ON THE ISSUE OF
WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN...
by David B. McCalmont
When people who believe in the existence of a kind, all-knowing,
and all-powerful god are asked why such a god permits so much
cruelty, torture, murder, and war on Earth, the usual answer is
that god did not wish to create men and women who were automatons,
that s/he wanted human beings to have free will. In exercise of
that free will, believers argue, human beings often choose to be
violent, cruel, and warlike. God could not prevent this, they
say, without making human beings into automatons.
Not so. An all-knowing god would have known in advance that, if
s/he created people like Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam
Hussein, or Jack the Ripper, these people would personally, or by
inciting others, inflict injustice, violence, torture and death
upon other human beings. To prevent this, god need only have
refrained from creating these evil individuals. God had the power
to do that without in any way preventing other human beings from
exercising their free will.
You and I do not feel that we have been made into automatons
because our federal and state governments forbid us to murder,
rape, or maim other people, or steal or destroy their property.
On the contrary, we still have plenty of leeway for exercise of
our free will. Similarly, human beings would not have been turned
into automatons if the alleged god had placed the same kind of
reasonable limits upon their exercise of free will.
Consider also the terrible suffering which is inflicted upon human
beings by hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and drought.
These painful calamities are obviously not caused by our exercise
of free will. Yet, the alleged kind, all-knowing, and all-
powerful god permits them to occur. This is an additional reason
why the asserted need to give human beings free will cannot serve
as an excuse for the pain and suffering endured by millions of
people in this unhappy world.
Sometimes the people killed or maimed by an accident or natural
disaster turn out to have been criminals. When this happens,
believers happily proclaim that their misfortune was arranged by
god as a punishment -- even though millions of other evil-doers
escape such godly retribution.
On the other hand, if some of the victims turn out to have been
persons of admirable character, believers then assert that they
died because they were SO good that god desired their company up
By this mental legerdemain, believers can cling to their
precarious faith. But people with common sense are not impressed.
SYSOP'S NOTE: It has also been of great interest to me that those
who experience a close call in a catastrophe, the survivors of
plane crashes, etc., are the source of great praise to the
almighty when those who perish in these same disasters do not
evoke any blame to this same deity.
As always, your comments are welcome!