Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Best Explanation Never

I recently received the following email. My comments to it are in italics.


This is one of the best explanations of why God allows pain and suffering that I have seen:
Oh? Well you'd first need to prove that God exists in the first place, but I'll let that slide for now. I've been waiting for a "good" explanation.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said:

'I don't believe that God exists.'

'Why do you say that?' asked the customer.

'Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.'
For those of you who are not familiar with it, read the PROBLEM OF EVIL

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: 'You know what? Barbers do not exist.'

'How can you say that?' asked the surprised barber. 'I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!'

'No!' the customer exclaimed. 'Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.'
I'm guessing that if barbers did exist, you wouldn't be able to find a pair of scissors?

'Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me.'

'Exactly!' affirmed the customer. 'That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.'

That's your "best explanation"?? Permit me to jump in for the barber here. So I'm to believe that there exists a supremely powerful, all-loving magical force that would gladly stop all the pain and suffering in the world, if only we'd first acknowledge its existence? Um...isn't that *conditional love*?

If this being is so powerful and all-mighty, why does he give a flying fuck what his supposed "creation" thinks about him? Why would it matter, if this "God" really loves us and wants to help us? That's like watching someone drown and saying, "if you only acknowledge my presence, then I'd save you. I don't want you to drown...I love you...but you don't believe in me, so I can't help you."

If such a being exists, it is morally bankrupt, as are the people who subscribe to such teachings.

If you think God exists, send this to other people--If you think God does not exist, delete it!
I'll do better than just delete it. I'll tell anyone who thinks this trash represents "good, wholesome moral values" -- or that it represents "proof" of anything -- that they need to stop and think.


Hey, Where Did All The Barbers Go?
Let me get this straight...you're "proving" that the Judeo-Christian "God" Yahweh exists (that is the right "God" we're talking about here, isn't it? It's not Zeus or Anu, right?), with all the magical qualities generally attributed to him, by hinging it on a lack of belief it said being? So that means if we just believe, then we'll believe?

If you're shaking your head, I'm not sure you realize this one important thing: what you believe cannot change what is and what isn't real. You can believe all you want that there's a billion dollars in your bank account, but your beliefs cannot affect reality. (Of course I'm not saying that you shouldn't hope to one day be a billionaire, and that you shouldn't strive to become one. I'm saying that because you believe you have the money right now doesn't make it magically so. But this is getting a little off topic.)

Belief Beats God
I don't think such a god exists (and not just because of the Problem of Evil). If there is a "higher power", it 1) doesn't know about the pain, evil, and suffering -- in which case it isn't omniscient; 2) knows about the pain, but can't stop it -- in which case it isn't omnipotent; or 3) it knows about the pain and has the power to stop it, but chooses not to -- in which case it is not omnibenevolent. Again, read about the Problem of Evil if you can't quite understand where the barber is coming from.

The fact is, it cannot be proven that a "higher power" with any of these qualities exists. This spam's so-called "explanation" hasn't provided a single SHRED of evidence to support its absurd claims. Maybe you're worshiping the wrong god. Maybe we should go to Odin or Shamash for help. Not only that, but it promotes the callous and harmful belief that the world is fucked up because it's your fault. Try this: next time you see a two-year old, give it a razor blade. Then wait until it comes to you bleeding and crying for help before you do anything. Like I said, even if such a god exists, I wouldn't want to worship its sick, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent, ego-stroking self

The email above basically amounts to: You know why there's bad stuff in the world? Because everybody doesn't believe in my God. So, God exists!

By that logic alone, believers should NEVER experience pain or suffering.

The Devil Made Me Do It!
A "god" is not the reason there's pain and suffering in the world. There are several reasons, perhaps several for every type of pain or every cause of suffering (viruses, hatred, greed, ignorance). It is sad though, to think that a large portion of pain and suffering since earliest recorded history has been the divisive concept of a God.

If we want to help rid the world of suffering, we should start doing more to be good to each other and help one another--not because some "god" said so, but because we don't want others to suffer. I wonder if the unkempt man on the street was homeless. Did the customer offer him something to eat, or help him find a shelter? If so, did he do it because of an idea of god, or did he do it for goodness sake?

Think about that as we approach the Winter Solstice.

(PS: thanks for the quote, Professor!)



Anonymous said...

Hi Sta,

It's taken me a while, but I finally answered your invitation to visit your blog. And I'm glad I did. You have identified a place where we can relate.

As I read through comments to various articles, I have been saddened by all of the bashing and denigration of others who simply disagree. It occurred to me one day that the reason is simple - believers (and I'll interpret that liberally for the moment) can't understand why someone would reject God/Jesus. Those who don't accept the existence of God can't understand why believers are so blind. And all seem to be so convinced of their righteousness that they regard those who disagree as ignorant.

You captured the "rub", as it were, perfectly when you said "what you believe cannot change what is and what isn't real." I have known this for quite some time, and I'm guessing that you already recognize that it is true for both sides. My own belief in Jesus is so strong that I "know" it is true. I never really thought, in so many words anyway, that your disbelief is actually a belief, and no doubt it is also so strong that you "know" it to be true. Because of the clarity you have provided, I now understand you a little better. Thank you.

STA said...

It seems you misunderstand. I do not claim to "know" there can't exist anything like a god...but I don't believe there is.

When I did believe, I believed as you do, in Jesus and the Christian god Yahweh. Back then I claimed to "know" he was real; we had a "personal relationship" and I even spoke in unknown tongues. So I understand where you're coming from, but please understand that really, really thinking so isn't the same as knowing.

I appreciate you visiting. I haven't been able to keep up much with posting recently (I'm taking care of my children), but keep looking around and I'll try to put more out in the future.

Anonymous said...

Mind if I ask what happened? Or is it somewhere in your blog you can point me to?


STA said...

I've talked about it all over the blog, in articles on gather.com, and in my youtube videos (links to all can be easily found on this page).

But the short answer is, nothing "happened". My atheism isn't a result of some tragedy in my life that caused me to "hate God" -- quite the opposite.

I learned to question and to think, and what science, logic, and reason actually are. I learned (mostly through becoming a programmer, then through philosophy) to take ideas to their logical conclusions, and route out flaws and fallacies therein. In doing so, I learned I had many in my assumptions about my theism, and could no longer hold such an intellectually dishonest position.

Anonymous said...

So, you've chosen man over God. I guess I get that - there are certainly a lot of things about God that don't make sense to us. I wouldn't normally quote Scripture in a discussion with an atheist - I think it's pretty meaningless to them. But you have "been there", and you have at least been taught that God's word is true, even if now you choose not to accept it. But I came across this passage this morning and thought of you. It's really my prayer for you. From Isaiah 55 -
Seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby. Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to Adonai, and He will have mercy on Him; let him return to our God, for He will freely forgive. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways," says Adonai. "As high as the sky is above the earth are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."

I will not be returning to your blog, but if you want to communicate with me please feel free to email me at prazcre8or@aol.com. I will continue to pray for you. Take care.