My blog has only been here for about a week, yet a number of inconsistencies have already been found in the atheist’s Argument from Evil. As a philosophy student, I spend my days analyzing arguments. But after seeing the way atheists use evil to argue against the existence of God, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen an argument filled with so many inconsistencies. There are, however, many more to discuss.
For instance, atheists seem to be arguing (1) that human beings are so good that God shouldn’t allow us to suffer, and (2) that human beings are so bad that God shouldn’t have created us (or given us free will, etc.). That is, atheists are simply shocked that a good God would allow human beings to experience all sorts of pain and injustice. “Why doesn’t God intervene?” “Why doesn’t God come down here and protect us?” The point of this criticism is that God should save us from harm (i.e. God is morally obligated to protect us). Therefore, we are worth saving from harm.
Then, usually in the course of the same argument, the atheist gives a long list of human atrocities that God should have prevented. The examples consist of dozens of instances of how awful human beings are. Consider the following sample from a recent post by John Loftus:
There is a horrendous amount of suffering caused by humans. This is known as Moral Evil; suffering as the result of the choices of moral agents.
Here are some examples: The holocaust, molesting, torture, beatings, and kidnappings. Drunk drivers across America regularly slam their vehicles into other cars instantly killing whole families. There are witchdoctors in Africa who tell men who have AIDS to have sex with a baby in order to be cured, and as a result many female babies are being taken from their mother’s arms and gang-raped even as I write this. Is this not horrendous? In sub-Saharan Africa nearly four million people die from AIDS each year! Just watching a re-enactment of the holocaust as depicted in Spielberg’s movie, Schindler’s List, is enough to keep Christians up late at night wondering why God doesn’t do much to help us in this life. Nearly 40,000 people, mostly children, die every day around the world, due to hunger. Then there was Joseph Mengele, who tortured concentration camp prisoners; atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Soviet gulags, 9/11 twin tower terrorist attacks, Cambodian children stepping on land mines, Columbine shootings, Jeffery Dahlmer, Ted Bundy, gang rapes, and brutal slavery. The list of atrocities done by people to each other could literally fill up a library full of books.
Go any place where humans live, and you will find horrible atrocities. We kill one another, we steal from one another, we rape, we torture, we bully, we mock. We will do practically anything to increase our pleasure. (Interesting how the Argument from Evil is based on God not giving us an “appropriate” balance of pleasure, isn’t it?)
But is this consistent with the atheist’s claim that God should protect us from harm? Sin and selfishness are ubiquitous in the Kingdom of Man, as even atheists admit in their criticisms. However, in piling up countless examples to illustrate how awful human behavior can be, atheists thereby forfeit the right to say that God is morally obligated to protect us.
In order to be consistent (and, as I said recently in a comment, proponents of the Argument from Evil seem to have no concern for consistency), atheists need to choose. If humans are so awful to one another that God shouldn’t have given us the opportunity to carry out our horrendous exploits, fine. Stick with this as an argument. But don’t turn around and immediately claim that God should protect us, because your argument, if correct, shows that human beings are very, very bad.
Alternatively, if human beings are so good that God should swoop down and save us whenever something goes wrong, all right. Stick with this argument. But don’t turn around and complain that God created us or that he gave us free will or that human beings are awful. After all, we’re so good that allowing us to suffer would be an abomination. But if we’re that wonderful, surely God would create us, give us free will, and let us exhibit our greatness on earth.