The problem of evil in one picture

Via Jerry Coyne:

Notes on Robert Fogel’s Without Consent or Contract
How selfish are voters?
Analogies for animal rights: civil rights vs. the antiwar movement
Abolitionism vs. reformism
  • Marcus Ranum

    Absolutely brilliant.

  • Brian

    Yeah, but free will!

  • Fizzing thru da Fizzics

    Ouch…..but, but, goD is ..ummm…good???

    I really wish some way can be found to break confirmation bias, wrongheadedness and ” the bible sez….”

    Hopeful but not optimistic. Sigh

  • John Morales

    Take away the purported deity’s omnipotence or omniscience (or both) and the problem of evil disappears.

    • Steve R

      Actually, taking away the assumption of benevolence better fits observed reality. If God exists, he is a sadist.

    • Dunc

      Or omnibenevolence…

      As SMBC put it (I paraphrase), theodicy is like a ball sitting on top of a three-legged table. You can get the ball by shortening any of the legs of the table, but that makes the table ugly.

    • ‘Tis Himself

      According to the propaganda, Yahweh is a sadistic, narcissistic bully with the emotional maturity of a spoiled six year old. He kills people just because he can.

  • J.D.

    Clearly this is horrible. Clearly this is evil and we all know it. BUT!!! If we are all here just by random chance, and we’re nothing more than chance+time+natrual selection, then for what reason is this evil? Because clearly it is. In my opinion this strikes an emotional chord with people because they recognize the intrinsic value of human life.

    Flame on.

    • anteprepro

      If we are all here just by random chance, and we’re nothing more than chance+time+natrual selection, then for what reason is this evil?

      None. It is either the negative result of chance (natural evil) or the actions of people too idiotic to realize they are doing harm or are too warped to care (human evil). It is not the convoluted plot of a God that is somehow still good despite letting awful things happen to good people. In the real world, suffering evil is something often undeserved and unprovoked. In the religious fantasy world, it is a means to an end or a punishment for misdeeds. Is it really less satisfying to say “no reason” than trying to play the blame game?

      In my opinion this strikes an emotional chord with people because they recognize the intrinsic value of human life.

      The problem of evil strikes a chord because it shows that the claim that there is a God who gives a fuck about humanity clearly isn’t true. Your argument strikes a chord because people have spent so much time taking the premises of a magical fantasy universe for granted that they don’t realize that the real universe doesn’t actually give a fuck about us. This shouldn’t matter because a cold, indifferent universe is infinitely less horrific than a universe that intentionally brings harm upon people, arbitrarily and seemingly at random, in the name of Love.

    • josh

      I’m answering for myself here and not every atheist agrees, but…
      This isn’t evil in the sense that there is some perfectly objective, absolute moral quality that we must all agree on as rational people. There are no such properties as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ that aren’t ultimately subjective, derived from our non-rational desires and wants. This is abhorrent to me, situations like this sicken me, that is what I mean if I call it evil. This is not how the world would work if I could somehow say otherwise.
      But, as I said, that feeling is not at root a rational one, it is based in desires and feelings ‘I’ have no control over. Basically, I don’t like to see other people suffer. Most humans, at some level, don’t. If, however, I came across someone who honestly just didn’t care, a true sociopath, there is no argument that would convince them otherwise on rational grounds, even if they were the most purely reasonable person on earth. Any argument about how we should act has to proceed from some common desires. So I might try to compel another person to act via self interest through laws and punishments, but that does not give them a rational reason not to break my laws if they can find a way around them, nor is there an argument that forces them to act in what I think is their self interest.
      Luckily, most modern humans have sympathy and empathy, as well as roughly similar self-interest, in which case there are rational arguments about how we should act given that we have some common goals. But obviously, if you adopt this stance, there can be no god who is an absolute moral authority or who is objectively or by definition good. God in that sense, which is I think a central conceit of most religion, is literally impossible. A god-like being who we admit isn’t an absolute morality, but who approaches my idea of a perfectly moral person, falls on the problem of evil: my idea of an even marginally decent person, given god-like power and knowledge, couldn’t create or leave the world as it is.

      • Nikflorida

        I think I disagree. I think it’s true that WHAT is good and WHAT is evil is somewhat subjective to societal norms, but that it’s universal that “good” and “evil” EXIST. Meanwhile, I also think there are things that are “mal prohibitum” while there are other hings that are “mal de facto.” Starving children are pretty much mal de facto, I think. Not to split hairs or anything.

  • mikmik

    So, here’s a question. How many people went and donated to Oxfam, or something, after reading this? Just put any developed country on the chair instead of God.
    It’s one thing to criticize religion for it’s dumb ass claims that God = Love, but let’s put it this way, the people of the US are evil – certainly rich fucks that hoard almost all the money, and even more so, the stupid fucks that vote for them.