God and the Problem of Evil, Again.

Jennifer responded again to this post of mine, which originated out of a challenge to Christians to put up or shut up...literally. Jennifer wrote:

It seems that this is hinging on God making sure we don't hurt each other by intervening in some way before the act is carried out....Let's say someone is going to kidnap a child. At what point does God stop them? Let's say this kidnapper had a bad childhood. (I'm using a real life example.) His brother sexually assaulted him many times, which means it probably happened to his brother, which means it probably happened to the person who did it to his brother etc...So on the day this man is driving around on the lookout for someone to take, he sees who he wants and runs out of gas. (God's intervetion) What does he do next? Are you saying that if he runs out of gas enough times he will eventually give up? If I follow this idea all the way to it's end, it seems that God would have to start with babies. But then what if the parents are just evil people? He should stop them from having children? It seems like what you are really saying is that God should just make us right to begin with so nothing will go wrong.
Okay, this is worth responding to. Good questions and good point. Thank you. Since she may be speaking the thoughts of others, let me respond below:

There are three prior possibilities that you must first deal with before we should consider your questions. 1) I have argued here that God did not have a reason for creating anything at all, but even if he did so anyway, then 2) he could've and should've created a heavenly world with heavenly beings in the first place (I reject any notion that a being in the direct unmediated presence of an all powerful and perfectly loving God would ever under any circumstances rebel). And I also argue that 3) given the intense suffering in this world (both with animals and human beings) and the suffering of billions of people forever in hell, that God should not have given these creatures free will in the first place. It was an immoral decision of God’s by any standards we have to judge whether a good God exists or not, which are the same moral standards that Christians themselves use to judge the morality of any act. To those who want to maintain that free will is an overweighing good, I argue that free will is not such a good thing. Besides, we do not have abstract freedom anyway, able to do whatever we want to do. We are limited by our age, gender, physical strength and stamina, looks, finances, social status, era we live in, and where we live. Since this is so, further limiting our free choices when we already have limited freedom anyway is not a problem, especially when we see the Biblical God doing just that in several cases (Pharaoh’s hardened heart, planting thoughts (or dreams) into someone’s head (Paul’s visions), making a person insane (Nebuchadnezzar), and/or simply killing them (Herod, Uzzah, Ananias & Sapphira).

Hence the questions and points that you make are nonsensical until you first deal with these three prior possibilities.

If however, for no good reason at all (especially for no good moral reason) God created a fleshly world with free creatures in it, then and only then are we faced with the difficulties you point out, but they are not difficulties at all, especially for God. Let me explain.

Yes, there are generational moral deficiencies passed down through the ages. I simply say nip this in the bud at the very first person in the generational line to screw up. If Adam & Eve existed, start with them, and I’ve already argued this case here.

If a man is about to start a generational chain of molesters, stop him from molesting his first victim. It’s that simple. If he’s religious, try by planting thoughts into his head at an early age. Keep him from those experiences which will cause him to desire this, if possible. Start young in his life, and early as needed. I see no difficulty for this with an omniscient God who is reading his thoughts as he thinks them. If he continues to rebel, and I simply see no reason he would if God monitors his thought life and redirects it, then give him a heart attack the day he decides to do it. What exactly is the problem here, since as the author of life you will claim he can take it away? And this could be repeated for any heinous moral act down through the centuries. If you want to maintain we need some problems to challenge us, then God need not stop all “sinful” acts, only the most heinous ones. If you want to claim that for all you know he does stop many of them, there is no evidence that he does, and the number of sicko’s out there left to wreak havoc upon us means he doesn’t do enough.

30 comments:

Jennifer said...

I don't have time to keep this up.... I would just like to shortly say that if angels, who were in the presence of God, were able to become prideful and rebel, how much more so a human being. If an angel really thought it could overthrow God, it must not have seen any consequence coming for losing.
According to the description in the Bible of angels, they do not love, they long to look into the mystery of God and these creatures He created with the ability to love like He does.
I think God is wise to create an environment in which His creation must choose Him and seek Him so that His value is established in their hearts.
If Eve hadn't eaten the fruit for whatever reason she did, someone else surely would have or she would have at another time. At some point, someone would have begun the chain. God killed everyone but Noah the first time, killed everyone in S and G, threatened Nineveh, etc.. at some point I think it's OK to let people figure it out a bit. Maybe then they will seek for God in impractical ways because He is worth finding.

GordonBlood said...

Well I think I can easily sign on to everything Jennifer said here, with exception to perhaps the references to Adam and Eve and Noah (I do however suspect that something likely happened at a small township which, as far as we can tell, was called Sodom and Gomorrah, though from what I have read there are clearly lessons being written into that corpus of Genesis). The PoE is, as far as I can tell, far more potent in its emotional strands than intellectual strands.... of course being imperfect and unified beings both of those things mix quite abit.

John W. Loftus said...

Jennifer said...I don't have time to keep this up....

I understand, but please take the time to read every link in this post whenever you find the time to do so. You may not be able to comment on so much material, but at least do yourself the favor of considering everything I had said. You simply do not yet understand the problem, so how can you offer any soultion to it? Your present solutions are glib and superficial at best.

Cheers.

John W. Loftus said...

And since you seem to think Adam & Eve, and Noah and others actually existed, do yourself the favor of getting and reading this book. Become informed here.

Zed said...

"if angels, who were in the presence of God, were able to become prideful and rebel, how much more so a human being. If an angel really thought it could overthrow God, it must not have seen any consequence coming for losing"

This is as interesting a thing said by a xian as I have ever seen.
If even angels in the presence of god can not see his omnipotence and omniscience who can it expect that I can see it here on Earth where it refuses to interact with me?
Other than the story being a fiction, why would the people with Moses basically ignore all they have seen and go with a golden calf? Perhaps because they saw nothing that left them with the impression that god was useful.

Zed

Jennifer said...

John,
I do understand the problem but there is no solution any human being can offer that will satisfy you.

The problem as you have stated is:(I have been reading what you wrote, I just simply don't have the time and I get the feeling I'm saying too much.)

God should have made us in such a way as to not want or be tempted to commit selfish acts. He should have made it so that people were unable to carry out any acts of harm against another human being or animal, or animal against animal.
He should be ultimately responsible and always do the "right" thing...quotations added because it is really how you see right, regardless of how He is treated.
God doesn't exist because He isn't visible, audible or intervening in unseen, unkown ways like changing out thoughts or stopping us physically...which you really don't know because it most likely happens every day, thousands of times.

I see the problem. The Bible can't be true because we haven't found every civilization mentioned in it and people were not very good record keepers according to today's standards.

You cannot piece history together like a chapter book. There is so much overlap it is literally impossible to find all of the strands that connect people and places.

Since you gave me some book suggestions, I'd like to leave you with one:
Ancient Chinese

Be sure to read the comments. I'm not claiming it solves any puzzle for good, but it is compelling. Also...have you heard of Su Dongpo or Su Shi as he is also known?
It seems that he understood God in ways that others in the OT did. He never named God, God didn't name Himself. He lived the gospel of Jesus out before Buddhism, Christianity etc.

Here's an example of what can be found in the book.
Interesting.

John W. Loftus said...

You cannot piece history together like a chapter book. There is so much overlap it is literally impossible to find all of the strands that connect people and places.

This is exactly my point as seen here in this post (be sure to read the links in the first paragraph).

If you must resort to saying history "cannot be pieced together" when Christianity is a historical religion then your beliefs are in trouble. Why? Because you must believe certain things happened in history, and that is very hard to do. It's certainly not something to sacrifice one's own life for. Who would prefer to die rather than give up her belief that JFK was killed by a lone assassin? Not me? But apparently you do in believing Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt, and that there is a God known in history who understands the reason why there in so much intense suffering in this world. Such a slender reed you have to base a belief on, which is even contrary to how an imperfect mother would treat her children (who acts better than a perfectly good God), that it amazes me that you believe it.

The real reason you believe in the Christian faith, like most all Christians, is that you were raised in a Christian culture, with Christian parents, or other Christian influences. having adopted those beliefs you are now gerrymandering the evidence to support what you have come to believe for less than adequate reasons. Our minds have a very strong tendency to support what we believe, especially since what you believe makes you feel better about yourself and gives you a hope (although lacking in any good evidence) that you will live forever with a God who loved you enough to die for your miserable soul (which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever).

Wanderin' Weeta said...

I have no patience with the free will argument.

"If a man is about to start a generational chain of molesters, stop him from molesting his first victim. It’s that simple. If he’s religious, try by planting thoughts into his head at an early age. Keep him from those experiences which will cause him to desire this, if possible."

It would be simple enough to keep a person from molesting a child or raping someone, if at the very thought of it, s/he began to suffer from severe nausea. We can do that, with regards to alcohol; why can't God?

This wouldn't impinge on the person's free will at all. S/he would just not want to do that deed, limiting "sinning" to things that do not hurt the innocent.

And as you said, we do not really have real free will. I cannot decide today to unsay something I said yesterday, no matter how much I want to. I can't decide to speak a language I have not yet learned from this moment on, or fly rather than walk, nor even to, as Jesus supposedly said, grow another inch.

So why is God not being able to stop a murderer in his tracks, even without harming him, such a common apologetic excuse?

Jennifer said...

I have read the links, John. I've read some of the books.

The most important point you made in the link about Adam and Eve was
that the biblical accounts preceded the biblical accounts.

My answer:
OF COURSE! The biblical manuscripts we have were not written during those events. I guess that would be some serious corroboration on the part of prehistoric man.

It's all about the glasses you talk about. I can understand what you see but I cannot accept it.
That's what it comes down to so I'll get off and stop bugging you.:)

Cheers to you.

George said...

I have tithed for 17 years and never have I been poorer. Always in financial toubles, unable to meet my bills. It is hell on earth. Never able to afford to go out. What the pastors say about tithing is complete rubbish.

Jennifer said...

Oh, that last post was embarrassing...
I meant to say that your most important point was that the stories found in the Bible are found in other cultures' traditions as well and that they precede the written manuscripts of the Bible. I don't think that poses a problem for believers and I'm sure you know why. Goodbye.

Michael Ejercito said...


God should have made us in such a way as to not want or be tempted to commit selfish acts. He should have made it so that people were unable to carry out any acts of harm against another human being or animal, or animal against animal.

Why?
It would be simple enough to keep a person from molesting a child or raping someone, if at the very thought of it, s/he began to suffer from severe nausea.We can do that, with regards to alcohol; why can't God?

God can do that if He pleases.

He chooses not to do that.

So why is God not being able to stop a murderer in his tracks, even without harming him, such a common apologetic excuse?

He is perfectly able to stop a murderer in his tracks.

He chooses not to do so in many cases. and why should He? He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, not some bellboy who serves us at our beck and call.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Michael Ejercito:

I wrote: It would be simple enough to keep a person from molesting a child or raping someone, if at the very thought of it, s/he began to suffer from severe nausea.We can do that, with regards to alcohol; why can't God?

You answered: God can do that if He pleases.

He chooses not to do that.

Me, again: So why is God not being able to stop a murderer in his tracks, even without harming him, such a common apologetic excuse?
He is perfectly able to stop a murderer in his tracks.

You: He chooses not to do so in many cases. and why should He? He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, not some bellboy who serves us at our beck and call.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So He chooses to let murderers and rapists continue unchecked because He can. Or for His own private reasons. (He sure isn't telling us about them!)

That makes him complicit in every crime, in every abuse of the innocent, in every act of cruelty.

If this were true, He would not be worthy of our worship, or even our respect, no matter how powerful He were. He would be a profoundly evil being.

Any entity, be it a god or a devil or a human, who is able to prevent or stop unmerited suffering (and don't tell me that the baby born to abusive parents deserves his treatment), and who does not, cannot be considered "good" in any meaning of the word.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Jennifer said:

"I meant to say that your most important point was that the stories found in the Bible are found in other cultures' traditions as well and that they precede the written manuscripts of the Bible. I don't think that poses a problem for believers and I'm sure you know why. Goodbye."

No, the point was that some stories related by the Biblical authors were lifted from earlier authors and stories (floods, virgin births, miracles, etc) and from earlier religions. Just because you particular religion stole bits from other faiths, that doesn't make Christianity more real than the previous faith (which you consider bogus, mind you).

The Gilgamesh Epic seems very similar to various stories in the Christian Bible, but it's actually the other way around.

Michael Ejercito said, about his god not intervening in human hardship:

"He chooses not to do so in many cases. and why should He? He is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, not some bellboy who serves us at our beck and call."

I'm sorry, Michael, but if your god had even a semblance of human morality, he'd be the biggest scumbag on the planet.

And he doesn't serve at our "beck and call," huh?

But he answers prayers, right?

richdurrant said...

I am going to make an attempt to deal with your possibilities.

"(I reject any notion that a being in the direct unmediated presence of an all powerful and perfectly loving God would ever under any circumstances rebel)"
First lets just agree here that no one should rebel against God in his presence, it seems pretty unbelievable. Since this should be the case, how then do we determine who truly wants to follow God and who doesn't? Since everyone would say yes with God there, who would say no when he isn't? A world such as we have, meaning not seeing God, not having certainty that he exists at all, gives us that opportunity. This is also why we need to be able to have the freedom to choose for ourselves our life coarse. God has revealed, or let us know what we need to do to show that we want to be obedient and follow Him. As far as doing something that hinders some people from doing terrible things to each other and not affecting our free will is not really true. What if we did have something happen to us when we think about doing harm? Would we not then argue that I wasn't going to go through with it I was just thinking about it? even up until the actual act is committed we have the ability to stop ourselves. But once that act has been committed, we no longer can say we would have never done such a thing because we did. This serves to make us much more responsible with our choices when we see what can happen.
So to answer one question, yes God has the ability to make us so that we won't "sin". When we are made to do something, are we not more likely to rebel then when we choose to do that same thing? Of coarse that won't fit every case and I'm not trying to cover all. Most certainly there are a lot of "yeah but what about....", but I am not attempting to quiet every objection.

Michael Ejercito said...



Me, again: So why is God not being able to stop a murderer in his tracks, even without harming him, such a common apologetic excuse?
He is perfectly able to stop a murderer in his tracks.

Yes, He is.

As Lord of Lords and King of Kings, it is His absolute perogative to decide whether or not to exercise His power.
So He chooses to let murderers and rapists continue unchecked because He can. Or for His own private reasons. (He sure isn't telling us about them!)

That makes him complicit in every crime, in every abuse of the innocent, in every act of cruelty.

Wrong.

He can not be complicit unless He actually assists in the rapes and murders.

If this were true, He would not be worthy of our worship, or even our respect, no matter how powerful He were. He would be a profoundly evil being.

God is worthy of worship because of His station as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Remember, those who believeth not are condemned. - John 3:18

Nonbelievers have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

Michael Ejercito said...



I'm sorry, Michael, but if your god had even a semblance of human morality, he'd be the biggest scumbag on the planet.

So the Lord of Lords and King of Kings is a scumbag simply because He does not give in to every little demand made by a bunch of whiny crybabies?

We should be grateful He ever does anything for any of us at all. Certainly He can foresake us completely if He so chooses.
But he answers prayers, right?
When He feels like it. He did part the Red Sea for Israel.

A few centuries later, when Israel went to fight the Philistines, they took His ark with them, and even then, God chose not to help.

Dillie-O said...

Hey John,

I've been reading this entire POE thread and am slightly confused.

It seems to me that you are accusing the god the bible of being "immoral" because of the POE and want an answer to reconcile the evils encountered. However, any answer that includes the god of the bible's characteristics are immediately rendered bad, such as his omnipresence, omnipotence, etc.

This may be begging the issue or something for another thread, but what kind of answer would be sufficient to accommodate for it? It appears that you want a "non-god" answer that includes god's handing of the POE. Am I wrong?

If you don't mind me asking, just for future reference on my end, since abandoning Christianity, do you now take up the stance of atheism in the naturalistic sense, meaning no supernatural events, etc. or is there some kind of hybrid there?

lowendaction said...

Most of these arguements are circular, since John and his DC gang reject the bible, on what basis can one discuss the characteristics of God? Either you stick to your guns that there is no God period and thus any reference to Him is bunk, or you find some kind of common ground from where God can be discussed in a productive manner.

I will never quite understand why it is that a bunch of people who are so convinced that there IS no God, spend so much time talking about this non-exsistant God.

If your main goal is to de-convert other Christians, my question would be why?

If you are just trying to re-affirm your non-belief in God...hm.

If you are truely interrested in approaching and seeking God in a scientific and knowledgable manner...well, I just don't see it.

I'm not trying to piss anyone off here, or create some kind of stand off. I just fail to see how any kind of productive dialoge can emerge if we are forever unwilling to find some kind of common base.

I would love the opportunity to have honest open dialoge, but if I feel like every pro-God statement is met by an attempt to undermine my own belief, one does get a bit discouraged. I would love to open myself to other points of view, if I felt as though mine were considered once in a while.

Maybe I'm just rambling here, but it seems like many of the comments here are really just talking at eachother anyway, rather than with one another.

thanks

Jennifer said...

Lowendaction,
That is precisely why I commented that this blog should really be called "Debunking God".

God bless you.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Michael E. again;

"Me, again: So why is God not being able to stop a murderer in his tracks, even without harming him, such a common apologetic excuse?
He is perfectly able to stop a murderer in his tracks.

(Michael) Yes, He is.

As Lord of Lords and King of Kings, it is His absolute perogative to decide whether or not to exercise His power.


And as a sane, ethical person, it is my perogative to decide whether or not to worship or respect such a God, regardless of his power. Accepting that, if such a god existed, he could kill me or torture me for all eternity for my low opinion of him wouldn't make me worship him until he had also rendered me insane.

"Me: So He chooses to let murderers and rapists continue unchecked because He can. Or for His own private reasons. (He sure isn't telling us about them!)

That makes him complicit in every crime, in every abuse of the innocent, in every act of cruelty.

Wrong.

He can not be complicit unless He actually assists in the rapes and murders.


So you would eliminate the criminal categories of "accessory before/after the fact". Convenient. For the criminals, that is.

God is worthy of worship because of His station as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Why? Power and wealth do not equate to ethical character.

Remember, those who believeth not are condemned. - John 3:18

Nonbelievers have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.


So what? Even if that were true, it would not make it ethical to connive at evil. In fact, if it were true, it would be absolutely reprehensible to excuse hurting the innocent just to save myself.

Jim Jordan said...

wanderin'
And as a sane, ethical person, it is my prerogative to decide whether or not to worship or respect such a God, regardless of his power.

That's a biblical truth! When Esau decided to trade in his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew, his reason was that God's promise was "beneath his notice" (AMP) and he got his wish. The fact is, wanderin', that God doesn't meet your standards.

What you might want to consider is that the freedom of the psycopathic killer exists hand in hand with your freedom. He has chosen to be a murderer while you have chosen to be a decent person. Where should God intervene? Should the Almighty stop the murderer from killing? It depends on God's purposes, doesn't it?

God may let lives be sacrificed, but He will not sacrifice our freedom. Why? Because we were brought up to be His children, to be like Him, not like the child of a slave.

Last, if physical death was the end, your argument against God being good is ironclad. However, it falls apart if there exists a spiritual life beyond the grave.

Michael Ejercito said...

And as a sane, ethical person, it is my perogative to decide whether or not to worship or respect such a God, regardless of his power. Accepting that, if such a god existed, he could kill me or torture me for all eternity for my low opinion of him wouldn't make me worship him until he had also rendered me insane.
So your interpretation of ethics is worth suffering eternal torment with fire and brimstone?

So you would eliminate the criminal categories of "accessory before/after the fact". Convenient. For the criminals, that is.

So refusing to stop crime is equated with being an accessory?

Steven Carr said...

I'm glad to see Jennifer say that God would not intervene to stop people being hurt.

Now I know which Biblical stories I can definitely write off as legends.

Steven Carr said...

If there is a God, then God passes by on the other side.

And as Jesus said, there is no excuse for doing that.

Michael Ejercito said...

If there is a God, then God passes by on the other side.

And as Jesus said, there is no excuse for doing that.

God's absolute sovereignty is His justification for passing by on the other side.

Curiosis said...

God's absolute sovereignty is His justification for passing by on the other side.

In other words, might makes right.

There is no way to know if your god is good or evil if you define good as "whatever my god does."

So refusing to stop crime is equated with being an accessory?

I think that a better analogy is a doctor who fails to help an injured person. A doctor is legally required to render aid because he has the ability to do so.

How much more does your god have the power to help those in need. By failing to do so when he can and when it costs him nothing to do so, he has acted in an immoral manner.

Curiosis said...

I will never quite understand why it is that a bunch of people who are so convinced that there IS no God, spend so much time talking about this non-exsistant God.

Simple. Because while we may not believe that your god exists, there is no doubt that you do. I don't fear god, but I do fear those who believe in him.

There's no "Debunking Unicornism" because people don't form Inquisitions to make others believe in unicorns or blow up buildings to punish unicorn infidels.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Jim Jordan:
What you might want to consider is that the freedom of the psycopathic killer exists hand in hand with your freedom. He has chosen to be a murderer while you have chosen to be a decent person. Where should God intervene? Should the Almighty stop the murderer from killing?

Of course. If freedom is such an overwhelming value, consider that the murderer is eliminating someone else's freedom. Why is his freedom so much more important than that of his victim?

It depends on God's purposes, doesn't it?

Yes, it does. And his purposes seem to be badly skewed towards causing pain.

God may let lives be sacrificed, but He will not sacrifice our freedom.

If our lives are sacrificed, where is our freedom?

Last, if physical death was the end, your argument against God being good is ironclad. However, it falls apart if there exists a spiritual life beyond the grave.

Why? He supposedly puts the vast majority of all humans in hell for eternity? Is that the action of a good god? A loving god?

It would be the action of a weak, puny, petty, rather stupid godlet who couldn't find a better way to convince people to do what he wanted, and worked out his frustration by making them suffer.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

Michael;

So your interpretation of ethics is worth suffering eternal torment with fire and brimstone?

Yes. Of course.

Torturing me for all eternity wouldn't make god any more ethical, so why should it make me lower my standards to pretend that it does?

So refusing to stop crime is equated with being an accessory?

Give the ability to stop a crime, the refusal to do so makes one an accessory.

At the very least, a charge of "criminally negligent" can be supported.