Twitter icon Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


Religious Tolerance logo

A group of essays donated by Susan Humphreys.

Part 1: Theodicy: the presence of earthly evil
and a perfect God. Extremism: the problem,
and how to respond to it.

Sponsored link

Webmaster's note:

This essay was posted on 2012-DEC-21, one week after the massacre of 20 young children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The author refers to this disaster repeatedly in her essay.

horizontal rule

Why is widespread evil present in a universe run by a perfect God:

There has been another mass shooting. I have lost count of how many there have been, this year. This time most of the victims were young children. Once again people are asking "why?."

Some will take this as the time to push for gun control legislation.  That is only part of the problem. Some will take this as the time to discuss our mental health system and push for more funding for early treatment, to prevent people from reaching the point where a mass shooting and suicide is their way out. That is also only part of the problem.

Some religious leaders will try as one pastor on television said, to help people make sense of this tragedy. Some people will ask:

"How could a perfect God have allowed this to happen or caused it to happen?"

"What possible reason could he have for taking these children and causing such grief to their families and friends?"

There is no sensible reason for this kind of a tragedy. Yet, bad and terrible things happen.

The world is a mess. The Middle East is being blown to bits by religious hatreds. In America there are many conflicts:

All are based on the basic assumption that God is a perfect Being and his word as found in the Protestant Bible (as literally interpreted) is inerrant TRUTH. Further, it must be obeyed by everyone: believers, non-believers, and people of other faith traditions.

Like many liberals and unlike the militant Atheists, I believe that people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe, to practice whatever religion they choose, or to not to practice any religion. They don’t, however, have the right to make public policies and laws that affect the rights (religious and civil) of ALL people to adhere to their specific religious beliefs. When they do, I feel I have no choice but to speak up and point out the errors of their basic assumptions.

I came to the conclusion quite a while ago that it isn’t what religion a person follows or whether a person follows any religion. ALL that matters are our day to day actions, how we treat our fellow man -- especially those that are different from us -- and how we treat our planet -- the only one we’ve got.

All the world’s religions and secular philosophies can help people become better people OR they can be used to help people become worse people--more self-righteous, judgmental, hypocritical, egotistical, and intransigent. If each group would just work at making themselves better people we could go a long way towards making this world a better place for all of us.

horizontal rule

Extremism: the problem and how to respond to it:

Extremism, whether from the militancy of the Atheist with his sense of intellectual superiority, or from the religious fundamentalist with his sense of self-righteousness and spiritual superiority, or from Tea Party conservative with his sense of doctrinal purity, is a major problem for our world. Extremists think that they are the ONLY TRUE representatives of their group. They misuse and abuse anything, even what they hold as sacred, if it suits their purpose. It is their way or no way. There is never any sense of working cooperatively together for the benefit of all, no consensus building, no abililty to compromise. They make arguments that are unsupportable and based on nothing more than beliefs. For the militant Atheist the belief is in the infallibility of logic and human reason. For the fundamentalist it is a belief in the inerrant word of a Perfect God. Both go round and round in circles. They are more interested in tearing each other to bits than trying to help this world get out of the mess it is in. I think they look at each other and see a dim, though recognizable reflection of themselves and that just adds to their feelings of frustration and impotency .... AND makes them even more intransigent.

Personally I wish both sides would just cut it out, chill out, live and let live. I wish they’d just mind their own business and let others mind theirs. Their actions and words are causing greater harm, creating greater strife. Rather than becoming a part of the solution they are the main part of the problem. Unfortunately I have come to realize that neither side is willing to listen to simple reasoning or appeals for tolerance and respect.

I can continue to appeal to common sense and reason and get nowhere. I realize that for the Atheist who feels that their intelligence and sound reasoning has no bounds and the Theists who feel that everything they say and do is sanctioned, justified and sanctified by God, this approach doesn’t work.

I can give up and stop trying, retire to my books and my garden, take my own advice and mind my own business. However, in the Analects of Confucius Book 14 #3:

“The Master said, The knight of the Way who thinks only of sitting quietly at home is not worthy to be called a knight.”

I realize my silence when facing intolerance, bullying, abuse (physical & verbal), persecution, would be complicity -- an imperfection -- and part of the problem.

Instead, I will have to show the militant Atheist that I can do what he can’t do with his belittling and demeaning approach. I will have to show there is much we can learn and great benefit for those of us who study the Bible and the texts of other religions and writings of our world’s great secular thinkers. For example, I have learned from Chinese philosophy, in The Art of War, that one common error people make is to underestimate the intelligence and strength of their opponents. That comes because they have never bothered to learn anything about the other guy. They don’t understand his theology/philosophy, his thinking or reasoning. I realize that sometimes the only way to fight fire is with fire—that a person will have to know their opponents arguments inside out, understand the Bible as well as they do, if not better than they do, and then turn their opponents arguments against them. The militant Atheists have let their Egos get in the way of their logic and reasoning.

The fundamentalist has also let his Ego get in his way. His refusal to listen to appeals to tolerance and respect for others (concepts that are taught in the Bible they claim to honor) leaves me no choice. If there is any chance of putting an end to their claims that their words and actions are sanctified by God and his word as found in the Bible, I will have to expose the basic error (the fundamental flaw) of Theistic theology, the concept of perfection is a Catch 22. A perfect God can’t exist. All arguments are only as good as their initial suppositions. If you can show the fundamental flaw in the initial supposition you pull the base out from under the entire argument.

horizontal rule

This topic continues in the next essay

horizontal rule

Originally posted written: 2012-NOV-21.
Latest update: 2012-nov-21
Author: Susan Humphreys

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

Go to the previous page, or return to the "Visitors' essays" menu, or to the "Theodicy" menu, or the "important essays" list, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show original" button at the top of this page to restore page to English.

Sponsored links