Monday, 26 October 2009

BOO! A (Good) God?

Let me first declare where I stand in terms of the "is there a god?" debate: I do not believe there is a god. Do not the finesse of my position. I do not believe there is a god (it's worth repeating, trust me). This means that if you believe there is one, and want me to think the same, you have to find a way to persuade me to change my mind. I have nothing to prove to you. You have everything to prove to me. You have to make me believe, too. Presumably in the same set of things as you.

But this is not what I want to talk about here. The aim of this post could be understood as a bit of help to those who might want to make me change my mind (see above). In particular, the ones who believe in a god that is: benevolent (all good), omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all seeing). Oh, and also actively concerned and involved in human affairs. If you believe in one that set everything in motion, and now sits back and enjoys the show, well, such a god may just as well not exist, and if it does I frankly couldn't care less - and nor does he. I specifically do not want to aim this at any particular religion. If you recognise yours it's not my fault.

So, what is the issue I have with BOO (Benign Omnipotent Omniscient) deities? If you're in a hurry I can sum it up in one short sentence: on evidence of human affairs, past and present, such a deity cannot exist. But I know you really want to hear more. Even if your face just god red, as well as most of your field of vision. Let's see then, where's the problem here.

Again, I struggle to expand on this. It is really that obvious when you want to see the evidence. If your god was truly benevolent, good, fair, etc., how on Earth it could let so many innocent people suffer. Do not even start telling me they all must have wronged out of sight of us mere mortals. And even if they did, wouldn't an all good deity find a nicer way to teach them a lesson. It's like two sets of parents: one that talks things through with a straying child, and the other that takes the matter in their own hands - literally. And guess which ones raise a healthier child, on average? What is the purpose of innocent babies suffering? If they were all killed outright, and with no pain involved I could maybe understand it as an act of mercy. But it's just not happening. Every three seconds a child dies. Don't tell me they're all deserving sinners?

And then, even if they were, why would an omnipotent, and benign creator (we're all god's children, aren't we?) allow them to sin in the first place? Being omniscient as well, he could have seen their future sins, and being omnipotent could have done something to prevent them. You may say, god has created us with free will, and it's up to us to live up to his (high) expectations. be that as it may, there's still two issues with this theory. One is as old as the previous paragraph: come on! give kids a chance before maiming and killing them! And if you've just realised that they weren't the "right material": a) how could you create them imperfect, omnipotent and benign you are; and, b) why not put them out of their misery in a nice way? The other issue is, again, if you want people to be "good" (i.e. to your liking), and you're so benign and omnipotent, help them out - nicely! Oh, and if you say they slipped your attention, then you're not omniscient, are you?

On current evidence, any god ruling over us poor people cannot be all of the three: benign, omnipotent, and omniscient.

QED.

If you're trying to sell a religion with a BOO god, you failed. Miserably. And don't even start me on "loving", either. You'd have stood a much better chance if you tried just omniscient and omnipotent. Especially if you spiced it with "but otherwise doesn't care for anything apart from his own agenda". But stop! If you did, then what sort of motive I'd have to even care, let alone believe in such a deity. I may even believe there is one (I still don't for various other reasons), but that would sort of defeat the point. It wouldn't make me worship it, and it most certainly won't make me interested in it further than trying to figure out what the agenda is so I can fit in. But I wouldn't love such a deity any more than a prisoner loves his warden. And your warden sure seem to have whims worse than any real one, bar maybe a Nazi concentration camp one.

Oh, I have to stop right now. It's the Godwin's Law!

But it's still you who lost the argument...