The road to non-belief is not straightforward, it is in most cases a slow journey. It is the lowly drop of water and not the majestic wave that slowly erodes the stone and in this way our belief in the supernatural is whittled down until one day we realize that what was once incontrovertible, now is an argument that holds no water.
It seems to me that although non-belief is the result of a long list of things that make us question the validity of that which we hold true, many times there is a first question a first doubt. In my case, I think that the first question was something that I would later learn is called the problem of evil.
When I was a kid, I would always think that nobody could ever go to Hell because God being an all-knowing, all-caring and all-powerful being would not allow it. How could he? He knew everything before it happened. He loved everybody so he did not wish bad things to happen and of course he could do anything.
He could do anything and did everything. So where did bad things come from?
What?! You mean God created evil? No way! Well, yes way.
I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am the LORD, that doeth all these things.
Jewish Publication Society Bible YISHEYAH (Book of Isaiah) Chapter 45
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Pure Cambridge Edition
Evil exists and God created it. How can that be? Well this leads us into the problem of evil.
God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.
A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.
An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.
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.
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.
If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.
Evil exists (logical contradiction).
So following that logic. God is a logical contradiction.
And of course we also have the problem of Hell, but that is another question.
There are many defences and theodicies that theists use to get around this problem. One way that they defend this problem is through the free will argument: It is a very good thing that God has created persons with free will. God cannot eliminate evil, because in doing so he would remove the possibility of free will and making correct moral choices.
Ok we have free will and can choose good or evil. We are imperfect and at least one time, if not many, we will choose wrong. God being perfect and endowed with omniscience knows this before we do it, in fact even before we come into existence. Or maybe he cannot know this, but that would strip him of omniscience. Of course this would resolve the problem of evil, but would render God imperfect.
And talking of free will. The concept of free will beyond the constraints of the physical universe is childish, downright stupid. Free will must be understood within the constraints of a physical universe as we are physical beings. To think that we could have absolute free will would make us supernatural, would make us in fact gods. The matter at question is: do we have the ability to make free choices within the constraints of a physical universe? That is the true question of free will.
We do not have conscious free will as has been stated elsewhere, and that seems to destroy the free will theodicy, but we are agents capable of decisions, albeit these decisions are made in a subconscious manner.
And I never even got to the question of natural evil, that is a whole new ball-game.
So what got you started? What flipped your switch?
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?”
See you next time.
- Problem of evil: Is free will defense adequate (maasaiboys.wordpress.com)
- A Philosophical View (theburdenofevidence.wordpress.com)
- The Exorcist, or: What the hell, God? (cjdecaro.com)
- Schelling and Human Self-Will as the Origin of Evil (kalountos.wordpress.com)
- Is God Weird or What? (openobserver.wordpress.com)
- Can God Know the Future? (esoterichyperbole.wordpress.com)