A Failure of the God Hypothesis:  A Loving God? 


Chuck Doswell

Posted: 03 December 2013 Updated: whenever

This page represents my personal opinion. If you wish to communicate your opinion regarding this topic, you can contact me at cdoswell at earthlink.net - either use the email hyperlink or cut and paste after replacing _at_ with @. However, if you're not willing to have your comments posted here, along with my response, don't waste my time or yours.

Of late, the issue of how loving a god is the christian deity has been discussed in various places.  This is hardly something new, but in the process, I’ve seen some interesting insights and viewpoints expressed.  Hence, I feel the urge to express some ideas about this issue.

The basic issue is the real world observation of human suffering, both as a result of natural disasters and from the suffering inflicted on people by the actions (or neglectful inactions) of other humans.  Earthquakes, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, fires, droughts, floods, etc. have certainly been in the news.  Some clearly batshit crazy religious believers have stated in the media that these natural disasters are the direct result of supposed transgressions by the victims - the current favorite transgression is the granting of equal rights to LGBTs.  Oh, the horror!  So not only is the putative deity not loving LGBTs, but he's punishing all of us who have been so willing to grant them equal rights!  Even little children!!  Apparently the unconditional love of the christian deity comes with several conditions!  Is that a 'loving god'?

If the hypothetical christian deity can mitigate the suffering, but chooses not to, this is pretty far from being benevolent.  If the hypothetical christian deity can't mitigate the suffering, then he's pretty far from all-powerful.

The real substance of the debate comes down to this:  apparently, this 'loving' deity is more than willing to allow terrible pain and suffering to be inflicted on everyone, including children.  The only explanation ever offered for this apparent contradiction is that the deity's plan for us is beyond our human grasp.  We're informed that we can't possibly understand his plan.  Why not?  It seems to me that this deity is responsible for our inability to understand his plan - he made us that way!  Why would he not give us the capability to understand his plan?  To keep us ignorant, perhaps?  Is that a ‘loving god’?

So a child is born, made to undergo unspeakable suffering for some time (perhaps years) and then dies.  Perhaps that child is destined to go to heaven - or perhaps not!  If that child is reared as an atheist (all children are born atheists – they have to be indoctrinated to get religion!), or perhaps in the wrong religion (there can be no more than one true religion, of course!), that child's reward for a short lifetime of degradation and pain is an eternity of damnation and endless agony.  Is that a ‘loving god’?

Why is it necessary for this putative deity to be invisible and undetectable by any objective means?  Might that be to serve the purposes of the believers - allowing them to cover up for the fact that there's not a scrap of credible evidence for the existence of this hypothetical deity?  How convenient that his choice to remain invisible 'explains' the absence of any evidence for his existence!  In his 'mysterious ways' he chooses to force us to accept his existence, omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence entirely without evidence?  Why?  Why give us a rational mind and the curiosity to ask questions if obedience was all he wanted?  After all, if we choose incorrectly, he damns us for all eternity - pretty high stakes for us!  To say nothing of the fact that he supposedly created us and must surely know in advance precisely what we would choose.  How does one escape the conclusion that he created us expressly for the purpose of inflicting an eternity of torture on some (most?) of us humans?  Is that a 'loving god'?

We humans derive most of our morality not from ancient scriptures but from empathy.  We have the capability to imagine how others might see things, especially when we ourselves have experienced something similar.  Thus, we can temper our selfish behavior with the understanding that comes with empathy.  We wouldn't want to inflict suffering on others that we ourselves would not want to experience.  This sort of morality leads directly to the ability to cooperate for our mutual benefit.  We survived as a species because we cooperate, for the most part.  If our societies break down into 'every man for himself' we likely won't last long.  Evolution has made moral codes for us, not some mythical being.  But the hypothetical deity evidently is immune from any responsibility to our human morality.  Do as I say, not as I do!  The bible is soaked with the blood of this deity's vengeance, which he claims exclusively for himself.  Would not a benevolent, loving deity have empathy infinitely beyond our own?  Why would such a being stay in the shadows and let awful things happen to us without at least revealing to us the reasons for his allowing them to occur?  Wouldn't an empathetic deity want to comfort us, like a human parent tries to comfort a child when bad things happen to that child?  Why must the child rely on the solace of a better life in an afterlife promised by an invisible deity that can’t even be shown to exist in any way?  What true comfort could a child derive from an explanation that the pain serves an unknown and forever unknowable 'higher purpose'?

The fact is that the real world observations of human suffering are entirely consistent with what our world would be like if that hypothesized deity simply doesn’t exist!  There’s no explanation for humans perishing and suffering in natural disasters - just bad luck if it happens to someone.  There's no good reason for the pain and death inflicted by some humans on others.  These evil people evidently have no empathy for others, for some reason.  There's no higher purpose served by all the terrible things that can happen to us.  Take narcissistic comfort in a myth if you wish, but it's virtually certain to be a false comfort.  It's quite likely no one will ever be re-united with their friends and family taken from them prematurely.  There's no eternal bliss to make up for the bad things we might have to experience.  Many of the wrongs perpetrated by evil people likely never will be made right.  Can a delusion provide real comfort?  Apparently so, at least for some.  I have no wish to take this false comfort from anyone, but your comforting delusion comes with a price.  The christian religion (like others) is a meme that survives by propagating itself, demanding obedience, and obtaining that obedience through both the 'carrot' of a blissful afterlife and the 'stick' of eternal torment.  It makes being a human, with human wants and desires, something evil – a sin.  It's the guilt that this notion of sin induces that religion uses to control its victims.  And in christianity, that sin has been inflicted on everyone for all time, from the instant of conception, based on a childish, absurd myth about the first humans.  No one can ever escape it, no one is not soiled by this 'original sin'!  Only by accepting the mythical jesus (or whatever) can you be saved.  Religions survive by inflicting themselves on others, sometimes to the point of doing so by violence and coercion.  Christianity isn't the only religion capable of fanaticism, of course. Your source of comfort through religion is also a source for evil deeds in this real world.  Religious fanatics stop at nothing, and most moderate believers look the other way when the fanatics inflict their immoral actions on others, avoiding any obligation to condemn the fanatics.  Perhaps for fear of retribution.  Or perhaps from apathy about the evil committed in the name of their religion.  I'm not a fanatic doing evil deeds, so it's not my problem!

The hypothetical 'loving god' doesn’t love us as adults love their children or spouses.  No, the relationship looks more like that between a shepherd and his sheep.  The shepherd dictates the life the sheep can have, and the sheep have no choice but to obey.  When the time comes for leg of lamb or mutton on the dinner table - well, that's the way it goes.  The sheep have no understanding and have no need to understand.  If they somehow did understand what was going on, it might only provoke them into futile resistance, after all!  Keeping them ignorant is the simplest way to avoid problems.  That’s the christian deity - his supposed 'love' is that of a shepherd for his flock, not that of a benevolent parent or spouse!

Is this vain, hypocritical, sadistic, bigoted, arbitrary, misogynist, genocidal, fratricidal, infanticidal, vengeful, jealous, slavery-approving - but 'loving'? - deity worthy of worship and obedience?  Not in my book!  This is an evil insane deity that if he existed, should be treated as we would a mad dog.  I deny the existence of such a deity, but if I'm wrong and the christian god is just as described, then I would rather suffer in eternal torment than serve this immoral, evil entity!