The “Ask an Atheist” column in last Friday’s edition of the Nexus featured Connor Oakes, Tyler Santander and Cameron Moody, who put forth a variety of arguments positing that suffering in the world disproves the existence of God as an omnipotent — or at least loving — entity.
It’s true that a continuing conundrum for western monotheists is the question put forth by last week’s column: If God is loving and omnipotent, why does he allow for suffering in the world? As was acknowledged in Friday’s column, the conventional answer by religious types is essentially some variant of the idea that suffering is the result of human sin, which is an inescapable consequence of human free will.
Therefore, the religious apologist answers, in order for humanity to have free will, God must also allow for suffering. The opinion pieces in Friday’s issue variously attacked this line of logic, noting that if God is omnipotent, he should not be constrained on any level, and thus could have chosen to create a world where both freedom from suffering and free will could coexist. Even if this were a logical impossibility for the human mind, an omnipotent God would not be constrained even by this apparent contradiction.
Because there is suffering in the world, the writers appeared to arrive at the conclusion that religious apologists must either accept that there is no omnipotent God — as he would not allow for suffering if he had the power to prevent it — or else that God is not loving, which would contradict a core tenant of the major monotheistic faiths. I think this argument disproves itself. If God is omnipotent, it is implied in Friday’s column that He can allow for supposedly illogical impossibilities — a world where there is free will, but that nonetheless has no suffering (and presumably no “wrong” choices).
However, when Friday’s writers implied that the existence of suffering in the world must mean that God can be either omnipotent or loving, but not both, suddenly it is being reasoned that God’s nature is constrained by the very same logic the writers implied that He was freed of by his omnipotence in the former example. Essentially, if God’s omnipotence allows him to contradict reason itself, such that He could create a world with free will that is also without suffering, by the same token his omnipotence frees him from the constraints of logic to the extent that He could also create a world with suffering, such as ours, and yet be absolutely loving at the same time.
On a side note, I think there’s a larger flaw in using logic to argue against the existence of God as understood by monotheists. Essentially, as Decartes noted with his use of the “evil daemon” concept, even human reason is not certain to the absolutely skeptical rationalist. To attempt to skewer faith in God — who is supposedly beyond human experience, and thus reason — by appealing to the limited experiences of the limited, and thus rational, human mind is as futile as applying a finite measuring stick to an infinite distance. Using reason, there is no way to create a compelling framework of “necessary” or “sufficient” circumstances to disprove, or prove, God’s existence.
While Paul Jone’s apologistc argument is, I’m sure, his heartfelt sentiment, it is only that; a sentiment apologistic argument. In his wordplay, he takes refuge in a common Apologist tactic; that of saying all rules and restrictions apply to the opposing viewpoint, and not his own Monotheistic/Abrahamic/Christian/Whatever-Sect view. For, in fact, his own argument cannot prove his argument: his logic is incapable of proving HIS god– but yet there he is, again, the run-of-the mill apologist, insinuating that, because of an ‘unsatisfactory’ explination, his viewpoint MUST be right. The failure with him is that a) the failure lies with the… Read more »
~X~ Seems to write much about religion, but in reality writes nothing. Although you seem to think you’re smart, your ranting is dribble. Jones only points out that Oakes logic is faulty… God’s omnipotence frees him from the constraints of logic. Stop assuming things and putting words in the mouth of Jones…
John seems to write much coherent thought, but in reality writes babbling self-mastubatory hobo-ramblings. Although you seem to say something that has thought behind it, you only write ad hominem attacks in lieu of forming actual arguments.
Stop making an ass out of yourself, and go play in the corner, bitch.
Does John need some ointment for that burn?
“…[O]r else that God is not loving, which would contradict a core tenant of the major monotheistic faiths.” Oh, I see you’ve never read the Torah. Or the Koran. I seem to remember a “Jealous and angry G-d” who repeatedly committed acts of genocide on whims. Ever heard of Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10th plague, the great flood, Canaanites, or half the laws in Leviticus? What about the 26 Jihads of Mohamed, each of which included acts of genocide? You’re referring to a specific and modern reading of a very few versions of Christianity and casting them as the only… Read more »