Haiti was hit by a 7 magnitude earthquake a couple of weeks ago. 150,000 (and counting) people were already declared dead. Aside from that it also destroyed countless properties, livelihood, and shelter. It also displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Instances like this are a great challenge to the people who are affected. How will they move on with their lives when they have almost nothing left? How will they move on if their loved ones were killed? Where will they get the money to start again? Where will they get help? I think all of these questions and problems can be answered and solved as time will pass or if someone will eventually help these people. Time will heal all wounds, a quote says. But a more important question still remains unanswered for a long time. Well many have tried but I guess their answers still face a lot of criticisms and contradictions, making the problem still a problem.
Where was the God that believers, mostly Christians, claim to be true/existing, loving, and powerful? Why would God allow this to happen? Well these questions are not really original or new but I think it would be good to ask again and again for emphasis. I asked these questions subtly (subtly so that they will not be offended) to my theist friends and they all had their own explanations and theodicies. I wasn’t able to reply and criticize them because of time constraints and I also did not want to offend and humiliate them. So below are the four and most common theodicies that I encountered and my reply and criticisms to these four:
Punishment Reply: The people that suffered in the earthquake were just punished by God because these people disobeyed God’s laws or that these people were very sinful.
My reply: Not all of the people that were killed or suffered were sinful; there were children and good people who suffered and died in the said earthquake. Theists could reply that this is just a result of Original Sin. But I say that this is not just, and it does not show that God is loving. I mean, is it just to punish the great(x 100)-grandchildren of a person who committed a sin long ago? You know the answer.
The Heavenly Reply: These people and children may have suffered and died but they will be compensated many times in heaven/eternal life.
My reply: But what’s the point of them suffering here on earth? Why didn’t God put them straight to heaven even before they suffered? Heaven does not justify their suffering. This act is immoral even if heaven is so good because God could’ve put them in heaven or given them eternal life without making them suffer first.
Soul-Making Theodicy: This contends that God allows evil because it builds a positive character in the victims, and this compensates for evil and suffering.
My reply: Is this how a loving God builds a positive character in its followers? I think there are still many other ways that are less evil and crude. Also, evil and suffering do not necessarily build a positive character; greater losses also occur. Families would break up, morale would go down, people would turn away from God.
The Privation response: Evil is just the absence of good just as darkness is the absence of light.
My reply: Evil is not really a privation of good. If you are hurt, say you were punched or kicked in the ass, you know it hurts. It is a positive sensation and not just the absence of pleasure. People who are numb or asleep do not feel pain, even though they experience the absence of pleasure and any other feeling.
There are also other replies to the problem of evil and suffering out there but these are the most common I encountered. Theists have a choice here. They can accept that either their God is not capable (not powerful) of helping the ones who are in need, or that their God is capable but doesn’t want to (not loving). Of course, they can also simply accept that there is no such thing as a loving and powerful God.
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This post was originally published at discreetinfidel.blogspot.com.