Also known as the Argument from Evil.

The Problem of Evil is an extremely well-known and constantly rehashed theological/philosophical argument. It is intended to prove that the idea of the Christian God contains a contradiction. It is often generalized to refer to the 'Judaic-Christian-Islamic God' (G-C-I God), as all three gods share the relevant characteristics.

It is generally assumed that the J-C-I God is both omnipotent and infinitely benevolent. If you do not hold these to be true, the argument will not hold.

                (1) There is evil (pain, suffering, etc.) in the world.
                (2) If God could avoid evil, he would.
Therefore:(3) It cannot be true both that God could avoid evil and that he wants to avoid evil.
Therefore:(4) Either God could not avoid evil or God did not want to avoid evil.
                (5) If God could not avoid evil, then God is not all-powerful (omnipotent).
                (6) If God did not want to avoid evil, then God is not all-good (benevolent).
Therefore:(7) Either God is not omnipotent, or God is not benevolent.

This is one of the strongest arguments against the J-C-I God as it is commonly conceived.

One of the strongest objections against this argument is that evil must exist to allow us to have free will, but this objection does have some flaws.

The objection generally runs that free will is good AND that if we could not do bad things we would not truly have free will. Therefor, in order to maximize good God must allow free will and allow us to do Bad Things.

My favorite answer to this objection is that there are many things that Humans cannot do, no matter how hard they will it. For example: If I decided that I wished to kill all Jews, I would be lucky to kill 10,000. Hitler did wish to kill Jews, and killed quite a few more than 10,000. He did not have more free will than I did. He was just 'lucky'. Therefor, some evil is not the result of free will, it is only the result of 'luck'. I argue that God did not have to allow 'luck' in order to maximize good.

God gives us free will, but he limits in many ways. I have some choices, but not others. I can kill someone, but I cannot fly; I cannot read minds; I cannot live for 500 years. God denied me all of this. Why couldn't He have also denied me the ability to kill? In what sense is this ability needed in order for me to have free will?

Does it seem that we have the best of all possible range of possible actions? The Christian God does have control over Everything. Why did He decide killing/torture/suffering was necessary for free will? It may be necessary for us to sin in order for us to gain any moral merit from our free will, but there are other, happier, ways to sin.

Perhaps an even stronger objection is that, in theory, God has free will, and yet He does no evil. It is debatable as to whether or not God could do anything evil. This suggests that evil and free will are not necessarily linked.

Another interesting objection to the Problem of Evil is that God is inscrutable, and trying to explain (or, horror!, criticize) his actions is a fool's game.

There is also a severe, although perhaps not fatal, problem with this objection. Most of us sincerely, absolutely, and without a moment's hesitation believe that killing, rape, torture, and all that stuff, are BAD. And furthermore, we believe that people who willingly allow this sort of Evil are also bad. If it is Good for God to allow this sort of thing, that indicates that we are wrong, and that Evil is actually Good (at least sometimes).

Trying to argue that the ultimate standard in Good is inscrutable and incomprehensible leads us to conclude that it is impossible to know how to be good. Fortunately, we are left with the commandments to Love Thy Neighbor and Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You, which tell us how to be good, even if they are inscrutable. This leaves us, of course, in the position of weighing a moron who double parks in front of you as being as much of a sinner as is a murderer; they are both breaking the Golden Rule. And if God (and good) truly is inscrutable, we cannot question this.

It also means saying that God is "infinitely benevolent" looses all of its meaning. If we cannot understand the way in which God is good, then we cannot understand the term 'benevolent' as it applies to God. And moreover, the phrase "God is good" is unintelligible -- the same as saying that "God is xckdusa". It surely means something important, but we can't understand what that might be.

One possible problem with this is number (2): Would the Christian God avoid evil if He could? There's not a lot of evidence for that in the Bible. JHVH is a wrathful and petulant SOB most of the time in the Old Testament, and then he went and got his kid nailed to a tree just to prove a point.

I'm not sure that (6) proves much; the standard response is that God's benevolence is inscrutable, because He's God for God's sake. "Don't pay it no mind, that's just his way", so to speak. The question you have to ask is, "is evil bad?" I mean, absolutely and fundamentally bad, bad that it exists at all, not just that it's bad for you or me to do it. "God's Plan" and all that. I don't think we've established that the existence of evil is inconsistent with divine benevolence. Is it anti-benevolent to swat one's kids when it's appropriate? For all we know (or can know), God's concept of tough love may well include atrocities like the Holocaust, the Tutsi genocide, and Hootie and the Blowfish. He's in a position to take a very long view of things; according to Christian theology, the soul will exist for a long, long time after the body dies. Life is a blip.

Ultimately, we're discussing the properties of an entity when those properties cannot be fully known. What use then is logic? I think it would be fairer to condense those seven steps into one: "It's a crock". The whole thing just slithers loose whenever you try to grab it. That which is by definition insusceptible to logic may as well be viewed with a jaundiced eye, if only for lack of anything better to view it with. Either that, or get down with Kierkegaard and start leapin'.

I was gonna reply to this with some dumbass crack about the problem with evil being that the hours are irregular, but dammit it turned out to be something interesting. You can't win 'em all.
It can also be argued that the best proof of God's love for humanity is that he allows humans free will.

Yes, this sometimes means that they will perpetrate great evil upon one another. But the good that comes from free action is far more valuable than that which is forced- can we even say that a man is good when he does good things only because there is a gun against his head? He isn't actually doing them- the man with the gun is telling him what to do. There's no good in that, only self-interest.

Now, if you believe that all actions are predestined, and that human will plays no part whatsoever in actions taken on Earth, then I can see the logic. But otherwise, it only makes sense that evil would be allowed to exist, because you cannot have ultimate and meaningful good without the temptation of evil.

Abraham Heschel, a 20th-century rabbi, wrote (roughly) that modern Westerns "expect G-d to act like a middle-aged father, and then are forced to come up with excuses for Him when He doesn't." The objections to thing In the Bible, God answers these objections in Job 38 and his answer is, basically, "mind your own business." That's not particularly satisfying. It's especially grim when you consider that ancient Judaism didn't have heaven to fall back on; in their belief system, if you were screwed on Earth that was that...the afterlife isn't a place where everything gets fixed up.

I do have a possible response. Tem42 said that "there are many things that Humans can't do, no matter how hard they will it." That's not true. The evidence so far suggests that humans, as a species, can in fact do anything we want. History is filled with people who said "God will not allow it!" In every case, they were wrong. Individual human beings are limited in what they can achieve, but the human race can apparently do anything. The free will of humanity as a whole is indeed infinite.

s_alanet: carnivores pre-date humans by several hundred million years--billions, even, depending on your definition of "carnivore." Your argument only makes sense if you hold to a young-world creationist idea. If you believe that, you're welcome to do so, but in this forum you're only going to make Christianity look bad (see bad theology).

Tem42: All I can say is that the relationship between finite and infinite things is confusing enough when you're not trying to quantify an abstract like free will. Your free will, which is finite but non-zero, is one value in a sequence of human free wills that tends to infinity. Why do you have the amount of free will that you do? That's like asking why 100 is bigger than 99 but smaller than 101. Any infinite sequence is made up of particular quantities...your free will, and mine, are finite points that are part of the sequence.

The Book of Job contains one solution to the Problem of Evil. It posits that God's program is not to make human life easy, i.e. he is not omnibenevolent in the modern suburban Christian sense. The God of Job intends to test humanity for his own inscrutable purposes, and that Satan is his helpmate in this. That's damn unsatisfying, even sacreligious, if you were brought up to believe in an omnibenevolent God -- it amounts to making God and Satan equals, even partners in crime. However, this viewpoint turns the Problem of Evil from a pat (and honestly, rather trite) refutation of the Abrahamic God into an interesting theological tool for discussing the nature of that God.

From the Principia Discordia:


One day Mal-2 asked the messenger spirit Saint Gulik to approach the Goddess and request Her presence for some desperate advice. Shortly afterwards the radio came on by itself, and an ethereal female Voice said YES?

"O! Eris! Blessed Mother of Man! Queen of Chaos! Daughter of Discord! Concubine of Confusion! O! Exquisite Lady, I beseech You to lift a heavy burden from my heart!"


"I am filled with fear and tormented with terrible visions of pain. Everywhere people are hurting one another, the planet is rampant with injustices, whole societies plunder groups of their own people, mothers imprison sons, children perish while brothers war. O, woe."


"But nobody wants it! Everybody hates it."


At which moment She turned herself into an aspirin commercial and left The Polyfather stranded alone with his species.

((I initially had this posted under God, but I think it fits in better here.))

God. Does He/She/It exist? I won't lie to you, I personally have no goddamned idea. I have a few speculations, though. For the sake of brevity, I'll only share three of them.

One. God is not good. God doesn't give a flying fuck whether we all live or die. No, strike that- he'd much rather see us all dead. That way he doesn't have to put up with our endless whining on why all this had to happen. Basically, God as The Almighty Bastard. The only difference between God and Satan is that Satan's willing to at least offer us something for all our work on his behalf.

Two. God is incompetent. God has no clue on how to run the world. As we all know, crappy help is always worse than no help at all.

And finally... Three. God is on vacation and the universe is being run by lackeys. Currently, God is sitting on the Edge of the Abyss holding an alcoholic drink with an umbrella in it in the Omnipotent Hand, watching the pretty colors go by. His two lackeys, Fate and Chance, are too busy bickering with each other (let's not forget the plotting and backstabbing, of course) to get anything of worth accomplished. Occasionally it amuses them to play with the humans, but that's about it.

Hmmm, two Rants in one day, I must be getting testy. Let's see if I pull off a third....

This write-up was brought to you by the Associated Ranter's Network. ARN- an affiliate of FOX: "Give us five minutes, and we'll show you an ass."
I am not a Christian, nor am I Jewish or Islamic, or most anything else. I am a skeptic. Most of the time, the problem of evil is associated with Christianity, and most of the work about it has been done from a Christian view point, and thus the one that I shall express here.

If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?
This is the problem of evil, and has been tackled by many philosophers. Bayle asked the same question in his article Rorarius, to which Leibniz responded in the Theodicy:

... it must be confessed that there is evil in this world which God has made, and that it was possible to make a world without evil ...
... the best plan is not always that which seeks to avoid evil, since it may happen that the evil is accompanied by a greater good. ... In this I have followed the opinion of St. Augustine, who has said a hundred times, that God has permitted evil in order to bring about good, that is, a greater good; and that of Thomas Aquinas, that the permitting of evil tends to the good of the universe.

Is it necessary for God to create a world completely free of evil? Evil is part of free will. If there is a God, and you and I have free will, then it is necessary for us to be able to do evil. Picture a world in which no one can choose to do an evil thing - however evil is defined. This would be a very boring place to be. In part, it is evil that allows for the varied creation that we do live in. Does anyone who has tasted free will wish to live in a world of do-good robots?

Many people point to the fall of man as the start of all our problems. That may be true, however, it is also the start of our salvation.

I have shown that the ancients called Adam's fall felix culpa, a happy sin, because it had been retrieved with immense advantage by the incarnation of the Son of God, who has given to the universe something nobler than anything that ever would have been among creatures except for it. For the sake of a clearer understanding, I have added, following many good authors, that it was in accordance with order and the general good that God allowed to certain creatures the opportunity of exercising their liberty, even when he foresaw that they would turn to evil, but which he could so well rectify; because it was not fitting that, in order to hinder sin, God should always act in an extraordinary manner. To overthrow this objection, therefore, it is sufficient to show that a world with evil might be better than a world without evil; but I have gone even farther, in the work, and have even proved that this universe must be in reality better than every other possible universe.

What about free will. People keep pointing their fingers at it claiming that it does or does not back up some argument. Let's try to settle this.

Free will is the ability for a being to choose otherwise. Do animals have free will? Some of them very well may. Back to humans though. We can choose. We cannot perceive any limitations on our choices, we certainly don't have any limitations about our choices in our dreams. You have the capability to make the choice to kill someone or not. That is free will.

Does God watch a play that He wrote a script to? or play with dolls and mindless robots?

We are actors in a play. I would like you to picture a play, where there is no conflict, there is nothing that is going wrong. All the actors do is live in perfect bliss walking around nude in a garden. Would you go and watch it? No, get your mind out of the gutter, its not a porno. It would be rather uninteresting to watch. It would also be rather uninteresting to act in. Who are we, as finite mortals to say what is 'best' in the eyes of God?

Let me quote, one more time Leibniz:

To overthrow this objection, therefore, it is sufficient to show that a world with evil might be better than a world without evil; but I have gone even farther, in the work, and have even proved that this universe must be in reality better than every other possible universe.

I'm a nontheist, so I am not the one to consider this as any kind of proof or disproof of God.

I look at evil from a totally different perspective; I don't see it as a problem.

To me, the whole concept of evil makes any sense only as part of the closed system our reality is (i.e., the Universe we live in, or samsara, or whatever we may choose to call it).

Whatever or whoever produced this system exists outside of the system. To him/her/it/them evil does not have the meaning it does to us. So it does not prevent him/her/it/them from being perfect, or loving, kind, caring, etc, at least, again, from the perspective of us living in this closed system and looking out of this system.

Hence, I do not see a problem, only a speculation about something that cannot be answered as long as we stay within the system.

In other words, if a computer programmer created a complex system of games and other programs interacting with each other, including sentient and intelligent objects, they could learn about themselves and each other. But anything they might come up with about the programmer and his/her intentions, perfection, etc, would forever be a speculation, and a pretty pointless one. (That is why I am a nontheist, neither a theist, nor an atheist, nor an agnostic - the question of God simply does not exist for me.)

For that matter, with one exception, I do not think in terms of good and evil at all. I think in terms of the wholesome and the unwholesome, in terms of that which hurts and imposes pain and suffering, and that which frees from pain and suffering. Not just my pain and suffering, but that of all sentient beings.

The only exception where I think in terms of good and evil is drama.

As an actor, I love playing evil characters because it is the depth and strength of the villain that makes the hero look good. There are no heroes without villains.

As a writer, I make sure my fictional characters are exposed to as much evil as I can think up. Again, it is the evil they are faced with that makes the reader feel for them and identify with them. And it is the evil they overcome with their own effort that makes them memorable characters, i.e., characters the reader will remember long after he has forgotten the details of the story.

So, I don't view evil as a problem but as the greatest dramatic tool. As far as I am concerned, we only see evil as real because we tend to like having some drama in our own lives.

And should there be such a thing as God, then he is a masterful dramatist who has put evil in our lives to make them more challenging and interesting.

The problem here isn't one about the nature of God, or the nature of Evil. It is about the nature of human understanding in relation to these two, especially God.

We define evil as that which is harmful, or needlessly destructive, or maybe that which inflicts suffering. But as is apparent we are limited beings with crude linguistic and logical tools for dealing with a universe of infinite complexity, never mind the creator of such a universe.

The point is that what may seem good, is actually evil, and what seems good may actually be evil, but we cannot tell except by the impressions we receive from the events that occur through our limited timeframes. To apply the concept of evil, something that we cannot ever hope to realistically understand at a universal level as a refutation of God or His intentions is arrogant, fallacious, or more likely: both.

Perhaps evil is an illusion? And the the needless destruction that we see is just a reflection of our own selfish and limited desires against an ever-shifting background? We often describe evil in terms of ourselves, what about looking at it plainly? What makes something evil, apart from human intent? Can we really say anything about it? How do you punish someone for evil beyond the subjective infliction of more pain, or limiting freedom?

If we do not even know the answers to these, we cannot hope to understand the problem of evil.

Here's my own little solution to the problem of evil:

1. If we were in any sense created by God/dess, should she or he exist, we were so created for his or her own inscrutable purposes. However, that doesn't mean we're helpless.

2. We have free will, or appear to. The illusion of free will is sufficiently convincing. However, our abilities are restricted not by will, but by physical parameters.

3. The physical parameters may not be God's fault, since kenosis (self-limitation) may be in effect with respect to the physical universe. In any case, we have to live with them.

4. One of the physical parameters is that we are of finite size, and do our thinking with a couple of pounds of grey goo. Consequently we shouldn't be too surprised at our inability to discern a divine plan. Of course, the absence of such a plan is another possible explanation.

5. Consequently, we may perceive our place in the world in a less than perfect manner, and presume to know what we're doing when we don't. (Wilful ignorance, as the Bhagavad-gita maintains, is a form of evil. Just a note.)

6. Thus, in my humble and possibly wrong opinion, evil exists because people are basically too thick to be any better. Where human failing cease and active malice begin is a fine point, and where those of us who choose to must trust to the divine mercy.

The point of all this? You have free will - don't expect God to sweep up after you all the time. Other people have free will too - don't expect God to protect you from them.

Well, just to add an alternative view to all this, you probably won't ever hear any of these theological arguments coming up in Muslim circles. No, it isn't because we'd kill all the infidels, though we have some in our ranks who probably would. Rather, good and evil, everywhere I have ever read the matter discussed in Islamic circles, simply refers to those things which benefit and those things which harm, respectively. Therefore, actions typically have both good and evil in them, and one must evaluate actions by balancing the benefit and harm within them. The greatest harm is the hellfire, and the greatest benefit is paradise. A Muslim should live his life attempting to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms, then trust in Allah to spare him that greatest harm and grant him that greatest benefit.

A side effect of this worldview is that some things which may seem evil because of the perceived harm, may have a hidden benefit. Muslims believe in the unseen. The Qur'an tells us that we may detest a thing which is actually good for us. This even applies to death and disease. We pray for good in this world and the next, but we'll sacrifice the good of this world for the next if that is the choice which must be made. This is difficult, and often we come short, but that is the objective. I think the problem of evil is really just caused by a poor definition of good and evil.

The Muslims in the days of the Messenger of God(SAW) regarding the treaty between the Muslims and the Quraysh as evil, and they wondered why they should offer peace to people who oppressed them and tried to kill them and the Prophet(SAW) himself. They only saw the material, immediate harm without seeing the benefit to them, both materially, long term, and in the hereafter. At the time the ummah was small, and they could not understand that which the Prophet(SAW) understood. They saw a few hundred believers among over a million Arabs. Now, this (as it was perceived by many at the time) "evil" was actually a tremendous good for the Muslims, allowing them to make pilgrimages without being stopped, allowing visitors to freely visit the Prophet (SAW), and allowing the Muslims to spread Islam to the point that Mecca was later conquered (after the Quraysh broke the treaty) without bloodshed. Even their suffering had benefit, as it allowed others to see the sincerity of the Muslims.

In order for us even to consider the problem of evil, we really must possess the understanding to define the terms in the problem. It appears to me plainly that we do not. Beings which only have good knowledge of the seen (and that knowledge is obviously incomplete), and very limited knowledge of the unseen (which is only known through revelation) have almost no ability to actually state the Problem of Evil in a meaningful way.

I'm going to take a slightly different angle on the classic "free will defense" bit.

Perhaps God did give us free will, for the reason pointed out by Perianwyr and others: that love is meaningless if it is not given free. Of course, this also opened up the possibility for humans to do evil, and that possibility certainly came to pass.

The end reslt is that we do have free will. And to take it back now -which God could certainly do, if God is omnipotent- is not an option. To rob humanity of mind, the source of all human dignity, would be an evil which makes the sum total of all the atrocities humanity has ever committed look positively benevolent by comparison. Simply going back to retcon the decision has the same basic effect.

So the only way for God to eradicate all evil (at least, in the quick-fix manner which most people who make this argument seem to want to happen), now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, would be to do something far, far more evil than anything which has ever been done: the mass dehumanization of some six billion people, plus all their descendants. If God is truly omnibenevolent, then this is not acceptable.

But there is another reason free will is a necessary thing. After all, why would a benevolent God give us free will in the first place, if it would make evil possible?

At the risk of turning this GTKY, I will recount an experience of my own as an example. I am a Christian, and a rather devout one. For many years, I was the only Christian in my chosen circle of friends, and even now there's only one other. This, as I'm sure you can imagine, has caused a lot of friction, and even pain, for everyone involved. I see my friends doing things which I find to be immoral, and there isn't a damn thing I can do about it. To explain my views would harm my relationship with them. But to get too close to what they do puts my relationship with the God I worship at serious risk, for while associating with them is not bad in and of itself, it does draw me closer to committing immoral acts. I have undergone multiple crisis of faith, as I constantly reexamine my beliefs and my friendships, to determine whether I am still resolve to walk the path I have chosen for myself.

But I choice that path, just as I chose my friends, out of love and trust. And even though that combination brings a great deal of unnecessary complication and pain to my life, I choose to stay with both. That's what love is. And without free will -the ability to choose things even if they have immediately negative effects in hope of some longer-term gain- I could not do that, and while my life would certainly be easier it would probably be much less happy overall. Even if it would relieve the occasional short-term angst.

So, why do we have free will? Because it is what allows us to experience love. And yes, it also allows us to experience evil, but is that not a worthwhile tradeoff?

As for why I consider this different from the "classic" free-will defense: the classic argument simply states that God wants humans to have free will, with little explanation as to why it's necessary. I differ from this, by pointing out why free will cannot be taken out anymore: by doing so, God would become worse than anything He could hope to prevent.

For the most part I'm happy to leave people to their beliefs. I know that life as a human is often brain-gratingly hard, and there's a lot to be said for finding things that make it all seem worthwhile. I know, too, that rationality isn't everything; that at a basic level, expecting humans to be thoroughly rational implies a misunderstanding of how we work and what motivates us. Largely as a consequence, I suspect that many questions will always resist resolution by rational, scientific means. People need meaning in their lives, and science struggles with that.

So I can understand the appeal of religion, and I find it hard to begrudge anything that helps someone get through life without making things harder for the rest of us, but all the same, a lot of religious beliefs upset me. It's not so much that I think people are being stupid - that's largely beside the point. It's more that their beliefs imply ideas about justice and morality which are downright abhorrent.

The most fundamental problem, for me, comes of believing that there is a higher power in charge of the world (and concerned with human beings) that is both just and all-powerful. The fact is that this implies there is no improvement an omnipotent being ought to make in the universe, which implies that you believe that all is right with the world; that human life is just as just as it ought to be.

So much of theology seems to be devoted to trying to weasel out of this, but I don't believe it's escapable unless you discard one or more of the supposed defining features of God. If God-the-Omnipotent wanted to change things in any way, They could. If God-the-Just thought there was anything wrong with the world, They would.

The Problem of Evil is fatal, but evil in the normal sense is quite a small part of the problem here. Free will does not require that people are motivated to act like arseholes. Give people some degree of autonomy and a limited ability to identify with others, raise them in a world where they're constantly struggling to get enough to eat, they suffer headaches and sore teeth, and where exerting power over other people helps them achieve their in-built needs and desires... and you're going to get them dominating and lashing out at each other. Give them plenty to eat, good health, useful things to be getting on with, and a strong sense of empathy, maybe you'll see different results. God, it seems, has chosen not to go that way - at least, not most of the time. Presumably this must be because steering very far from that path is in fact the right and just thing to do.

Likewise diseases, natural disaster, infirmity - the only coherent explanation for these within the framework of a world overseen by a benevolent, omnipotent deity is that they are somehow good things. Christians, Muslims, Hare Krishnas, Jews, if you believe in such a God, you are telling me that you think it is a good thing that I have a sore throat.

It is a good thing that the world is so constructed that the powerful gain by dominating the meek.

It is a good thing that many people have wheat allergies, often without knowing it.

It is a good thing that several million people die every year because for any number of reasons, the cells of their own body one day forget how to stop dividing.

I'll stop listing there, because we all know that life frequently inflicts grievous harm on us, often apparently at random. In addition to all these marvellous features of life as a human on this physical plane, many theists insist further that God's justice extends to eternal damnation; to punishments for acting on desires which are seemingly both harmless and innate; to condemning everyone who either couldn't accept religion at all, or simply failed to settle on The Right One. They even go to war in the apparently sincere belief that this is what their god would want. Even if both sides are doing that, no supernatural force ever sees fit to set them straight, presumably because sectarian conflict is just peachy with them.

You can probably see where I'm going with this. This stuff is quite plainly not just. It's not right. If there is an omnipotent and concerned God, this is what They want, or else things would be different. So God works in mysterious ways, and from a cosmic, divine perspective, perhaps all this stuff looks fine and dandy... but I'm a human, and the chances are you're a human too, and from a human perspective there is a great deal that is very wrong with this world, and only some of that is stuff that we can fix ourselves. The promise of a pleasant afterlife, especially one restricted to people who happen to follow the correct religious injunctions, does not negate that.

So if we suppose that there is an all-powerful God paying attention to humankind, then believing Them to be concerned with justice - or to care about us as humans - requires notions of justice or caring that to me are not just ineffable but, if you stop to think about them, profoundly offensive.

Having said all this, I should acknowledge that despite the most commonly seen descriptions of God fitting this pattern, many religious people do not take for granted all three of the characteristics of God that make these conclusions inevitable, and abandoning any one of them makes it possible to hold coherent beliefs that don't rest on a noxious conception of justice. It is not obvious to me why anyone would worship a God whose morality bears no resemblance to ours, or who is just not that interested in us - but then, I'm told that worship is for the benefit of the worshipper, so maybe it doesn't make that much difference what you worship.

The fact remains that we have people in public office who believe that there is a God in charge of this planet, who has given Their blessing to all those things that you or I might see as being horribly wrong with it. There are people in positions of responsibility who are completely fine with the idea that hundreds of millions of the people who are currently alive - almost certainly including me - will spend all eternity in Hell. Call me crazy, but that makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

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