We have missed Caroline, I know I have and it is with great pleasure that today while I was strolling on the internet, don’t ask me how, I found this very interesting post in which she weighs in on the problem of evil and attempts to offer a solution to this thorn in the flesh, forgive my use of cliché, of religion.
She starts very emotionally, in a way that all of us would easily get roped into the story and want to read more. Her opening paragraph starts thus
“I prayed every night to God, asking him to rescue me from my father’s abuse. Why didn’t he?
Here she has Identified a case of what the philosophers, well I mean the real ones, not armchair philosophers like yours truly, have called moral evil. We are in agreement with her, at this point, that is a logical point to start from. After that grand opening, she posits the real question
Can such suffering by innocent children be reconciled with a reality of a good, loving, and all-powerful God? Do we have an answer for her question?
Before we look at her solution, yours truly says the answer to her first question is a resounding no. The second question then can only be answered in the negative unless we posit a godless world, which yours truly believes is the case, then shit happens and some people are born such that they do lack the ability to see other people as manifestations of the same will as they are and as such trample on their wills so to speak. Back to this later.
Caroline, lists five truths as possible responses to the problem. Allow me to list them here
- suffering deserved and undeserved can result in some good
- god has a purpose for our lives far deeper and more meaningful than just to enjoy them
- we are not the centre of the universe. He is
- he has chosen to give humanity free will
- there is life after our bodies die, when all injustices will be made right
Reread those five points then take a break. We will shortly demonstrate why Caroline’s theodicy fails to take off.
She presented us with a problem, the question we will ask her is how or in what way does being abused result in some good. How does living with the knowledge that the person who should protect you is the one abusing you lead to some good? I need your help here ladies? Can you conceive of a world where such a thing results in some good? I can’t!
If I understood her question, she is attempting to reconcile if such a problem with the reality of an all loving god. To then say god has a purpose is to sidestep the question she started with, that is, in my view, if such a being is real. The question of whether there are plans then doesn’t even arise. We have not proved the reality of this being how do we claim it has plans for us or rather for this abused child? Ignoring what have said for a moment, what good is it for any of us, if the reasons we suffer are not known to us but are the private knowledge of this god? What sort of god would want that for creatures he created out of love? I don’t know about you, but for me, it would make the suffering worthwhile if I knew what is at the end of the rope.
In point 3, Caroline paints the picture of a dictator. No questions are asked. He decides and we are supposed to suffer quietly or he will kill you! How lovely? Show me some love!
Oh, free will again. Please Caroline, I would want you to tell the little girl in her face that god has given her free will so she can be abused! I don’t want to make this post about free will as you already well know where yours truly stands on that debate. Indulge me for just a moment, how is having free will beneficial to this little girl? In the movie God on Trial, those who have put s/h/it on trial ask what free will did they have when they were being put in the gas chambers? Did god give others more free will to be able to abuse others? A lot has been written on the FWD and it is wanting and I advice Caroline to acquaint herself with the relevant literature on the topic.
What hogwash! How does telling a girl who has been violated that this punishment will be paid for in a future life? What does such a promise do to the current life? While at it, what really does Caroline understand by to die? Where I come from, it means cessation of life, finito, end! To talk about life after dying I think is itself a contradiction unless I miss something. Related to this question then would be, if the next life is so glorious, what stopped god from killing the little girl before she is abused so no one has to be punished later or is that too hard for god to accomplish or is s/h/it a sadist? In Brothers Karamazov, the chapter on the Grand Inquisitor, Ivan asks Aloysha what good does knowing her child will go to heaven does to the mother who sees her baby cut into pieces by the soldiers? And how does knowing that this person will be punished in future do to the wife whose husband has just been killed? I don’t think there is any and I can’t believe anyone would spread such stories.
Having said that, let us hear what she tells us and I will endeavour to point out what I think is wrong with her assessment. She tells us
if we have an inaccurate understanding of why we are here, our evaluation of how well things are going will also be inaccurate. Couple that error with a view that sees God as existing for our sake instead of the other way around, and you have the makings of a life marked by huge disappointment, discouragement, and even disbelief.
If we take god to be a slave driver, then, by all means, this makes sense. I am your lord and you live as I want you to. Tell me how lovely that is! Please someone tell me am missing something. If as she had said earlier on, that god has a plan, then please tell me, how if he doesn’t share this [un]holy plan with us how we are to insure ourselves from disappointment, discouragement and disbelief? Am patient!
She the continues to advice us to see life as
life as a gift, a proving ground, a rehabilitation center, a temporary home, and/or a journey to our true and eternal dwelling place, we will view our circumstances in an entirely different light
and I feel my whole system revolted by such myopic thinking! Why for the life of me, shouldn’t this god have transported everyone to this land of bliss? Is it in his plans to first have countless number of people suffer to assuage his ego before he can finally say welcome home my children, here is where I wanted you but I needed you to take the torturous route to here so you can know am a loving father! What the fuck! Who reasons in this manner? For all I know, before I was born I wasn’t given life lessons, we learn as we go along and if this other life exists for Caroline, am sure she doesn’t need to train for it. This can’t be a response to one who is suffering. It is revolting. It is appalling! It is stupid to say the least!
Pain and hardship are what bring many to seek God. If our lives were trouble-free, would any of us recognize our need for him?
She portrays her god as a slave master, as a being that believes in the adage, no pain no gain! It is like the employer who makes his employees work like beasts of burden just so that they can know he is boss! Please count me out. I don’t want any relationship with such a being at all. And seriously, was this god touted as all-powerful? There must be other ways, ways that do not involve abuse that he could employ. I don’t use that with my friends and they haven’t claimed ever that am all-powerful!
And she does not tell the whole story when she writes
You always hurt the one you love
since for most of us this is far from intentional. You would not let the people you love suffer if there was a way to prevent it especially you would not let your daughter or any child for that matter be abused because some good may come of it if you could prevent it. I don’t know if there is anyone who could allow such a thing to happen and still have a sound conscience. Well maybe lets forget Mohammed, he liked them young!
It is not as she says
Our refusal to allow suffering to sanctify or save us will likely result in loss and more suffering, both in our lives and in the lives of those close to us
but that sometimes the suffering we go through, to the best of our knowledge, is meaningless. There is no good we get from having a toothache. It is pointless suffering and can’t be called sanctifying.
In conclusion, I contend that Caroline has offered no solution to the child to her question. She has behaved like god does when Job inquires as to why he is suffering and he comes out asking job irrelevant questions. We need answers that would make suffering here bearable for the short duration that we are here and it is better to say we don’t know why we suffer than to give any of the above responses.