So far we’ve looked at the arguments for the existence of God!
The main argument against the existence of God is the existence of evil.
One or more of the classical attributes of God must be wrong.
So what can we know about God and how?
- Through reasoning,
- Through experience of god,
- Through scripture
We can therefore learn God is:
Omnipotent – without limits; but if her were all the other things too he would have to be consistent and therefore he wouldn’t do the illogical or absurd thus he is self-limiting
So why allow evil?
Omniscient – if God knows everything it would appear to remove free-will / choice – but God has chosen to act within time and history and therefore again consistent with his nature, the future is not fixed.
So why allow suffering
Eternal – “I am” unaffected by time yet he acts within it to be consistent.
Beneficent / omni benevolent – if this is so why do we suffer?
So why does evil exist?
Transcendent – above and beyond – not fully comprehensible it He is the greatest we can conceive of he would have to be greater than we can comprehend
May be this is why we don’t understand why evil – but it’s a bit of a cop out!
Personal – in ancient times only a few communicated directly with God – with Jesus al were made equally worthy of direct communication – God became a personal God.
So why let people suffer?
Infinite – unlimited in any way?
So why evil?
Omnipresent – not limited to three dimensions so like air is everywhere at once.
Must therefore be with the sufferers!
Flawless – perfect and therefore not the cause of anything bad.
So why evil?
So evil is still a problem – it seems to be a perfect paradox, each of the above qualities seem to be negated by the existence of evil.
We looked at theodicies last year
- Do we just not understand God’s purpose? It’s too unknowable?
- Is he in there suffering along with us?
- Is it designed help us grow; a part of the evolutionary mechanism?
- Is a flawed world to engender higher qualities such as duty, honour and altruism?
- Is it a test? How we deal with it proves our humanity?
- Is it to prove to us we genuinely do have free-will? So how we deal with it is our choice?
Hume: and atheists say there is no God so non problem – evil just is!
Russell said since there is no God get on with life, deal with despair, make the most of this life ‘cos there’s no other! Make our own meaning, give our own lives purpose. Faith in God weakens man’s drive to take moral responsibility. Believes the world is material only. Could find no evidence for anything other than the material world so concluded there is nothing else.
Hawking maintains that before the Big Bang there was no space, time or matter therefore no god as there was nowhere for Him to be (but if God had no limits then this wouldn’t be a problem would it!)
Atkins believes that we believe in God in a desperate attempt to make ourselves and our lives significant. Belief in God is a delusion and believers should have to prove God exists. Like Russell he felt that religious belief stifles. Science and or will answer all questions. The question is there a god? is distracting and irrelevant. Like Russell says we should simply make the best of it.
Dawkins also fervently believes that religion stultifies the human mind. Religious belief is a ‘meme’, a unit of cultural belief handed on generation to generation. He suggests that the only reality of God’s existence (see Anselm) is the idea that God exists. (see p 223 of TY Philosophy of Religion)
Nietzsche, famous for his ‘God is Dead’ claim, was really criticising the emptiness of formal religious practices. He said we have grown out of the need to believe in God, it was time to take control of our own fate. This is life enhancing, gives us purpose and goals and a reason fore being and will make us shoulder our own responsibilities.
Notes from Rhinegold A2 guide for Edexcel
- Science has shown the universe to be a self-contained and self0-maintaining reality, it does not need the supernatural.
- There is evil and suffering
- Religious belief and behaviour can be explained by neuroscience.
- Agnostic critique: insufficient evidence therefore it is irrational – there is no proof.
- Humanistic critique: the bad effects of religion; religion holding back science; science is necessary for future happiness.
- Marxist critique: religion as a social painkiller ‘opium of the masses’; the poor discouraged from rising above the oppressors; religious belief is a projection of human hopes and dreams.
- Psychoanalytical critique: religious behaviour is sexual neurosis; ancient Oedipus moment; killed the tribal father – guilt replaced him with God the father and sacrifice; now the human race has grown up!!