Faith vs. Logic
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Epicurus (341 — 270 B.C.E.)
It has often been said that one should not discuss religion or politics at a family reunion. Not being one who pays much attention to social policy at this point in my life, I am giving fair warning that unless you want to do some serious thinking that might affect your peace of mind, you should stop reading now.
Assuming you are at least curious if you’ve gotten this far, please get a blank piece of paper and a pen and write down your answers to the following questions. These are not trick questions. They are so you will be on record—at least to yourself—as to what you believe.
1. Do you consider yourself a logical person (Yes or No)?
2. Do you believe in God (Allah, Yahveh or the equivalent)?
3. Is God good?
4. Is God omniscient, that is, does he see and know all?
5. Is God omnipotent, that is, is he all powerful?
6. Is your holy book the direct word of God?
These are enough questions for now. Based on your comments, I will respond accordingly to anyone who cares to comment.
Regarding question #1, it is to determine whether you are indeed using logic when you answer the questions that follow it.
Here comes the part that might cause you to think over your position and possibly disturb your peace of mind
Question #2: Do you believe in God or the deity of your particular religion? This question will establish whether you actually believe in your deity while the questions that follow it will show how much or how little that belief is actually logical.
Question #3: Is God good?
If your deity is good, then logic dictates that what that deity has created must be good. Yet we see all around us that there is evil, pain, disease, death and evidence that good is in short supply. Thus, logically, God created things that are not good.
According to the Bible, we see that God created the angels. Satan, or Lucifer as he is sometimes called, was an angel. He was cast out of heaven and is said to be the source of all the bad stuff that has afflicted the planet through the eons. Yet God created the angels, at least one of which was evil. Logically, then, God created evil.
The unspoken alternative is that there are more supernatural beings than just God and that one of them created Satan and, thus, evil. If God is good, then from what source did evil come?
It should be noted in passing that the name “Lucifer” means roughly “light-bringer.” Could this be because the early church fathers thought that enlightenment was a danger to their belief?
Question #4: Is God omniscient? That is, does he see and know all?
If your deity knows all, then he knows when you or another person will think thoughts or act in such a way as to offend him or do wrong to another of his creatures. If you or another think or do wrong, logic says that God has acquiesced in that wrong.
To accept the premise that God has acquiesced in wrong and to allow yourself to get past this massive stumbling block in logic, you will have to lean on free will which will be discussed in a later posting. However, to dispel any suspense over the issue of free will, I will tell you that the evidence increasingly shows that free will is a myth useful primarily in theology and the law. But that’s a subject for another day.
Question #5: Is God omnipotent? That is, is he all-powerful?
According to at least the Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam, God is omnipotent. After all, he is alleged to have created the universe, and that’s no small feat. If we accept one of the current scientific theories, ours may be just one of a multitude of universes, suggesting that feat could be even more impressive.
However, looking at the universe we can see, we know that galaxies have collided presumably causing no small amount of destruction. Yet God could have prevented that destruction. Does this suggest omnipotence?
Here closer to home, tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis take thousands of lives and leave pain and destruction in their wake. Humans and animals suffer the ravages of cancer and other painful diseases. Were they evil and deserved suffering or death? Is this God’s doing? Is God omnipotent?
It has been said before but bears repeating: if you were all powerful, couldn’t you do better than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot?
Getting back to the philosopher Epicurus quoted at the beginning of this posting, if God is willing to prevent evil but not able, he is not omnipotent. Logic indicates he is not omnipotent.
Question #6: Is your holy book the direct word of God?
Some of those reading this believe that their holy book is the direct word of God. That is, that the men (and all the evidence indicates that it was men) who wrote the Bible, the holy book of Christianity and Judaism, were guided by God to write the words we see today.
Abundant evidence shows that the Bible was written by men over a prolonged period of time and reflected the religions that preceded it, that it was edited by the ecclesiastical men leading the church over the centuries and, indeed, that some parts were deleted because they were considered inappropriate by the pope in office at the time.
The early Bible was written in Greek, Latin and other languages, and it is an old axiom that something is always lost in translation. In more modern times, the version of the Bible found in most churches was edited for understandability.
A look at the New Testament’s four canonical Gospels shows that even the writers do not agree about the life of Jesus. These are not insignificant oversights but testify that not only did the facts differ substantially but they were written at different times at least two generations after Jesus was dead.
There is a test called Occam’s Razor. It says essentially that the simplest answer is the one that is most likely. The simplest answer is that based on logic and the best evidence available, God does not exist. God is a construct of mankind that grew out of the human inability to explain the nature of which mankind was a part. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, so whenever the pattern was inexplicable, humans invented an unseen power that seemed to fill the need for an explanation. Thus did spirits and goblins and, ultimately, God come into being.
So, how did you do? Are you as logical as you thought when this exercise started?
If you are a believer, you must ask yourself why your God gave you a brain with which to think, to question, to seek. Why must you allow credulous men of 2,000 years ago tell you what to think or not to think? You are free to use that brain to think independently about the issues that confront us today, not 2,000 years ago.
If you are a believer, it’s time to stand on your own two feet and breathe the fresh air of freedom: freedom from dogma and follow-the-crowd orthodoxy. It’s time to set yourself free.