A person on Twitter wrote something similar to “atheists love to blame god for all the evil in the world, even though it was man-made”.
Aside from the breathtaking ignorance this statement betrays, I think it deserves some deconstruction.
There’s an implication in a statement like this that atheists are angry with god for bad things that happen in the world. Who could blame a Christian for feeling this way, given their tendency to avoid conversations with atheists, along with the various Epicurean rehashes they’re certain to see atheists recite from time-to-time on social media. To quickly recite the problem, if god could stop evil, but chooses not to, then he is a malevolent god…or maybe he just doesn’t care.
But this is a straw man argument. Atheists don’t blame god for evil in the world, because atheists don’t believe god exists. Evil is indeed manmade, and natural disasters that kill tens of thousands of people, such as tsunamis and droughts, are artifacts of nature’s behavior and people’s bad luck and inability to leave the affected area in time.
That certainly does raise the question for various theistic positions of why humans have such a need for water; if this need didn’t exist, humans would not need to be near tsunami hotspots, nor would they suffer from droughts. It really is a terrific opportunity for failure, which computer programmers refer to as defects (Wait! Is the universe imperfect?).
But I don’t think that’s the biggest issues with this framework.
My primary response to the original statement would be in the form of a question: does god intervene at all?
In other words, does god help (American) football teams score touchdowns? Phrased more solemnly, does god help to save people’s lives while they’re undergoing surgery or suffering from cancer?
The problem with a god who intervenes (even a little) is that you’re praying to a god who would allow people to suffer and starve for their entire lives, despite the fact that he supposedly could prevent it, while he simultaneously saves people who arguably deserve it less.
For instance, if a 70 year old person is saved from cancer by god, but a 4 year old child (how about 8500 of them everyday?) dies from malnutrition, this violates any conceivable notion of fairness or
correctness we could possibly imagine. In other words, a person who has lived a long life, got to experience as many things as they chose, and is decades past their biological reproduction window, is saved from cancer by god, while simultaneously, a baby who had their whole life to live died in one of the most excruciating ways imaginable.
This was a pretty serious problem for me when I was a Christian, because one needn’t live outside of space and time to recognize this as a gross injustice.
Of course, the Christian response to this problem is simply that God is mysterious.
The Christian framework posits that this god, who was so concerned to intervene in the lives of Iron Age middle Easterners inside a couple hundred square mile radius over the course of a millenia, decided to stop his revelations after humans formalized logic and a scientific method.
Sure, it could be there is a supernatural deity, who exists outside of space and time, who intervened during a more primitive time, stopped all his revelations once humans figured out how to think a little bit better.
I tried to believe that for years. I really wanted to believe.
But I don’t believe that, anymore. I think it’s a remarkably dim-witted position, given the evidence and our understanding of the human inclination to invent deities. It’s also grossly immoral. No god who would allow such injustices deserves to be worshiped. But lest I be accused of being angry at god, let me reiterate my central thesis: I don’t think god exists, and therefore, the suffering that exists in our world is our responsibility. The difference between the Christian position and mine is that I don’t believe those dying babies are coming back – they lived the only life they’ll get, and no god will be there waiting at some theme park in the sky to make it better. It’s our job to make it better now.