Great read and I did not write this….
While I’ve previously touched on the problem of evil, I wanted to focus a bit more on what is perhaps the most heinous evil one can possibly imagine: the suffering and death of innocent children.
Each year, approximately 10 million children die from causes such as birth defects, malnutrition, accidents, disease, SIDS, cancer, starvation, homicide, war, etc. While I considered posting several shocking photos of the atrocities that can befall children, some of these were so horrifying, and so gut wrenching, that I couldn’t bring myself to post them. Suffice it to say that the literal torture that some children must endure is absolutely unconscionable.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
~ Luke 11:13
When children suffer and die, it forces us to ask some difficult questions:
- If God creates life for a purpose, why end it before it can accomplish that purpose?
- Why should an innocent child suffer for crimes it didn’t commit?
- Why should children suffer pain that they cannot understand or comprehend?
- Why make a child suffer and die when they can’t possibly learn from the experience?
The naturalist in me sees this problem as just a cold fact of nature. Our brains perceive these events as sad and unfortunate, but nature is unthinking and indifferent.
But if a moral God exists, then why do these tragedies continue as if there were no God? Why do children suffer and die as if God is unthinking and indifferent?
I’ve found numerous explanations defending God’s crimes against children, so let’s have a quick look at each of them…
1. “God allows evil, but does not cause it”
God always had the option of saying “I refuse to create mankind, because it will result in evil and suffering.” By choosing to create us, He creates suffering.
God could also say, “I refuse to allow innocent children to suffer,” yet He doesn’t.
The Bible also tells us that God Himself sometimes executes children, such as in Exodus 12:29, “At midnight the Lord killed every firstborn male in Egypt…”
2. “If God did not allow evil, then He would have to destroy everything that is evil”
This all-or-nothing fallacy says that either all evil must exist, or it all must be destroyed — but surely there must be some middle ground.
For example, when Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio, he lessened the number of suffering children in the world. He didn’t end all suffering, just some of it. Likewise, God could eliminate some kinds of suffering without eliminating all suffering, such as the suffering of children.
Was polio absolutely essential to God’s salvation plan? If no, then these children suffered needlessly. If yes, then what happens now that we’ve almost eradicated polio? Can we still become saved? If yes, then polio was unnecessary! Either way, it appears children suffer needlessly.
Thanks to advances is science and medicine, the childhood mortality rate has been greatly reduced. But if children need to die as a part of God’s plan, why is He now allowing us to save them? And if it is not a necessary part of His plan, why did all those children have to die in the past?
3. “The natural world is under the curse of sin”
Why? Because God allows it! But God can surely set the limits of this curse so that it doesn’t involve punishing the innocent.
Why not just kick Adam and Eve out of Eden and allow their sinless children to return? Or allow them to stay, but punish them in the afterlife (instead of punishing them in this life and the next)? Or why not give innocent children some greater level of protection outside of Eden?
Even we who are “evil” know that you don’t punish children for the sins of their parents. Why does God, who is good, force children to suffer for crimes they didn’t commit?
4. “God rarely interferes with His creation”
If God and 99.999% of mankind is opposed to this behavior, why would God even allow it? If we’re all in agreement that we don’t need this much free will, why does it exist?
Clearly, God offers us NO protection if He refuses to spare even the most innocent from the most evil. Likewise, does it stand to reason that God would want to save guilty sinners in the next life, when He’s unwilling to save the most innocent in this one?
The Bible tells us to identify a tree by its fruit (Luke 6:44). If God allows such atrocities against children, isn’t this evidence of His bad fruit?
5. “These children may have turned against God at a later date, so He took them early”
Isn’t this a violation of their free will? Why allow them to be born at all? And why doesn’t God take out every person who would eventually turn against Him? Why not take out Hitler, or Darwin, or Dawkins?
6. “God is able to bring a greater good out of tragedy”
No one ever says “Boy, it sure is a good thing our boy died last year!” or “It’s a good thing those 10 million babies died!” By all appearances, it’s a sad and unfortunate loss without recompense. While some good can come out of tragedy, it’s rarely enough to make up for the loss of a child.
As a Christian, I may have been able to rationalize such loss if it always resulted in several people becoming saved. But it’s hard to imagine that such a scheme would actually work, or that God kills children to bolster salvation rates. (Why not just kill off atheists and free-thinkers?) Even if such a strategy works, it seems… sadistic. If beating my wife would make her love me more, do the ends justify the means?
7. “Helping the child would interfere with our faith or free will”
If Adam had free will in the Garden of Eden, then we know it’s possible to have free will in a world where children don’t suffer and die.
Even outside of Eden, there are lots of ways God could protect children that we would never even perceive. Would we notice if the Haitian earthquake didn’t occur? Or the Tsunami in Indonesia? Or if the flu didn’t usually kill more children than adults? None of these changes would damage our faith.
If God does exists, He has placed strange restrictions on our free will. For example, we’re not free to live in the ocean or in outer space without natural consequences (we can’t breathe), but we are free to kill children without any natural consequences. Shouldn’t this be the opposite? If a man died after raping or killing a child, not only would it protect children, but it would show that God’s creation is an ethical one.
The idea that God is protecting and preserving our free will is flawed in other ways. God cannot simultaneously protect the the free will of a murderer and the child he kills. The rights of the killer are protected at the expense of the child.
8. “The Bible tells us to trust in God and not lean on our own understanding”
“Stop thinking — keep believing!” is the mantra of every cult. This statement doesn’t even attempt to explain anything, it just says to keep believing in spite of all evidence to the contrary. But why should we believe in something that can’t defend itself in the face of reason?
9. “The death of a child allows the parents to help others in a similar position”
But if no children died, there wouldn’t be any parents in a similar position!
10. “God gives these children eternal bliss, which makes up for any and all suffering”
In 1996, 8-year-old Michael Lyons was walking home from school when he was abducted by Robert Rhoades. Rhoades raped and tortured poor Michael for 10 hours, stabbing him 70 times before slitting his throat and dumping him in a bush by a river. Now, I have to ask, what was God doing during those 10 hours? Was He watching silently, concerned only with protecting Robert’s free will? Ignoring Michael’s prayers and pleas for help?
Sure, maybe God did say to Michael later that day, “Welcome to paradise! It’s all bliss from here on out!” And maybe Michael replied, “Yes, but where were you just then? Why did you allow such a horrific thing to happen to me?” What could God possibly say? “I love you, and I promise it won’t happen again”? Is this what someone who loves you would allow?
Saying that compensation somehow makes it right is like reasoning that if Robert Rhoades paid Michael’s parents 1 billion dollars, that it would be as if no crime ever occurred. But it did occur, and it will always be wrong. Robert Rhoades will forever be a child killer, and God — if He exists — will forever be the God who allowed it to happen, and no amount of future compensation can ever turn these wrongs into rights.
Can we ever fully trust a god who is able to justify allowing such crimes? And if God can justify allowing immoral behavior in this life, why not in the next?
Again, the naturalist in me has no difficulty reconciling nature and suffering. Nature is indifferent and unintelligent, and that leaves no one to stop the cruel deeds of damaged minds or the devastation of natural disasters. But if a moral savior exists, why doesn’t he save us? Would you stand idly by as someone molested, mutilated and killed your child? If you then, though you are evil, would rescue your child, how much more should your Father in heaven if you ask him? But He doesn’t. He allows it. And this, I am unable to reconcile.
Awesome read and I found this on wordpress. The source is below.
We really need to stop believing in sky gods and realise the world can be a cruel and evil place because of man. If the devil and hell is anywhere it’s in the hearts of evil people. The ‘therefore god’ and ‘god works in mysterious ways’ is bullshit. You know it and I know it. Those words and like minded ones are to protect the fallacies and deceptions of religion. They serve no purpose but to cover up reality. ’God’ is the greatest Jedi mind trick ever. Seriously it’s a ridiculous foundation set up by fear mongering and thought control. It’s the 21st century people let’s get with it.