A Dialogue with Quixote, Part V

Hello Quixote,

In reference to your list of reasons why people become atheists or theists, I have to disagree. I don’t think most of those are the initial reasons why people choose one or the other. Many of them are common causes that are frequently taken up by people on one side or the other, or are shared aspects of membership in those communities, it’s true. But I don’t think people become atheists because they have more fun than theists (although, if true, that might be a reason why people stay atheists), or that people become theists because of the sense of community they get from attending church (although, again, that might be a reason why they stay theists).

However, I would zero in one item of your second list, the first item: Most people who are theists were taught from childhood to believe that way. People do convert in adulthood, but we both know that that’s relatively rare. For the most part, the things that people were raised to believe are the ones that they end up believing for the rest of their lives.

Would you agree with that? If so, I’m curious how it influences your belief in the reasonableness of your faith. If you (or I) were raised in a predominantly Muslim country, we’d almost certainly be Muslims; if in a Buddhist country, we’d more likely be Buddhists. Do you think that should mean anything to people who live in a largely Christian country and are Christians themselves?

That this particular portion of my initial post would have garnered the interest it has baffles me, to be honest. I inserted it as almost an afterthought, because I suspect many theists use this awareness as a basis for God’s existence. I do not, nor am I the charismatic type Christian who would be prone to such experiences.

It doesn’t surprise me at all. I think that many atheists find this the most novel claim in the theist’s arsenal, as well as the one they’re personally least familiar with. And notwithstanding the fact that you don’t rely on it as the primary basis for your belief, I think most theists do. In fact, for many of them, I think it’s the first reason they would give.

From what you’ve said so far, this is a hard thing to describe. I accept that, but I’d like to explore it a little more, with your permission. I’ve had experiences that strike me as comparable, but maybe if we talk it over a bit more, we can see if we’re talking about the same thing. Here’s the most important thing I’m curious about: Is this sensation a continual awareness, or are there moments when it’s absent and others when it’s especially intense?

…how you would ever conclude that there is evil and injustice. If these things come about by accident, as you say, why would we consider them good? If they come about by random chance, where’s the injustice or the evil? Certainly you don’t conclude that there’s evil and injustice in the insect world, yet if we’re the same product of naturalism that the insect kingdom is, and there’s no higher authority overseeing our existence, why would we presume that there’s actual injustice or evil simply because we’re a more highly evolved lifeform with an emergent consciousness?

You’ve answered your own question, my friend. Insects are programmed by genes and instinct, and cannot choose in any meaningful way how to live their lives. But human beings are conscious, rational creatures who can explicitly reflect on and compare reasons in order to steer our own behavior. That makes us moral agents who bear real responsibility for the actions we undertake. If we suffer harm that is not merited by our actions, then an injustice is done, even if it’s not done by someone. Similarly, a natural event may be good for us, in accordance with our reasons and desires, even if it was not caused by a conscious being. Our quest for justice is really the quest to impose a rational pattern on an irrational world, to bring the world into alignment with what a consideration of our reasons would suggest.

The primary cause of this wholesale withdrawal has been the inability for philosophers to demonstrate that God cannot possess a morally sufficient reason to permit evil.

With respect to the philosophers you cite, I don’t agree. Assuming evil is not an end in itself, the only reason God would permit evil to occur is to bring about some other end, some other goal that he desires. But if God is omnipotent, that can never be necessary. That’s what omnipotence means: an omnipotent being can directly actualize any logically possible state of affairs, and is not bound, as we are, by the necessity to use tools or contrivances.

If God wants to cross a river, he doesn’t need to create stepping stones in the water; he can just teleport to the other side. If God wants to start a fire, he doesn’t need matches or tinder; he just creates fire. I don’t think you would disagree with either of those statements. What grounds can there be for reaching a different conclusion in the case of evil?

I know the usual Christian response to this question is that true free will requires the ability to do wrong. But – not to preempt your reply – I don’t think that’s the one you’ll go for, unless I’ve misunderstood your views on the nature of humanity’s relationship to God. Of course, I await your reply to see I’ve gone astray!

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Brad

    Ebonmuse,

    If God created everything last Thursday, as the scenario goes, with all our memories fabricated, wouldn’t that be simply lying to us? Even presupposing omnipotence, it doesn’t follow that God would bypass any and all suffering. You wrote a couple of pertinent, transferable thoughts in The Happiness Machine that could be used against you here:

    And what about the potential loss of independence?

    The most enduring and fulfilling kind of happiness is the kind that has this rich texture of knowledge and experience, the kind that only comes from interacting with the world. (If nothing else, the more you know about what’s out there, the better a position you’re in to appreciate the things you really like.)

    I suppose the theist’s major task here is to support the idea that suffering and the highest good cannot be decoupled.

  • robthehall

    ebon: That’s not the usual line of reasoning (or at least, not what I’ve heard) for the problem of evil. It sounds better and more succinct than what I’ve heard before. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Even presupposing omnipotence, it doesn’t follow that God would bypass any and all suffering.

    Why not?

    And what about the potential loss of independence?

    What about it, and how does that apply to natural evil?

    The most enduring and fulfilling kind of happiness is the kind that has this rich texture of knowledge and experience, the kind that only comes from interacting with the world. (If nothing else, the more you know about what’s out there, the better a position you’re in to appreciate the things you really like.)

    What is it about suffering that makes it a necessary condition in order to fully experience joy and why is it necessary for an omni-max deity to utilize suffering in this way?

  • Abbie

    What is it about suffering that makes it a necessary condition in order to fully experience joy

    Well, often it’s argued that you need something to contrast joy with to make joy seem… remarkable.

    I mean, if everything was really great 100% of the time, you couldn’t say things were really “great”, they’d just be the same all the time. I don’t see how “good” is a sensible concept if “bad” doesn’t exist.

    I assume the argument goes: therefore, God created bad, so we’d appreciate the good in life. I’d counter-argue that God could have set the “bad” bar a lot higher. He could have made the worst possible experience stupefying boredom. That would give us the contrast; let us appreciate funtimes, without all the pain and loss and dead babies he instead felt the need to give us.

    “Heaven, heaven is a place… where nothing… nothing ever happens”.

  • Erika

    Excellent response. I want to briefly touch upon something in Quixote’s last letter that you did not touch upon (you cannot be expected to touch upon every point). Quixote treated the problem of evil in a highly technical manner and rightly showed that in this sense the problem of evil is not proof against God.

    However, I feel that he never addressed (and you never called him on not addressing) your original point in bringing up the problem of evil. Quixote was originally making the argument that goodness was evidence for God, and you were questioning how goodness could be considered evidence for God without evil being considered evidence against God.

    Quixote addressed the technical question of whether or not the problem of evil disproved God, but he never addressed the more interesting question of how goodness could provide evidence for God without evil presenting equally compelling evidence against God.

    As I said in the beginning, it would be unreasonable for either of you to analyze every point made by the other, but if either you or Quixote find this asymmetry in the treatment of observations interesting, I would request that it be brought up again.

  • mikespeir

    I mean, if everything was really great 100% of the time, you couldn’t say things were really “great”, they’d just be the same all the time. I don’t see how “good” is a sensible concept if “bad” doesn’t exist.

    Neither would there be any need of such a concept if bad didn’t exist. Let me ask you this. Suppose tomorrow medical science announced that it had completely done away with disease. None would ever afflict humanity again. Would you miss it? Would you pine for it, moaning that now you would no longer be able to appreciate health, because there was no sickness anymore? A few generations from now no one would have had any experience of disease. Would they be worse off for it? Really?

  • Brad

    OMGF, your questions in order.

    1) Try posing a logically sound deduction that God would bypass any and all suffering, even presupposing no limit on divine abilities. I’ve tried to do it, I’ve failed, and I’ve never seen it done without dubiously convenient premises in philosophical literature. That said, I can’t think of any sustainable, satisfactory, parsimonious, and powerful explanation – or anything close for that matter – for why the suffering that can be seen in this world is in place; I don’t see any higher good that could come from it. This being the case, I’m pretty firm in my nonbelief, and I think it’s warranted, but I don’t think it’s logical to fall out of minimal agnosticism (at least from my standpoint).

    2) The value of independence/ free choice is a popular route for theodicy. I don’t see how anyone could apply this to natural suffering, though.

    3) Look in the parenthetical you quoted. I don’t think all flavors of joy require suffering, and I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for God to utilize suffering in “this way,” as in the state of affairs we observe, but I can’t think of a world purely devoid of suffering that I would choose to be in due to the pointless and meaningless character of such a stage.

  • Leum

    What is it about suffering that makes it a necessary condition in order to fully experience joy

    On Talk of the Nation today, one of the segments was on happiness. In appears that this is a true statement, even if we can’t (or don’t) know the reasons. People with suffering, even significant suffering, early in life, tend to lead happier and more fulfilled lives overall.

    Of course, plenty of people lead lives with so much suffering, or that are so short and full of suffering, that they don’t reach fulfillment.

  • Yahzi

    Even if we pretend that some evil must exist so that good can exist by contrast, does there have to be so much?

    Caine killed Abel. That was a murder. It was bad. We get it. The story is written down in the holy book where everyone will learn it. Ok. Good enough. We get it.

    So why do we need another 6,000 years of constant, unrelenting bloodshed? If God needs there to be a murder, fine; but why wasn’t one enough?

  • Pi Guy

    Even presupposing omnipotence, it doesn’t follow that God would bypass any and all suffering.

    …the inability for philosophers to demonstrate that God cannot possess a morally sufficient reason to permit evil.

    …rightly showed that in this sense the problem of evil is not proof against God.

    I’ve never felt that that evil issue is some sort of evidence against the existence of god. I do, however, think its strongly suggests that that god guy isn’t really so benevolent, not so very judicious. And god is, most definitely, not love.

    God might indeed exist but, with the rap sheet that he’s accrued over the millennia, I simply refuse to acknowledge that that being is worthy of my respect. Anyone else with that history would not be deemed praiseworthy. Why such reverence for the perpetrator of the Great Flood, the Moral Majority, and 3-year old kids with leukemia?

  • prase

    Most people who are theists were taught from childhood to believe that way. People do convert in adulthood, but we both know that that’s relatively rare.

    In predominantly atheist societies the ratio can be reversed. Among people I know most (more than half) theists are adult converts (although I admit that people I know are not a representative sample of the whole society).

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Brad,
    1. Fair enough – I understand what you meant now. I think the problem with a logically rigorous disproof of god relies on the fact that we can’t even imagine what omnipotence really means. However, there’s no logical reason why an omnipotent being would have to rely on suffering, so it’s really incumbent upon the theist to explain why suffering is necessary.

    2. Fair enough. I agree that theists tend to rely on free will, which does nothing against natural evil. I also tend to find that free will is contradictory with an omni-max god.

    3. Small quibble, but what joy would we need suffering for in order to recognize it as joy? You seem to be saying that some joys need no suffering, but that you would not choose to live in a world where suffering did not occur, because you seem to see some need for it. Isn’t that just a product of the world that god supposedly created and the humans that are part of that? I don’t see any reason why it would logically follow that suffering be necessary for a different world that god would have had the power to create. IOW, god should have the power to create a world where suffering is not necessary and the lack of it would not create a situation where we would be discussing the “pointless and meaningless character of such a stage.”

  • Pither

    Leum, I only heard part of that Talk of the Nation, but I think the study was of males who attended Harvard, hardly a random sample of the human condition. As for “people who faced suffering early in life”, I think perhaps it would be more accurate to say “people who faced suffering early in life, but still managed to attend Harvard.” In other words, people who *overcame* suffering.

  • Leum

    Some of them went on to suffer later in life, and often their lack of earlier suffering made them far less happy than those who suffered more or less continuously.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious: Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that it’s true that human psychology requires we experience some suffering in order to fully appreciate joy. Why wouldn’t God create beings with a different psychology that did not have that limitation?

  • Brad

    OMGF: The kind of joys derived from learning, changing, accepting, improving, bettering, or understanding, for example.

    Ebonmuse: Would you say that “beings” deserve to exist based on the limitations of their psychologies and the resulting consequences? Under some metaphysical assumptions (!) regarding the personal identity of moral subjects, this antinatalistic-leaning sieve is tantamount to cosmic eugenics and purification.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Brad,
    I am quite capable of learning, changing, accepting, improving, bettering, and understanding things without suffering, as I’m sure are you. Besides, as Ebon said just above you, why would god create beings that require suffering in the first place? This is why I stress that the theist retains the onus to explain why suffering is necessary and why god could not have created beings that did not need to suffer.

  • Brad

    OMGF,

    I am likewise quite capable of getting a full house in poker without any black cards at all; that doesn’t mean all full houses are without black cards. Also, I think I answered Ebon above with one possible response. It hinges on a technical assumption but it meets Ebon’s question full force if the assumption is true. Lastly, I don’t think the proposition “god could not have created beings that did not need to suffer” ever entered the discussion until you just claimed it did. Could a theist be a many-worlds believer or agnostic? The claim God created world X does not entail God could not have created world Y, nor does it even entail God did not create world Y, so I don’t follow you there.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Brad,

    I am likewise quite capable of getting a full house in poker without any black cards at all; that doesn’t mean all full houses are without black cards.

    So, you are asserting that certain types of learning, changing, accepting, improving, bettering, or understanding can only occur through suffering? Well, then that goes right to what Ebon stated.

    Also, I think I answered Ebon above with one possible response.

    I don’t see what your response has to do with what Ebon said since Ebon seems to be putting forth the “god could have created beings that did not need to suffer” that you think I started just recently (which in all fairness I did touch on earlier). It has nothing to do with “deserve” to live or cosmic eugenics and purification!

    The claim God created world X does not entail God could not have created world Y, nor does it even entail God did not create world Y, so I don’t follow you there.

    The claim that god created world X, with us humans, who do experience suffering, yet god could have created us in world Y where we did not have suffering or need it for any reason is completely within the scope of the argument for anyone who claims that god is omnipotent and/or omnibenevolent. Sure, deists may argue that god did the best he could, but I find little reason to argue against deistic gods that simply exist and don’t interact with the world.

  • http://www.thewarfareismental.info cl

    I see this like science – specific actions entail specific reactions. For example, the act of murdering someone seems certain to unilaterally entail suffering for that person’s family, correct?

    Well, if we are to allow people the freedom to make whatever choices they wish, we must allow them to experience the consequences of those choices, right? So long as we are not robots – and so long as those who consistently choose beneficence and those who consistently choose malfeasance coexist – doesn’t some combination of pleasure and suffering seem inevitable? Can acts evade their natural consequences? Wouldn’t it seem absurd to expect a state of things where murder didn’t entail its usual suffering? Seems to me, the only way God could eliminate suffering would be to prevent people from committing acts of malfeasance – to create robots.

  • http://www.myspace.com/driftwoodduo Steve Bowen

    Seems to me, the only way God could eliminate suffering would be to prevent people from committing acts of malfeasance – to create robots.

    Isn’t this exactly what God is supposed to do in heaven though. Why should it be any different there than here?

  • velkyn

    I’m curious if Quix will respond with free will and if he believes in “original sin” the biggest challenge to the “free will” argument ever.

  • Brad

    Okay, I think there are two ideas in the pool at the moment. One is that, hypothetically, God could have created beings other than humans, and the second is that God could have created humans but in a better world. The former idea I think is insignificant for the discussion: Is it bad that we exist because we’re imperfect? Do we all deserve to be put down and replaced by better models? If not, then inquiring why a God would create us as we are isn’t a focal point here. The second idea I think is pertinent: Is the net force, the final consequences of all natural evil as it exists on Earth, the best of all possible worlds? I can’t see how, and this is where a significant portion of the POE lies. EM’s A World in Shadow series (including part 1 and Katrina, 2005 of All Possible Worlds) attests to this pretty well. I think the direction from here is straightforward. Essentially, the newest contention is, about how wide of a hole in any theistic construal of reality is this?

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Leum People with suffering, even significant suffering, early in life, tend to lead happier and more fulfilled lives overall.”
    And that’s why I constantly hit kids in the head with a hammer, since they’ll be so happy when I eventually stop. I tell them and their parents that it’s because I love them.

    cl “So long as we are not robots – and so long as those who consistently choose beneficence and those who consistently choose malfeasance coexist – doesn’t some combination of pleasure and suffering seem inevitable?”
    Yes, if Man is the best that God could come up with (a pretty low bar for such a big dude, who then demands perfection from His perfectly created, imperfect Creation*) which does nothing to explain natural suffering (which, in the case of a 3O’d god, is like man-to-man suffering, but under the control of a different moral agent). I can (but won’t) run over and poke out my neighbour’s kid’s eyes, while God can (and might) give him cancer.

    “Seems to me, the only way God could eliminate suffering would be to prevent people from committing acts of malfeasance – to create robots.”
    How many of the Omni characteristics do you possess? There are a lot of things that you can’t do. God’s lack of limitations are purported to be virtually limitless.

    *Note: blaming The Fall doesn’t help, as it meant that a 3O’d God made Man perfect but capable of imperfection…which isn’t perfect (not to mention that He set them up to fail). Also, it never happened, which came as quite a shock to poor Adam. It broke his heart, it did.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Brad,

    One is that, hypothetically, God could have created beings other than humans, and the second is that God could have created humans but in a better world. The former idea I think is insignificant for the discussion: Is it bad that we exist because we’re imperfect?

    I wouldn’t downplay the significance of this point. If humans are such that we need suffering in order to develop, learn, grow, etc. then it’s only natural to wonder why god would create beings that necessarily need to suffer in order to accomplish these goals. Surely, an omnipotent being could create beings that are able to learn, grow, etc. without having to feel pain and suffering. IOW, the suffering that we feel is a direct product of god choosing to make us so that we must suffer, which is a serious blow to the theist.

  • Andrew

    And notwithstanding the fact that you don’t rely on it as the primary basis for your belief, I think most theists do. In fact, for many of them, I think it’s the first reason they would give.

    I’m not so sure. I think most Christians if asked ‘why do you believe?’ would give actual reasons for their belief. Although I’m sure if pressed their experence would come up as well.

    I speak as a Christian whos never had a ‘religious’ or ‘spirtual’ experence.

  • Brad

    OMGF,

    Your remark requires me to uncover some of my own personalized theology. But I’ll address your second two points first. An eccentric theist could very well conjecture that God did/has/will create beings that don’t suffer, and that God additionally (is/will) created/creating/create beings along a diverse spectrum of so-called “perfection.” At the very least, this could coincide with some far-out religious theories involving angels, demons, hierarchies, etc. Also, my aforementioned “technical assumption” about personal identity makes your IOW moot. The assumption could be imported here as “if God created beings different from us, those beings would not be us.” Under this philosophical premise (and the running hypothesis here that God is creator), it follows that God could not have made us any differently. In terms of our own existence, God’s choices are therefore contained within (a) whether or not to create us, and (b) in what context to create us. (Or “effect” us.)

    I think one can at least partly satiate the natural wonder you mention with the following notion. If the lives of a set of beings are worth living, and the set of those lives are an isolated system (meaning no other lives are connected to the system, ensuring there’s no hypernegative collateral or trade-off in the scenario), then it is worth an ability-limitless and fully benevolent deity putting into motion that system of lives. This is essentially a generalized metaphysical statement of natalism, as opposed to antinatalism. Granted, effecting said set of beings in some systems would be more worthy than in other systems. Written in brief, some systems are better than others. (Read: “possible worlds.”) If the lives of all beings in the set are ‘better’ in one system over the other, then we can say this inequality is strict. If the lives of most beings are better in one than another, then we can say this inequality is mostly true. Corollarily, the problem of evil could be considered an argument that, due to the existence of (at least) natural suffering in this world, there must exist another possible world (presumably without this suffering or degree of suffering) which is better than our world up to being mostly true.

    Predictably, there are problems in this framework. First, what constitutes a better life? Sometimes comparisons between potential lives are obvious and self-evident, as in when the positives or negatives far outweigh the negatives or positives (respectively), but in more blurry cases there are close-calls and myriad jumbles of different ups+downs that are not simplistic enough to merely cancel out. Second, from God’s perspective, the relation between candidate systems is multivariable. Unless the nature of the beings in question are extremely convenient, there will be unavoidable trade-offs between improving some lives over others. In order to sieve and decide, a fully benevolent God must appoint some kind of weight to each being’s life; conceivably, God would have no true “fair” decision possible – and so what’s she supposed to do then? More problems abound, but these are generally either ambiguities or difficulties for theism. But my opinion is that the final analysis disregards the fact that we are imperfect.

  • http://whyihatejesus.blogspot.com OMGF

    Brad,

    An eccentric theist could very well conjecture that God did/has/will create beings that don’t suffer, and that God additionally (is/will) created/creating/create beings along a diverse spectrum of so-called “perfection.”

    If a theist said this to me in response to my argument, I would tell that theist that she has just conceded the argument.

    The assumption could be imported here as “if God created beings different from us, those beings would not be us.” Under this philosophical premise (and the running hypothesis here that God is creator), it follows that God could not have made us any differently.

    I don’t see this as making anything moot. Sure, god can’t make me be me as another type of being, but so what? This doesn’t absolve god of the responsibility to try and alleviate suffering, or at least not to make beings that require suffering.

    If the lives of a set of beings are worth living, and the set of those lives are an isolated system (meaning no other lives are connected to the system, ensuring there’s no hypernegative collateral or trade-off in the scenario), then it is worth an ability-limitless and fully benevolent deity putting into motion that system of lives.

    I think you should be careful with statements of this kind for there are lots of issues that can be raised by this statement. Some of these are:
    1. What do you mean by “set of beings?” Does this mean that all beings in the set must live a worthy life or just some?
    2. Humans do not live in an isolated system, and in fact, we can’t, so this would not apply to us.
    3. What does it mean to say that it is worth a deity to create these beings? Do you mean that all potential lifeforms that are worthy of life should be created?
    4. Doesn’t that deity also have to take into account any suffering, not just the balance of suffering?

    That’s just off the top of my head.

  • Jonny

    I do have some words to add to the discussion about morality, good, evil, and suffering, but so far no one has commented on the awareness of God’s existence, even though Quixote admitted that even though he has the feeling himself, he did not expect it to be part of a rational discussion about God’s existence. I’ll be quite honest and say that this awareness is something that I undeniably experience myself, and I believe Quixote put it quite well when he says that it’s something you can’t really describe to someone, but you know what they’re talking about if you feel it too. Similar to how an athiest feels when they can’t imagine the feeling, I also cannot possibly imagine the absence of the feeling. Personally, my struggles have been between me and God. I have been through seasons of my life where I denied my faith and used reason and logic to explain my circumstances and the world around me, attempting to hide the feeling with layers upon layers of reason. But never once did the feeling go away, despite my attempts. To answer Ebon’s question, the sensation is a continual awareness that is never absent, although many times it is more apparent (or intense) than others.

    This does raise other important questions though, which Quixote alludes to. Firstly, does this feeling actually correspond to the reality of the universe? In other words, does the feeling that God exists imply that God actually exists? Quixote presents several different alternatives, which is why he believes that this feeling alone is not enough of a reason to believe in God (my jury is still out on that one). Secondly, if God actually exists, why do only some people have this feeling of awareness while others don’t? I think this is a really important question for an athiest to ask someone who does have the feeling of awareness of God.

    As many people have recognized, morality plays an extremely important role in this discussion. The awareness of God can be likened to the awareness of morality (although the feeling experienced is much different). I think morality is incredibly interesting because athiests and theists both strive to uphold morality at all costs. Morality is not something you can define in absolute terms (exactly what things are right and wrong), yet the vast majority of people agree that morality exists as a standard of behavior (whatever that may be) and is something of great value worth seeking for the entire human race. Most people also realize that morality is not something that can be turned off, but it always exists at all times. But where did morality come from? Did every human mind independently come up with the idea? How can a civilization criticize another, saying that the other doesn’t have as high of moral standards as they should? What is the ultimate moral benchmark? The difference is that a theist believes the ultimate moral benchmark comes from God. A theist might believe that God created free will with the addition of a moral code and that he created us with an obligation to follow that code but without the ability to follow it perfectly. The theist sees the existence of morality as pointing towards God’s existence. An atheist refuses to believe in God because as imperfect beings, we are prone to make mistakes, and pain and suffering ensues. Why would God have created morality without giving us the ability to live up to it?