January 06, 2005

National Review solves the Problem of Evil

Well, Happy New Year and all that. I thought I'd get us started again with one of my patented Long-ass Very Boring Posts on Philosophy Stuff You Don't Care About. In particular, the Problem of Evil.

The PoE is one of the major arguments against the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent, Christian-type God; I personally find it quite persuasive. The dilemma goes something like this:

1. If God were benevolent and all-powerful, he would not allow pointless harm to come to human beings.
2. Events like the tsunami and diseases like AIDS or Ebola cause pointless harm to human beings.
3. Hence God is not both benevolent and all-powerful

I'm not going to defend this by really fleshing it out in great detail -- there are some obvious objects one can make to this setup. But what's important is the contradiction between the loving, paternal nature of God according to Christians et al., and the gratuitous suffering inflicted on humanity by nature. There's evil, and yet God is supposedly not evil.

Well, Michael Novak (I think he's the son or something of Bob Novak, that op-ed guy who blew Valerie Plame's cover) has solved the Problem of Evil. His response has two parts. First, he notices that the people who use the Problem of Evil as an argument against the existence of God are using it AS AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF GOD! Those damn sneaky atheists, trying to use an apparent contradiction to refute an idea!

Then, secondly, Novak points out that God is the creator and so, like, a lot more powerful than us and stuff, and we shouldn't go around judging him, because he can kick our collective asses. Hence, he has a far superior love for any human than we do. That's right -- all those kids who were swept out to sea and drowned, or instantaneously crushed when a 30-foot-tall wall of water landed on them, are an example not of cruelty and unnecessary suffering, but of God's perfect love. Because, you see, God knows (or knew) all those children he killed personally, not as the abstraction you or I know them.

Thank God for mercilessly slaughtering 150,000 people! Hallelujah!

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