If you got philosophical problems, I feel bad for ya, son. I got 99 problems, but evil ain’t one!
It all began when a fellow atheist, nicknamed The Thinking Atheist (a redundancy if I ever heard one) released a revamped version of his video, The Story of Suzie, a tale of a Christian woman who prays to God, hasn’t yet realized it’s all futile, thanks God that natural disasters didn’t claim more victims than they already had, and thinks that everything that happens is according to God’s plan. Of course, The Christian Post took offense to TTA’s portrayal of Suzie and people like her.
In case you’re wondering about the blog title, I’m referring not only to Jay-Z’s song, “99 Problems”, but also the infamous Problem of Evil, brought up originally by Epicurius, an Ancient Greek philosopher who came up with his own variant:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
It’s a common problem brought up by atheists, skeptics, and freethinkers alike, around which Christians like to dance by saying that God allows evil to happen to act as a measuring stick for good (because we all know God’s goodness can’t be good unless something else props it up). This is the point that Dr. Norman L. Geisler (author of an apologist book that the Post is trying to sell through their article) brings up:
“You look at all of that [and] you sympathize with Susie because you think they (disasters, illnesses, etc.) are evil,” he said. “But if it’s evil, then there must be a standard for good. If there is a crooked line in this world then there must be a straight line. If there is a straight line then there must be God.”
Sorry, but the logic doesn’t follow to that particular conclusion. Just because humans created the false dichotomy of straight vs. crooked lines — what about curved lines? — doesn’t mean everything is this same kind of false dichotomy. The concept of good vs. evil is such an example of fallacious reasoning: if there is evil, then there must be good. The world is not so black and white. What is evil to one person is good to another.
Also, if only crooked lines exist (say, in nature), then why would it follow that straight lines exist as well? While it is very possible that there could exist a tree that is perfectly perpendicular to the ground without ever leaning crooked (a straight line), it’s also possible that no such tree exists. Until we find this “straight line”, then it’s impossible to say with any certainty that such a thing exists.
Another issue I take with this article is the claim that God allows evil to happen, just so he can step in and look like a hero by producing good:
“In every situation, God works for the good. He permits evil so He can produce good,” he said.
“For example, you permit yourself to go to the dentist knowing it’s going to be painful but if you don’t then it’s going to be more painful. God permits evil to bring a greater good.”
That is a horrible example. Not only is there a false equivocation between pain and evil — in this case, the pain is not evil, but necessary — but we know what the outcome will be of a dental procedure such as a filling or a root canal. We know that the results will almost always be positive and beneficial. We know this because dentistry isn’t some magic that just have to take on faith alone, and believe without any evidence; we have decades upon decades of knowledge in matters of dentistry to back up all the education and experience that is required for a dentist to practice his mysterious voodoo magic.
We can talk to people who have had root canals before, who can tell you that it was painful, but necessary in order to preserve their tooth (or teeth).
Furthermore, the whole “permitting evil to bring a greater good” thing doesn’t always stand. If my son was riding a bicycle without a helmet, would you say that it’s more moral for me (1) stop him, tell him to wear a helmet, and prevent a potential tragedy; or (2) let him crash, fall, possibly injure himself, and hope that he learned some kind of lesson about head protection? Would be really be better off having cracked his skull, causing him pain and anguish, by not preventing his accident in the first place?
It would be like if Superman allowed a robbery to take place, just so he could step in and save the day, becoming the hero in the process — and ignoring the fact that he could have easily prevented the robbery in the first place while he was standing around doing absolutely nothing.
Another funny part of the article:
When it comes to Suzie’s recovery from sickness, for example, the video fails to acknowledge that God is the one who designed her body with properties to heal naturally, said Geisler.
Natural disaster and illness are not part of God’s original plan for the world, stated Geisler, but it is man’s sin that “messed up” the natural order.
Well, which is it? Why did God design our bodies “with properties to heal naturally” if illness weren’t part of God’s original plan for the world? If God didn’t plan on disease and illness, then why put self-healing abilities into humans at all? Did God know that man would eventually introduce evil? He must have, because he is said to be omniscient (all-knowing). If so, then, why didn’t he just design the world and mankind this way right from the very beginning? How weak is God’s creation ability that humans can muck it up very easily just by disobeying a simple order not to eat a damn apple?
The Bible makes God look like a failed architect and imbecilic designer, who just can’t keep things from going awry moments after finishing his creation. But to avoid exposing God as an incompetent, bumbling fool, they insist that he planned it like that from the very beginning. Still, why did he even give humanity that opportunity if he knew the outcome already? Also, if God permits evil but doesn’t promote evil, then what about all the genocide that God promoted in the Old Testament?
These are questions that Christians either can’t answer, or do so in a completely unconvincing manner, using circular reasoning and flawed arguments that a first-year logic student would find laughable.
What do you think? Add your comment below!