Human moral evils1 are things intentionally done by people who cause suffering. If a god capable of altering our will prioritises our freedom to commit these evils over our wellbeing, such evils—like child abuse—must be fostered so long some people will to do it2. Alternatively, human moral evils are part of a god’s toolkit for looking after our long-term wellbeing or some deeper meaning; it is not the case that freewill is prioritised over wellbeing, but that in some sort of long-game these evils are the best way to protect our wellbeing. None of these claims seem right.
A fellow blogger, Caroline, as a part of a three-part series called “Why doesn’t God do something?” tells a story of a child abused by her father. The girl prays for it to stop, and it doesn’t. The girl tries to end it by killing herself, but her suicide is unsuccessful. God must let her father to commit this human moral evil if the father’s freewill is God’s priority. This doesn’t consider the will of the daughter. She willed it to stop, but it didn’t. She willed to die, but she didn’t. What the daughter willed—thought, wanted and desired to actualise—is not fostered at all. The will of the father is apparently more important than the will of the daughter. The will of the physically stronger person is realised first, when it conflicts with the will of a weaker person. Does that sound like a situation that a god had any say in, at all? Nature favours strength, and it’s barbaric that’s the pattern we see in a world people believe a god influences. Is the doctrine of freewill that we are free to battle our will against each other and suffer so completely separated from God? Is that evidence for God?
Any god that has a stake in the state of the world may not have invested in our freedom of will, so my previous paragraph may not be the point. A god may, despite all the appearance on Earth (and in reality), actually care about our wellbeing (and the wellbeing of the girl in Caroline’s narrative). It certainly doesn’t look that way from the perspective of a concerned citizen of the Universe, but it is an often repeated claim. Psychiatrists don’t seem to agree with it. I live with an ex-psychiatrist and she certainly doesn’t understand how adult victims of child abuse can be seen as having greater wellbeing. Child abuse, in particular, is insidious and damaging long-term. There is no evidence in this life that victims of child abuse are happier people later in life. This view needs an afterlife in order for room for this ‘system’ to make sense3.
In the Christian view, the pains of this life are repaid one hundred times over in Heaven4. Someone like me, who has had a relatively easy life, gets a lesser Heaven than the victim; it is not infinite bliss. God needs us to suffer to repay us. God cannot, apparently, just reward us in Heaven. And we are not repaid for our goods. He has to allow us to suffer to actually give us Heaven.
The last option considered is that of something other than wellbeing and freedom of will being a powerful god’s priority. A god actually wants us to develop, in some direction. It follows, from this premise and the fact we suffer, that this development is dependent on pain. Something, somehow, is so infinitely more important than our wellbeing that it can be entirely sacrificed in exchange for whatever it is; God’s concept of priorities is entirely divorced wellbeing and happiness. A god set up our psychology and entire world; that god decided that it needs this unnamed development at the cost of our wellbeing. This god doesn’t love us, if it did our development wouldn’t be at the cost of our wellbeing. God could set up another method. So what is it? Why does the will of the father trump the will of the daughter? Priority by force; needing to suffer to get Heaven; God’s priority completely divorced from wellbeing.
1 – I have no urge to argue about whether “evil” is objectively real. If you’ve been here before you know exactly how I defend my definition of evil here. The real problem is of intentionally caused suffering.
2 – Why do we even have a psychology where we might will this?
3 – Of which there is no evidence.
4 – If you make it to Heaven. Having this suffering squash your faith is not forgivable. Remember?