Yahweh is said by Christians to have certain attributes such as being all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful, but the attributes of the god Yahweh, as depicted in the Bible, present a god that is not only supposedly loving--but also angry, jealous, vengeful, and just plain evil. According to Christians, Yahweh is an all-powerful, all good, all knowing god--which is inconsistent with a world of suffering--and this is known as the Problem of Evil. The dilemma for Christians is that if Yahweh is all powerful and all knowing, he could accomplish any of his tasks without the need for suffering--or he would not be all powerful and all knowing. If he was all good, he would want to create a world without any pain and suffering, since it would be within his power and knowledge to do so. But clearly we have pain and suffering. Therefore, Yahweh is not all knowing, all good, or all powerful.
The Christians face another dilemma in regards to the Problem of Evil. According to the Christian eschatological view, our pain and suffering is the result of the sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. However, since Yahweh is said to have created heaven without pain and suffering, he could have also created a world where Adam and Eve were free of pain and suffering without the possibility of experiencing it. If he could have created such a world and chose not to, then the best explanation for our pain and suffering is that Yahweh is an egotistical sadist. If Yahweh created a heaven where people are happy and "sinless, and without pain and suffering," Yahweh could have also created earth in the same manner--but chose to have his children be inflicted by pain and suffering instead. Surely--the actions of an egotistical and sadistic god.
Christian apologists have been asked, "How can we be free in heaven and not sin?" Their answer has been that man does retain his free will in heaven, but loses the capacity to sin. How does this work? We are told by the Christian apologists that the Christian god gives humans a new "godly nature" when they become "saved." They are then indwelt with the Holy Spirit and given a new nature. 2 Peter 1:4 states:
"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine natureSo, we see that those who are saved are given a nature that is radically different than the fallen nature that is said to be inherited from Adam and Eve. This claim is based on Augustine's conception of original sin. Supposedly, this new nature is godly, agreeing with all the precepts and laws of God, and since they completely obey all God's laws, they would be sinless, as Jesus was said to be without sin, and therefore, he was perfect. (2 Cor. 3:21;Matt 5:17) In reference to the problem of evil, the most significant point here is that this "nature" that is given to humans by god means that they will not sin, but yet they are still considered to be "free." This hammers home the point that Yahweh could have created us in such a way that we were free on earth, and yet never sinned in the first place--thus, avoiding pain and suffering. He could have created us with a "godly" nature in the first place, but obviously according to Christians and the Bible, he chose not to. Again, the best explanation for this, is that if Yahweh existed as depicted by Christians and the Bible, then he is an egotistical and sadistic god, because, as some Christians have told me, Yahweh chose to make this world to satisfy HIS needs--not ours. It appears then, that Yahweh NEEDS to experience the pain and suffering of his children to satisfy some needs that he has. What needs could these be, other than masochistic/sadistic needs, given the fact he could have created a world without pain and suffering--one in which love and respect is absolute. All the pain and suffering could have been avoided if Yahweh had created a world in which humans had a godly nature, and thus had free will and no sin in the first place. Truly--a sadistic god.
Now, Christians might claim that if we do not experience pain and suffering, then we would have no knowledge of "good." The first point is that if this was the case, then Yahweh would not be all-knowing and all-powerful, as clearly, if he was, he could have created us with a godly nature, and the knowledge of good, without having to experience pain and suffering. With this in mind, how is it that God knows the difference between good and evil, when according to Christians, he has this knowledge, but has not sinned? How did Yahweh have the knowledge of pain and suffering before the "Fall of Man"? He would have had no experience of pain and suffering, but yet, he knew what it was, and since he is said to be the creator of all things, he created pain and suffering. Thus, he could have created us with a godly nature, and knowledge of pain and suffering and good and evil, without having to have us experience it. The idea of pain and suffering on earth, without having pain and suffering in heaven is especially heinous when we consider there is nothing to learn from pain and suffering on earth if we will never experience it in heaven.
Some Christians explain away the problem of evil by pointing out that the good aim that God has is NOT to make humans have happy feelings in this life. This means that Yahweh is not about giving human beings happy feelings in this life, and based on the stories of the Bible, and what we have experienced in this world throughout history, this point--that is, if there was a god named Yahweh--might be true. Biblically, it is clear that Yahweh is definitely not about giving human beings happy feelings! In fact, the Bible tells us that Yahweh is responsible for much in the way of misery! (He did create evil after all, and admits it in Isaiah 45:7). If we assume this is true, then given the pain and suffering depicted in the Bible, and the pain and suffering we experience in our world, it would support the conclusion that Yahweh has no interest in the happiness of humanity. The best explanation for this behavior is that Yahweh, if he existed, is an egotistical sadist. The following is an example of how a Christian once explained the problem of evil to me:
"He (Yahweh) knew in advance that man would fall into depravity and it would grieve him, but he made man anyway because he knows the final outcome and the joy. In a limited manner a person can warn their children about the dangers of certain situations knowing full well that our kids one way or another are going to have struggles which we will have to endure. At such times we will feel regrets even knowing that some sufferings are temporary."This, however, would mean that Yahweh allows little girls to be raped, mothers to be beaten to death, and innocent people to be tortured--all in the name of "joy." Does this mean then, that Yahweh requires us to suffer in order to experience joy? If Yahweh requires us to suffer to obtain the "greater joy" when he himself could stop suffering and still allow us to experience joy (otherwise he would not be all powerful), the above claim would still make Yahweh a sadist of epic proportions.
If it is Yahweh who "orchestrates a world that meets his needs,"* as some Christians claim, then this too would mean that Yahweh needs to have little children raped and murdered, and he needs to have women beaten to death. Again, these are not the actions of a loving god, but the actions of an egotistical, sadistic god. Yahweh could choose to make the pain and suffering go away--but chooses not to. Yahweh could also have prevented every instance of evil by not creating it, thereby avoiding human pain and suffering--without losing any overall goodness. Otherwise Yahweh could not be all knowing, all powerful, or all good!
Richard Dawkins, in his book "The God Delusion" argued that Yahweh is undoubtedly an unpleasant character as Dawkins describes the Christian god as:
“... arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”However, the Christian philosopher Alister McGrath believes otherwise, and he contends that the view of Yahweh as a malevolent bully puts Dawkins and other "New Atheists" in an "intellectually and morally uncomfortable place." He goes on to state that:
" The more it (New Atheism) excoriates religion as irrational and immoral, the more it highlights the irrationality and immorality of its creators. It's caught in a dilemma framed and created by two of its core beliefs (neither of which, of course can be proved) 1. God is evil and nasty. 2. God is a delusion created by human beings."*** "..But if there is no god the spotlight of blame shifts relentlessly onto us."What Mr. McGrath is saying is that if there is no God as Mr. Dawkins and many others contend, then humans are to blame for what is "evil and nasty," and not god; it is humans that are evil and nasty because they CHOOSE to be evil and nasty--not because they were born that way. Having a god therefore, allows them to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. However, this is exactly what needs to be avoided--humans NEED to take responsibility for what they do. If humans were taught to take responsibility for their own actions, they would have more of a tendency to do right.
If we assume that Yahweh does exist, then the "New Atheists" are right, and their god is "evil and nasty" as the problem of evil indicates. One of many logical formulations of the “Problem of Evil is the following, which is often attributed to Epicurus, and may be schematized as follows:
P1.If a perfectly good God exists, then there is no evil in the world.
P2. There is not, not evil in the world.
C. Therefore, a perfectly good God does not exist.
This argument is of the logically valid form modus tollens, that is: “If P, then Q. Not Q, therefore, not P.” In this example, P is "God exists" and Q is "there is not evil in the world".
P2.God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good
P3.A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.
P4. An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.
P5. An omnipotent being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
P6. A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
P7. If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being,then no evil exists
P8. Evil exists (logical contradiction)
C. Therefore, there is not an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being (God)
As the above formulas points out, since evil exists, it is inconsistent to conceive of Yahweh as being all good, all powerful and all knowing. Furthermore, if Yahweh is omniscient, then Yahweh knows what he is going to do next. If Yahweh is omnipotent, then Yahweh can change his mind; but what then happens to his omniscience if Yahweh changes his mind?--as it would be inconsistent for an all knowing god to do so. Christians attempt to argue this point by assuming that:
1. A good being will not always prevent evil.
2.We cannot know what goes on in the mind of God.
3.The purpose for suffering is for the ultimate good.
Dean Overman, in his book "A Case for the Existence of God" gave this argument to counter the "Problem of Evil":
"The argument assumes that a good being will always prevent evil. But this assumption is obviously not true in our own experiences. Good persons do not always prevent all evil. For example, parents may not allow their children to ride in automobiles, because automobiles have accidents that came from riding a car to receive emergency medical treatment. Perhaps a more plausible assumption than a good being always preventing evil, would be that a completely good being will prevent all evil unless the prevention of that evil precludes a greater good or causes a greater evil." *****What Mr. Overman and many Christians fail to realize with such analogies, is that it is God we are speaking of--not human beings. It is God who is claimed to be all good, all knowing and all powerful, and we as humans do not claim to have these "God-like" attributes. We are talking about God here, and if God was all powerful, he could prevent evil, and if God were all knowing, he would know how to create a world without evil, and if God were all-good, he would have never created evil in the first place. As Descartes pointed out, Christians ought to give up one of the attributes of Yahweh, or the Christian God falls to the problem of evil.
Yahweh and the "Problem of Evil, can be also related to what is known as "Blaming the Victim." Victim blaming is the term used when the victim(s) of a crime, an accident, or any type of abusive maltreatment is either entirely or partially blamed for the transgressions committed against them. Traditionally, victim blaming is practiced in the realms of sexism and racism, however it can also hold true in the realm of Christian thought. In Christian terms, victim-blaming is the "just-world phenomenon." People who believe that the world has to be fair may find it hard or impossible to accept a situation in which a person is unfairly and badly hurt. This leads to a sense that somehow, the victim must have surely done something to deserve their fate.
If the Christian god is perfect, then it follows that this god had to have created a perfect world--but this flies in the face of the sometimes evil, and unjust world we live in. What is even worse, is that if a perfect god cannot make mistakes, then he created an imperfect world full of pain and suffering on purpose. If we are to believe what the Bible tells us, this would have to be the case, as it states that "...EVERY decision is from the Lord" in Proverbs 16:33. This means there is no free will, and Adam and Eve are not to blame for bringing sin into the world, as that was Yahweh's plan all along. That is of course, if you believe the Bible to be the word of God.
All of the results of evil in the world, according to the Bible, is, in fact, the fault of Yahweh, as he created evil (Isaiah 45:7), as there would be no evil had he not created it. There are problems associating an all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful god with moral evil, just as there are problems with such a god creating the natural evils of the world such as disease, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis that kill millions of innocent people. In the case of natural disasters, apologists claim they are good for the earth, and we need earthquakes for example, in order to gain more land, and lightning to deliver nitrogen to plants, and bacterial pathogens are required to "recycle biological materials."****** Again, if we consider that Yahweh is claimed to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, it makes more sense that he could "recycle" without killing living beings, and deliver nitrogen to plants in a much less destructive manner. Furthermore, considering the devastation and loss of life which resulted from such events as the 2005 earthquake in the Philippines, and the 2011 earthquake in Japan which killed millions, and left millions more homeless, this level of evil certainly cannot be attributed to an all "all-loving," or "all-good" god.
Christians also claim disease is the result of sin--even the cancer and other diseases innocent babies suffer from. This of course, is ridiculous, as we know diseases are caused for various reasons, including chemicals in our environment--much of which is put there by those who believe they have dominion over the earth ( i.e., Christians) and can do with it what they please. To say disease is caused by sin however, would mean innocent babies that die of cancer did so because they "sinned," and grandmothers who have Alzheimer's Disease have it because they "sinned." It means Yahweh is punishing the babies and grandmothers for their "sins" while allowing healthy Christian prisoners who have murdered and raped innocent people to live healthy lives in jail--which is ridiculous.
So why is there such excessive evil among humans? I argue that religion plays a large part in why excessive evil exists--and in this case, the Christian religion based on the god Yahweh. This is because Christians are taught that "sinning" is a part of their "human nature" and the Christian philosophy of repentance results in Christians who believe they can get away with participating in evil activities--without any consequences in regards to their salvation. What follows from this "absolute absolution," is that anyone who is a believer, believes they can do what they will as long as they do not get caught--and Jesus will still forgive them. This is not justice, it is a loophole. Moreover, this "loophole of forgiveness" helps to perpetuate evil deeds, as it offers no consequences in reference to their salvation--which is the real problem of evil. When there are no consequences, evil takes root and becomes a cancer upon society.
**.The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, p. 31
***. Why God Won't Go Away, Alister McGrath, p. 93
****. Ibid., p. 94
*****.A Case for the Existence of God, Dean Overman, p. 91-92