The Holocaust of the Children
You may remember, or have heard of, a study correlating societal health with the degree of religiosity in many nations. That study was carried out and written by Gregory S Paul. Mr Paul has also written a paper with the above (abridged) title, which is available here: LINK.
It is a 24-page article in an academic journal, so I have attempted to write a quick précis of it here for your enjoyment. Please, do not stop at reading this bastardised, cut-down and inadequate summary, but click on the links read the whole article and, I beg you, be gentle in your criticisms of my literary inadequacies.
In his paper, Paul begins by talking about the standard approach to suffering in the presence of a benevolent god, known as theodicy. Typically this talks about moral evil and suffering caused and suffered by adults. Although newsworthy disasters such as tsunamis, missing aircraft and hurricanes hold the public attention for a short while, the philosophers and theologians rarely allude to them in their theses, leaving this to the more amateur and populist rabble-rousers who seek to make mileage out of invoking them as examples of the wrath of their deity, born out of its anger yet demonstrating its eventual love. As the latter such analyses are often followed by announcements to the effect that Paypal users may now easily contribute to the financial well being of the speaker, we may dismiss them or at least ignore them as serious attempts to wrestle with the problem of theodicy.
Using figures arrived at by Carl Haub (http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx),Paul takes a statistical look at the extent of the suffering and death experienced byimmature humans (children and aborted conceptions) throughout history and ponders the religious consequences of some uncomfortable facts.
A cumulative human population,thus far, of 100 billion has resulted in at least 50 billion deaths, from congenital or environmental causes, of juveniles who have failed to reach the "age of reason",at which they are thought capable of being responsible for their actions, changing their natures or responding positively to the salvational or redemptive offers of the particular religion to which they are exposed - these being the responses which, differing by religion, constitute the qualification for entry into the blissful, paradisiacal state of Eternity with their deity,otherwise known as mature consent. Add to these, the number of conceptions which fail to reach full term, which are estimated to total between 500 billion and 750 billion through human history, and it begins to become clear that, by whatever standards used, the perfect environment was not provided by this deity for the results of its intelligently-designed human reproductive system to thrive and enjoy, and the opportunities for entry into Eternity on the basis of choice were not maximised. (Ask any woman for about the perfection of the human reproductive system, the limits it alone places on the concept of "Free will" and also read the original article by Paul.)
This situation is bad enough to dismiss entirely the concept of a benevolent deity. If, however, critical and analytical thinking is allowed to proceed, the question must be asked, "What of the (putative) souls of all of these curtailed lives?" We must ask this question because government policies around the world are being influenced by people who believe that a soul is created at the moment of the union of a sperm and an egg, that the rights of the human being implied by that soul are equivalent to the rights of those who have already made the one-way journey out of the birth canal and survived, and that their opinions in this matter are backed by the ineffable yet infinite love of their deity for the children who may or may not eventually encapsulate or incorporate those souls for a period.
Traditionally, when a child reached the age of reason, it was capable of deciding whether to work towards spending eternity with the deity. Prior to this age,death would result either in immediate admittance to Paradise or time spent in Limbo. Recently, the concept of Limbo has basically been rescinded and, so as not to lose the support of otherwise inconsolable grieving mothers, and it has been decided that children who die before reaching this magical age of mature consent benefit from immediate promotion. However, suffering, construed as that inflicted upon and by adult humans, has been claimed to be that which strengthens and matures the soul, creating the sort of individuals who are fit for entry into Paradise and worthy enough of the honour, even if that worthiness has been inherited via an instance of substitutionary atonement.Without the maturational effects of suffering, the christian apologist, philosophers and theologians tell us, we would remain is the unenlightened state of children and little more than easily swattable, slightly erratic robots. Yet, this is exactly the state in which those who die from disease, hunger, and preventable illness remain when they die as juveniles.
On the subject of preventable illnesses, Paul makes the point that the situation he is describing in respect of the rates of pre-juvenile mortality has exactly the same degree of prevalence, irrespective of the religious environment, indicating that no deity whatsoever has been demonstrated to be capable of delivering any alleviation of this condition. However, he does point out that there does appear to be a correlation between increased pre-juvenile mortality and increased levels of christian religiosity.
If these same thinkers are correct, it would appear that the deity has not only failed to created for its favoured species either bodies or environment to manifest its glorious creative powers, it has also created a Paradise whose population is drawn, in the main, from a pool of immature, automaton-like creatures,most of whom never filled their yet-to-be-formed lungs with oxygen!
That which Paul has accurately termed "The Holocaust of the Children" as the result of suffering should, one would expect, prompt vigorous defences from the theologian, philosophical and apologetic encampments of christians. One's expectations would be unfounded, and those which I have seen have entirely avoided the issue and tried to discredit Paul's article by questioning the numbers and the basis upon which they are arrived at. Paul implies, and I heartily agree, that even of the numbers were all reduced substantially, it would make no difference to the argument.
Simply, the evidence and the arguments Paul puts forward point very strongly to the conclusions that evil exists; evil, if deities exist, was created by the deities, according to the religious, though reluctantly; deities are inactive or uncaring about evil(suggestive of non-existence) and deities are NOT benevolent.
Thank you for reading and, for the third time, please read the full article.
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