Is Evil a Problem? (5)

Alright -- so not having internet access in my temp housing set back my blogging harder than I expected, but I'm still on about the problem of evil and why it is far more philosophically-challenging to atheism than the average (book-writing) atheist will admit or even examine.

Last time we pointed out that you have to be able to solve the problem of pain if you want to bring it into the discussion in order to make is a disadvantage for (in this case) God -- but we find out quickly that atheism can't solve the problem of pain: it in fact has a problem of pain that looks remarkably familiar. See: if something painful happens, and the person it happens to can't fix it except by causing more pain -- in fact, more pain than they are experiencing in the first place -- they don't have a way to choose their actions. Their philosophy doesn't create any resolutions which are less painful than the problems they have represented. So if the problem of pain causes an issue of inconsistency for the theist, it equally causes a problem of inexplicability for the atheist.

But I think it's worse for the atheist still -- because there are no atheists stuck in a panic of indecision. They themselves will choose some action when they experience or perceive pain. That is, they will choose to do something even if one of the options is more painful than the one they are experiencing. Think about this: to combat theism, and religion in general, some atheists have actually proposed that children be removed from homes where parents will bring them up with religious beliefs. That's not a scare argument: that's merely to point out that given the choice between the pain of affording religious beliefs free expression and the pain of separating children from their parents, plainly the atheist is willing to take the harder choice in order to achieve what he sees as the more-beneficial end.

You know: as if somehow some suffering ultimately has a therapeutic or, if we dare say it, redemptive purpose.

"This has all been very nice, I am sure," intones the patient atheist who has been reading with us this month, "but my view -- and John Loftus' view -- is that God ought to be good enough and powerful enough and intelligent enough to create a world where these crappy choices ought not to have to be made. We would agree with you that real people have to make hard choices all the time -- we would say rather than God should have found a way to make things in order that we didn't have to make those hard choices."

It's an interesting redirection of the question, but it is where we turn the bend from exposing the atheist short-comings to actually advancing the Christian faith -- and I'll get you back with that another day.