God creates the universe. He sees that it is good and rests on the seventh day. He notices that humans have gotten disorderly and he drowns them all, or almost all. The next time, he has mellowed down a bit, he goes down as his son to send humans a message. Lately, he’s tired, all he can muster is to appear on toast now and then.
Why have all the incredible things god has done happened in the distant past, without any evidence? It seems that god is OK with wildly visible demonstrations. Why no more?
Bob burns his hand on the stove. The pain makes him jerk his hand away. Luckily for him, if his hand had stayed on the heat, it would have been deeply burned. The next day, Bob is still in pain, but there is no jerking away left to do. That first jolt was enough.
A thief tries to steal Joe’s car. The alarm goes off and the thief runs away. The alarm stops blaring. Why keep sounding all night when the purpose is passed?
The difference between these two alarm systems is simple. The first evolved over thousands of years. Pain as an alarm system evolved because those that didn’t have it (or didn’t react to it) didn’t survive. The main gain is not getting killed, there is no immediate advantage in turning down the volume.
The second alarm system was intelligently designed. We thought ahead to get it to work better.
Why the pain? If we had been designed by a perfect all-knowing being, couldn’t he have done better?
Free will explains why people do bad things. God gave us free will so that we could prove ourselves. When we pass judgment, we are rewarded with heaven for all eternity.
We strongly feel that « we » actually means what it usually means: we are the same person, with our memories, our character. Our power of decision, our free will.
If this is correct, basically god created a place where we have free will but there is only good. There is no violence, fear, hatred.
So what’s the point of our life on earth? Why couldn’t he have given us free will and a perfect society to start with? It’s not incompatible since that’s what heaven is.
Is it just to test us, just to be able to send some of us to hell for all eternity? Seems incredibly not cool, with emphasis on « incredibly ».
The other option is that when we go to heaven, we are no longer “we”. We are no longer the same person. Someone else is going to heaven in our place.
Heaven cannot make any sense. Either we are no longer « us » or it cannot be perfect.
What is god?
Let’s agree on a definition: “omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, benevolent and personal”. With that in mind, what is he really like?
Omnipotent means all-powerful. By definition, there is nothing he cannot do. God can do anything. « Can » is important, we are talking about potential. « Anything » is important, it really means anything! Even if you take out simple contradictions such as a square circle, infinitely powerful is hard to swallow. You pray for your team, another fan prays for his. Can he answer your prayers?
Omniscient means all-knowing. God knows everything, everything that has happened, everything that will happen. There is no « can happen », since he knows what will happen. Didn’t we just say that he can do anything?
How can he judge you for what you do, if he set up everything, knowing you would do exactly that? Everything is predetermined, since he knows what will happen. An all-knowing god can read your mind, so why does he require you to demonstrate your faith by worshiping him? An all-knowing god knows who will ultimately reject him. Why does god create people who he knows will end up in hell? How can he answer your prayers, if he knows what will happen, no matter what?
Omnipresent means being everywhere at once. Not just here, next to you, everywhere. Can that mean anything else but that god is everything? God is every particle of matter, anywhere in the universe. God is us too. God is the devil, god is everything evil.
Benevolent means is good, does good things. That seems easy enough. But how do you define good? Is letting people go to hell, good? If you are god, knowing everything that will happen, at that level, is there a simple definition of good?
It’s even more interesting when we try to combine these characteristics.
Omnipotent and omniscient. If you know everything, including what you are going to do next, how can you be able to do anything? You can only do what you are going to do.
Omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent. Why does evil exist?
God knows how to get rid of evil and suffering, god has the power to do it and does what is good. Yet there is evil and suffering. Either god does not know how, cannot, chooses not to or doesn’t care (or doesn’t exist).
If he doesn’t know how, he is not omniscient. If he cannot, he is not omnipotent. If he chooses not to or doesn’t care, he is not benevolent.
« Either god can do nothing to stop catastrophes, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely. » Sam Harris
So how do we define god?
This isn’t a trick question. It is fundamental. How can you believe in something so important, the most important thing in the world, if you can’t even come up with a coherent picture in your mind? If your cop out is “he works in mysterious ways”, you are just in denial.
God does not fit with either logic or reality.