God or Evil – Part 1

Sometimes a tragic event occurs, someone usually described as a “quiet man” picks up a gun and goes on a shooting rampage before turning the weapon on himself. In the wake of these tragedies the people who knew this man often say things like “he was always nice to me,” or “he seemed like a good person.” Frequently the people involved had no idea that they were living next door to a murderer, or a rapist, or a terrorist. It seems clear that human nature allows for an ability to overlook certain characteristics of a person and be fooled into seeing only the good in them. What if I told you that the God you have been worshipping for so many years was not who many claim him to be. What if I told you that in fact the God that you have been idolising for so long was the most horrific being imaginable? Certainly, this would be a surprise. Well, if you are open-minded about the arguments that I present in the next series of articles you will only be able to draw one conclusion about your God. So important is this issue that I am devoting a series of articles to its exploration. When I discovered the inevitable conclusion about God it radically changed my life and it definitely changed my religious status.

Some people get upset because I say that God is evil. It has been likened to calling someone’s mother a bad name. But this is actually a form of emotional coercion, the two cannot be compared. Firstly, your mother exists and God can only be proposed as an idea. But most importantly this argument would take away our free speech. God is a concept and the source of much debate, if we are not allowed to state arguments about his purported nature then the argument about his existence cannot be constructive. I digress here because this is not the point of this article, but it irritates me when someone attempts to disarm my right to free speech because they feel offended – be offended! The issue of God’s nature is incredibly important because it determines whether or not we should take seriously what the Bible and Christian doctrines have to say about their monotheistic deity.

For the purpose of this article I will presume the existence of God, so if God exists what is he like?

Good and evil, definitions

The first port of call here is to talk about good and evil. Some people don’t believe that good and evil exist, many religious people believe that without God we cannot have good and evil. I disagree with both of these positions. A dictionary definition of evil proposes the following ideas: something which is morally bad or wrong; something which causes ruin, injury, or pain; something which is bad or blameworthy by report (i.e. infamous); something which is characterised by anger or spite; or something which is malicious. These are characteristics which we can identify in people, or in some instances in inanimate objects or forces. In the context of our discussion a dictionary definition of good covers the following ideas: moral excellence; virtue; righteousness; well-behaved; kind; friendly; charitable; honourable and worthy. These are also characteristics which we can identify in people. Because of this I feel comfortable in saying that good and evil exist and are functions of an agent of some kind. Most good or evil that we identify is a result of a human or animal, but some may also be identified as resulting from the action, intelligent or not, of a natural force. Rain might cause crops to grow which allows people to be fed, and we could call this good. On the other hand a volcano erupts resulting in the deaths of many people and we might call this evil. These examples would represent natural good or natural evil.[1]

We have all identified good behaviour in ourselves and others. When we see a person give to charity, help someone in need, be kind to someone or behave with courage, we recognise that as good. Alternatively, we have each identified bad, or evil, behaviour in ourselves and others. When we are selfish or conceited; when we hear about a person who has stolen from others, abused children, beaten women or killed, we recognise evil. For these reasons I am comfortable in saying that good and evil exist. Obviously, as human beings, the inventors of our own languages, the terms good and evil are relative to us. Some argue that there can be no good or evil without an intelligent force outside of humanity. But we don’t need such a force to provide us with these definitions. In our observations of our own behaviour and the behaviour of others, we can see actions which we define as good or evil. Culturally and anthropologically, we have developed a set of definitions which allow us to distinguish between acts which are good, evil or neutral. So my premise is that good and evil exist as observable factors in our world, and that we as human beings are able to recognise and distinguish between good and evil because we are the inventors of these terms.

Omni-benevolence

Of key importance to Christian doctrine, and the doctrines of other religions is the idea that God is good. So important is this idea to these religions that each of the major monotheistic religions has their own sayings made up about it. You may have heard the phrase “God is good, all the time.” I’m going to put that phrase to the test! The idea of God being good is so imperative to these big religions that without it their concept of God would completely break down. But the God of Christianity is not just good; he is supposed to be perfectly good. This is a phrase of such magnitude that it requires its own name, and that name is omni-benevolence. It suggests that God is good in a divine way; he is so good that human beings can’t even begin to be as good as what he is. Remember that from our definition this means that he is perfect in moral excellence; virtue; righteousness; good behaviour; kindness; friendliness; charitability; honour and worthiness. The types of good behaviours that we will see from time to time in ourselves and others must be present in God to the maximum extent at all times. We should never be able to find an instance of God acting in a way which is not good. It goes without saying that we should most certainly not see God behaving in an evil way, by the definition of omni-benevolence God is not even permitted to act in only a slightly good way. He has to be perfectly good all of the time. God must not just be good, but indeed perfect in his goodness. He must be perfectly moral, perfectly kind, perfectly friendly and charitable at all times. Unfortunately I think that in many instances Christians and other religious folk underestimate just how good God is required to be in order to be perfect. As with other religious expectations, such as answering prayer, religious people actually set the bar very low for their deity. I want us to properly consider the implications of perfection and set the bar more appropriately for a perfect being. The conclusion that we must arrive at is that due to the proposed omni-benevolent nature of God, if we should find just one example of God doing something that was even slightly “not good” then this theological concept would be proven incorrect. If God does one thing wrong then he can’t possibly be perfectly good. I think it’s worth pointing out at this point that this is the main reason why I left Christianity behind. While it is technically impossible to prove the existence or nonexistence of God, it is not only possible, but in fact easy, to disprove the purported nature of God. What I’m going to present in the remainder of this article and in the other parts of this series is evidence which shows unequivocally that God cannot be good. Not only can he not be good, but if he exists at all, he is necessarily evil.

God’s Nature in Nature

In the natural world we see many examples of good and evil. We usually ignore the good because we take it for granted, which is just a part of human nature. But it is nonetheless present: our fortuitous position in the galaxy allows us to have the exact temperatures and atmosphere required to sustain our type of life. This is a “good” provided by nature. The fact that rain falls and the sun provides the elements that allow crops to grow is good. But nature, through no fault of its own also provides things which are evil. When a hoard of locusts strips the foliage bare and destroys all of our crops it is an act of evil either initiated by nature in general or the locusts themselves. Of course it is only an act of evil from our perspective, but all good and evil is only determined from our perspective anyway. When your body allows a cancer to grow which destroys all of your internal organs, it is evil. When a tsunami rips through a town killing thousands of people it is evil. Now it must be clarified that with these natural evils we are not necessarily talking about an act of intentional harm performed by an intelligent agent. We recognise that these are just natural forces but the end result is harm and from our perspective it is evil. However, the big difference enters when we add a God to the picture. Because God is in control of the natural universe any acts of misfortune performed by nature are actually caused by God. He set the universe in motion, he created the world, he created the rules by which everything functions and as a result any evil which occurs as a result of the natural world was necessarily caused by him. We can use a human example to demonstrate. Let’s say that you build a fort in your backyard. You want a really big fort so you build one that is very high. Unfortunately, you are not concerned with building codes so you don’t worry about complying with them. One day your fort collapses and crushes your neighbour’s fence and kills their small child who was standing on the other side. Is anyone to blame for that child’s death or the damage to your neighbour’s property? If you answered yes, as I hope you did, then you have just acknowledged that God is responsible for any harm resulting from the natural world that he created. The ultimate creator, by definition, is responsible for his creation. He is worthy of praise for anything good about it, and worthy of condemnation for anything bad about it. Because of his ultimate power, God cannot simply be considered a benign creator who is not responsible for the ultimate use of his creation. While the designer of a gun cannot be held responsible for every gun death, God can be held responsible for all of the implications of his creation. This is because he not only creates the object but also the mind that uses the object. He is responsible for the creation of all factors of the equation and has therefore made everything in the equation come to pass.

Animals of Ill Will

Aren’t animals cute? God created all variety of wondrous beasts to roam the fields and swim the oceans. I also recall something about him saying that his creation was “good.” Let’s take a brief plunge into the animal kingdom and see the kind of joyous wonder that animals bring to the world. Male sea otters are known to hold otter pups hostage until they are paid a ransom of food by the mother. They are also known to commonly rape baby seals to death, holding their heads underwater. This activity also happens to kill around one tenth of the female otters that they mate with. Even after the seal pup is dead it is not uncommon for otters to continue raping its decaying corpse for up to a week later. Dolphins are some of the most intelligent creatures in the animal kingdom. Their cute looks betray their rapey, murderous nature. Bottlenose dolphins are known to assault porpoises for no reason leaving them for dead. Porpoises do not pose any threat to dolphins and they do not compete for food or territory so this activity is undertaken for nefarious purposes. Dolphins frequently kill baby dolphins in order to provoke the mother back into oestrus, a practice which is more common in the animal kingdom than you might think. Male dolphins gang up and then isolate a female, taking turns raping her. If there are no females around, another male becomes the victim.

Forget about Happy Feet, reports from Antarctic expeditions in the early 20th century on the sexual behaviours of penguins were deemed too extreme for publication. When the information was finally released it showed that penguins frequently engage in necrophilia, sexual coercion, sexual and physical abuse of chicks as well as homosexual and auto-erotic behaviour. Margays are South American ocelots. They mimic the sound of baby monkeys in distress, in order to lure adult monkeys into their clutches. Let’s not forget our closest cousins, chimpanzees. Infanticide is commonplace amongst their number. Male chimps who want to drive a female into oestrus will kill her baby and then dismember and eat it in front of her. Female chimps have been observed doing the exact same thing to other females, although their motives are unclear. I could go on and on, the list of aberrant and “evil” behaviour undertaken by animals is protracted.

What does all of this terrible animal behaviour say about the world that we live in? Well, from a naturalistic point of view it says that we live in a hard world where the morality that we have as humans has been hard won. Human morality is by no means perfect, but it is streets ahead of our animal cousins. In a world that evolved to benefit the fittest, and not necessarily the nicest or most moral, what we observe in animal behaviour makes sense. But let’s look at it from another angle. What if a God created the universe, what do these observations say about him/her/it? If these animals are the result of an intelligent designer it becomes clear that the designer programmed evil actions and desires into these creatures. Creatures cannot create themselves, and cannot decide that they will be good or evil. Creatures can only function according to their DNA, and while nurture may play a role, fundamentally nurture just works with the DNA provided. So for animals to engage in necrophilia, murder, cannibalism and a myriad of other horrific acts requires that God programmed them to do so. Human beings cannot create something out of nothing, but allow me to paint a metaphor. Let’s say that I build a robot and programme it to go out and kill other human beings. Is the robot evil, or am I evil? The answer to that is pretty simple. To relate that to our above examples: if God created animals and animals engage in evil behaviour it means that God is evil.

A Lack of Deportment

Earlier in this article I provided a definition of good, let’s explore briefly some of the characteristics of “good” in relation to God. Moral excellence was the first trait on the list. This is one that I won’t get into now, but it will be the core focus of the next article. The Bible contains ample examples of God’s behaviour for our inspection so I’ll withhold comment until then. I will however pose a question at this time: is it morally excellent to create creatures that are morally corrupt and behave in a depraved and wicked manner?

Kindness is another characteristic which is on the list. There are again numerous examples of this that we can point to most of which can be found in the Bible. However, from a naturalistic perspective, is it kind to create creatures like the desert wasp that survive only by laying their eggs inside another creature so that their young are hatched inside the living body of this creature and eat it alive from the inside out? Could there not be a better way that creatures could have been created to survive? Is it kind to create a world in which parts of the landscape are subject to extreme temperatures causing creatures to freeze to death or die of dehydration? Is it kind to create creatures that can only survive by hunting and killing other creatures? Is it kind to give human beings wisdom teeth, which if untreated in many instances result in enormous pain and sometimes even death? Is it kind to create cancer, or our biology which can play host to some 30,000 known diseases, and that’s just the known ones? Is it kind for a child to be born with a mental or physical disorder? Is it kind that hormones take us over during puberty resulting in a massive drop in self-control and decision-making ability and a massive increase in aggression and sexual desire during the time when humans are seeking independence from their parents? I could just go on and on here, examples are endless.

Another of the characteristics on the list is charity. Is God charitable when, despite the fact that he says he will heal them in the scriptures, people who pray to be healed are ignored? Is it charitable of God to, supposedly, answer first world prayers for insignificant desires and ignore those who are being subjected to child abuse, rape and other atrocities?

Another characteristic on the list is virtue. Is it virtuous of God to command people to engage in bad behaviour including lying,[2] racial prejudice,[3] infanticide,[4] rape[5] and genocide?[6] Is it virtuous to show no mercy or forgiveness?[7] There isn’t even a question here, God’s behaviour is appalling! Any person that encouraged even one of these things would be considered a monster. But yet when God commands these things repeatedly it’s okay. It reminds me of the Joker’s speech in Batman – The Dark Knight:

“Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!”

For a very long time we have been playing according to God’s plan, but it’s time for the freak show to stop! It’s time to jump off this rollercoaster of madness. This deity, so beloved and adored by so many, is a horrific monster; the father of all evil. It’s time that humanity regained its sanity and shook off this old coat. In this article I have briefly discussed the concept of good and evil and shown that God does not even come close to goodness in regards to the natural world that we live in and observe. The evil that is so predominant in this world is just a reflection of its creator. If indeed the world was created, then the horrors that lie within were also created by the same master. Should you worship this master even if he exists? Only if you too are evil!

[1] Evil is a matter of perspective, so when I use the term I’m referring to what we humans would call evil from our perspective. If it causes human suffering it is technically evil.

[2] 2 Chronicles 18:21 “I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.”

[3] Deuteronomy 7:3.

[4] Psalm 137:9.

[5] Numbers 31:18.

[6] Deuteronomy 7:1-7; Numbers 31:17.

[7] Deuteronomy 7:2,10; Deuteronomy 19:21.

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