Let’s assume there is a “God” - with a capital “G”. Let's assume that, like any good person of faith, you believe that God created the world and everything in it. Now, take a really good look at the world around you. What does it tell you about your God?
Image by rafaelm via FlickrDo you truly believe a supreme being full of love built it? Look at the way life is organized on this planet. Watch the evening news. Check out the latest offering on Animal Planet. Stop in at the natural history museum. Your loving and compassionate Father cooked up a Garden of Eden based on murder!
Let's assume that all the problems mankind is plagued with has been brought onto us by our bad behavior in some biblical past. Let's assume we're paying today for something humans did or didn't do in the past. Fine. But what about the rest of the creation?
What did squirrels, elephants and baby antelopes, some of them I've seen being eaten alive by baboons on some BBC documentaries, have done to deserve the multitude or horrible things happening to them?
For billions of years before man appeared on this planet animals have been basically doing mainly two things:
a) Trying to kill another creature to get the protein in its body and to mate with its females;
b) Trying to escape being killed by another creature that wants their protein or their females or trying to escape being killed by another male of its own species.
What a life!
Your loving God one day got up and said to Himself: “Let’s create life on planet earth! I’m going to have a world in which creatures will have to spend their lives killing or trying to escape being killed. Oh, and just for fun, let's make sure those brutal deaths are rarely quick and painless. Let's drag them out and crank up the agony-meter. It’s going to be a world in which species will be perpetually at war with each other.”
Think about that. Satan himself could not have conceived of something worse! Short of a world in which everybody is tied to a stake, being tortured with fire, what’s worse than a world perpetually in agonizing war? A one in which you need to kill other creatures in order to find nutrients for you body? I'm supposed to believe a loving God design that?
It’s a fact that nobody with a brain can deny. Complex animal life was here hundreds of millions of years before man appeared. For countless eons before we arrived, animals have been murdering each other on this planet with no human to witness it and get any kind of “lesson” from it. So the argument that suffering was created to make man think about his morality and his behavior just doesn’t hold. If man was not here to learn something from watching dinosaurs kill each other for hundreds of millions of years, then what was the senseless killing for? Was it so these behemoths with brains the size of a kiwi could appreciate life and ponder about it and improve their manners?
I also do have a bit of a problem with the mind of an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator being entertained by wormy, invertebrate life at the bottom of the oceans for hundred of millions of years, then creating only moderately more interesting animal life forms for another few hundreds of millions of years and finally one day saying, “I am sooo bored. I think I'll whip up something with arms and legs and a heart and a conscience and - guess what.....just for fun, he’s going to be sooo screwed up! He'll be able to love and learn and strive for worth and nobility, but I'll make sure to shower him with disease and agony and war and failure and heartbreak and unbearable loss. Now that should be worth watching for another few millions of years!”
Let's put God's planning process in earthly terms. Imagine a huge lab; say a generous portion of Nevada. We'll give it to brilliant, caring scientists where they can create life from scratch with full control of everything. In that lab they will be the creating gods. Do you honestly believe that any of these Nobel Laureates would intentionally shape a world where their creations are going to have to fight, maim and kill each other to stay alive? Only psychos would do that. I think these nice people would create a world in which all creatures derive all the nutrients they need from something totally benign -- sunlight perhaps. They won’t need predators anymore to control herbivores. The number of creatures would be controlled naturally to avoid overpopulation. They'd have hormones and pheromones to naturally control reproduction when their numbers are above or below a certain threshold. Our new creatures wouldn’t be able to reproduce if there were too many of them because of sets of genes that would be turned off and wouldn’t drive them to procreate. But they’d still be able to mate, because we’d make mating so good, but most of the time they’d be shooting blanks. Every creature will die naturally of peaceful old age and they will all go to heaven. We could do that if we want to because we’re gods.
But apparently that’s not the world that your God had in mind for you. You live in a world that a sadistic maniac would have built. A world of perpetual fighting and misery. And what if I don’t want to fight and kill? Does that mean I won't develop and thrive...or even survive...because I won't harm my fellow creatures? That sounds to me like the games Nazis used to play with people in concentration camps. You want to stay alive, sure, here’s my gun with only one bullet. You can kill yourself or kill either your son or your father. If you kill one of them, you’ll live. But you must kill. Wow!
God maybe wants to [...] make us appreciate life and what we have by making us aware that we will be sick, old, in pain, sightless, etc. (and oh, what a long list it is). But what’s the point in having raccoons or lions or ospreys go through the same ordeal? Do you really believe that they’ll get a lesson out of that? A lesson that other critters can learn? God also decided that for all creatures, man and beast, life would be short and brutal. Over time, life got a little longer and a little less brutal because of science, not because of God. And God lovingly deemed that we’ll have cancer, and we’ll feel horrible pain, both physical and emotional. After the joy of sex, most females will give birth in pain, and to be able to know the joy of sex, males of all species will have to compete against each other to access the females. That’s right. If you want to mate, you have first have to “win out” against your brother. That's still how it works in the animal kingdom and the human system is only a slightly more civilized version.
Sometimes a child will be born with some horrible deformity! And sometimes animal mothers will see their babies eaten alive by predators (sometimes males of their own species!) who are actually waiting for the chance! And before we die, all of us in the broad animal kingdom, we will become old and ugly and very weak. We have been given the wonderful gift of genes that make us lose our teeth, our eyesight, our mobility, our hearing, and our minds. “Ahh, yes,” muses our loving God, “it’s going to be so entertaining. And, so they can properly thank me for that world of horror I've given them... and to really mess up their brains... I’m going to demand that they love me, and, fools that they are, some actually will!”
I could maybe, in one of my worst, depressed, darkest days, in which my brain lacks sleep, oxygen and nutrients, actually guess at the holy reasoning behind this insanity. Of course! God maybe wants to make a world of ordeal for humans in order to reward them. Sure, why not! Let’s make us appreciate life and what we have by making us aware that we will be sick, old, in pain, sightless, etc. (and oh, what a long list it is). Fine. But what’s the point in having raccoons or lions or ospreys go through the same ordeal? Do you really believe that they’ll get a lesson out of that? A lesson that other critters can learn? Do you really believe that a blind opossum is actually learning a lesson from being blind and that he enjoys life more because of that infirmity before being killed by a fox? What exactly is the point of creating elephants that will lose their teeth and take months to starve and be eaten alive by lions as they fall exhausted into the mud? Who’s getting a lesson out of this, the lion or the elephant...or the bacteria decomposing the elephant?
Finally, what crime did mankind commit in a distant past to deserve such punishment?
What did we do? Did we kill another brother species? Did we try to kill God? It's nonsense, we couldn't kill a God? What did we do to deserve the world we have today?
Your God is either incompetent, in which case he wouldn’t have been able to create the universe, which means he’s a figment of your tired imagination, or if he exists...he’s completely psychotic. We’d be better off without HIM. If there is really a supreme being behind the world we’re looking at, we’re truly up shit creek!