For the religious among you, look away. It’s going to get controversial.
Before I became an Atheist, I was raised a Roman Catholic. If there is anything I know about God from my more religious days, it’s that God is three things:
But, when you think about that in the context of our world, that is an impossible combination. Our world is ravished by suffering: physical, mental, emotional, etc. I would argue that when given any sort of suffering, God’s three characteristics don’t hold up. Let’s use a specific instance like the death of a newborn baby, which is something that does happen. According to a 2014 CDC article called “Infant Mortality,” six out of every thousand babies die in their first year. In 2011, in the US alone, 24,000 infants died. Yes, I know. It’s going to get a little heavy. But bear with me and I’ll give you a picture of an adorable piggy with an ice cream cone at the end. Deal? Alright, let’s do it.
So, let’s imagine that there is truly a God and this God is all-righteous, all-knowing, and all-powerful. If God is all-righteous, he would not want this child to die. The child is too young to have done anything sinful and is definitely too young to have done anything sinful with malicious intent. The child doesn’t deserve to die. But he does. He suffers death and his family and all those attached to him are hopelessly wounded. Surely they don’t all deserve to suffer. There is no righteousness in letting the child die. So, God, being all-righteous, would not want this to happen.
God is also all-knowing. He knows about the newborn’s death before the newborn is even created. He knows about the newborn’s death even before the newborn’s parents are created. God knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, including the death of this baby. But, his omniscience means that he also knows how to stop the baby’s death. One might argue that the universe has a given set of rules with a given amount of possibilities. Here’s my retort: God supposedly created the universe. If he has the knowledge and the power (we will get to that soon) to create a universe and all its principles, then he has the knowledge and the power to change the universe and all its principles. Thus, we can state up to this point that God knows of the baby’s death, wants to stop it, and knows how to stop it.
Since God is all-powerful, he has the power to stop the child’s death. Simply put, God can do anything he wants. So, why can’t he save the newborn? If he’s all-righteous, he would want to save him, and if he’s all-knowing, he already knows about the death and knows how to stop it. So why does the baby die? This doesn’t make sense. Maybe God isn’t all three of these characteristics. Let’s look at the other options and what they would mean.
- God is all-righteous and all-knowing
- This means that God would know about the baby’s death before it happened, would know how to stop it, and would want to stop it. Yet, since God is not all-powerful, he can’t stop it.
- God is all-righteous and all-powerful
- This means that God would want to stop the baby’s death and would have the power to do so, but wouldn’t know about the death before it happened or wouldn’t know how to stop it.
- God is all-knowing and all-powerful
- This means that God would know about the baby’s death before it happened, would know how to stop it, and would have the power to do so. In this case, God basically doesn’t give a shit.
- God is all-righteous
- This means that God would want to stop the baby’s death, but wouldn’t know about it, know how to stop it, and/or have the power to do so.
- Is this even a god? Most people would agree the dictionary.com definition of a god as “a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes.” A god like this just sounds like a really nice guy.
- God is all-knowing
- This means that God would know about the death and how to stop it, but wouldn’t have the power to do so and/or wouldn’t want to stop it.
- Food for thought: if you’re all-knowing, wouldn’t you know how to be all-powerful? Wouldn’t you know what to do to become all-powerful? Maybe omniscience is tied to omnipotence. You might be able to relate all-righteousness to this as well. But I’ll let you think about that.
- God is all-powerful
- This means that God would have the power to stop it, but wouldn’t know about the death, how to stop it, and/or wouldn’t want to stop it.
- God is none of these/God doesn’t exist
- Just mull it over. From a logical standpoint, which one of these sounds most probable? I’d say this one.
Suffering doesn’t make sense with the Christian God. How do Christians justify suffering?
- God Has a Plan
- God has a plan and in this plan suffering is necessary. Why is it necessary? God can do whatever he wants. Nothing is necessary for him. Also, HEY! It’s not very righteous to create a world where people suffer.
- Free Will
- God gave us free will so we can choose between good and evil. Why? He wants to know if you’re good enough to be in heaven or bad enough to be in hell. Why can’t he make a race of people who are all good-natured and will all go to heaven? What reason does God have for creating people who can and will defy him? It’s too boring? Are we just a game? Heck, while we’re at it, let’s ask an even bigger question: why did God need to make us in the first place?
- God is all-knowing. He knows everything that will happen. He knows whether or not we’re worthy enough for heaven before he even creates us. So what purpose does he have of creating people that will inevitably defy him, go to hell, and then suffer for eternity? Why waste the energy? It’s not very righteous either. Is it?
- Is free will even real? I’ll discuss this in another post. Just you wait.
- This is the Best the Universe Can Be
- Uh no. Yeah, it has its moments. But I could easily picture a better universe. I stubbed my toe today. The universe would definitely be better if I didn’t stub my toe today. Are you going to tell me that God isn’t powerful enough to prevent me from stubbing my toe? I’m calling bullshit.
- God isn’t Responsible
- He sure as hell is. If not directly, he is indirectly responsible. You say that Satan causes suffering? Who created Satan? God created Satan. And don’t even try to tell me that the all-knowing God did not know that Satan would be a total dick.
- Don’t Question It. Have Faith.
- This is by far the most infuriating thing!!! This is not an explanation. This is a cop out. This is ignorance. Ignorance may be bliss, but it does not help anyone. 24,000 infants died in the US in 2011. The world has no use for people who say, “Well, that’s the way it is.” The world needs people who say, “That is a terrible statistic. I will figure it out why the number is so high and work to bring that number down.”
Alright, here’s that piggy!