First of all what irritates me straight off the bat is the fact that the interviewer (undoubtedly a theist) before even asking his questions, apologies for them. Like it should be considered offensive to ask things like, “if God is all powerful, why does he allow bad things happen to good people?”. How is it not perfectly valid to ask such things? You would never approach the topic of politics or sports in the same way. So why should you do so with religion? It is just one more way the religious try to put themselves and their beliefs up on a pedestal out of reach of reason. We should not be giving religion such undue respect. Discourse surrounding supernatural beliefs should not be considered taboo.
On to William Insane Craig. I love how his first response isn’t so much addressing the question as it stands, but he takes it and uses it as a way of slagging atheism. Good deflection… He says there’s no contradiction there and that we as atheists would need to offer evidence there was. I’d argue that if you state that your creator is all loving, all powerful, all knowing and yet still allows terrible things to happen to good people, especially when he has the ability to prevent, that he is lacking in one of those 3 criteria. Either he’s not all loving, not all powerful, or not all knowing. Absence of one or more of any of these attributes kind of evaporates the Christian idea of God.
He states that the burden of proof is on the atheist:
to show that there are necessarily true assumptions that would reveal some kind of contradiction between God and suffering and evil in the world.
We’re still waiting for you to prove God exists at all. The burden of proof is on YOU who makes the claim that he exists firstly. Maybe once you’ve gathered sufficient evidence to move past that fairly mountainous obstacle, us atheists will knead out the other ant-hill sized lumps and bumps. I might also add that any assumption we would provide, that from an atheistic viewpoint is necessarily true, would probably not be so from a Christian viewpoint. Thus, it’s relatively subjective and pointless.
We can prove that [suffering and God] are compatible just by adding a third proposition, and that would be that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil and suffering in the world. As long as that’s even possible, it shows that God and evil are logically compatible.
Huh…? So you can just throw your proposition in there and that proves you’re correct? What if I throw in the proposition that God doesn’t exist, and that is why bad things happen to evil people. That’s a great deal more logical than making the assumption that because bad things happen to good people, God must just have morally sufficient reasons for permitting it to happen. Smells of a cop out to me…
So many of Craig’s arguments seem pretty solid, until you break them all down to the bare bones and they’re all built on the illogical assumption that God exists. If you take that assumption out of the structure of his arguments, they all fall to pieces.
Craig goes on to suggest that we were all created in what is effectively an ‘arena’, where God has given us the freedom to be good or bad if we so choose. The whole purpose of this comes down:
to God wanting to bring people freely into a knowledge of himself, and to eternal salvation.
Eternal salvation from what I might ask? From Him and the suffering and evil He permits in the world? It’s not really much of a choose when it comes down to it. ‘Believe in Jesus and accept him as your one and only personal saviour or burn in hell for the rest of eternity’. It’s like being told you’re free to do what I tell you to do, or I’ll punish you.
The goal of human life is not happiness in this life. We are not God’s pets. His goal is not to create a nice terrarium here for his human pets, rather it’s to bring persons into communion with himself forever, freely.
Clearly, if this is what the majority of Christians believe adamantly it goes to follow that they will not actively fight suffering or evil in this world. This is in juxtaposition with what the majority of atheists are fighting for… Though the irony of the religious calling us atheists ‘evil’ seems to be lost on them.
It’s not hard to see why so many people of such beliefs allow terrible things to happen, if they believe people will benefit in the ‘afterlife’ from it. See my post on Mother Teresa for exhibit A. Why would you want to prevent AIDS and the suffering related to it from spreading by encouraging people to use contraceptives when it’s killing unborn children. And hey, these folks will just get to the ‘afterlife’ sooner… right?