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The Indifference of God

starving children

Repost from 2015-2016. Edited, updated, and corrected.

Spend time on Sundays at Evangelical churches and you will hear all sorts of talk about how God is intimately involved in our lives. God is everywhere, Evangelicals say, and he knows everything. Not only is God omnipresent and omniscient, he is also omnipotent! God holds the universe in the palm of his hand, Evangelical preachers say. God is the Kings of Kings, Lord of Lords, the supreme potentate of heaven and earth. He is, as Calvinists love to say, sovereign. In other words, God is in control of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. No thought, word, or deed escapes his notice. No matter where humans travel — be it to the farthest reaches of the universe or the depths of the oceans — they can not escape God. God is the king of voyeurs, his eyes peering into the darkest corners of human existence.

This God of the Evangelicals must be one busy deity. Knowing everything, including what will happen in the future, God surely acts in ways to lessen suffering, pain, loss, and death, right?  Certainly, there is ample evidence for the Evangelical God’s involvement in the smallest details of life, right?  While Evangelicals will certainly answer YES! to these questions, when pressed for objective, verifiable evidence for such claims, they quickly retreat to their houses of faith and claims that God’s ways are not our ways.

Theodicy — the branch of theology that defends (or attempts to defend) God’s goodness and justice in the face of the existence of evil and suffering — continues to be a big problem for Evangelicals. The more apologists attempt to defend God in light of evil and suffering, pain, and death, the less people think God is good. All people have to do is read the newspaper to realize that IF God is the powerful deity Evangelicals say he is, then he is a horrible being who delights in unfeigned worship while doing nothing as countless men, women, and children face untold agony and death.

One of the marks of psychopathy is a lack of empathy. God can, if he chooses, put an end to suffering. Yet, he does, by all accounts, absolutely nothing. In 2008, New Testament scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman wrote a book titled God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer. Ehrman had this to say about why he wrote the book:

For most of my life I was a devout Christian, believing in God, trusting in Christ for salvation, knowing that God was actively involved in this world. During my young adulthood, I was an evangelical, with a firm belief in the Bible as the inspired and inerrant word of God. During those years I had fairly simple but commonly held views about how there can be so much pain and misery in the world. God had given us free will (we weren’t programmed like robots), but since we were free to do good we were also free to do evil—hence the Holocaust, the genocide in Cambodia, and so on. To be sure, this view did not explain all evil in the world, but a good deal of suffering was a mystery and in the end, God would make right all that was wrong.


Suffering increasingly became a problem for me and my faith. How can one explain all the pain and misery in the world if God—the creator and redeemer of all—is sovereign over it, exercising his will both on the grand scheme and in the daily workings of our lives? Why, I asked, is there such rampant starvation in the world? Why are there droughts, epidemics, hurricanes, and earthquakes? If God answers prayer, why didn’t he answer the prayers of the faithful Jews during the Holocaust? Or of the faithful Christians who also suffered torment and death at the hands of the Nazis? If God is concerned to answer my little prayers about my daily life, why didn’t he answer my and others’ big prayers when millions were being slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, when a mudslide killed 30,000 Columbians in their sleep, in a matter of minutes, when disasters of all kinds caused by humans and by nature happened in the world?


Eventually, while still a Christian thinker, I came to believe that God himself is deeply concerned with suffering and intimately involved with it. The Christian message, for me, at the time, was that Jesus Christ is the revelation of God to us humans, and that in Jesus we can see how God deals with the world and relates to it. He relates to it, I thought, not by conquering it but by suffering for it. Jesus was not set on a throne in Jerusalem to rule over the Kingdom of God. He was crucified by the Romans, suffering a painful, excruciating, and humiliating death for us. What is God like? He is a God who suffers. The way he deals with suffering is by suffering both for us and alongside us.


About nine or ten years ago I came to realize that I simply no longer believed the Christian message. A large part of my movement away from the faith was driven by my concern for suffering. I simply no longer could hold to the view—which I took to be essential to Christian faith—that God was active in the world, that he answered prayer, that he intervened on behalf of his faithful, that he brought salvation in the past and that in the future, eventually in the coming eschaton, he would set to rights all that was wrong, that he would vindicate his name and his people and bring in a good kingdom (either at our deaths or here on earth in a future utopian existence).

We live in a world in which a child dies every five seconds of starvation. Every five seconds. Every minute there are twenty-five people who die because they do not have clean water to drink. Every hour 700 people die of malaria. Where is God in all this? We live in a world in which earthquakes in the Himalayas kill 50,000 people and leave 3 million without shelter in the face of oncoming winter. We live in a world where a hurricane destroys New Orleans. Where a tsunami kills 300,000 people in one fell swoop. Where millions of children are born with horrible birth defects. And where is God? To say that he eventually will make right all that is wrong seems to me, now, to be pure wishful thinking.

Ehrman states in God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer:

Eventually, though, I felt compelled to leave Christianity altogether. I did not go easily. On the contrary, I left kicking and screaming, wanting desperately to hold on to the faith I had known since childhood and had come to know intimately from my teenaged years onward. But I came to a point where I could no longer believe. It’s a very long story, but the short version is this: I realized that I could no longer reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of life. In particular, I could no longer explain how there can be a good and all-powerful God actively involved with this world, given the state of things. For many people who inhabit this planet, life is a cesspool of misery and suffering. I came to a point where I simply could not believe that there is a good and kindly disposed Ruler who is in charge of it.

The problem of suffering became for me the problem of faith. After many years of grappling with the problem, trying to explain it, thinking through the explanations that others have offered—some of them pat answers charming for their simplicity, others highly sophisticated and nuanced reflections of serious philosophers and theologians—after thinking about the alleged answers and continuing to wrestle with the problem, about nine or ten years ago I finally admitted defeat, came to realize that I could no longer believe in the God of my tradition, and acknowledged that I was an agnostic: I don’t “know” if there is a God; but I think that if there is one, he certainly isn’t the one proclaimed by the Judeo-Christian tradition, the one who is actively and powerfully involved in this world. And so I stopped going to church.

For most Evangelicals-turned-atheists, the issue of suffering looms large in their decisions to leave Christianity. When I am asked why I left Christianity, I usually point to the intellectual problems I have with Christian theology and practice. In particular, I call attention to the unsupportable notion that the Protestant Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God. I generally avoid discussions about suffering and death because such engagements usually end with Evangelicals apologists telling me that the REAL reason I am no longer a Christian is the personal pain and suffering I deal with each and every day of my life. Bruce, you are just mad that God didn’t heal you, Evangelicals say. So, you quit on God, all because he wouldn’t do what you wanted him to do — heal you.

While there was a time when I would bristle at such claims, I now admit that God’s indifference towards not only the suffering of family, friends, and parishioners, but also my own suffering played a pertinent part in my deconverson. It was not THE reason, but certainly one of the reasons I was no longer was willing to believe in the Christian God’s existence. The Bible speaks of a Jesus who healed the sick, blind, and deaf, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. Surely, if, as the Bible says, Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why is there so much suffering in the world? What better way for God to reveal himself to us than to heal the sick and feed the hungry. I am aware of all the Evangelical apologetical arguments that are used to justify God’s indifference, so don’t bother, but the fact remains that most suffering goes unrequited. As Bart Ehrman mentioned above, untold suffering will happen today and, come tomorrow and every other day after that, pain, sickness, and incalculable loss will test and try countless people. In fact, few of us get through this life without facing things that can and do turn our lives into piles of ashes. Despite prayers and voices crying to God for help, the triune God of the Bible acts as if he lives in an area where there is no cellphone service. Christians and non-Christians alike cry to the heavens, pleading and begging its inhabitants to help them, yet all they hear is deafening silence.

Let me conclude this post with two news stories that amply illustrate the indifference of God.

On August 6, 2016, in an apparent murder-suicide, a Pennsylvanian husband or wife murdered their spouse and three children before committing suicide. CBS News reports:

A Pennsylvania couple who were featured in news stories about their difficulties getting medication for their youngest daughter who had a heart transplant were found shot to death in their home along with their three children.

Prosecutor John Adams says an apparent “murder/suicide” note was found in the family’s Sinking Spring home Saturday. Police found a handgun near one of the adults. They didn’t say who they believe was the shooter.

Officials say the parents had had “domestic issues.” Police had gone to the home to check on the family after a call from a concerned relative who said the mom did not show up for a pre-arranged lunch date.

The victims were identified as 40-year-old Mark Short Sr., 33-year-old Megan Short; 8-year-old Lianna, 5-year-old Mark Jr., and 2-year-old Willow.


Willow had undergone a heart transplant as a baby. Her family had been featured in articles in The Reading Eagle in 2014 and The New York Times in 2015 about her condition and the family’s difficulties obtaining anti-rejection medication for her.


Once inside the home, officers discovered the family’s deceased bodies and a deceased dog in the living room area of the residence. A handgun was discovered near one of the deceased adults.

On July 31, 2016, a young couple with three children was headed to Palmer Lake, Colorado, “for a five-week session on learning a language and assimilating into another culture” when a semi-truck rammed the rear of their minivan, killing all of them. The Omaha-Herald reports:

The semitrailer truck driver involved in a crash that claimed six lives on Interstate 80 was “inattentive and distracted by outside influences” when he rammed into a minivan “at a high rate of speed,” a Nebraska State Patrol trooper said in an arrest affidavit.

The driver, Tony Weekly Jr., 53, of Baker, Florida, was charged in Keith County Court on Tuesday with five counts of felony motor vehicle homicide — one for each member of the St. Paul, Minnesota, family who died Sunday in the fiery crash four miles west of Brule’s I-80 interchange — and a single misdemeanor count of reckless driving.


Witnesses said Weekly’s truck “did not slow down until hitting the first vehicle,” Trooper Darrell Crawford said in the arrest affidavit.

That vehicle was the minivan carrying the Pals family of Minnesota. Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their three children died as a direct result of the initial impact,” Crawford said. Before coming to rest, the vehicles’ forward momentum pushed them into a Plymouth minivan driven by Sullivan, then a Nissan sport utility vehicle and finally a Ford van.

Killed Sunday were: Jamison and Kathryne Pals, both 29, and their children, Ezra, 3; Violet, almost 2; and 2½-month-old Calvin.


The Palses intended to serve as long-term missionaries in Nagoya, Japan. They were headed to Palmer Lake, Colorado, for a five-week session on learning a language and assimilating into another culture, said Dennis Vogan, vice president of personnel development of the ministry organization WorldVenture.

“The Palses fit perfectly within our organization,” Vogan said. The missionaries in Japan “were thrilled and looking so forward to their coming,” he said.

The Palses had raised enough money to fund their mission work, which was to start in October, he said.

Rick Pals, Jamison’s father, said Tuesday that funeral services would be held at Jamison and Kathryne’s church, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He said the families of Jamison and Kathryne “have been very touched” by the “outpouring of sincere support” they have received.


Jamison Pals worked for just over three years as a grant writer for Feed My Starving Children. The Christian nonprofit based in Eagan, Minnesota, sends meals specially formulated for malnourished children to orphanages, schools, clinics and feeding programs around the world.

Andy Carr, the group’s vice president of marketing and development, said Jamison and Kathryne Pals were “amazing people” and good friends.

“They were the most humble and selfless people that you could ever meet,” he said. “In today’s world where it’s so much about me, me, me, it was never about them. It was always about others.”

The first story is likely to be explained in Evangelical circles as an example of human depravity. Human sinfulness leads people to do awful things, Evangelicals say. If this couple had known Jesus, perhaps things would have turned out differently!

The second story is being portrayed as an example of the “mysteries” of God. We dare not question God’s purpose and plan! Calvinist pastor John Piper attributes their deaths to the mysterious, unknown plan of the universe’s sovereign God. Evangelicals must never ask why. God knows best!

In both of these horrific, mind-numbing tragedies, one thing is for certain: God stood by and did nothing. If God can’t be counted on to rescue children and those who have devoted themselves to “serving” him, why should any of us bother to worship him? If God helps a young child through a heart transplant, only to later stand by twiddling his thumbs while this same girl is murdered, should we not at least question the actions of the compassionate, loving, kind God who promises never to leave or forsake us?

Evangelicals should not fault people such as myself when we conclude that their God is either a work of fiction or is simply not interested in what happens to us. I have concluded that there is no God, and that life can be cruel and hard. Disease, pain, hunger, violence, and death are very much a part of life, and all of us will likely be marred or broken by one or more of these things. Try as we might to escape suffering, it will track us down and arrest us, often sentencing us to lives of pain and agony. I wish things could be different, but they are what they are. All the prayers and religious pronouncements in the world won’t change the fact that humans (and other animals) suffer. The best we can do is to work at reducing suffering and its effects. It is up to us to alleviate the suffering of others (and our own). Waiting on God accomplishes nothing. As the stories mentioned above make clear, God is nowhere to be found when it comes to things that matter.

Please read the comments. Wonderful examples of Evangelical/Bible gymnastics.


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    Oh my, heart-breaking stuff here. After living in the woo-woo place for many years and not having to face these realities, I feel again why the fantasy is so important to most of my family and to all fundagelicals. It is not easy to stare simple reality in the face and not grimace, not find it unbearable.
    There is no indifferent God because no God worth any status could ever allow such wanton destruction of human beings. If It did exist, then Fuck It. What a miserable, low prick…

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    Very hard to read, Bruce, but thank you for presenting reality once again. It can’t be papered over with fancy, flowery prayers, but that’s what they do. I knew about the Pennsylvania family but hadn’t heard of the other family tragedy. Such a dedicated couple, even naming their child after John Calvin, all the time and effort and money put into their plans to serve God. Then all the starving children that nobody’s even heard of-living their miserable, short lives and dying a miserable death.

    It seems logic would tell us that either there’s an awful God or no God. I suspect the latter. That there’s a good God seems the least likely scenario.

    Reading the blog of the Calvinist family shows again that we can invent these neat little worlds inside our heads-and faithfully read our little devotional booklet each night and it’s all very cozy. BUT, we can be living in a fantasy world and totally convinced that it’s real. Why? Because that’s what we’ve been taught.

    It’s like having a scientific theory, but eventually so many pieces don’t fit the theory, that the scientists realize their original theory was incorrect. They must rethink it-not just keep trying to make it fit.

    • Avatar

      If religion was a scientific theory where you had to explain all the pieces that don’t fit the theory instead of just calling them mysterious, I don’t think religion would fare too well. I think there’s plenty of evidence to disprove the description of God that most people carry around in their head.

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    It’s been a rough month for startling tragedies. There were these two families, the decapitation of the little boy on the water ride, the suicide of the man whose wife was horrifically injured in the rock attack, and the murder of three different women joggers. I was recently talking to a young woman who had had a string of unfortunate things occur, leaving her and her husband and their many young children without any financial cushion and indeed, without a place to live. She felt forced to give in to a pernicious opportunistic person in her life who offered to temporarily put a roof over her children’s heads if she would give in to the person’s unreasonable demands. When asking herself why this particular set of circumstances occurred, she came to believe that it could only be God orchestrating all that happened so that she would be put in a position where she ultimately had to do what she could only conclude to be “God’s Will”. Here’s where I struggle: why does God use children’s illnesses, unexpected pregnancies, broken down vehicles, heartless landlords, sociopathic family members, job loss, car accidents, etc. to manipulate people into doing His Will? Couldn’t God just as easily use winning the lottery, unexpected healing, promotion at work, or kind, loving extended family members in order to get people to do His Will? If so, I cannot understand why God would almost inevitably choose the path of suffering to motivate people.

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    Easy for you people to point fingers at GOD, Fact of the matter is that it is humans that caused these things. Directly or indirectly.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      I assume you have never read the Bible? This is the only explanation for you ascribing causation to humans.

      The evidence suggests that God is either indifferent ( Deistic view) or God doesn’t exist (atheistic view).

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      J.D. Matthews

      Here’s some Bible verses for you to ignore, Anony.

      Amos 3:6 “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?”

      Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”

      And here’s one that has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but I thought it was perfect for you:

      Deuteronomy 23:2 “A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.”

      (I wonder if anyone realizes that this means Jesus, being born “illegitimately” out of wedlock–to say nothing of being the product of an actual rape–can’t enter into the congregation of the Lord.)

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      Everett Lund

      Your argument is preposterous and not everything can be blamed on one person . When you point a finger there’s three fingers pointing back at you . God Is Not Dead is a PERFECT example of this . Humans , in the beginning , humans sin was the reason we are separated from God

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    Caine Cloyd

    So instead of proving that God exists and looking at all of the ways that he has impacted society in a good way, you guys decide to try to prove that he doesnt exist and that he is just a miserable, low life prick for allowing these things to happen. We are in a spiritual war between God and Satan. This world is not intended to be perfect, it cant be when you have satan. There will always be war, hunger, suicides, murders, and hate around the world. But…., there are also missionaries all over the place to help feed these starving people. There are councilors and people in every church of God willing to help you with your suicidal thoughts. There are militarys that fight for God, like Israel, too keep raping, killing, radicals under control. My point is God sends YOU to help others and do great selfless things. The story of a family getting killed because of a semi truck hitting them even though they were followers of God and going to do mission trips, thats just how it goes. It doesnt matter what you have done, who you are or what your future is, if you get hit by a semi truck, you will die. So why are you blaming God? I bet though, that the family is at peace in an eternal life in heaven. God loves every one of us and he cares about all of us, so why deny him? Why blame Satans doings on God? We are here to spread the word of God, save people souls, and love our family, friends and neighbors. Whats so bad about that. Even in the darkest of times, still believing in God is what true faith is. Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (1 corinthians 13:13). That doesnt sound like a miserable, low life prick to me. I hope that you guys find God cause when you do, your life will be changed, in a good way. You will have more joy and not let things bother you so much, you will love more, hate less, and just be comforted, knowing that there is more to life than just death. God bless you all.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      According to virtually every Christian sect, God is sovereign ; he’s the first cause of everything. God is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent. God created everything, including Satan. You can find all of these facts in the Bible you say you believe is the Word (s) of God.

      If these things are true, then God is indeed responsible for and the blame for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

      I hope you will think about what you have written here in light of what you say you believe.

      Look at the world as it is. Where is your God? Quit trying to Bible-explain pain, suffering, and death. Instead, what is your eyes and experiences telling you. Reality awaits once you are willing to entertain the notion that maybe, just maybe, your beliefs do not reconcile with reality.

      As far as life is concerned….why would I ever want to return to the bondage of Egypt (Christianity)? I’ve found the Promised Land, a country where reason and love of others for who they are, and what they are reigns supreme. No dividing people by labels such as saved/lost, heaven/hell. In the Promised Land, all you’ll find is people, just people.

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        Just people… which is how the same Bible he believes in says that Jesus saw us, as just people. Dammit Bruce, why is it that I find so much more of Christ’s message among atheists and those who are “unchurched” (but still believe) than I ever heard in pulpits on Sunday morning?
        More and more it seems to me that America’s churches have kept Christ’s name while ignoring His message. As for myself, I don’t need Jesus to be the Christ or even to be divine to follow His philosophy. It’s very much in line with the Humanist Creed you published here. But it’s not what I see coming from the so-called Christians around us. What I see looks more like the notorious Whore of Babylon than the Bride of Christ. It’s also one reason I had to quit believing in Hell; too many good people striving to do their best are being deceived and if Hell were real, they would find themselves in a most unexpected situation after having been told over and over that their place in Heaven was secured. I simply cannot believe that the actual Divine would be so cruel.
        Please keep “preaching” Bruce. At least this “believer” finds more truth here than I ever heard from a Baptist preacher or blog.

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      Russ Dizdar. I’d never heard of him until you mentioned the name so I’ve googled him. He seems obsessed by Lucifer, Satanic rites and, generally, attributing everything that’s bad in the world with evil and with Satan.

      The reality is that belief in Satan is a cop out. When somebody commits a crime you don’t have to blame the criminal, you blame Satan. When you start an adulterous affair with a married woman, or man, it’s Satan to blame. Homosexuals aren’t made that way (and actually that’s exactly what they are), it’s the fault of Satan. People who are severely depressed aren’t ill, it’s demonic possession.

      It’s to some extent the opposite of prayer. Didn’t get that job because I didn’t pray hard enough. Someone didn’t recover from illness due to insufficient prayer, or not making it right with God.

      Man up! Accept responsibility for things. There’s definitely no Satan, and I’ll say that if there’s a God (which I’m personally sure there isn’t) he doesn’t care about our trivial day to day existence, whose prayed the hardest, or whose bed you got out of this morning.

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    Hi Bruce. I came about your blog while searching through google the topic’the indifference of God’. Unlike you, I am at the moment struggling between ‘keeping the faith in Christ’ vs being an agonistic misotheist and dystheist with a ‘mild agnosticism’. I am not an atheist. I think the complexity of biological systems suggests intelligent design -maybe by God or gods or ‘some sentient beings’ who currently appear indifferent to us or watching us as products of their experiments/mischief. Of course, I cannot disprove atheism – it may be possible there is no God. However, I think the elegance and complexity of the human genome(and the genomes of other organisms) suggests ‘primeaval life forms’ were some experiment aeons ago with perhaps some tinkering by ‘creators’ in the distant past plus evolution leading to current day organisms. In short, I think the Creator(s) of this universe is unlikely the caring and loving personality portrayed in Judeo-Christianity. Perhaps He(? “It”) is actually amoral and view us ad nothing but an intellectual exercise/ “experiment”? Like you, I agree that I have a problem with a good,moral and omnipotent God in the face of countless horrors and suffering of the human race. Especially, horrific natural disasters and accidents leading to untold suffering or death of people who have not done great evil. Also the fact that evildoers generally triumph over those who sincerely tried their best to be good speaks volumes about the ‘character’ of God. I also have to admit that I struggle between holding to highest moral principles and throwing all these notions away and give in to my depraved and libertine side. If indeed there is no God(atheism) or if God is amoral or even malevolent -why even have morality? Why not just do what is self gratifying? Perhaps morality is a human invention grown out of humankind’s greater intellect vs other animals. For without the (perhaps false) belief in a supreme and moral God, we humans will be like the wild animals where the law of the jungle is blatant. Now, we suppress them using religion,laws and ‘culture’. Just my thoughts. Hope my rants do make some sense. Forgive my poor English because I am from Asia.

  7. Avatar

    So Isoguanine, I see you’ve slipped in some of the old God arguments into your comment, and perhaps I might reply. I understand that English isn’t your first language.

    The idea that God exists because life appears complex is what I would describe as ‘God of the gaps’. In other words, whenever we don’t understand something we attribute the solution to God. The trouble is it’s a bad argument. First off, it’s been used all through the ages to account for everything from plagues of locusts to volcanoes, to tsunamis. Each of these has been found to be completely naturalistic in origin. Yes, life and the universe is complex, probably more than any of us can imagine, but that doesn’t suggest a creator, it suggests mystery. And shifting it to ‘sentient beings’ doesn’t help, because we need to explain the origin of those beings. Just as believers have to explain the origin of God.

    As for morality, I don’t get your point. If we were to follow the morality of the bible we’d all have slaves (unless you were one of course), stone women for adultery, make women marry their rapist, and commit all sorts of horrible atrocities. That we don’t is because secular thinking got in the way and said ‘enough!’. Morality is an evolutionary behaviour that mankind has learnt for itself. To try and argue otherwise is to play very fast and loose with the evidence.

    • Avatar

      Hi Geoff,
      Thanks for the reply.
      1. With regards to your criticism that I pronounce ‘God’ as ‘THE’solution for the mystery of complexity in biology, I actually meant intelligent designers ‘creating’ life is more suggestive than abiogenesis by purely naturalistic means as the origin of life-forms. Whether those designers were God/gods/aliens or not is pure speculation. If you read my post, I am more of an agnostic with a slant towards ‘dystheism’. I do not know if God exists or not – he/it may or may not exist. I view atheism and theism as currently unprovable notions – faiths. I prefer to keep an open mind on this issue, although currently I tend to think ‘life’ was a product of some intelligent design. Hence, I am not an atheist neither do I insist God exists.
      2. Yes, plague of locusts, volcanoes,tsunamis etc have naturalistic explanations. However, as you pointed out, life is a mystery. Its origins as well. Currently, there are no credible naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. In my view, there is no credible naturalistic explanation why all RNA and DNA use ONLY D-ribose and D-deoxyribose respectively and not the L enantiomers ; or why L alpha amino acids are used in peptides/proteins and not D alpha amino acids. Purely naturalistic processes cannot explain this enantioselectivity in biological systems. Polypeptides, proteins, different types of RNA, lipids, glycomes etc all behaving as nanomachines. And many other ‘curiosities’. The complexity of biology is of a totally different ‘nature’ compared to plague of locusts, volcanoes etc. I do concede that it is possible that there is a possibility of us finding out that these complexities in biology have purely naturalistic explanations. Until then, no one can conclude with absolute certainty that life was not some experiment by some very smart beings.
      3. Those sentient beings could have evolved – if truly God does not exist. Or I am wrong , life on earth came purely by naturalistic processes. No one can be ABSOLUTELY certain at our current level of knowledge.
      4. With regards to ‘morality’ – if atheism is finally proven to be true, why should anyone subscribe to any ‘morality’? To me, if atheism is true, ‘morality’ has totally no meaning. Out of purely existentialist reasons, I would protest being killed by someone who hates me – but killed or not killed is totally meaningless. I view atheism as a great negation for any meaning in life -regardless of any arguments to the contrary. The arguments themselves are meaningless if atheism were true.
      4. In summary, I am not saying atheism is untrue. Just saying atheism is currently unprovable, just as theism is currently unprovable. I do think that all religions( including ‘Biblical Christianity’ and Islam) are false. If ‘God’ exists, he seems not at all to be a good one, I see him as perhaps amoral…even with a twisted evil streak. As for now, we have not enough knowledge to conclude anything, so I will keep an open mind/agnostic.
      Just my thoughts. Thank you.

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    Well Isoguanine, that was a very full response, and I hope Bruce will allow us to exchange, at least for a little longer. I know you’ve broken down your comment into several parts, but they very much overlap in content and I’ll deal with them on that basis, if you don’t mind.

    You refer several times to atheism being unprovable, putting it on an even footing with theism. I’d say this is misleading. Theism is that which has to be proved and that is up to the theist. No matter how many people believe in God, no matter how much it presents itself as ‘must be true’, it is still a hypothesis, and it must be evidenced if it is to be viewed seriously. If the evidence is insufficient, and I’d say it is entirely lacking, then atheism is the default position. I don’t need to offer a single jot of evidence to support my atheism, just as I don’t need to provide evidence regarding my non-belief in unicorns, fairies, or pixies.

    You also refer to ‘intelligent design’. That is simply a neat side step, in that you, obviously, need a designer and that may be some other form of God, or aliens, or very clever demons. The point is that the best that this argument does is shift the problem one further square along the board; your ‘designer’ still needs to be explained.

    As for the origin of life (abiogenesis), and its subsequent evolution being complicated I’d say yes, it certainly seems so from our perspective. But of course they are ‘just’ a series of individual steps, resulting in what has become a complex structure. Take a stalactite. It is so simple to explain how it forms, perhaps over many years, starting from a single drop of water, becoming this fabulous structure that I’m sure primitive man will have attributed to God. The only reason we don’t all realise that this is exactly how life evolved is that we are limited in our ability to properly grasp the countless steps involved in building what we see now, over billions of years. I might also say that the process of evolution is random, but not a matter of chance, as for example creationists claim.

    Lastly morality. Why do you have so little regard for the ability of man to be moral through his own endeavours. I’ve already pointed out how following the admonitions of the Christian God actually brings about actions we now consider immoral, so why think God is needed at all? In fact, think it through. Even if you believe God is telling you to act in a certain way, you will stop and consider if YOU think it’s right. I guarantee it. Even the most obsessive apologist is second guessing God when he attempts to explain why God may, for example, not approve of homosexuality. And anyone who acts on the instructions of God without personal consideration of the morality of the instruction, is likely to be someone we disapprove of by virtue of those actions; from suicide bombers to parents who let their children die because they are praying for them, and fail to get medical help.

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    We truly have a mysterious thing to unfold for ourselves we all have a measure of faith in we human beings. It quotes that in the bible what “Christians” believe in also there is one thing that I would like to educate some of you on on everyone know the bigggg science rule that “nothing can come from nothing” right and basically if your any other denomination except a few you fall into the line of people That believe that two molecules hit created a big huge star and the surrounding gases formed the planets righttt ok then everything started off in the ocean there was no life on land, ok a tad-pole jumped out of the water 65 million years ago formed dinosaurs and cave man which is not possible because a dinosaur is a reptile and how do you get humans from reptiles also humans were apperently complete retartds back then majically survived 65 million years into the people were are today really logical explanation right instead why don’t you go look up some videos of god healing people in front of your eyes or witness god doing somthing amazing another thing that this man has failed to realize is that there is a thing called spiritual warfare basically the devil and god going at it gods got the holy spirit and or ghost and the devil has demons obviously this dude had serious doubt in God because if you really believed for 10 years or how ever long and your prayers werent getting answered obviously you didnt believe that they would happen! Look God Loves You All and it’s never too late too turn back to him we “Christians” aren’t what people make us out to be all we true Christians do is love our neighbors and spread the gospel as long as you were exposed to the knowledge it’s up to you to go after it I know I’m going to heaven and the day of judgment is drawing near!

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      Oh dear Jonah, it seems to me you should at least try and get some grasp on English grammar before trying to ‘educate’ people. Then you need to go back to a proper school.

      You said that “nothing can come from nothing” is impossible.

      Firstly, that is what is called an assertion; a statement for which you have no evidence. You may think it’s obvious, but actually it is still something you need to demonstrate. Secondly, define nothing. Is it possible for ‘nothing’ to exist? After all, if nothing exists then, by definition, it can’t be ‘nothing’. In short science doesn’t ever refer to ‘nothing’ because it’s just a meaningless word, a concept we are unable to grasp.

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        Bruce Gerencser

        Here’s Jonah’s response to Geoff:

        Believe what you want it will be you that faces the wrath of God not me. Like I said, your claim is strictly based off of suffering and why God allows this go watch The Shack your story us similar too this and your question may get answered. Spiritual warfare is the cause of this god doesn’t do those things the devil does, look up spiritual warfare. Your doubt in God is caused obviously by the devil and he has worked you into a pit of darkness and you need help getting out. Ask someone for help. I’ll pray for you

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            Bruce Gerencser

            He sent me his comment instead of posting it on the blog. I let him know of his mistake, but he never bothered to correct it. So, that’s why I posted it for him. I hope he will respond to your comment about “nothing”.

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    Jane Catherine Rozek

    Perhaps your premise is wrong! All those horrific tragedies continually occur on our planet. But if you need someone to blame (besides humankind itself) why not blame the antagonist in the Human Story? Your past history has a belief system in God, but what about the Darth Vader character ruling our planet?

    Satan or the Devil is mentioned eighty-two times in scripture. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2Cor.4:4), and of course God is not in charge of our world. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

    That’s why we need to have Jesus pay the ransom to escape our dark reality and that’s why we wait for a heavenly God from outerspace to return to save us and our planet. “There was war in heaven and Satan and a third of the angels were kicked out and sent down to earth.” Well, they are still here….. Don’t give up on Christianity, you just have to read the story again!

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      Bruce Gerencser

      You know I am an atheist, right? My use of God in this post was for argumentative purposes, showing that IF the Christian God exists he is indifferent to the plight of his creation. If God doesn’t exist, then, of course, his fictional archenemy Satan doesn’t exist either. The hell we see on earth is the result of human action/inaction. No God needed.

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    Genomic Explorer

    I’m still a believer in the triune God, but am prone to wavering in my faith for the apparent inattentiveness of God to my own suffering and the suffering endured by people all over the world. Christians need to be honest with themselves and see reality as it is … life is difficult and no one is immune from suffering. All too often I see Christians dismissing their own suffering all for the sake of being “content” with whatever happens in their life. The odds of getting cancer for a believer is the same as an unbelievers odds of getting cancer. Whether we’re believers or not we’re all part of the same human family and Christians (people, for that matter) would do well to help alleviate human suffering in the world instead of dismissing it because we’re too afraid to make God look bad if we acknowledge its existence. I love to look at genetics (I wish I went to college to be a scientist instead of getting another degree to be a better missionary candidate) and would like it if there was a way to cure genetic diseases via gene editing.

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    I see the usual mental gymnastics being performed here by the defenders of God. I think it would be much more noble of them to admit that they don’t know why these things happen. God does state in the Bible that he creates evil, so this car smash was part of God’s plan and that settles the matter. Trouble is, Christians can’t accept that God is above morality and probably likes to see humans tested beyond endurance. What I have experienced over the past five years would test many people’s faith and patience. I have been on the brink of suicide several times and have begged and pleaded with God to put an end to my torment. all he had to do was stop torturing me. But all I got was C.S. Lewis’s door slammed in my face and bolted from the other side. In the end, what kept me from killing myself was my love for my family. I couldn’t bear to inflict such pain upon them, even though God was allowing me to be tortured mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It was not love for God or fear of his judgement that stopped me from going through with it. In fact, after the life I have had, all I want is the peace of oblivion. God can keep his heaven.

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    Well, the fundie god is a major asshole, since he plans on torturing those who never accept him, for all eternity. Well, not an asshole but the true embodiment of evil.

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    A major factor in my deconversion was rather like the 2nd story. I was sold out for jesus 24/7 for decades. But though I was involved in – an lead – evangelistic projects, we got less and less returns. We didn’t get ‘the great harvest of souls’ that god promised. Fewer and fewer folk went to church in the UK or were interested in religion, it was totally irrelevant to them. It began to appear to me that god didn’t seem to actually want converts very much, If he did, he only had to show us the right way to get them. We’d have implemented it in an instant. It was failure after failure. And a couple of sad deaths like the tragic missionary family in the story. It was as if god was working against x-tians’ devoted, sold-out efforts to bring people into his kingdom….not empowering us to do it successfully as we delusionally expected him to. And he could sweep us away on a whim, however much we were working to bring his glorious gospel to the heathen as he’d told us to do. So I said,no thanks and walked freedom.

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    I hid behind the “free will” excuse for many years but as my deconversion progressed I realized this was just rationalization. I am just a flawed human being but I would love to be able to end suffering if I could. I see no reason to believe in the existence of a supreme being but even if I did there is nothing about the Christian god that is worthy of respect or devotion

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    Dennis Russell

    I once worked for a church. It was a somewhat evangelical church and during a Christmas service a song was played (I’ll be home for Christmas) that triggered my PTSD. I’m a Vietnam Veteran and it was a song That was played there that just ruined Christmas for us as we were on an isolated outpost in the middle of the Central Highlands. This song triggered me at the service so I went to one of the pastors and explained what was going on with me. His response? “Give it to God.” My retort was: ” What in the hell makes you think He wants it?” I was just looking for somebody to talk to me and help me in the moment. I gave up thinking that God or anybody will help me in moments like that. I fought through it somehow but would never attend services there ever. To me evangelical services are cold. But that’s because I believe that for the most part, evangelicals are cold. I can see why you left Bruce. And Bart Ehrman is right.

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    Bob Felton

    The so-called “problem of evil” is the exemplar for the unseriousness of Christian theology. It never rises to the level of a bona fide, intellectually serious problem because the premises — the reality, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence of Our Invisible Friend — are never established. What the so-called problem amounts to is no more than this: Dang … the world doesn’t look as we’d expect it to look if all this stuff we can’t prove is true.

    As the kids say: D-u–u-u-h.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    Anytime you post something like this, it brings out the “Satan Causes All Evil!” crowd. Do Evangelicals ever read their Bibles as whole entities? Back in my first job at a military contractor in the 1980s, one of the program engineers was assigned as the clean-up person who could deal with short-term, often difficult, projects neatly and completely. He referred to himself as the Sh***y Little Jobs Department. (You can get away with profanity in a workplace full of ex-military people.) Since then, whenever I remember things like the story of Satan tempting Jesus, or the book of Job, I think of my old colleague and the SLJD. Satan exists because God needs a foil, but he never does anything without God’s at least implicit permission. In effect, he runs God’s SLJD. It can take some larger-context reading to pick up on that, though, and during my brief period attending an Evangelical church and going to their Bible studies, I got the impression they weren’t big on reading at that scale.

    As far as Lucifer goes, isn’t he the hero of a Netflix series?

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Last year I read a book by Erwin Lutzer, a Calvinists who runs some ministry.” God’s Devil” was the title. Very creepy and disheartening, to see that Lucifer is God’s pit bull, not just ” the enemy” as many are/ were taught. This pit bull attacks people on command for God, either as a test, judgement, the reasons are endless. I have no interest or sympathy for such a character, and I hate that God could call on Lucifer for anything. Humans have only the senses as a defense, and can’t see these things. This is unfair and cheating. So much for treating the world as he(God) sees fit !

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Last year I read a book by Erwin Lutzer, a Calvinists who runs some ministry.” God’s Devil” was the title. Very creepy and disheartening, to see that Lucifer is God’s pit bull, not just ” the enemy” as many are/ were taught. This pit bull attacks people on command for God, either as a test, judgement, the reasons are endless. I have no interest or sympathy for such a character, and I hate that God could call on Lucifer for anything. Humans have only the senses as a defense, and can’t see these things. This is unfair and cheating. So much for treating the world as he(God) sees fit ! Dave take notes,lol.

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    ... Zoe ~

    Erwin Lutzer and Moody Bible Institute ring a bell. I read his book titled Satan’s Evangelist Strategy for this New Age. If that’s not exact it’s fairly close. Moody Bible Institute was the bees knees back in my Canadian IFB days and so was Lutzer. I personally decided (based on teachings at that time) that my spinal suffering may be Satan’s doing and God was allowing it for His purpose. This kind of belief made me sicker. I use to listen to Lutzer’s sermons on the radio. I literally cried and begged God for 1 second of no pain at all. Just one second. These teachings were abusive.

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    Yulya Sevelova

    Wow ! Zoe, I’m so sorry to hear you ever went through such stuff, especially regarding that Lutzer. He’s a flaming jerk, and of course an Uber- Calvinist. Other than serving as a form of afterlife fire insurance, converting to Jesus and his commands and system has no benefits in this life. But the ministers won’t tell people that. Americans have very high expectations. Hollywood just feeds the monster, even though those who represent it, the celebs, live in the canyons and hilltop homes, not using their funds to help the sprawling county they call home. The inequality is just shocking and Third World. And medical care doesn’t live up to the hype here in America. Treatments often don’t work, because curing isn’t the goal. It once was. Research for spinal issues has gone without for years.

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    ... Zoe ~

    Hi Yulya,

    I didn’t see your response until today. Thanks. I was a pretty vulnerable young woman at the time and it’s quite tragic as I reflect, that in my vulnerability I could not see that Lutzer’s stuff contributed to making matters worse. The belief system is abusive. :/

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    I had a conversation with my aged father this weekend and told him I thought God was indifferent, he did not agree with me and was saddened by my comment. I still believe this to be true, because if there was a God who cared, why would the human rage be causing its own extinction?

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Bruce Gerencser