses for him. That makes them dangerous and often has in the past as exemplified by religious wars.
Think this. Is God's nature good by some standard or good because he says so? If it is by some standard then good matters and God doesn't. And to say he makes things good just by decree is to say that you would be willing to torture a baby to death for fun if he demanded it and just because he asked.
Believers may say that God would never ask you to torture the baby for he is the kind of God that would not do that. Even if you boast that he would never ask the point is you would if he did. What about the hypothetical issue? Surely if hypothetically he could, you have to be hypothetically willing to do it? It may be hypothetical but it still says something about you. It still speaks of the person you would be if it were commanded by God.
The delusion that God and goodness are the same and that good is a person and that person is God is far worse than thinking you are going to sprout wings and fly over the moon or have done so. It is even more detached from reality than thinking you are made of cheese and not flesh. In psychiatry, delusions that endanger you and/or make you dangerous are illnesses.
If God is not necessary for there to be good, then good is to be served above God. If God commands evil then ignore him.

Even if there were no God and no universe and nothing at all there would still be some good. For example, there would be no suffering. God can't invent good. He has to subject himself to it. Hurting a baby would be evil whether there is a God or not and shame on religion for trying to say different. They imply it would be fine to hurt the baby if there were no God. It is terrible how they can suggest that and then say that God is right to let babies suffer terribly for he has a reason unknown to us.
Believers in God risk worshipping a God who is evil but whose evil is condoned. God seeing himself as good is one thing but we are too limited and imperfect to see it the way he sees it. Thus you could adore a perfect God but because your love for good is blurred your perception of God becomes blurred too. Thus you adore the source of moral perfection through the lens of your bad and faulty moral perception meaning you adore what you think good is or want it be rather than what it is. You would have excessive esteem for your moral compass and perception when you would turn it into God or worship a God who represents it.
Most of us - if not all - understand evil inadequately. We say we know it when we see it but we don't really really know it. Given that human nature is so limited in discernment and our understanding is largely clouded, it should be taken as certain that believers are in fact condoning evil even if God really is good. They tend to condone especially when the worst things seem to happen to other people.
If you are suffering and see your loved ones suffering, you could get so desperate that you are willing to condone God's role in this as long as good things may come at the end. People have condoned what earthly tyrants did to them for the same reason. It is all about hope.
Is belief in God worth it if it causes vulnerable desperate people to go to that extreme? They discard principle for the sake of hope.
It is not worth it. You can have hope without God. We know by experience that things usually improve given time. You can have hope if you think God is not all-powerful
Human nature likes inventing its own good. It may be close to the real thing but it is not the real thing. Even if it is a perfect match for real good, it is not mean we are really attuned to what good is. It could be that we don't care about good as good but only care about good for it happens to match what we want good to be. Even if there is merit in the theology of the problem of good, even if it is correct, it does not follow that any human person cares. We could be seeing good in nature not God and imagining that it is God. That way we find God's presence in what suits us. In other words, we create an idol. It does not matter if God exists or not, it is still idolatry.