Pope Benedict XVI at Auschwitz.

The Pope visited the Auschwitz concentration camp recently and asked this question: "In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?"

Let me throw this up for Christians to answer. Why did God allow it? Why did God remain silent? Why?

David Wood of Answering Infidels and I have both agreed to a public debate about this very problem, the problem of evil: Former Christian To Debate Former Atheist.

Are there any satisfactory answers available?


jazzycat said...

deut. 29:29

Francois Tremblay said...

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

And this verse justifies what exactly? The fact that you are ignorant? That's not an answer to the question.

John W. Loftus said...

Jazzycat, will you also quote that verse when it comes to a satisfactory answer to the incarnation, the trinity, the virgin birth, the atonement, the resurrection, inspiration, the doctrine of hell, and so forth? At what point can you offer a satisfactory answer for something that you believe? You can keep punting to divine mystery and God's secretive ways all you want to, but somewhere along the line you should be able to offer a satisfactory answer to something about what you believe. So why not try here and now.

eddie said...

You can keep punting to divine mystery and God's secretive ways all you want to, but somewhere along the line you should be able to offer a satisfactory answer to something about what you believe.
Exactly! I want to slap Christians who throw that and the “god’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts” verses around, because, Jesus, who Christians claim is supposedly god in the flesh, thrusted himself into the natural realm. Apparently to show us that he is just like us (but without sin) and I suppose that we are just like him, created in his image according to their theology. So, by that single act, god coming down in the flesh, he has negated those verses himself. He forever subjected himself to those questions by this act, and we can ask those questions rightly so, because we “saw” him just like he was. And didn’t Paul say that Jesus was god’s mystery revealed?

Those verses are just a cop-out for people who are too lazy to follow through in their thinking – IMHO.

Sandalstraps said...

One of my favorite philosophy professors at IUS (the New Albany campus of Indiana University), Dr. Curt Peters, was also an ordained Lutheran minister. Besides being our resident expert on Kant, he also taught the philosophy of religion courses, in which, of course, we spent a great on the problem of pain/suffering/evil, etc. And, of course, as we dealt with that philosophic problem, we also dealt with the "answers" to it, theodicies (I've dealt with theodicies in a few posts at my blog, though, as will be clear in a moment, I don't have a very high opinion of them).

While Curt always treated every subject he taught with the greatest respect, presenting every possible viewpoint with the most charity he could muster, one day he became extremely honest about his opinion of theodicies. He said that not only do they fail philosophically (for reasons which should be clear to most people here, though I'll be happy to explain why they fail philosophically to anyone who honestly wants to know), but they also fail morally and religiously.

These failures are linked: they present us with a morally flawed concept of God. They present us with a God who would rather explain away suffering, or rationally account for it, than do anything about it.

So much effort in Christian philosophy has been wasted on trying to account for why God would allow for suffering, when a much more pressing question might be, what are we supposed to do about it.

At the heart of Christianity is the metaphor of the incarnation, the idea that in Christ God somehow entered into the suffering of the world, and took it upon Godself (still struggling with a gender-inclusive pronoun for God). At the heart of Christianity, then, is not God's explanation for why suffering happens, but rather God's response to the very present reality of suffering.

So often, when we suffer, when "bad" things happen, we ask why. Why did this have to happen? Why did this have to happen to me? But, of course, there isn't an answer to that question, and even if there were, it wouldn't help. When we ask why, we don't really want to know. Knowing why wouldn't help, because knowing why wouldn't make the situation other than it is. When we ask why we are really just expressing our extreme displeasure at the situation, and giving voice to our existential turmoil, as all of our cherished beliefs are called into question.

For Christianity to be a strong and healthy religion, which responds to human needs, it needs to stop trying to explain suffering away; and it needs to stop trying to let God off the hook for suffering. Rather, it needs to respond concretely to the present reality of suffering, in accordance with the implications of the metaphor of incarnation.

I know this isn't the sort of response that atheists are looking for when they ask a Christian about the problem of suffering. They ask a good question, a question for which there is no philosophically satisfying answer. If there were a God who is:

1. Omnipotent
2. Omniscient, and
3. Benevolent,

then there ought to be no suffering. In the face of suffering, then, we have to say that the traditional formulation of God doesn't work. But that traditional formulation is not the only or even best formulation.

I'm sure there will be more later, as there are more comments. I'd hate to take up any more space without allowing other voices to be heard on the subject.

However, if anyone has the audacity to call me intellectually lazy for not putting a more comprehensive theology of suffering (which would borrow a great deal from process theology) in the comments section of a blog, then I'm afraid I might have to get painfully longwinded. Let's try our best to be charitable, and keep personal insults out of this.

John W. Loftus said...

I feel an affinity toward you, Sandletraps. You are where I was at one time in my progression from having a robust conservative Christian faith, to liberalism (YOU?), to deism, to agnosticism, to atheism. You understand the problem of evil! That's the first step. There is no satisfactory explanation for the evils in the world.

What you may fail to recognize is that there is no satisfactory answer to how Jesus is God in the flesh (the incarnation "metaphor"), nor in how Jesus' death does anything to help us (the atonement). If you seriously looked at the incarnation and the atonement in the exact same way you have looked at the problem of evil in the first place, you would no longer claim your Christian faith. You would be closer to where I've landed. Maybe you already are, but you still struggle against it.

jazzycat said...

Job chapters 38 & 39

jazzycat said...

And Job chapter 40 closely

John W. Loftus said...

Jazzycat, did it ever occur to you that the answer to the problem of evil in Job is not to be found in the last few chapters of the book? The answer given is to be found in the first few chapters. God allowed Satan to wreak havoc on Job even though he could've denied Satan's request. But God did to win a bet. Some comfort that would be to people like Job, eh? God was experimenting on an involuntary captive to make a point? Joseph Mengele did that in Auschwitz, didn't he? Is your God better than Mengele? Why?

Of course, you're right, why God did this isn't explained in the last few chapters. Apparently then, not even your God can explain why he did it, 'cause he had the chance and he declined. He merely told/showed Job how powerful he was.

Mengele goes down in history as one of the most horrible criminals ever. How do you reconcile your God with Mengele? Is it that your God can do whatever he wants? Hmmm. I suppose a more powerful being can do whatever he wants to. But can anyone explain why this is acceptable and good?

Blu_Matt said...

As with all seemingly random biblical quotations, they mean nothing out of context.

I'll posit Isaiah 45:7 as an answer.

jazzycat said...

Why would you people argue that a God you do not believe in is not good?


Blu_Matt said...

I'm not arguing, I'm saying that bible quotations taken out of context can be used to justify almost anything (within the context of bronze-age civilisation).

As it is, I put it to you, and your creed, that the above reference "should" (but I don't hold out much hope) reveal to you that your god, by your own standards (i.e. you believe that the bible is the infallible word of your god) is not the all-loving entity that you think it is. Your god says exactly that!

This being the case, how can you argue - at any level - that people should think that such a murderous, misogynistic (remember, Lot was considered as 'blessed' by god), lying and othewise utterly disgusting entity is worth any kind of praise, reverence or worship at all.

Daniel said...


The point you appear to miss is that it is because of these arguments that we do not believe. The problem of evil destroys belief in this god. We don't call a nonexistant deity evil, we point out that such a deity as you believe in cannot exist, given the problem of evil.

Blu_Matt said...

Daniel: and there are a whole host of other arguments too, but that's a nice and simple one for Jazzycat to be getting on with! ;-)

jazzycat said...

You said,
(The problem of evil destroys belief in this god. We don't call a nonexistant deity evil, we point out that such a deity as you believe in cannot exist, given the problem of evil.)

Therefore, do you believe that human logic and ethics have veto power over a supreme creator entity? What is your proof that a supreme being (God) cannot exist other than your disapproval of your preception of his character traits?

How do you explain matter/energy having the power of self-existence instead of a supreme being?

Romans 1:20


John W. Loftus said...

The problem, jazzycat, is that you assume there is a God and that we are vetoing his logic by ours. That's not the case at all. You are putting the cart before the horse here.

We reject the existence of a good omnipotent God because the amount of creaturely suffering in this world has no possible explanation in such a being.

jazzycat said...

(The problem, jazzycat, is that you assume there is a God and that we are vetoing his logic by ours.)

No you are vetoing his existence by your disapproval. "God, I don't like your character traits therefore, you cannot exist." This of course would be absurd.

Then you do not deny the existence of a supreme creator being, but just the God of the Holy Bible. Is that right?


Blu_Matt said...

No, Jazzycat, that's not what we're saying at all. Stop trying to put words in our mouths: we're capable of doing that ourselves; we don't need some fat rich bloke in Rome, a shouty Texan conman or some old mis-translated collection of short stories to tell us what we should be saying.

What we are saying is that the god that you believe in is a corrupt and disgusting entity, and that any believer in said entity should also think so, based on the content of your 'holy' book. How any right minded Christian can read about the atrocities committed (in the bible), not in the name of your god, but by your god, and still think it worthy of anything above utter contempt is beyond me.

We have other arguments to counter the supposed existence of supernatural invisible sky friends. Here we're simply pointing out the inherent contradictions for the thing you call a "benevolent" god.

If it existed, it certainly wouldn't be the lovey-dovey thing that you want to think it is.

Daniel said...

Therefore, do you believe that human logic and ethics have veto power over a supreme creator entity? What is your proof that a supreme being (God) cannot exist other than your disapproval of your preception of his character traits?

Our empathy is the most potent antidote to the brutalities of any religion or fascist dictator. We cannot but reject the goodness of an entity to which is attributed atrocities of infanticide and worse (eg 1 Sam 15:3, Num 31:17-8). And in rejecting this goodness, in the case of your proposed God we obviously reject this attribute, and the premises from which it is derived (your presupposition of the Bible's validity).

The doctrine of the fall of man was one of the greatest religious ideas to ever be put forth. It "explained" why man was no longer aware of God, able to communicate openly with God, and that everything absurd about God was really just man's "fallen mind". Looking at religion from an natural standpoint, it is retrospectively easy to see why the major religions survived as they did -- according to Dennett in his new book, a new religion is born every single day, as a seed of speculation. The effect of selection (like evolutionary biology) is that only the best ideas, the most viables seeds, have taken root. Those ideas which did the best job of explaining the history and present situation of the cultures they developed in lasted longest. Furthermore, those religious frameworks which developed around the most stable of economies, or had the most "societally-friendly" beliefs and practices, tend to spread and further themselves the fastest. I would quote a friend of mine here, concerning a particular anthropological phenomenon:
My favourite example of relative morals is the pre-Christian religion of Fiji. Under this religion, people had a moral obligation to cook and eat their enemies. This was not simple savagery - it was an aspect of their religion. By eating an enemy, you denied them entry to the afterlife. Hence, it was a moral duty - a sacrament.

The Old Religion was finally exterminated with the conversion of the King Cakobau in the mid-19th century, and I think that today most of us (including me) would feel that this was a good thing. The Old Religion was not a stable strategy for a civilisation, as evidenced by the fact that before the Christian missionaries arrived, Fiji was a melange of warring petty kingdoms with no structure or history that we would recognise. Hence, although they survived, they did not thrive. Today, although there is a huge number of different Christian, Moslem and Hindu sects represented in the population, they have a "civilised", progressive government and economy, thanks to the Judeo-Christian moral complex.

It is, as John pointed out, a question of "cart or horse first?" Do we assume the truth of the Bible, and work outwards from there, saying, "the reason Christianity has thrived is because it's true and God is good," or, "the reason is because it works, and other religions work too, but some not as well, at explaining various aspects of the world?" John proposed what he called the "outsider test" for Christians to follow: treat your own religion, just for a moment, as you treat others -- as untrue. Approach your deepest-held convictions with skepticism, ask what Ockham's razor does to the "explanations" you erstwhile simply took for granted. And see if you cannot easily reject Christianity for the same reasons you reject Islam and Hinduism and the other thousands of religions: because there is no good reason for you to believe it.

How do you explain matter/energy having the power of self-existence instead of a supreme being?

First, what is "the power of self-existence"? The law of conservation states that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, but only transform into one another. The singularity out of which the Big Bang expanded was an unphysical, uncreated event. It represents the compaction of the matter and energy in the universe into a pre-spacetime point of infinite density, which indicates that the model itself needs some tinkering. My favorite, oft-cited theoretical physicists are Steinhardt (check out the many papers available for download) and Turok, noted string theorists who have developed a new cyclic model and whose work is being taken more and more seriously each day. I am rather strongly convinced, as Einstein was, that the singularity is a problem with our physics, and will be resolved with time. Not that it matters to me either way in terms of cosmological arguments for God's existence.

Anyway, the question you posed is best stated in philosophical terms of "why is there something, rather than nothing?" Which also applies to God, of course. We can conceive of a void within which there is no matter, energy, nor God. Why is that not the case?

There are no satisfying answers to such questions, but they serve to show us we need not take our presuppositions for granted -- that it is quite possible that neither God nor the universe needed to exist. There are many refutations of the cosmological argument available, if you want to read them:
1) overview
2) Strongatheism.net refutation of Craig
3) A collection of atheistic perspectives

There was never a time when matter and energy were not. In collapsing our universe back into the singularity, we erase time itself, and therefore the traditional causal relationship. The traditional causal arguments rely on one event preceding another, which makes no sense if t=0 and matter/energy exist. They cannot be caused. The expansion of the universe, then, is what Craig and others argue was caused. It may be true, and need not imply a temporally prior cause (since this is somewhat absurd), and could be anything from an immaterial, impersonal cause to a material, impersonal cause, to an immaterial, personal cause, to a material, personal cause, and each of which must be examined for validity.

What falls out of all of this is well-represented with the following:

1) God created the universe
2) God just exists

--slice slice with the Razor--

1) the universe
2) just exists

Sandalstraps said...


Perhaps, before you forecast the rest of my spiritual journey, you ought to read more of my writing, and read it more carefully. For me, for instance, the incarnation is:

1. Not literal (Jesus does not equal God, but is instead one of the ways in which God (and the concerns of God) is revealed) and

2. Not prinipally (or, at least, exclusively) about atonement.

Atonement, which is part of the priestly macro-story, is not the only macro-story, and is not the macro-story which most resonates with me.

The two macro-stories which speak more to me (and more to the problem of pain/suffering/evil) are:

1. Exile and return, and
2. Exodus.

I've been doing most of my work of late on Exodus as a macro-story. One of the best examples of that, and how it relates both to religious experience (which is at the center of my faith) and the moral/spiritual/religious response to the presense of suffering in the world, can be found in this, my most recent post.

You know the priestly macro-story, and how it relates to the incarnation (Jesus as an atoning sacrifice), so I won't waste our time here discussing it, particularly since it doesn't speak to me very often or very effectively. It doesn't address my principle concerns, which have less to do with sin and guilt, and more to do with transformation.

Here are, in a very small nutshell which does little justice to the depth of the stories, how the macro-stories of exile and return, and the Exodus, relate to the incarnation:

1. Exile and return: When I was wandering alone, far from home, God through Christ entered into my exile state, was with me in my exile, bringing me home.

2. Exodus: when I was oppressed and enslaved, locked into a destructive pattern of behavior or being ground under by the powers of the world, God through Christ broke into my Egypt and loosened the chains of my oppression and enslavement.

While these macro-stories don't replace atonement as the means by which to understand incarnation, they do supplement it, and help it have even more meaning. In the meantime, thank you for expressing your concern, but my faith has shifted to much safer ground, and can survive intellectual vacillations.

John W. Loftus said...

Really, Sandletraps? Really? Metaphors, macro-stories, and supplements,? Hmmmm. Why these particular stories and not some different stories? Why? Why do you think these stories point to God? What grounding does any of them have in history? What grounding does any of them have at all?

Such a smoke and mirrors kind of faith you have. You might as well have faith in a disappearing cheshire cat. This isn't much to hold on to when another crisis comes along. The first one sent you where you are today(?). The second one (if it happens) will find you a member of this Blog. ;-)

jazzycat said...

Do you fellows realize that Biblical interpretation from atheists is even less influential with me, than Al Gore talking about global warming. Somehow though, I wouldn't be surprised if yall liked that goof ball. At any rate you should stick to proving an alternative to the God of the Bible in the creation of the universe rather than debunking Christianity. Positively prove a universe without a creator and you have successfully debunked. The best I have gotten is that, "we are working on it."

It is hard for Christians to debunk you since you have nothing to debunk.


highlander65 said...


Instead of 'zig-zagging' about, why don't you try to make your own case; why don't you go ahead and try to argue for the Christian belief that God is good?

Such a bedrock Christian belief should be easily supported, after all.

Tell all us atheists why their interpretation of the bible is inferior to yours, when they look at the *many* instances of divine homicide in the bible, and say that those are not the actions of someone, or something, that can be called good.

Start by giving *your* interpretation of God's actions in 2 Samuel 12.

Once you have done that, explain why you think *your* interpretation is superior to everyone else's.

Good luck.


Sandalstraps said...


I hate to kick someone who has been kicked enough, but I have a couple of questions for you:

What's wrong with Al Gore talking about global warming?

Do you think that labelling someone as a "goof ball" or an "atheist" in any way gets you past the substance of their critique?


You assume too much, but something tells me that the assumptions you make about me are both

1. a little tongue in cheek, and

2. somewhat endearing.

That said, one major assumption is false: my current theological positions were in place before the crisis which led to my leaving professional ministry. The crisis, in fact, was brought about by the distance between the substance of my theology and the dominant theology of the church in which I was serving. That crisis was a spiritual and psychological crisis, which caused me to question my vocation, my profession (a question which has yet to be satisfactorally answered) and my relationship to society, the church (to the extent that one can speak of a universal church) and any particular congregation.

That crisis also allowed me time for reading and reflection, but that did not really push me anywhere I wasn't already going. I did change my position on the Trinity after I left professional ministry, but that change had more to do with studying early Jewish-Christian groups (which gave me permission to discard a doctrine which made me uncomfortable, anyway) than it did with the aforementioned "crisis."

I suspect that we do have much in common, but it is not safe for you to try to impose the pattern of your religious journey onto me. You are shaped much more by modernity; I am shaped much more by post-modernity. As such we operate in different paradigms, and bring very different questions to the study of religion. Also, while we both grew up evangelicals, your evangelicalism seems much more conservative than mine was. Or, to put it another way, my "fundamentalist phase" lasted only for a few years, and had very little impact in shaping my apporach to religion.

I can appreciate the journey which brought you from where you were to where you are, and when the honesty of that journey is attacked I am prepared to defend you, even though we, of course, disagree on many things. I think that we do share some common experiences. But we are not on the same journey.

You asked some questions at the end of the first paragraph of your last comment. Time and space do not permit me to answer them with the depth that they deserve, so these are merely rough sketches of answers. You should from these sketches be able to anticipate the sorts of arguments I would build if not for the constraints of this medium:

Why these particular stories and not some different stories?

Who said that it had to be an either/or proposition? You should know my writing well enough by now to know that I use many different sets of stories from many different religions.

However, as a Christian, these stories are more special to me. That is because they not only speak to me, but they also speak to my community. They are not just some stories from a book which mean this or that; they are our stories, they stories through which we have interpreted our experience of God. They are not the only valid stories, but they are the stories of our tradition and our community, and they are enduring stories.

Why do you think these stories point to God?

Because they have been experienced by two enduring religions to point to God. That is the function they serve in both Judaism and Christianity. Also, because that is the function they serve in my own spiritual life.

They are, as I've argued elsewhere, human products of the divine-human encounter. They are collections of our responses to religious experiences, and they are the ways in which those experiences have been interpreted.

What grounding does any of them have in history?

They are a product of the history of a people, and they are a reflection of that people's history. Historicity, especially the historicity of mythologized stories, is not an all or nothing proposition. It is simply not the case that they must conform to modern standards of history or be devoid of historical value. If that were the case, then no ancient text would be of any historical value at all.

To use Johanna W.H. van Wijk-Bos' phrase, the stories of the Torah reflect "the authentic memories of a real people." In them, as Martin Buber said, we "feel the breath of some distant event of which there is no longer any clearcut recollection." These stories, in other words, are mythologized renderings of historical events, and are much more substantial in terms of historical veracity that most ancient texts.

They are, then, "grounded in history" even though they are not the pure, sequential re-telling of historical events.

I am sure that this answer could start a very long conversation about which events are historical and which aren't, but such a conversation would miss the point that I am making. It is not that at some points the Torah (and other parts of the Bible) is "telling history" and at other points it is "making myth." Rather, at all points it is mixing remembered history with inherited myth, creating a hybrid, which I call the intersection between myth and history.

But my son just woke up from his nap, and is screaming in his crib, so alas I can go no farther at this moment. Perhaps we should find a better forum for this conversation?

John W. Loftus said...

I know Sandletraps. I've been there done that. And even if the crisis didn't change your theology, I found the underpinnings of your faith too flimsy and based upon hope more than anything else. Your faith resides in a community of people who accept those same stories.

What if the whole community is wrong? Liberals like you (and me at one time) believe because of the communal retelling of certain Biblical stories which people find meaningful for today. Religious meaning is subjective here, just like a horoscope reading.

The whole reason why you believe the incarnation is metaphor in the first place, as but one example, is because you couldn't make intellectual sense out of it. You can't make intellectual sense out of the problem of evil, either. So why don't you do likewise and say the notion of a good God is a metaphor...goodness doesn't actually apply to God; or, the notion of an omnipotent God is a metaphor...omnipotence doesn't actually apply to God. then once you do that, figure out some subjective meaning for both the goodness and powerfulness of God.

Sorry if I'm being hard on you, friend, but I'm just asking questions you've probably already asked yourself. Are your answers really satisfying? I just can't see how they can be. They weren't for me anyway.

jazzycat said...

Mr. Sandalstraps,
you said.....
(What's wrong with Al Gore talking about global warming?)

Well since the myth of human causation of global warming is an anti-american, anti-capitalist, left wing politically driven movement, it is fitting that Al Gore would talk about it. My point is that Al Gore's opinion on it has no creditability with me.

(Do you think that labelling someone as a "goof ball" or an "atheist" in any way gets you past the substance of their critique?)

The people here are atheists so I do not think they are offended as for Gore maybe nobody here will tell him he's a goof ball.

Your posts puzzle me concerning your claim to be Christian. Could I ask you what is your definition of a Christian?


Daniel said...


You think Gore is a goof ball? What do you think of Bush? That's he's a godly hero?

Anyway, global warming is a scientifically-incontrovertible fact. The question is how much humans are to blame, and what we can do about it.

Anyway, you ought to stick to topics germane to the blog. At least then, you might have a fighting chance at having your quasi-points responded to thoughtfully.


I am sorry. I wouldn't waste my neuronal activity in response, if I were you. [PS: sorry people misspell your handle "sandle"]

highlander65 said...

Could I ask you what is your definition of a Christian? - Jazzycat

I guess a Christian is someone who says their interpretation of the bible is superior to the interpretation of other people who have read the bible, but who don't see how God's killing people (including innocent children) is consistent with God being good; I guess a Christian is someone who is asked to provide their interpretation of God's actions in just *one* chapter of the Old Testament (2 Samuel 12) for us, but won't do it; I guess a Christian is someone who zig zags and who engages in ad hominem attacks, but can't actually defend their position.


Lifewish said...

Sandalstraps: That's a rather novel viewpoint you've got there. Would I be accurate in characterising it as a sort of utilitarian Christianity - the Bible isn't necessarily accurate or important in itself but is merely a useful tool to aid in engaging with the Divine?

If I've got that right, then what you're talking about sounds more like Taoism than what most of us here would think of as Christianity.

Tommykey said...

My definition of a Christian (me being an atheist) is someone who believes that Jesus was the son of the Creator of the Universe and that one must accept him as savior in order to be resurrected and go to heaven.

As for jazzy, you state that we atheists choose not to believe that the God of the Bible is real because we do not like his traits. Partly true, but the bigger question is, why should I believe that the God of the Bible is a real entity and not just an invented deity like Zeus, Apollo, Vishnu etc.?

I've written on other threads on this site before and will restate it again:

To believe that the God of the Bible is a real entity, one must believe that this God created this vast and for all purposes infinite universe filled with uncountable galaxies, stars, planets, comets, asteroids, quasars etc., and then on one planet, Earth, he made all living things on it, and then he makes a pact with one guy and all his descendants to the exclusion of the rest of the human race.

Said deity then gives to said Chosen People (like he is a real estate broker or something) a slice of land so geographically situated so as to guarantee that they will be surrounded and attacked repeatedly by larger and more powerful neighbors. Not only are these people at a disadvantage geographically (THANKS A LOT YAHWEH!), but being a confederation of semi-nomadic tribes, they lag behind their neighbors in science, medicine, technology, literature etc.

If a race of people were the favored people of the all powerful creator of the universe, I would expect that they would never be conquered in battle (okay, maybe an occasional setback) and be more technologically advanced than any other nation on the Earth.

But since this is not what happened, tell me jazzy, on what basis should I believe that the God of the ancient Israelites is a real entity that is also the creator of our universe and everything in it?

Storstrand said...

It is all to easy to ask "why did God allow it" and "why does God allow it" - when we should ask: "Why do we allow it?"

Herbert G. Wells wrote in 1942, concerning WWII - and the allied bombing of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg: "Why do we not bomb Rome?" If we had done that - evil would have ceased. I think.