Summary: Christians say that if we cannot explain how God the source of all good permits evil, we should remember that without God we have no reason to believe in love and justice at all. So to deny God creates a problem of evil or a worse one if you like. Atheists say that when man judges what goodness is he cannot say that God solves anything for the whole point of faith in God is to get away from man inventing and judging what good and evil are for to follow your perception of good is not the same thing as following good. Also nobody wants to argue that if your faith in God is weak that means your faith in justice and love are weak. Atheists say good is a default and if we imagine there being nothing at all not even God then it is good that there is nobody to suffer.


Religion says that causing suffering and letting it thrive is immoral.  It is moral fact or objectively immoral to put it another way.  It is not just a matter of taste or opinion.  It really is wrong. 


They say it is wrong simply because God is against it.  But that denies that suffering can just be wrong and there is nothing else to it.  Something is not really wrong if it needs a God or some authority to say it is bad.  Saying it is bad is one thing and saying it should be condemned by laws is another. So God regarding some things as bad still does not mean he has to make a moral rule banning it.  They want moral rules that are objectively true. But God does not give them that.  There is no problem with something banning itself.


Religion is just another form of moral relativism - that nothing is really immoral in itself.  Adding up 2 and 2 to make 5 is unfair and unloving to the truth that 2 and 2 make 4.  You don't need any authority to make that true.  2 and 2 is its own authority.  Thus we have shown that faith in God involves faith not in morality but a clever substitute for it.  The way is open for the atheist to declare what morality really is.  Even if he cannot, at least the door is still open.  It is wise and good and fair to keep the door open for Anna even if you know she will never return as long as there is a slight chance of something. Morality does not and cannot ask for the impossible.  So it is moral to simply open that door.


God commands that causing suffering is bad and immoral.  But why can't he tolerate, allow or command that it will command itself as forbidden?  It can have it then on its own after all.  Suffering is degrading and asking why it is bad and degrading is just blind.  God letting suffering forbid itself as immoral is enough means it can do that without God!


Morality commands that you do not demand that people do the impossible.  If justice is impossible in a situation you cannot call all who try to deal with it unjust.  For that reason if we are not sure how to ground morality and a vague sense that maybe it grounds itself then we are grounding morality.  We are doing all that we reasonably can. 




Religion says that evil is just an absence of good and is not real which means that evil does not exist. Instead of evil we have good that is not good enough. What would you think of a believer in God who told a woman whose baby just died that it was not terrible but simply not good enough? The fact that it would be more logical for a believer to say that than for an atheist shows that there is something inherently wrong with belief in God. The believer in God takes on pressure to see evil that way - a pressure which the atheist avoids and is happy to avoid and do without.


We need to remember that to say that evil is merely good in the wrong place borders on trivialising it and that the doctrine if true is a necessary evil for that reason.


But surely an atheist can believe that good is a default and evil is a distortion of good? Yes. We have seen how even if there is nothing at all there is good in that.  The good is all about the fact that at least there is nobody around to suffer.  It is about suffering not sin.  The atheist does not care about the fact that you stole but that you hurt somebody.  The atheist then is working from a truly humanistic and compassionate angle.  The believer cannot do that.


But evil as in deep depression cannot be called a distortion of good - there is nothing good about the experience.  So for the atheist some forms of suffering are simply evil and not a lack of good.


Believers say that we adopt imperfect moral standards which supposedly show we are presupposing a perfectly good moral standard as exemplified by God.  But aiming for the perfect goal does not imply there is a divine goalkeeper who does it perfectly!




Anyway, Christians do say, "You atheists have the same problem with evil as we do." If they are wrong then what?  It depends on who has the worst one.  That is the one that needs to be looked at first and foremost.  Then look at the other one for you have to.  You have to consider dropping your problem for the best one.


The alleged problem of evil for atheists and the problem of evil for believers in God are different problems. Christians have to look at their own problem not the atheist one for it is an appalling problem they have. It is unfair to try and present two separate problems as being the same one.


What then is the difference?


For Christians, evil puts God's love on trial. For atheists, it also puts God's love on trial. For Christians, God's love means we can really believe in love and in doing good. They say that atheists discard God and thus have no right to value love and good deeds.  So the Christian problem disparages atheists and thus is riddled with hate.  The atheist rejects God on the basis that he wants to be compassionate instead of trying to imagine that God and evil fit as if evil does not matter much ultimately.


The Christian problem is worse for they make out that a person who endures such horrors that they end up on the brink of suicide is part of God's wise and loving plan! Do they imply that God will stop the suicide? If he does not then they reason it is part of the plan too.  The atheist just sees the suicide as a tragedy period.  That is the difference.  What we are saying is we are not taking the risk of admitting the harm and loss are less than what they are.


FINALLY - Atheists have no problem of evil at all.  Religion tries to weaponise the suffering of innocents to accuse us of having a bigger problem.


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