When I first decided to leave the Christian faith, I didn’t intend on becoming an atheist. I was quite happy to join the ranks of deism. It seemed like a safe middle ground: I still believed in a First Cause or Intelligent Designer, but I didn’t subscribe to all of the accompanying religious nonsense of a typical god. Plus, it sure was a lot easier for my wife and close friends to digest. Sure, I wasn’t a Christian anymore, but at least I wasn’t an “A word.” (Atheist, that is. I was, and still am, a bit of an asshole).
However, the more time passed, the less deism made sense. Not because I had a hard time fitting an Intelligent Designer into the equation of the universe’s origin, but because I had a hard time believing that any designer would allow so much pain and suffering in his creation. In fact, if one literally interprets the Bible, Jehovah is the cause of said pain and suffering. How can this be? Why would it be? As I said before, I can be a bit of an asshole at times, and even I don’t wish so much evil on people.
Of course, the Christian response is that evil is the result of sin – one man’s sin, to be exact. Little did Adam know that, when he decided to “rebel against God,” he began a chain reaction that would affect every living being for remainder of time. Think of the worst atrocity you can (most would immediately go to Hitler or Stalin, I suppose). That atrocity is supposedly due to one man’s disobedience. Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? Yet, that is what the Bible teaches. Cancer. Car wrecks that claim lives. Starvation. Abuse. Addiction. All are the result of “the fall.”
As a parent, I can’t fathom allowing my kids to suffer. I especially can’t grasp causing them to suffer. No good parent can. So why do we baulk at the idea of a parent harming his or her child, yet give god a free pass when he allows the destruction of humanity? Indeed, suffering in this world is a good argument against Intelligent Design. Evolution can easily account for cancer and disease. But wouldn’t an intelligent designer at least have the decency to forgo the design those things? Apparently not.
In the words of Sam Harris:
“Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn’t care to, or he doesn’t exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary. Take your pick, and choose wisely.”