The Batman killer in Colorado reminds us all once again of the argument from evil that is the best defense against Jehovah's Witnesses at the front door, friends who "pray for you," and all others still clinging to the God Delusion. My favorite explication of the argument was put forth by John L. Mackie, the Australian philosopher. He demonstrated the utterly fallacious claim that God is both good and omnipotent, since an all powerful good deity cannot but prevent evil, leaving one to wonder why it occurs with such regularity. James Eagen Holmes disproves the existence of God by murder of innocent total strangers. Those who counter with the claim that God gave man free will and thus it is man who makes such evil choices simply ignore the obvious: God could have made certain that Holmes would choose good over evil, and thus many lives would have been saved.
As part of a well regulated militia? <sarcasm>
Loren, Oh Yes! "If we’re to grow up as a species, we need to address the systems that infantilize us."
Inevitably, the response from believers is the "free will" argument. Man's power of free will was allegedly bestowed upon us by god upon creation. The problem that I see with this is that it sets up a conflict with the omnipotence of god.
An all knowing god should know that bestowing free will upon one his fallible creations would lead to a myriad of problems. To give free will is to invite dissension and conflict among individuals and groups with competing needs or goals, or for those individuals or groups to decide on their own what constitutes acceptable behavior. The end (and entirely predictable) result of this free will is the constant conflict and crime we see in society today.
My point is, if free will were bestowed upon us by an omnipotent god, then we were setup to fail from the beginning. An all knowing god of supreme intelligence would never give free will to a creation without stricter behavioral controls, especially to his "chosen ones" who were to have dominion over all others.
This would be akin to taking the spouse away for the weekend and leaving your teenager whom you've never taught an measure of responsibility or control at home to fend for themselves. Would you really be surprised to come home Sunday night and find out: A) They used your credit card to order pizza for thirty of their closest friends for a Saturday night drinking party, B) Had their boyfriend / girlfriend over for a weekend of protection free sex, C) Found your extra set of car keys and decided to taxi their friends all over town for a couple of days, D) Got into fights left and right simply because others disagreed with their opinion or actions?
I would think not, but believers in an omnipotent god want us to accept that we were created, given free will, but no instructions on how to act, and yet we're expected to (as a species) behave as if we have been guided with a loving hand through a complete training course of every social interaction imaginable. Free will within religious belief is sheer hypocrisy. All it is, is an excuse to let your god off of the hook for unacceptable behavior that he should be able to control.
Free will = just another cop out and excuse for god's lack of control.
Alvin Plantinga has been Mackie's most strident critic. He argued free will-man's error to no victory since Mackie's defenders had only to point out that God still cannot be good, as He did not ensure that man always would choose good over evil. Here is the professor on YouTube:
So much sorrow and pain. Life is meant to flourish; what can possibly be going on inside the brains of such people who would slaughter the innocent so callously? I feel for all those who suffer pains from woundings, and from being witness to these deliberate and calculated murders, and for the families of those murdered, and for the family of the murderer.
Belief that man has free will denies what it means to be human, to have mental, physical, emotional stressors going on inside that creates the possibility of insanity.
"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?”
Thanks for that Epicurian quotation. I had forgotten it was he who said it. Had been looking for the lines when arguing that Mackie was hardly the first to make the statement.
look at this, guys
Such a link
by Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Over the last few days, CNN’s Belief Blog has received more than 10,000 responses to its question, “Where was God in Aurora?”
“The underlying concern here has vexed theologians for centuries: How can evil happen in a world that is lorded over by a good and all-powerful God? As CNN's readers struggled to make sense of God's presence (or absence) in the Aurora, Colorado, massacre, I counted seven different answers to this question:
1. There is no God.
Self-professed atheists may make up only 2% of the U.S. population . . .”
Is there any other kind of atheist other than the “self-professed kind?
For that matter, is there any other kind of Christian other than the “self-professed”?
What an idiotic thing to say right off the bat.
and . . .
only 2% ??
Where’d that number come from?
This is an old trick: diminish the numbers and the group looks less worthy of attention, much less credence. These types did this to gay people decades ago. When Kinsey posited that as many as 10% of Americans were gay or lesbian, the Christian b.s. artists immediately went to work trying to convince the public that the figure really was in the 3% range. They know that there is strength in numbers. I am willing to bet that when you add up atheists, agnostics, and people who are simply non-religious, it is more like 30%. And the dwindling attendance at churches, synagogues, and mosques testifies to the increase in numbers of all these groups.
Where was god? Where was the movie patron with a chambered 1911 pistol? I make it a habit to ignore "no gun" signs. Just for that reason. For somebody who wants to do a mass shooting, it's like fish in a barrel when you have a no gun zone. Just sayin. Yes, it's terrible, but could have been a lot less terrible if somebody was there to stop the guy. As a former police/SWAT officer, I say that with confidence. Police can't always respond in a timely manner. The citizen can.