My Philosophical Comments on Religion
Maybe calling this a philosophy is a bit pretentious - its really just basic logic. I'm keeping this line of reasoning really simple. Just follow through the following steps...
1. First, I ask if the Christian God is omnipotent, in other words, can he (I use the word "he" here although its probably not really appropriate) do anything, is he "almighty" (they use the word often enough so I guess he must be). The answer is generally "Yes" - if its not I ask where can I find a religion with a God who is, since their's clearly isn't up to standard!
2. The next question is whether their God is omniscient, in other words, does he know everything. There seems to be plenty of references to him being "all knowing", etc, and not surprisingly the answer is again "yes".
3. OK, the noose is tightening around their necks! My next question is whether their God is good. Again, there's plenty of references to this, and if he isn't I think we should find one who is, or at least not support an evil god.
4. Finally, I ask is the world a perfect, or even a very good place. I remind them about all the injustice, unnecessary war and conflict, mass starvation in some areas while people in other area (usually Christians) have too much of everything, disease (including child cancer and other unpleasant realities), etc. Its pretty hard to believe the world is perfect or even good. I think "OK in places, but could do with a lot of improvement" is about the most positive appraisal I could justify.
So what is my conclusion from all of this? Actually, the only conclusion I think is possible with any degree of logic or sense is the following. If their God can do anything, knows everything, and is good; but the world is still a long way short of being good, something must be wrong. Either one of the basic tenets above must be wrong - ie God is either not almighty, all knowing, or good; or the world is perfect (which it clearly isn't) or God in the form they accept, doesn't exist. If God was almighty, all knowing and good why would he allow the world to be such an imperfect place?
The Christians usually respond with some sort of weak argument along the lines that God gave us choice and we blew it (the Garden of Eden Myth) so we have had to live in an imperfect world ever since. I can't see how this fits with a perfect God who fulfills criteria 1, 2 and 3 above though. Why would God allow children to die in the most horrible way from cancer because of an indiscretion thousands of years ago for which they can't possibly be held responsible? This is not the action of a good God, is it?
Alternatively they might say the bad things are the work of the devil. But if we believe points 1 and 2 above then God both knows about what the devil is doing and can do something about it (he's all powerful, isn't he) but he still allows it to happen. And remember, God made everything - including the devil - was that a mistake? So is God not perfect?
I can't see a flaw in my logic. If you can, please email me and tell me where it is. My email address is at OJB@mac.com. If anyone can show where I'm wrong I'll happily publish it here.
At the end of July 2005 there were 87 comments labelling this page unconvincing but only one person has taken up my challenge to explain why. His comments are here. Maybe the others just don't want to think about it too much, or maybe they'd rather just keep their beliefs private (so why click "unconvincing"?).