Since Haiti was hit by the earthquake I have been patiently waiting for any religious person I know to excuse god for the disaster and blame “mother nature”. I didn’t have to wait very long. Haiti’s misfortune brings up the blaring inconsistency in religion, especially the monotheistic religions: the problem of good and evil.
Pat Robertson, Christian TV evangelist was so disabled by this conundrum that he publicly claimed the reason Haiti suffered such great misfortune was because they had “made a pact with the devil”. For Pat, this was a sufficient explanation for the recent Tsunami, Hurricane and now Earthquake that has brought this country to its most desperate hour.
Haiti serves as a prime example of the problem of “good and evil”.
Naturalists point out that if a god who is claimed to be omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) controls the universe, by definition such a god must take credit for EVERYTHING that happens, not just the good stuff. Such a god would know that an earthquake was about to happen and have the power to prevent it from happening. With this information about the omnipotent, omniscient god, we must conclude at least one of the following:
1. Such a god is intrinsically evil by allowing the disaster to hit
2. Such a god does not exist (omnipotent, omniscient)
A theist will disagree here and say that god does not control the evils in the world because Adam and Eve sinned and the rest of humanity must suffer because of their sin. This leads us to conclude that the omnipotent, omniscient god has no sense of what constitutes a “just” punishment for the “sin” of two humans. We must also consider that if the theist’s argument that “evils like Tsunami’s are not god’s fault” rests on the existence of two storybook characters in Genesis the argument falls apart. We begin to doubt the historical accuracy of the Adam and Eve story because it is embedded in a creation myth that sets the earth at 10,000 years old, having been fashioned in 7 days by a sky-god.
But most importantly, the counter argument to those who say “evil is the devil’s doing, not god’s” places the omni-god in a position of NOT being omnipotent. If the omni-god is not in control of nature, this by definition deems him not omnipotent. This leaves us to conclude that the omni-god is either:
1. Not actually omnipotent or
2. Unjust in dealing out his punishments and hence, if he be doing the punishing for Adam’s sin, he IS responsible for earthquakes and natural disasters (omnipotent)
This past weekend I listened to a Catholic homily by a deacon who was trying to help his congregation understand how to reconcile god with the Haiti earthquake. His best shot was to tell a little story about a mother in Haiti who dug her children out of the rubble of her home and saved their lives. All three of her children lived (after extensive medical surgury and the science of medicine). She told reporters that “now she knew that god loved her”. The deacon pointed out that good can come of such atrocities like this women who finally knew that god loved her. He failed to bring up all the other thousands who perished or the other mothers whose children were crushed and killed. Did ‘god’ love them? It was perhaps the weakest argument of the century. What a fickle god Christians daily defend.
Don’t pray or wish that Haiti be helped, do something to help. Donate to a non-theistic charity organization dedicated to helping Haiti.