The other day, I posted a piece about the Problem of Evil. There was an interesting comment on the piece as follows:
Here’s my question:
How would it had been different if God weren’t there? He claims that “if he wasn’t there [she] wouldn’t have made it.” What does that mean? She would have died? Other? I don’t know what “wouldn’t have made it” means.
Regardless, if her case isn’t enough for you, I challenge you to read “The Murder of Robbie Wayne, Age 6″**** and tell me how God was there, and how things would have been worse had God not been there.
****Caution: I won’t link it, because this story of abuse is too disturbing for me to read or even think about. Look it up at your own risk. [The Bofa on the Sofa]
This is a really good point (although, as with everything in philosophy these days, nothing particularly new to the game) that is worth emphasising. The only thing that really differentiates the theist from the atheist in terms of how they interpret the world is a difference in axioms and first-hand experience of God. We all look at the same data and conclude antithetically. The atheist looks at the suffering that takes place in the world and says “Well, this sure means there ain’t no God!”
For one reason or another (whether the axioms are assumed from the beginning or are I arrived at due to suppose it first-hand experience of God or some other reason), the theist has different background assumptions, different axioms. With God as a given, any suffering must be seen in light of some version of this “God”, and this will usually be the classical version of God or, as I like to say, OmniGod.
So both the atheist and the theist look at all the pain and suffering in the world but conclude at the polar opposite to each other. One sees this as evidence that God does not exist and the other sees this as a tricky problem to overcome with some post hoc rationalisation.
What really lends itself to the theist as a form of evidence for God that would lead them to interpret this identical data differently is often first-hand experience of God. Now, to the skeptic, this first-hand experience can be explained away with myriad different reasons and psychological evidence. However, for the theist, this is prima facie evidence that God exists. Of course, not all theists have such experiences of God. This puts them at a disadvantage against other theists and, I would surmise, means that their own belief is not quite as robust. Those who have had first-hand experience of God, some kind of religious experience, have that added certitude in their belief. They really have experienced God and so God must exist! Naturally, this would lead the skeptic on to claim that God is unfair and therefore not omnibenevolent. If you provide some people with first-hand evidence but not others, then the playing field is not exactly level and certain people have advantages in the marketplace of ideas that would lead them to supposedly freely come to love God.
But, with any case of suffering, such as with the case below, it simply looks like God is not there.
Which leaves us with two conclusions: either God is away on holiday, or God was never there at all in the first place.
A la Cursive (check the lyrics):
Check out arguments concerning OmniGod in The Problem with “God”: Skeptical Theism under the Spotlight.
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