Book reviews

You wake up one morning to find you have metamorphosed to a giant insect creature. You still think you can talk and be heard but it all seems the sounds you are making are far from human sounds. You are at this time the sole bread winner of your family. You have rented an apartment for your family where your mother, father and sister live. You have an arsehole for an employer. In the company policy, an employee can’t be sick, so calling in sick is out of the question for you. The chief clerk from work comes home to check why you are not at work. You struggle tom open the door, all this time, learning insect ways of doing things. Pause for a moment. Imagine the shock that greets everyone when you the door.

Your family allows you to live in your room. You are fed on a magazine. At first they attempt to keep your room clean. There is just so much you can do for an animal[monster] even if it is family. They make your room a dumping site. You no longer have enough room to move around. You get sick and weak for they also stopped feeding you. A time comes when the family decides it is enough. They must get rid of you. While they discuss how this can be achieved, you do them the favour of dying. I don’t know how your remains were disposed. We are not told.

The above is the story of Gregor, a travelling salesman as told us by Kafka in his novel Metamorphosis. I don’t know how it could be like to find onself in such a scenario. Dying, to me, in whichever way possible, would be the only consideration.

A lot has been said about the Jew, who was born of a virgin, preached, performed miracles, was killed, resurrected, stayed around a while then ascended to the clouds, from whence he has never dared to live. All rational people who have considered this story, have concluded that it was written at age and to a people that were barbarians, superstitious and credulous. No rational person who considers the supposed history and its authors can go on believing that it is the work inspired or coauthored by an all wise creator of the universe.

If you have just one book- rather 4 books and letters to examine- you realize there is just so much you can gather and unless you are a person of faith, you soon come to the conclusion that this story wasn’t meant to be believed by rational people. You must ask, how can people still believe this?

In Ecce Homo, d’Holdbach presents in very short and easy to read chapters what problems face the gospel narratives. They face a credibility issue, for they contradict each other on many salient issues. They are faced with a bigger problem of non confirmation by other non interested sources among others. Internally, is even a bigger problem. For instance, our hero, in situations where he could have answered questions directly and put to rest several questions either takes the 5th or evades the question. When asked by Pilate what is truth, we get no answer. When asked if he is the messiah, he doesn’t answer. Whenever he claimed to heal any one, he forbade them to say who he was.

His main trade was exorcism and later on living on the labour of others. The ecclesiastical leaders have learnt this trade and every where the church holds sway, the people live under a tyrant temporal and spiritual masters.

For those who have spent time reading the contemporary criticism of the story of Jesus will not find anything new in this book, but it is great to know questions that were asked by Celsus through to d’Holdbach and now, have still been unanswered.

Problem of evil

We have written on this topic severally. We’d like to state here that in an atheistic universe, such as one we live in, the problem of evil doesn’t arise. In fact, this discussion should rationally end here. Humans being what they are and having big brains employ them in discussions that all involved know are going nowhere. I say there is no problem of evil for the atheist because the universe just is and it is indifferent to us. This shouldn’t be understood to mean there is no suffering, far from it. There is real and untold suffering around us all the time.

The problem of evil exists solely for the theist to answer. They have proposed an all-knowing, good and powerful god. It is beholden on them to reconcile suffering with the existence of the type of entity they have proposed.

I contend that this post is misleading in its attempted explanation and conclusion.

In the first instance, he writes

Since we’re responsible for our own actions, common sense tells us that it’s perfectly justifiable that we should experience pain when we do things that usually result in pain

and I disagree. One because the hidden premise in this statement is we have some free will to act whichever way we please and that our suffering is always our mistake. It ignores the reality of suffering inflicted on us by actions of others.

He then says

Many then come to the conclusion that since pain and suffering can potentially be unjustified in certain circumstances, then it follows that either God is not all-powerful, not good, or not existent at all.

which again I think is a loaded statement. It premises that to explain away suffering, the deference is to god. This maybe true in some cases, but it is not a good starting point for a philosophical argument.

Reference is made to this  and he formulates the problem thus

1. God exists and is omnipotent, omniscient, and wholly good.
– – – a. There are no limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient being can do.
– – – b. A wholly good being always prevents or eliminates evil as far as it can.
2. Evil exists
3. God has the potential to eliminate all evil. (from 1a)
4. Therefore, God will eliminate or prevent all the evil He can. (from 1b & 2)
5. Therefore, God does eliminate or prevent all evil. (from 1a & 4)
6. Therefore, There is no evil. (from 5)
7. Therefore, There is evil and there is no evil. (from 2 & 5)

The argument as stated seems sound but not valid. It’s starting premises assume the existence of god, the very being that is in question. I don’t think the argument can be rescued. Having said that, we shall consider what the OP has proposed as a solution to the problem.

He tells us first that we must limit the omnipotence nature of god. We are told that logic[logos] is a property of god, this of course as we all know is borrowing from Plato’s philosophy. It tells us nothing about the nature of god. Logic is a tool. It is not a property of a thing. To say god’s omnipotence is limited is to claim to know the nature of the god one is talking about. We would like to be told how the theist acquired this knowledge.

I think this solution that he suggests ought to be rejected. He writes, 1a should be changed to read

 “there are no non-logical limits to what an omnipotent, omniscient being can do.”

and the question we must is what, if any reason do we base this conclusion on? It is in my view an evasion.

To claim that by making 1b read as

 “a wholly good being always prevents or eliminates evil as far as it can unless it has sufficient reasons to allow it.”

rescues the supposed god from the problem is beyond me. What good does it do to a child suffering from cancer to know that god has sufficient reason to allow it to suffer? What good does it do to those trapped in Gaza or the earthquake in China to know that god has a good reason their houses have been flattened or why they are bombed. Who worships such a god?

To conclude, after rewriting the problem, that

 the existence of evil supports the existence of God.

is in my view a poor way of arriving at conclusions. If, to get away from a problem all we  must needs do is rewrite the problem, anything can be explained away. I contend, as I have said always, that even if it were to be allowed that the premises are valid, they would in no wise be proof for the existence of god. The most they can do is attempt to show that a specific conception of god is compatible with evil. It tells us nothing about the nature of god nor whether such an entity exists.

A lot has been said about objective moral values here and elsewhere. I don’t want to repeat them here. All I will say that this statement

Apart from God, there are no objective moral values.

does not prove the existence of god. The theist needs tell us what are these objective moral values? The larger question the theist must deal with is presented in the Euthyphro dilemma.

When he writes,

a person who doesn’t believe in God is claiming that evil and wickedness are evidence agains such a being, that person is appealing to an objective morality that cannot exist apart from God–nullifying the argument.

the problem of evil argues that existence of evil is inconsistent with a wholly good and powerful god. It is this the atheist is asking the believer to respond to. The atheist, as far as I can tell isn’t appealing to an objective morality but to common sense.

The genocide was and is wrong not because god says, for the god of the bible has no problem with it, but because any rational person would agree it is wrong everywhere to kill a person just because they don’t belong to a different race.

If there is a god who created this world we live in, that god is tyrant, capricious and malicious.