August 13, 2012

Where is Jesus When People Starve?

starvingIf there are people starving to death and if the Christian "god" or its zombie son are real, Christians have a bit of a problem. Philosophers have stated this problem formally in the form of the problem of evil. One of the oldest and simplest statements of the problem looks something like this:
  1. If an all-powerful and perfectly good god exists, then evil does not.
  2. There is evil in the world.
  3. Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.
Given the presence of evil, "god" is either not all-powerful or not perfectly good. One can certainly redefine "god" to lack either of these attributes, but this would bear little resemblance to the sort of deity in which Christians claim to believe.

Uninformed Christians often try to escape the problem of evil by claiming either that evil is somehow a necessary prerequisite for free will or that we simply don't understand the mind of their "god." Of course, an all-powerful entity would not be constrained, so this objection falls flat quickly. Moreover, the question can easily be shifted to one of animal suffering in which free will is simply irrelevant. As for the notion of evil somehow being part of a divine plan humans are not meant to understand, this violates the notion of a good "god" quite thoroughly.

One of the most disturbing approaches I've seen from a number of conservative Christians in the U.S. has been to deny that the evil we see is really evil at all. The person starving to death, they claim, must have done something to deserve it. The rape victim must have done something to deserve it. Essentially, they are trying to reject the reality that bad things happen to good people. This dovetails with what passes for conservative values in the U.S. (i.e., the poor are poor because they are lazy and thus deserve to be poor).

We rack our brains trying to figure out how our politicians can look at our infant mortality rate and do nothing. Perhaps it is time for Christians to start asking the same of Jesus.

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