Tuesday, March 2, 2010

TF - Chapter 5 - The Problem of Evil

This could also be called 'How to Solve the Problem of Evil Via Red Herring'.

Of course the reason everything in the world is not perfect is because Satan appeared as a serpent (find Biblical quotes stating that it was Satan) and tricked Eve into eating a magical fruit that allowed her to tell the difference between good and evil.  Yes, someone who could not know that they were committing evil has damned us all.  That is Colson's premise and the premise of most Creationist Christians.  Colson does nothing to prove his premise but just states it and goes on.

Colson starts off describing the problem of evil and describing it well.

But why would God bring a world into existence that would be characterized by such evil and suffering?  What about "acts of God" like hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and famine?  Humanity is afflicted with cancer and a thousand other diseases.  Can all the evil of the world be attributed to humankind's failings?  Is God truly innocent?  He put Adam and Eve in a situation where He knew, if God is omniscient, or all-knowing, that they would fail.

The last bit is a bit of a red herring but could easily fall into the discussion. It is usually the excuse for evil, but it ignores natural disasters.  Epicurus is credited with the first asking of the problem but Sextus Empiricus wrote the oldest extant version of it.  It states:

  1. If a perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, a perfectly good god does not exist.

It has changed some since but the basics of it are still the same.  The way I like to hear it is, as stated by David Hume:
"Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"
So what is Colson's answer to the problem of evil?  Free will causes evil and God wants us to have free will.  He never describes what free will is and how that is compatible with an omniscient God ( you can't do anything without God already knowing what you are going to do, thus free will is more of an illusion, as your choices are known ahead of time and in a sense predetermined).  He also never explains how free will causes natural disasters.  Instead Colson tells the story of a pilot that ignores his instruments and kills almost everyone on board.  What this has to do with anything, I have no clue.  It is a nice Red Herring.

Next Colson claims that evil is only here because of sin.  So, yes because a rib-woman ate a fruit, we have to deal with natural disasters.  He backs up this assessment by telling a story of asking a bunch of prisoners, in his church service, what they thought the cause of the increase in prison population.  They, according to Colson, all answered sin.  So obviously it must be sin.  It couldn't possibly have anything to do with a war on drugs that targets victims and not the root causes of drugs?  Also if it is sin, then surely countries that are more religious will have less crime than non-religious ones?  Let's look at the stats.

 According to a Gallop poll in 2007-2008 the top ten most religious countries were:
  1. Egypt
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Sri Lanka
  4. Indonesia
  5. Congo
  6. Sierra Leone
  7. Malawi
  8. Senegal
  9. Djibouti
  10. Morocco
The least 10 were:
  1. Estonia
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Azerbaijan
  7. Hong Kong
  8. Japan
  9. France
  10. Mongolia
The top 10 countries with highest prison percentage:
  1. United States
  2. China
  3. Belarus
  4. Bermuda
  5. Kazakhstan
  6. The Virgin Islands
  7. The Cayman Islands
  8. Turkmenistan
  9. Belize
  10. Suriname
So what's it mean?  Well nothing as there seems to only be a slight correlation and correlation does not equal causation anyway.  There are many factors that go into prison populations, most of them are socio-economical.  Laying it all at the feet of sin is just ridiculous and ignores a vast number of issues.  Plus it doesn't answer the question of evil and natural disasters.  This is all just one giant red herring to make people forget about the problem.

Colson never answers the problem of evil in this chapter.  He goes on about Satan and sin and anything to throw off the fact that his God has the power to stop natural disasters that harm innocents but never does anything.

No comments: