Skip to main content

The Problem of Fairness

By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

In the literature concerning whether one ought to believe in Bible-god, we find what is termed the “Problem of Evil.” This “problem” raises the question, if god is compassionate and all-powerful, then why is there evil in the world? In the literature, we also find what might be called the “Problem of Evidence.” The question in this case is, if there is a god who created the world and constantly interferes in it, answering prayers and such, then where is the convincing evidence of this?

I propose another problem concerning the question of whether to believe in Bible-god, which I think may be equally important. I call it the “Problem of Fairness.”

In recent decades psychologists have discovered that we humans, and some other animals, have a deep, genetically endowed sense of fairness, and an abhorrence of unfairness.

For example, Professor Marc Bekoff, in his book “Wild Justice,” claims that morals are "hard-wired" into the brains of all mammals and provide the social glue that allows often aggressive and competitive animals to live together in groups. Numerous other studies have suggested that some animals may even be capable of showing empathy with the suffering of other species.

Professor Frans de Waal, a primate behaviorist at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, has said that he doesn’t think other animals have the same developed moral sense as humans, but, rather, that our tendencies and capacities for empathy, reciprocity and that sense of fairness are older than our species, being the fruits of evolution.

It certainly seems that fairness is something we don’t need to learn, we just know it. If you listen to little children on a playground sometime, it won’t be long before you hear one of them exclaim, “That’s not fair!”

In contrast, the very foundational act of Christianity shows Bible-god to be unfair. Arranging for the torture and crucifixion of one innocent child so the others could go scot-free of their wrongs was unfair, both to the sacrificed one and to the others who were made to feel guilty for his death.

Now here’s the problem. If man was made in god’s image, then why doesn’t god have this built-in need for fairness like us? Doesn’t this need suggest that we are very different from Bible-god, and surely not created in his image? If fairness is one of our greatest needs, then shouldn’t our god epitomize Fairness, with a capital F? Shouldn’t we expect to see fairness raised to a higher power in a perfect god who allegedly created us? Why do so many of Bible-god’s actions and commands strike us as so grotesque, so brutal, and so very unfair? Who among us would think it fair to kill children for teasing a bald man (2 Kings 2:23-24)? I have to think that if I was made in that god’s image, then, in terms of morality, I am a much improved model. In modern societies, we don’t hold children to the same standards or punishments as adults because we realize that their minds are not fully developed. But Bible-god doesn’t cut them any slack. So, is the god of this story a real god?

In our societies, when a man seriously wrongs others, we imprison him in an attempt to rehabilitate him (except in the very worst cases). But notice that Bible-god never rehabilitates, except his own chosen people. Others he drowns, or plagues, or commands his chosen people to destroy. Numerous nations were either destroyed directly by god, or by the Israelites on god’s command. Imagine the individual Canaanite when her nation was destroyed. She didn’t ask to be born a Canaanite and taught to worship Canaanite gods. She had no control over that, any more than the child in Mississippi can avoid being brought up Christian, or the Pakistan child being brought up Muslim. Nevertheless, God orders the destruction of all the Canaanites. Could they really all have been evil?

Bible-god selects the Israelites as his chosen people, and all other nations are treated with utter disdain. This is a lot like a human father having a favorite child. We real fathers (and mothers), with a strong sense of fairness, understand that having a favorite child is grossly unfair and we go to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of playing favorites. I have three grown sons, so I have balanced this dynamic for much of my life.

The Bible contains thousands of examples of Bible-god’s lack of concern for fairness, but I think I can make my point by just mentioning a few of them. One very obvious example is the Great Flood, when Bible-god drowns all but one family. To think that every other human on the earth was “evil” makes no sense, especially when the toddlers and babies are included. Bible-god simply chose his favorites, Noah and his family, and wiped the others off the face of the earth.

Uzzah touched the Ark of the Covenant reflexively, to keep it from falling, but god struck him dead on the spot for touching it (1 Chronicles 13:9-12). Who could think this is fair?

The Amalekites were destroyed because of something their ancestors did to the Israelites several hundred years before (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Would it be fair of us to destroy the United Kingdom today because they burned down much of Washington, D.C. 200 years ago?

The Israelites saving of the Midianite virgins for themselves was very unfair (done on the command of Moses, god’s mouthpiece, and not overruled by god) (Numbers 31:17-18); it utterly disregards the wishes and normal rights of those little girls. Also on Moses command, after the war with the Midianites, the Midianite non-virgin women and little boys, who had been taken prisoner, were all killed. They took no prisoners from this war . . . except the young virgins. It sucked to be a Midianite, whatever your station or sex, whatever your merit as a humanitarian, good or bad. Fairness, it seems, was simply not a consideration.

Sentencing someone to eternity in hell because he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ is clearly unfair, whether he disbelieves because of his parents’ “brainwashing ,” or lack of positive evidence, or lack of information (being brought up in India, say), or is just too stupid to see and understand what he has been told is good evidence. Would we blame someone with a 65 IQ for not graduating from high school? Wouldn’t that be unfair?

In fact, it should be obvious that punishing someone FOREVER for ANY wrongdoing is unfair. That is equivalent to our court systems executing check bouncers, petty thieves, speeders, or jaywalkers.

Bible-god is unfair over and over. I ask again, if we humans were made in his image, then why does god not have the same built-in sense of fairness? Could it be that those Bible authors of antiquity wanted to stress primarily that god was to be feared and obeyed, and so they downplayed fairness? Could it be that the Bible is not the “Word of God” after all, because it doesn’t describe any believably real god?

Fairness is so very often lacking in this world that god supposedly oversees and controls. Over and over, historically and today, good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. Six million Jews were killed in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Their crime? An accident of birth. One or more of their parents or grandparents were Jewish. And of those Nazis who carried out the slaughter, or performed grotesque medical experiments on the Jews? Most of the common soldiers were never punished after the war, and a number of the Nazi leaders made it to South America and lived long, bountiful lives before being caught, and some were never caught. Seeing this, how are we to think about god’s appreciation of fairness?

Inevitably, some Christian reading this is going to claim that I just don’t understand the “mystery of god.” It will never occur to him that perhaps Bible-god is a lousy teacher because the Bible is simply not his Word. Bible-god insists that he wants us to believe, and that we have no other gods before him, yet he does ridiculously unfair things, making us suspect his sanity and, indeed, his existence.

We humans are deeply infused with a sense of - and need for – fairness. Why? And where does it come from? That Bible-god, who supposedly created us in his image, is so sorely lacking in this respect, convinces me that this creation story is false. We are not the creations, the “images” of such a self-absorbed, unsympathetic brute. We are far too concerned with fairness to be directly related.

Bible-god is horrendously unfair in the Bible, over and over, chapter after chapter, from Genesis through Revelation. Even if this god were real, it would not be deserving of worship. I am forced to conclude that those who believe in a loving god, based on the Bible, are deluded, or just not paying attention. A truly loving and perfect god would simply not make a habit of being unfair. That is contradictory and makes no sense at all.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two