Belief in God gives rise to the problem of evil


Belief in God gives rise to the problem of evil. Without Him there is no problem; there is just what we find in nature. But, knowing and trusting God brings a peace and satisfaction that overcomes the problem of evil on a personal level; so much so that one would tolerate the problem of evil if it meant being with God. At least the believer has someone to blame and be angry with when bad things happen. It is our deep trust in God that allows us to vent our distrust to Him. But, to whom does the atheist complain?

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14 thoughts on “Belief in God gives rise to the problem of evil

  1. That is a good question. Another good question is why do you need to complain?
    ..
    Life simply is. You are free to deal with that as best you can. There’s no need to complain, Complaining is not the best course of action for success.

    It’s like saying that you don’t like his divine plan?

    1. Anger and frustration are just natural reactions to the suffering we experience. However, as you pointed out, we are not forced to react that way. If you are not bothered by the pain in your life then evil doesn’t present itself as a problem for you. Consequently, arguing that the problem of evil is evidence of God’s non-existence will probably not be convincing to you either.

      1. That was a confusing statement. That a loving God does not prevent evil IS evidence that such a good God does not exist. Evil remains very poorly defined and cannot be used as evidence of a God if it is what we expect to see in the absence of God’s.

      2. If you think evil is evidence that such a good God does not exist, then how can I trust your implication that evil doesn’t bother you? If you employ the argument I assume evil is a problem for you. If it’s not, you’re just borrowing someone else’s complaint.

      3. Dan,

        If in the absence of all gods we expect to see pain and suffering and further that we define evil as pain and suffering then the existence of pain and suffering cannot be used as evidence for any god, never mind your god.

        If an all loving and omnipotent god existed we would expect to see pain and suffering (evil) mitigated for at least some people by means outside the natural world. The fact that we do not see this is then viable evidence for the absense of such a god.

        Since we do see pain and suffering without mitigation we can only conclude that it is natural and that no gods exist or if they do then they do not care. One might also claim that pain and suffering is the divine plan of a god but this is indistinguishable from the natural world in the absense of a god.

        I did not claim that evil or pain and suffering do not bother me. I simply said that complaining to an invisible friend about it all the time is not useful. Complaining is not useful. Doing something about the pain and suffering is useful. Hint: prayer is not doing something.

      4. Why do you expect God to eliminate suffering? Don’t you implicitly claim to know something of his purpose here in saying that? I gather you think his purpose is for us to live a happy comfortable life.

        Also, the presence of suffering doesn’t mean that God doesn’t exist. It just means that you were wrong about Him in some way if you expected suffering to be absent.

        As for complaining, it’s not useful to us. We can’t apply it in a certain direction or with a certain purpose.

        Most people just feel a need to do it when confronted with pain. We naturally want to blame someone. And, there God is: the starter and sustainer of everything. He at least is the proper object of our anger derived from our situation since, without Him, nothing would be here in the first place.

        It takes a little maturity, though, to realize that the blame we apply to him is not moral blame. Who can say to the Creator, “What are you doing?”, as if He ought to have done something different, as if he violated his nature by doing it? Tell me what actions are typical and non-typical of God. Can you say, “Since He has done this, he is not God?” No. He has no obligations toward us. We cannot lay on him some law. We can do nothing but thank him for the sheer gift of existence. Expecting the absence of suffering means that we were just wrong about his purpose in everything.

  2. Belief in God gives rise to the problem of evil.

    And you’re just coming to this realization now? Religious belief causes the problem in that one has to accommodate an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and benevolent god (especially from the God-is-love crowd) with life’s undifferentiated suffering and brutal encounters equally portioned for the believer of all stripes and non believer. That’s the problem. Getting rid of the notion of such a critter in this sense gets rid of the problem: namely and finally, a recognition that suffering happens regardless of the beliefs of divine intervention and purpose we hold.

    Suffering is. Suffering happens. Often, it is unnecessary and even preventable. That’s a different problem and one where the first step in responding appropriately is to understand that there is indeed a problem… a problem of how to respond ethically and morally well. Once this problem is recognized, only then can we own our ethical and moral response – whatever that response may be – to it.

    1. I would rather that evil be a problem than not. In other words, I would rather have God.

      I say “rather” but it’s not really a matter of faith for me whether He exists or not. I have already come to the knowledge that God exists through my reason. My faith in God is freed up from having to believe that He exists. My faith is put toward him in the way of trust in Him and his purposes. Therefore, it’s not God I accommodate, it’s the problem.

      1. You abuse the term ‘knowledge’, Dan, or you would present it with evidence from reality that would convince any reasonable person anywhere at any time that it was probably accurate. You would then show this accuracy by building explanatory models of reality that incorporated the claim as the causal affect you believe it to be and worked on this basis to show how and why it was fitting with how reality operated.

        None of this is so.

        In fact, your model doesn’t work to explain reality but is imposed on it before you get to work trying to make it fit. Therefore, your belief does not reside in knowledge that we can share; it resides in your willingness to believe your claim to be true in spite of this lack of knowledge and not – as you misrepresent your faith to be – because of it. Your ‘reasoning’ is actually a rationalization and you place great hope and confidence in it in spite of its obvious inconsistencies and incompatibilities.

        If you did this in any other area of life (such as a job) that requires knowledge you wouldn’t last because the product of your belief wouldn’t work reliably and consistently well. You could not be trusted to fix the lack of knowledge when you presume your beliefs are equivalent to it as if derived from reality’s arbitration of the claim and in spite of glaring problems. Your machinery wouldn’t work. Your bridges would fall down. Your planes wouldn’t fly. Allowing you a position of authority and trust in this so-called knowledge would then be a danger to us all.

        Your beliefs are not knowledge. You make an exception from arbitrating your claim of causal efficacy using reality regarding your faith-based beliefs and do so by rationalizing with no better reason than because you want it to be true and will accept whatever rationalizations you require to make it appear reasonable. Insisting that this endeavor is ‘knowledge’ fools only yourself.

      2. You ask me to present you with evidence from reality that God exists. I present you nothing… but everything, reality itself.

        It makes no sense to look around and choose out from among the things of the world things that are from God and things that are not.

        God is not only in charge of getting everything started. He is not only the giver of natural law. He is not only the giver of morality, or the intelligent designer, or the fine tuner of universe. The answer to those things would indeed be powerful, supremely intelligent, and a bunch of other pseudo-divine attributes. But, he would also be just another inhabitant of the universe, a being who exists in the same way as we do, existing right alongside of us. No. That is not God. He is not the creator of a few things that point to him. God is the source of everything. He is not a link in the chain of causality, but the origin of the chain itself.

        So, I can present you with nothing except everything. The evidence you want is all the evidence there is. God is the answer to all of it. There is no other answer.

      3. And that god looks and behaves exactly like nature without a god . Funny how you defined it that way so that everything is synonymous with god and nothing is distinguishable from it. This is religio- speak at its finest, where ‘up’ means ‘down’, ‘black’ is another kind of ‘white’, and your god is indistinguishable from nature. But what it has to do with solving the problem of evil, I have no idea.

      4. You got that a little backward. Nothing is synonymous with God and everything is distinguishable from it.

        As far as solving the problem of evil, I was addressing your question. I let you take me off track from the purpose of the post. I don’t mind.

        Why do you complain about the way I define God? The way you define God has caused you to be an atheist. My understanding has drawn me closer to him while yours has pushed you further away. You should get rid of your flawed notion of God.

  3. “Belief in Xenu gives rise to the problem of evil. Without Him there is no problem; there is just what we find in nature. But, knowing and trusting Xenu brings a peace and satisfaction that overcomes the problem of evil on a personal level; so much so that one would tolerate the problem of evil if it meant being with Xenu. At least the believer has someone to blame and be angry with when bad things happen. It is our deep trust in Xenu that allows us to vent our distrust to Him. But, to whom does the atheist complain?”

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