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Existence of God

Horrendous Evil and Christian Theism: A Reply to John W. Loftus

In his recent article, "God and Horrendous Suffering," John W. Loftus argues that what he calls horrendous suffering is incompatible with traditional theism. The extent of horrendous suffering in the world, he says, "means that either God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is not smart enough to eliminate it, or God is not powerful enough to eliminate it." For Loftus, however, the problem is not simply evil, but horrendous suffering, a particularly acute form of evil which renders theism completely untenable. Here I will argue in reply, first, that because horrendous suffering is itself a form of evil, it cannot be easily reconciled with naturalism, since naturalism actually precludes the existence of evil. Then I will argue that horrendous suffering is not only compatible with theism, but is best explained in the context of Christian theism in particular. Finally I will suggest that because God's work of creation is not yet complete, we have good reason for maintaining hope even in the face of horrendous evils.

God and Horrendous Suffering

The evidential problem of horrendous suffering is one of the most powerful refutations of the theistic God as can be found: if there's an omni-everything God, one who is omnibenevolent (or perfectly good), omniscient (or all-knowing), and omnipotent (or all-powerful), then the issue of why there is horrendous suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason why is that a perfectly good God would want to eliminate it, an all-knowing God would know how to eliminate it, and an all-powerful God would be able to eliminate it. So the extent of horrendous suffering means that either God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is not smart enough to eliminate it, or God is not powerful enough to eliminate it. The stubborn fact of horrendous suffering means something is wrong with God’s goodness, his knowledge, or his ability. In this paper John Loftus argues that horrendous suffering renders this omni-everything God unbelievable.

On the Existence of Barbers and God

A popular advocacy video on YouTube attempting to rebut arguments from evil has been disseminating among Christian religious organizations for about a decade. In an attempt to show that arguments from evil for the nonexistence of God fail, the video likens them to arguments from (human) longhairs to the nonexistence of barbers. In this article, James R. Henderson refutes the suggested theodicy that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God allows apparently gratuitous evils to occur because God wants more human beings to come to Him of their own free will.

The World’s Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many, whether believers or not, to consider how widespread suffering can be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. In this article, Shaw considers the arguments advanced by people of faith to square this circle, such as the idea that the novel coronavirus has been sent by God as a punishment.

How to Know Deepak Chopra’s God

Deepak Chopra operates a business that offers "life-changing retreats" and courses instructing clients in meditation and "alternative medicine," especially Indian techniques. In How to Know God he postulates seven responses of the brain to God. From this notion he constructs a detailed theistic scheme. A prominent theme of the book is an attempt to relate his ideas to quantum physics. Readers and reviewers have heaped praise on the work, but it contains numerous errors of fact and logic. In this essay Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates some of the errors in the foundational first chapter of the book.

How to Use the Argument From Evil

The problem of evil can be used in two different ways. It can be used offensively; that is, in an attempt to criticize and undermine theistic belief, to show that theism is false and that belief in God is unfounded--a very difficult task. But the problem of evil can also be used defensively, i.e., to show that atheism is epistemically warranted, justified, or reasonable. Such efforts can succeed even when the proffered arguments fail to convince theists that God does not exist.

Why I Am an Atheist

"This is my argument for not believing in god. If others choose to believe despite his failings then that is their business. I have no argument with them; they are entitled to believe whatever they want. But don't expect me to go along with them and agree."

Evidence for Atheism

A challenge often presented to Atheists by fundamentalist Christians and various Theists is that Atheists have no proof there is no God, therefore Atheism is just another faith. Although Atheists do not have the Burden of Proof, there are two main categories of evidence that can be used to provide philosophical justification for an atheistic worldview: evidential arguments and logical evidence against God's existence. I conclude that the mainstream concept of God is logically impossible; the problem of evil is proof positive for the nonexistence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God; the demographics of Theism are better explained by Atheism; and Theism does not have a good explanation for the problems of suffering and the arguments for Atheism.

Scientist-Believers: Troublesome Routes Across the Compatibility Chasm

As part of my coming out as an atheist, the pastor at my church challenged me to review the work of believer scientists, to look at how they had found Christianity compatible with their scientific work. What follows is my best shot, as a layman, at a difficult subject, based on careful thought and reflection. Its value, if any, is in showing how some well-known scientist-believers (John Polkinghorne, William Pollard, and Francis Collins) make the compatibility arguments in ways they would never accept in their scientific day jobs, and end up tangled up in, or in downright conflict with, the methods of science and the claims of theism.

The Complete Irrelevance of the Fine-Tuning Argument

The Fine-Tuning Argument—the argument that it is so improbable that life in the Universe is just a lucky accident that it is much more reasonable to think that a supernatural being fine-tuned the universe to sustain life—not only does not and cannot, by itself, increase the credibility of a supernaturalistic explanation of the Universe, but is completely irrelevant when it comes to practical considerations.

A Problem for Apologists: Is the Proposition “From Nothing, Nothing Comes” Analytic or Synthetic?

What about the claim made by many Christian theologians that God created the world or the universe ex nihilo—out of nothing? As it turns out, this claim presents a considerable difficulty for the theologian. To understand the problem, we must turn to the great David Hume, who famously argued that any proposition that is neither analytic nor synthetic is nonsense.

Why the Abundance Theory of Creation Fails

"How can God be both a perfect being and the creator of the universe? Doesn't the fact that he created the world imply that he had a need or want? Otherwise, why would he bother creating anything at all? But then, if he had a need that implied the existence of the universe in order to be fulfilled, it seems he is not perfect: he lacks something. But by definition, a perfect being could not lack anything. So if the universe exists, God is not perfect, so God does not exist."

Why is there Something Rather than Nothing? is not an Argument

One will sometimes hear theists "argue" for god's existence by posing the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" (I am treating the case where the theist is not giving the cosmological argument but rather simply trying to get this question to do all of the existential work). The atheist's inability to give a naturalistic explanation is taken to be proof of god. I argue that this is no argument at all. Rather, it is the identification of a problem that requires explanation. God, of course, is one explanation, but then evidence must be marshaled to support god's existence (or whatever explanatory principle one invokes), and that evidence must go beyond the mere existence of the universe—the thing to be explained cannot be evidence for the explanatory principle.