Evil, Suffering, Death

In the Facebook group, Creation Evolution Debate, one Christian creationist user posted the following question, apparently equating the acceptance of the evidence for evolution with atheism:

“Say there is no God, and you are basically good.” Then, where does evil come from? And where does suffering come from? And why do people die?

I responded as follows:

Then, where does evil come from?

Evil is whatever is the opposite of what one defines as good. Neither good nor evil exist objectively. However, from a human perspective, that which promotes human well-being can be reasonably described as “good” while that which works against human well-being… You get the drift.

So, where does evil come from? Shit happens. People make mistakes. Some people are twisted by circumstance or some brain disorder or whatever and they do shitty things. Humans aren’t perfect. They weren’t designed by a perfect creator but, rather, are a product of evolution. Evolution doesn’t necessarily result in optimal solutions. It often settles merely for that which doesn’t utterly fail.

And where does suffering come from?

See above. Also, suffering is natural. Look to the natural world. Prey animals are in constant danger of being eaten. Predators are in constant danger of not finding enough prey or not being able to successfully compete with other predators. Both predator and prey, if they manage to escape being killed, will probably starve to death when they are too old and sick to compete for food.

That is reality and it makes sense in a purely naturalistic world but it makes no sense in the context of a universe in which there is an all-powerful and completely good and loving God. And don’t give me your “it’s a fallen world” bullshit. If you think about it — REALLY think about it — for two minutes you can’t possibly accept it.

And why do people die?

See above. Also, from a naturalistic perspective, the universe doesn’t care about you or me. What we think and what we feel is of no consequence to the universe. Evolution doesn’t care. Evolution is only about that which is best equipped to survive and, most importantly, to successfully reproduce.

What we see when we look at the natural world reflects exactly that sort of uncaring, unknowing universe. There is nothing there to suggest that there is an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity. It seems quite clear to me that the world as it exists is simply incompatible with the existence of such an entity.

No, the universe doesn’t care. It has no capacity to care. There is only us. There is only you and me. If anyone is going to care, it is you and me. We are hard-wired to care, most of us. If there is to be any help, any compassion, any generosity, any love, it can only come from us.*

Only us.

If you’ve been raised to believe in a loving God, as I was, that’s a hard pill to swallow. However, to the best of my knowledge (and I’ve been at this for a very long time), there simply are no good reasons to believe otherwise.

*Non-human animals also exhibit some of these traits, of course.

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