Christians have a tendency to use their god’s name in vain or, as Ricky Gervais reworded it, “in vanity,” without even realizing it. What it means to not use god’s name in vain is to not attribute his power or blessing to the fulfillment of your personal desires. In other words, thanking god for helping you win that Grammy award or helping your team win the Super Bowl is using his name in vain. To clarify, one need only ask why god didn’t also let the other nominees win the Grammy, or why didn’t god let both teams win the Super Bowl? As much as I’d like to imagine god is a Green Bay fan, I imagine that if he existed and were as all-powerful as the writers of his memoirs said he is, then he’s got some more important things to do.
More important things such as sheltering the homeless, feeding the starving, rescuing the cast of Gilligan’s Island, and making sure hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and earthquakes never strike populated areas.
So god’s got his hands full. While Michael Phelps is busy earning his sixth gold medal, god is too busy making sure people never suffer or die, ever. Because that’s within his power. And he is loving.
Okay, so maybe god doesn’t end all suffering. My question is why? If he can, why doesn’t he? Is god evil?
What is evil? Evil, in our natural and earthly realm, can generally be accepted as acts of malice without any concern for consequences. The unjustified killing of another person whilst seeing absolutely nothing wrong with your actions, for example, could be considered evil. I could go into what does or does not justify the taking of a human life, but that could take a while and I’m trying to keep this relatively short. Let’s just try and agree, then, that torturing and murdering millions of people is evil or, at least, really really bad. Or at the very very least, not good. Okay, so the Holocaust was not good. We’re starting to see eye to eye now. We could also probably agree that the people still alive today who had nothing to do with the Holocaust but think it was completely justified (or deny it ever happened at all) are not good people. I would go so far as to say that person is a bit lacking in the morality department.
So what if somebody has the capability to snap his fingers (hyperbolically) and end all the suffering in the world immediately, but chooses to do nothing despite his powers? One could then blame the continued existence of suffering on that somebody (or in this case, on that god). That somebody is knowingly allowing children to suffer from starvation on a daily basis, all the while having the power to make it stop. Does a child deserve to suffer from starvation? Absolutely not; no sane person would ever say a child (or anybody, for that matter, but I’m using children specifically because people don’t seem to be as emotional about adults suffering) deserves to suffer, for any reason. Choosing to ignore or even prolong suffering is not simply apathy – it is evil.
A good god is not apathetic to suffering, and an apathetic god is not worthy of being worshiped. Is god good? If so, why is there pain and suffering? If not, why do so many people look up to him?