Hi Vincent, I have one more question, thanks for responding to my last question. Why are claims like what is right and wrong for God might be different than what is right and wrong for us? And how that doesn't help solve the problem of evil? This is very confusing for me. Thank you so much


Happy to answer your questions.  This one, interestingly, gets right to the heart of my atheism.

See, I've always - even when I was a teen and still a believer - had a problem understanding that we humans are expected to acknowledge the existence of a completely different set of rules for the behavior of God, as opposed to the ones for us.

First off, sure... a being of godlike power and whatnot WOULD be on a different plane of EVERYTHING from us. Truth is, we couldn't stand a chance of understanding ANYTHING about such a being, any more than an amoeba can understand humans.  The idea that such a being would actually give a crap about humans always seemed, to me, the height of human vanity.  Oh, we're his creations, and he loves us?  Really?  Well, he doesn't act like it.

The god of the Bible is not described as a god, beyond the obvious things: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. But his behavior as described in the Old Testament isn't godlike.  It's childlike. Petulant. Vengeful. About things that no godlike being would EVER give a damn about.  At all.

Still, let's go with the argument that we and God have different "rules." If that's the case, it's just further evidence of our inability to understand the dude.  It gives us zero reason for following the edicts of the Bible, which, let's face it, are not godlike edicts.  

The God of the Bible (which is the one I'm most familiar with, having been raised Christian) is an extremely shallow character. Take my word for it; I write novels.  I know characters.  And I could easily write a "god" character that made more sense (or less, depending on your view) than ol' Yahweh or Jehovah, or whatever his name is.

The long and the short of it is that if there's a god, we can't understand it. And it certainly isn't the pathetic being described in the literature. So there's no point whatsoever in spending much time even thinking about it, let alone worrying whether we're behaving the way this being approves of. Remember... we're amoebae.  Less than, in fact.

As for the problem of evil, I can solve that one for you real quick:  There's no such thing.

There are actions that are beneficial and those that are detrimental.  We call the one good, the other bad.  (Of course, there are always gray areas, since what is beneficial to one is sometimes detrimental to another.)  There are extremes in both directions, of course, and we've labeled one of them "evil." But it's a word that lacks a basis in any sort of reality.  And we don't even use it consistently.  Some people use the term with abandon, using it for mundane things like serial killers.  Others reserve it for folks like Hitler.  Still others use it only in reference to things of an alleged demonic nature (which, obviously, I reject).

So where do you draw the line?  What actually qualifies as "evil"?  If it's as subjective as I just described - and it is - then what's the practical value of the word?  I can't see any.  A serial killer does bad things, hurtful things, things that are incomprehensible to many of us.  But they're not evil things.  Hitler did atrocious things, unconscionable things, things MUCH further from our comprehension than a serial killer's measly double-digit deaths.  But were they EVIL actions?  I suppose most people would consider them so.  But again... the word is so ambiguous that it doesn't really have a meaning for me.

And what would be the opposite of evil?  Good?  Well, that's the opposite of bad, so clearly, we'd need a "bigger" word than "good," wouldn't we?  But we don't. Not really.  "Great"? Nah. That word is watered down a lot, too. You can't use it in the same context as evil.  If Hitler's actions were evil, what would you call a correspondingly good action?  "Great" wouldn't really do it.  How about "divine"?  No, because that doesn't state good or bad, just the origin.

I've always found this interesting, because it implies that, no matter the beneficial action, we're always going to describe it as being "good."  So why, then, do we need the word "evil"?

Anyway... there's my two or three cents on the subject.  Hope you found it interesting.


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Vincent M. Wales


Skeptic and atheist for more than three decades.


Living as a non-believer in an increasingly religious nation... and writing about it.

Atheists and Other Freethinkers (Sacramento)
Freedom from Religion Foundation
(founder of) Freethought Society of Northern Utah

Not really applicable.

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