"Everything is God's fault."

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#61

Post by Ngakunui » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:40 am

I don't mean to be rude towards any of you, but this is really getting out of hand.

When I started this topic, it was not to begin a deism/atheism debate. It was instead for something different; to discuss why people blame God for everything. I had expected at least some adherence to this original topic; the recent discussion has been turning it into a debate of something almost completely unrelated. The common post in this thread seems to be to make arguments, attempt to place them atop of other things said by others, and then "disprove" them. Somebody will say one thing, then another will argue against something hardly related.

My point is, the majority of the content in these posts here have not been relevant points towards the original topic. It's almost as though you're debating with yourselves whether or not "deism" or "atheism" is "morally superior", or whether or not there actually is a God, which is irrelevant to the original point of the topic. I did not start this topic for the sake of discussing "The Problem of Evil" or whatnot.


Allow me to explain to you what this discussion was meant to be about: "Why do people blame God for everything? Why do they blame him if they don't think he exists?". I was asking for relevant, logical answers; not deism/atheism debates. This topic has not been about this, though, and if it doesn't straighten up, I will request that a member of the site administration close this topic down or clean it up.


So please answer my original question, instead of giving courses in Post-Modern Philosophy.

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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#62

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:12 pm

Well, as a moderator, you can talk with me about the issue and requested clean-up. ;)

It's not completely reasonable to expect that a thread will stay in a tight configuration to the original post and looking over the thread, there is a natural tie to the majority of discussion taking place.

However, we certainly don't want to minimize the value of any particular thread to the original poster where we can do something about it and in this case we can.

I don't have time to do it now, but either I or another moderator will split off the other discussion to it's own thread where discussion can continue there.

Those affected, please be aware and alert for that change when it comes.

Why do you think it's the case? How would you answer it without breaking into the two subsets of:

a. Does God exist?
b. If God exists and is omnipotent how does one escape the conclusion that He is responsible for everything, or in your word's "Everything is God's fault?"

Is it even possible to provide an answer without considering some of the elements brought forth here?

If another moderator doesn't take this up to create the new thread I should do so later this evening, EDT.

Thanks,

bart
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#63

Post by Byblos » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:12 pm

happycynic wrote:
Byblos wrote:You are fashioning a god according to your own rules and assumptions by claiming God wants things to be the best they possibly can. That is a fallacious assumption my friend, made up by you. Who told you God wants things to be the best they possibly can? According to the source (God’s Word) nowhere does it say God wants things to be the best they possibly can.
I'm not really fashioning a deity of my own here. I'm taking the stripped-down version of the popular muslim/christian/jewish deity, and only looking at one part: the omni^3. The bible traits are rather irrelevant to the discussion. The point is to prove that an Omni^3 deity does not exist.
When you make an assumption about God that is not attributable to him in any way then you are dictating the parameters under which this god can operate. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. I already agreed that the God of the Bible is omni^3 so we are talking about the God of the Bible. You want to prove he doesn't exist, you must prove it working with how HE defines who he is, not how you define him.
happycynic wrote:
Why would God create an imperfect, temporary universe only to replace it later with a perfect one? Why wouldn't God have created a perfect universe in the first place? This is a good question, but shows a lack of understanding of the biblical reason of why God created the universe. One can find the reason for the creation of the universe in the first few chapters of the Bible. God created humans in order to have a personal relationship with them, which He had with Adam and Eve before they sinned (Genesis 2). Jesus said that the first and foremost commandment was to "Love the Lord your God..."14 A personal relationship, characterized by the possibility of love, is only possible if created beings are given free will. If God had created the universe with no possibility of evil or sin, then the created beings would have had no free will, and, as such, would essentially be programmed computers. Such beings would be incapable of love, since love involves making a choice - which requires the ability to choose not to love.
That's from the main site. It seems to be pretty much the same argument you're making, and it's the standard free will argument with the extra caveat of "free will is neccesary to love" thrown in. But I don't this quite cuts it.
Would you care to define love without free will? Go ahead, give a shot.
happycynic wrote: If God created everything, that means he created the laws of logic, the way that logical fallacies work. If he created logic, then he created it in such a way that automatic love and free will were mutually exclusive, and where free will causes pain and suffering and death. He didn't need to. And being omnipotent, he could fix it at a later date if he wanted to. So, no, free will isn't necessary for anything if an omnipotent guy says he isn't.
Again I ask, please define love without free will.
happycynic wrote: Unless you mess with the definition of "Omnipotent" and put restrictions on it, in which case it stops being omnipotence.
No my friend, you are the one who is putting restrictions on the definition of Omnipotence because you're assuming it encompasses even the illogical. I would love for you to show of formal proof of that logic. In order to do so you must prove the illogical. Good luck with that but I promise I won't hold my breath waiting for such proof. No logical argument can show that an omnipotent being MUST create a perfect world. It just doesn't exist.
happycynic wrote:Alright, next, all the stuff about God wanting an imperfect world.
Byblos wrote:nd here is where my disappointment mainly lies; right off the bat you start with a false assumption. Remember when I asked you if you wanted a god according to your own personal standards? Well the bolded/underlined above is a perfect example. You are fashioning a god according to your own rules and assumptions by claiming God wants things to be the best they possibly can. That is a fallacious assumption my friend, made up by you. Who told you God wants things to be the best they possibly can? According to the source (God’s Word) nowhere does it say God wants things to be the best they possibly can. It says the creation is good and very good, it does not say anything about it being perfect nor that it can be perfect. In fact, a good, albeit imperfect, world is precisely the kind of world God said he had in mind when creating it.
The point of POE isn't to say stuff about the God of the Bible. It's to say "this is what an Omni^3 god would look like, this is what it would do, and here's proof that it hasn't happened". Then you go to the bible or koran or whatever you feel like and compare, and see if the God there fits the Omni^3 definition; if it does, it can't exist. If it doesn't, it's not Omni^3.
Wrong. It is wrong because you are loading the dice, you are defining the parameters under which an omni^3 God can operate and that is by saying for a god to be omni^3 he must create a perfect world. Since our world is not perfect, he must not be omni^3. Here's the syllogism for your entire argument:

1. An omni^3 God ought to create a perfect world
2. The world is not perfect
3. Therefore no omni^3 exists

The problem is that the 'ought' in 1 is a straw man. You loaded the dice to arrive at the conclusion in 3. It is an assumption on YOUR part that an omni^3 deity OUGHT to create a perfect world. It has no logical basis whatsoever as I've mentioned before.
happycynic wrote:My assumption is that a perfectly good, beneficial deity would want to stop all suffering.
Exactly, it is your assumption, an erroneous one at that.
happycynic wrote: You're saying the God of the Bible doesn't want to stop all suffering (or perhaps can't). Fair enough, but then if you accept my assumption (Omnibenevolent would want no suffering), you must also admit that the god of the bible isn't perfectly good. If you're going to attack this argument, you need to be able to show that an omnibenevolent deity wouldn't want to eliminate suffering; providing reasons why he can't doesn't cut it when we also have omniscience and omnipotence on the board.
As I stated, I do not accept your assumption. What's more, the laws of logic do not accept your assumption, that is why it fails miserably.
happycynic wrote:
Byblos wrote:By the way, here’s an interesting fact you unknowingly stumbled upon by your mere acknowledging that ‘the world could be better’. Just by admitting that, you have implicitly (though inadvertently I am sure) admitted that not only perfection does exit, but also that perfection is not of this world. You see, by saying the world could be better implies the existence of a scale of perfection. A line if you wish where somewhere in the middle things could be better if you traverse the line to the right, and things could be worse if you traverse to the left. And of course, the extreme ends of the line on the far left side is pure imperfection, and on the far right side is pure perfection. Here’s the interesting point, since in this world things could always be better, no matter how good they are, then perfection is unattainable in this world. So where is perfection attainable? You guessed it, outside of this world. We happen to call this perfection God. I know that makes you a little uncomfortable but you can call it anything else you wish. What you cannot do, however, is deny its existence as per your own argument and its inescapable logical conclusion.

Fancy argument, but I'm still not convinced. You make a rather unsupported leap in the middle of the argument, and have some wobbly assumptions throughout. First off, just because you can think of a scale for something doens't mean it exists.

Going back to my skyhook example, I can think of each way a certain crane is like a sky-hook. This one is more hook-like, that one is more immovable, that one you can't see the supports to. A line if you wish where somewhere in the middle things could be more sky-hook-like if you traverse the line to the right, and things could be less sky-hook-like if you traverse to the left. And of course, the extreme ends of the line on the far left side is the anti-skyhook, and on the far right side is a real skyhook. Since these things are unattainable in the real world, they must exist outside of this world! Eh, no. Just because you rate how much like a concept something is, doesn't mean that concept exists as anything more than a concept. I can rate how close things are to a perpetual motion machine, but those will never actually exist. I believe you're sort of shifting sideways into the ontological argument here.
That's fine if you're not convinced but it is the logical conclusion. You are the one who is acknowledging the existence of a scale, not me (although I tend to agree). You are the one who is saying the world could be better. Are you now saying it can't? But if it can be better or worse, then it logically follows that it also can be the best, or the worst. These are logical conclusions, not some undefinable skyhook argument. And if best and worst are possible, but not in this world, at a minimum, you must admit they are possible outside of it.

And exactly how do you know perpetual motion machines can never exist?
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#64

Post by jlay » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:38 pm

My assumption is that a perfectly good, beneficial deity would want to stop all suffering.
Yes, it is your assumption. So what? So you would reject good evidence of God because of this criteria that you set? Who is God in that situation. If God bows to your assumptions, then he has your permission to be God. Got it.

Regarding blaming God. I can't think of anything more contradicting than for an atheist to blame God for something. It makes no sense.
Obama isn't president. You see, my assumption is that a president should personally meet all Americans. He hasn't, therefore he isn't president.

But there are really only a few ways to look at this. If there is no God, and the universe is a cosmic accident, then so is humanity, and so what does suffering really mean? If you have an atheistic worldview and you look at the majority of suffering in the world, who would you say is responsible? Man. Now, assuming God exist, why would that same suffering have any different cause?
If there is no God, then suffering is meaningless. Compassion is meaningless. All are an illusion of conscious awareness, which is just a by product of evolution. It will be over soon enough, and there won't even be anyone around to remember suffering. So, why try to ascribe some value to human life and suffering. It really is delusional.

Others like our friend here constantly try to say that suffering is the evidence that God doesn't exist. But that doesn't make any sense. It is, as he said, an assumption of what he prefers. However, suffering beckons us to ask, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR WORLD?" We KNOW suffering exist. There is something terribly wrong between God and man.
Is the world imperfect? If so, it could be made better. If god is the one who made it, then he could have made it better. If he's omnipotent, he could change it to make it better.
In time and space, how much perspective do you have of the universe? 1/10th? 1/1000th. Does the bible not show us that things through Christ will be redeemed? Are you aware that this is a pretty big biblical theme?
Because if he did, people would be happier.
What? happier people. That's it. All that, and your conclusion is that God doesn't exist because people aren't happy enough. That has to be one of the most selfish repsonses I've ever heard. Your attempt is to reduce God down to humanity. If God exist then what is man? Less than a flee floating on a spec of dust in a vast cosmos. Please ask yourself, have ever been the cause of suffering for anyone? If God is to elimate suffering here and now, then what would be the solution? Would you be eliminated?
but that doesn't matter either way because a benevolent person helps out even if he's not obligated to
Are you aware that a major theme of the bible is that God did this very thing. John 3:16. Should God force you to take the life preserver?
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#65

Post by Gman » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:44 pm

happycynic wrote:Is the world imperfect? If so, it could be made better. If god is the one who made it, then he could have made it better. If he's omnipotent, he could change it to make it better.
What does this have to do with anything and how could you "make it better?" Than what?
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#66

Post by DannyM » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:14 am

Just to clear up a few errors.

1. With any world that God created, there could be a better possible world. There are infinite possible worlds; therefore no world actually created could be the best possible world.

2. God is exonerated on the charge of being responsible for sin/evil. In sin there is no manifestation of God's goodness. It is one thing to say that sin is not a manifestation of God's goodness; it is another thing altogether to say that sin is a manifestation that God is not good.

3. Whether or not we can answer the question "Why has God, nevertheless, not made a better world than the one he has made?", it presupposes God as creator and can serve as no argument against the existence of God. Thus the issue of evil in the world becomes an issue of a particular type of mystery for the believer, rather than an argument against the existence of God. So the atheist, once again, has no business getting involved in this mystery.

4. Finally, there can be no sense at all in the idea that God is under any obligation to prevent me from sinning; if he were, there would be something greater than God which constrained him. God is no more under an obligation to prevent me from sinning than he was under an obligation to create the world in the first place.
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#67

Post by Bengali » Fri Oct 22, 2010 6:49 am

I have long held the belief there is no god. by which i mean, GOD, all powerful king of everything as the bible claims, that dude, doesn't exist. if he did, well then he would be responsible. he would be the over ruling puppet master, because he knows everything that will ever happen, and so if he doesn't intervene (when as an omnipresent being he is already there anyway) he is allowing tragedy's to happen for no reason. allowing the creatures he supposedly loves with all his heart, to suffer and die. however, there is a view on god that can sit well with science.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is capable, and regularly does (when its not broken down) creates tiny new universes. these universes only exist for a tiny percentage of a second, but we all know time isn't fixed, inside this tiny universe billions of years could pass, galaxy's could form, life could grow, people could be born and die, think about the creation of the universe, design a concept for god. for all intensive purposes the scientist who turned the LHC on, would be their god, but he is so large, and they are so infinitesimally tiny and short lived that here is no what the scientist could ever know they had ever existed.

obviously a creator of this kind fulfils all the god like attributes, exists outside of the universe, seemingly infinite, created the universe, holds great power. cannot be disprove to exist. but what he doesn't do is all the things the bible claims, look over us, know everything, help us out, etc etc etc. this "GOD" would allow tragedy to happen. he would allow death and disease, he would allow murder and rape, war and all the other horrible things we have, because he simply has no idea we are here.

sounds a lot like the OP has similar views to this as myself, only that i am only open to it as a possible scenario, on which it doesn't matter either way, rather than believing it is true

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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#68

Post by B. W. » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:22 am

+
How does one make perfection?

It takes time to build a system that can refine metal. Through heat the dross is removed. In that example one may being to understand why things are as they are. We live in that refining process...
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#69

Post by Byblos » Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:13 am

Bengali wrote:I have long held the belief there is no god. by which i mean, GOD, all powerful king of everything as the bible claims, that dude, doesn't exist. if he did, well then he would be responsible. he would be the over ruling puppet master, because he knows everything that will ever happen, and so if he doesn't intervene (when as an omnipresent being he is already there anyway) he is allowing tragedy's to happen for no reason. allowing the creatures he supposedly loves with all his heart, to suffer and die. however, there is a view on god that can sit well with science.

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is capable, and regularly does (when its not broken down) creates tiny new universes. these universes only exist for a tiny percentage of a second, but we all know time isn't fixed, inside this tiny universe billions of years could pass, galaxy's could form, life could grow, people could be born and die, think about the creation of the universe, design a concept for god. for all intensive purposes the scientist who turned the LHC on, would be their god, but he is so large, and they are so infinitesimally tiny and short lived that here is no what the scientist could ever know they had ever existed.

obviously a creator of this kind fulfils all the god like attributes, exists outside of the universe, seemingly infinite, created the universe, holds great power. cannot be disprove to exist. but what he doesn't do is all the things the bible claims, look over us, know everything, help us out, etc etc etc. this "GOD" would allow tragedy to happen. he would allow death and disease, he would allow murder and rape, war and all the other horrible things we have, because he simply has no idea we are here.

sounds a lot like the OP has similar views to this as myself, only that i am only open to it as a possible scenario, on which it doesn't matter either way, rather than believing it is true
Sounds like 1) you haven't read the thread much, and 2) a whole lotta conjecture and unsupported theories. But that's just me.
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#70

Post by jlay » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:51 pm

I have long held the belief there is no god. by which i mean, GOD, all powerful king of everything as the bible claims, that dude, doesn't exist. if he did, well then he would be responsible. he would be the over ruling puppet master, because he knows everything that will ever happen, and so if he doesn't intervene (when as an omnipresent being he is already there anyway) he is allowing tragedy's to happen for no reason. allowing the creatures he supposedly loves with all his heart, to suffer and die. however, there is a view on god that can sit well with science.


This is a fallacious argument. You are essentially saying that because God does not comply with your standards he therefore does not exist. This is akin to a child closing his eyes, sticking his fingers in his ears and screaming, "I can't hear you."

You are assuming that God permitting earthly suffering somehow voids his ability to be God. Not sure how this is logical or reasonable. If it is a position you insist on holding on to, then I really see nothing to gain by being part of this forum.
obviously a creator of this kind fulfils all the god like attributes, exists outside of the universe, seemingly infinite, created the universe, holds great power. cannot be disprove to exist. but what he doesn't do is all the things the bible claims, look over us, know everything, help us out, etc etc etc. this "GOD" would allow tragedy to happen. he would allow death and disease, he would allow murder and rape, war and all the other horrible things we have, because he simply has no idea we are here.
I guess what you and so many others like you fail to see, is that what you are proposing is that you can create a God, by shaping an image that you are more comfortable with. Your proposal is evidence of this. Of course your not comfortable with the God of the bible. We can go into those reasons if you life. What you are doing here is something called idolatry. Making a god to suit yourself, which is all you've done here by the way. Whether someone else came up with the idea or not, its the oldest sin in the book.

Let's also keep in mind that Christianity is the only faith where the all powerful king of everything came to earth as a man, lived and suffered.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is capable, and regularly does (when its not broken down) creates tiny new universes. these universes only exist for a tiny percentage of a second, but we all know time isn't fixed, inside this tiny universe billions of years could pass, galaxy's could form, life could grow, people could be born and die, think about the creation of the universe, design a concept for god. for all intensive purposes the scientist who turned the LHC on, would be their god, but he is so large, and they are so infinitesimally tiny and short lived that here is no what the scientist could ever know they had ever existed.
When those folks can create anything from nothing, get back to me. As it is they can't 'create' anything.
but what he doesn't do is all the things the bible claims, look over us, know everything, help us out, etc etc etc. this "GOD" would allow tragedy to happen. he would allow death and disease, he would allow murder and rape, war and all the other horrible things we have, because he simply has no idea we are here.
Is it possible considering your infinitesimal understanding of the universe that you are missing an explanation? And I don't mean that as a slam. The facts are that we no less than a fraction of what there is to know. Newton himself said that.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#71

Post by August » Fri Oct 22, 2010 12:59 pm

Bengali wrote:I have long held the belief there is no god.
Your belief is false. But let's see if there are any substantial arguments.
by which i mean, GOD, all powerful king of everything as the bible claims, that dude, doesn't exist.
Have you examined all the evidence, everywhere? Care to prove your assertion?
if he did, well then he would be responsible.
Yup.
he would be the over ruling puppet master, because he knows everything that will ever happen, and so if he doesn't intervene (when as an omnipresent being he is already there anyway) he is allowing tragedy's to happen for no reason.
Who says it is for no reason? Please show that it is for "no reason". This is not off to a good start.
allowing the creatures he supposedly loves with all his heart, to suffer and die.
Cue the fake moral outrage. While a technique often used by atheists, it doesn't substitute well for a logical argument. Please show where God promises a world without suffering. How do you define "suffering" and "death"? Be sure to use the Christian definitions, since you are presupposing the existence of God here.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is capable, and regularly does (when its not broken down) creates tiny new universes. these universes only exist for a tiny percentage of a second, but we all know time isn't fixed, inside this tiny universe billions of years could pass, galaxy's could form, life could grow, people could be born and die, think about the creation of the universe, design a concept for god. for all intensive purposes the scientist who turned the LHC on, would be their god, but he is so large, and they are so infinitesimally tiny and short lived that here is no what the scientist could ever know they had ever existed.
This is logical, rational and scientific? You have to be kidding.
obviously a creator of this kind fulfils all the god like attributes, exists outside of the universe, seemingly infinite, created the universe, holds great power. cannot be disprove to exist. but what he doesn't do is all the things the bible claims, look over us, know everything, help us out, etc etc etc. this "GOD" would allow tragedy to happen. he would allow death and disease, he would allow murder and rape, war and all the other horrible things we have, because he simply has no idea we are here.
No it doesn't. Your description of this god falls woefully short of the Christian God, who created from nothing. Please present some logical, rational argument that the mere existence of death, disease, murder, rape war and all the other horrible things disprove that the Christian God exists. Make your major and minor premises clear so that we can follow your logic.

In addition, please demonstrate how you came to believe in good and evil. Be sure to include how you came to know the meaning of both, and your assumptions. Also, please tell us if tragedies are a disprove of God, why are good things not a proof for God?
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
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Re: "Everything is God's fault."

#72

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:26 am

Can those arguing against the existence of an all-loving God's based on the presence of pain and suffering in our world, point me to a secular philosopher published in philosophy journals who clings to such an argument?

Notwithstanding the futility of using an argument based on "evil" to argue away a good God's existence, since such presupposes an absolute "invisible" standard exists a part from us and that morality is not relative or a matter of personal taste... all it takes to parry this attack is that an all-loving God has sufficient reason for allowing pain and suffering in the world. Dentists can inflict a lot pain, but that doesn't mean there are no good dentists.

I'm surprised to continually see this argument. A detailed response to the argument from "evil" was posted to this almost when these new boards began. To quote the relevant article here:
Is An All-Powerful And All-Good God Inconsistent With Evil?
by Kurieuo and Jac3510

The Problem
Undoubtedly, the greatest intellectual barrier to belief in God and faith in Christ, Christians and non-Christians alike, is the "problem" of evil. As the 18th century skeptic, David Hume summarised: "Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"1

Before proceeding further, it is perhaps important to distinguish between the emotional problem of evil and the intellectual. The former concerns how to comfort or console someone suffering, or to dissolve the emotional dislike they have towards God who permits evil. Such generally lies in the realm of a counsellor, and we make no attempt to provide glib comforting remarks. Rather, our response here will contemplate the problem of evil on an intellectual level. Therefore, it may appear dry, emotionless, and even uncomforting, however, it better answers the objections from those who abstractly contemplate this issue.

Now, as Christians, we affirm that God does not do evil (James 1:13), and that love is rooted in God's character so that it can be said God is love (1 John 4:8,16). Thus, we affirm that God would not be malicious or take pleasure from the suffering of others. Secondly, we believe God is able to prevent evil (Revelation 21:1-4), as God almighty (Genesis 17:1) would not be almighty if God did not have power over all things. Therefore, those who accept these characteristics as belonging to God appear to face the difficulty made apparent by Hume above. This difficulty seems to be comprised of two assumptions: (1) if God is all-powerful, then He is able to create any world He chooses; and (2) if God is all-good, then He would prefer a world without evil over a world with evil. We believe these two assumptions are not necessarily true, and so aim to provide compelling reasons for rejecting them. If successful, Kant's argument that the Christian God is inconsistent with evil would become unsound.

Free Choice
It is often thought that being all-powerful entails being able to do anything, including contradictory feats. Yet, C.S. Lewis rightly points out: "the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.2 Therefore, God can not make a round square, or go against His own nature by lying (Hebrews 6:18), or make someone freely choose to do something. So if God grants people genuine freedom to choose as they like, then it is not possible for God to determine their choices unless He takes away their freedom. And suppose that in every possible world where God creates free creatures, that those creatures freely choose to do evil. Unless God removes free will, all God can do is create the circumstances that enable a person to make free decisions, and then stand back and watch.

But, what of natural evil? Could God not have created a world wherein natural evils did not exist? If Christianity is true, it teaches of our struggle in this world being against spiritual forces in the heavenly realms who freely chose to set themselves against God (Ephesians 6:12). Natural evils could therefore be the result of demonic activity in the world, and so it is possible that God could not prevent natural evil without first removing the free will of demonic beings. Some might think this solution to the problem of natural evil is ridiculous; however, all we wish to demonstrate here is that the first assumption, that an all-powerful God can create any world He so desires, is not necessarily true.

Refinement Through Suffering
Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 202 AD), an early Christian Father, saw two stages to God's creation of human beings. In the first stage, Irenaeus saw human beings as being brought into existence as immature intelligent creatures with the capacity for immense moral and spiritual growth and development.3 The second stage of creation was believed to consist of gradually being transformed through their own free responses from human animals into "children of God."4 Accordingly, God's purpose in creating this world was not to construct a hedonistic paradise whose inhabitants would experience a maximum of pleasure and minimum of pain. Rather this world is to be viewed as a place of "soul making," where free beings can still enjoy life's pleasures, while having to grapple with life's pitfalls in order to become be furnished into "children of God."

For brevities sake, we will not go further into Irenaeus' theodicy, however we wish to highlight an important point. Spiritual growth and maturing appears to be possible because of pain and suffering. As a parent would know, there are many cases where allowing pain and suffering to occur in their child's life is beneficial in order to bring about some greater good, or because there is some sufficient reason for allowing it. In James 1:2-4 we are told perseverance through trials matures us and makes us complete. Additionally, 1 Peter 1:6-7 acknowledges some as suffering all sorts of grief, because they are being refined as though by fire, to prove their faith is pure and genuine towards God.

God may therefore permit the process of suffering in our lives to mature us or to test us, or for some overriding end. C.S. Lewis on the death of his wife discovered this process can be very painful, and reflecting upon these concepts of a good God allowing pain and suffering mused:
CS Lewis wrote:The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed, might grow tired of his vile sport, might have temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.

What do people mean when they say, "I am not afraid of God because I know He is good"? Have they never even been to a dentist?
5
Within Christianity, it is believed this process of maturing and testing will come to an end when this temporary world passes away. Yet, God promises to set up a new world wherein He will dwell with His people, and "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4) Bearing all this in mind, the second assumption that an all-good God would prefer a world without the evils of pain and suffering, is far from obvious. God may very well have sufficient reasons for allowing pain and suffering, and so consequently, this second assumption is not necessarily true.

To conclude this writing, we see strong reasons for 1) rejecting that an all-powerful God could create a world wherein every creature would freely choose to do good; and 2) denying that an all-good God would not allow pain and suffering to serve some better purpose. Thus, there seems to be no compelling reason why an all-powerful and all-good God can not be compatible with the existence of evil.

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Notes

1. David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1980), part 10, 198.

2. C. S. Lewis, Selected Books: The Problem of Pain. (Great Britain: HarperCollinsPublishers, 1999), 482.

3. John Hick, Philosophy of Religion. (Eaglewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall, 1990), 44.

4. ibid.

5. C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (London: Faber & Faber, 1985), 55-56.

The structure of this response followed that of William Lane Craig's in his book, Hard Questions, Real Answers, so a special thanks to this work.

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