In Defence of Evil God

God is good and loving. We all know that, right? In fact, some theists ‘know’ that so vehemently that if God were to kill everybody in a global flood, or create a worm that must burrow into human eye balls, said theist will find defining the words “good” and “loving” much more flexible than the assertion “God is good and loving”. Many theists go a step further, saying that God is necessarily good and loving. Their argument is often derived from the ontological argument, where a ‘maximally great being’ is defined as existing.

Although I can see why goodness is, y’know, good‒great, even‒it is not objectively so. Being good and loving is subjectively great. Even if I change the ontological argument to talk about ‘maximally positively great’ beings, we don’t get around the issue of goodness being subjective. By changing the argument to talk about ‘positively great’ beings, we remove my temptation to talk about the more flippant “maximal” qualities. After all, aren’t maximal ignorance and impotence qualities that work make the ontological argument work? The answer is yes. But ignorance is the absence of knowledge (the reverse “knowledge is the absence of ignorance” cannot be meaningfully defended), knowledge is the positive quality, a being with maximally positive attributes is omniscient, not ignorant. (This, entertainingly, leads to a god who is also infinitely hot and infinitely dense and infinitely big…)

Whereas abilities, knowledge, heat, density and size are all objective positive qualities, “good” is subjective. We have no way of evaluating whether airing “I’m a Celebrity…” is good on a celestial or universal scale. You cannot believe God is good until you know what “good” means. You should not define “goodness” as “Godliness” because that is completely content-free; it tell you nothing about how to test the goodness or badness of a thought or action.

Enter: Evil God. Fewer claims needs to be made to support an evil God than a good one. A good God needs promises of unseen redemption and unsupportable claims that all of your suffering will be repaid “an hundredfold”. A good God requires secret intent and behind the scenes settlements and plea bargains. Evil God needs one claim: “there can be no true despair without hope” (Bane, The Dark Knight Rises). With that single claim, an evil God makes sense. We don’t need the Fall or redemption or all the other unsupported claims that make Occam’s razor cut so fiercely against a ‘good God’. An evil God creates cancer, parasites, necessary competition and suffering in nature, death, the psychology of loss, our physiological capacity for pain, personally indifferent natural disasters…

In fact, in a theistic world an evil God accounts for our suffering better, and accounts for parts of our psychology a good God simply doesn’t. When it comes to being happy, we have two big obstacles: habituation and contrast. Habituation is about the diminishing return of happiness from the same thing, we have to seek greater stimuli for the same happiness; contrast refers to the fact that we compare stimulus which could make us happy to ‘peak stimulus’, which dampens the happiness we receive. It is difficult to be happy. That is not something a good god would build.

I consider this an atheist argument, although it relies on the theist doing a share of the work. This argument makes the claim that a god does exist, but It is evil. It is not a claim I believe, I do not believe in gods. However, to dismiss this argument and save God from being accused of being evil, one must refute this argument without making a claim that can simultaneously refute arguments for God’s goodness or existence. My expectation is for calls on faith or ‘but I believe in a good God’, neither of which are good enough. I look forward to your responses.

Related reading

Proof of God – part 1

Proof of God – part 2

32 thoughts on “In Defence of Evil God”

  1. Aggravetics 101!

    Be it directed or free roaming, a species of callousness, of evil, explains the world that is, has been, and will be. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are made clear without a clever cover story, inventive pretext, convenient scapegoat or laboured advocacy; works of terrestrial imagination there only to rescue a pantomime Creator from the charge of incompetence while presenting an emotionally appealing apologia for why things are not as they should be had matter been persuaded to behave by a benevolent hand , rather than a coherent explanation for why things are as they are in the unignorable presence of a Creator.

    Subbing to see where this might go.

      1. Hahahaha! Such fine advice JZ! 😛 It must wait a bit longer — I emptied my Literature fund two weeks ago on “Agnotology: The Making & Unmaking of Ignorance” by Proctor & Schiebinger. I felt heavily compelled to buy that book first given our American political, economic, and social nightmares since Nov. 2016. 😉

      2. And by the way John, those percentages ARE INDEED the numbers who’ve attained those diplomas/degrees! Or in other words, most Americans do NOT attain HS diplomas, much less bachelor degrees for several reasons. Very sad really. :/

  2. If goodness is defined as not having worms burrow into our eyeballs, then God is definitely evil.

    But that is simply one of many atheist hallucinations that are meant to separate people from their religion.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with God, who is all good.

    1. What do you mean by “hallucinations”? You use that word a lot, I can’t seem to make the meaning I understand for that word fit your input.

      1. Allallt,

        When was the last time a worm crawled into your eye?

        It never happened. Thought so.

        Judeo-Christian theology holds that God created man as a partner.

        That means it is up to us to make ourselves masters of our world.

        Those areas that are impoverished need to be Christianized or Westernized (like Japan, India and China).

        That is how mankind stops the eye worm.

      2. What do you mean by “hallucinations”? You use that word a lot, I can’t seem to make the meaning I understand for that word fit your input.

  3. Monotheism is a perverse approach to god worship. Why it was invented is beyond me. It solves few problems and makes many, many new ones. So, Judaism and Christianity had to invent Satan (the Greater, not the lesser) to take over all of the evil god-like activities, to keep “the all-good” label viable for Yahweh, but ignoring all of the time that, well, uh, who created Satan in the first place. And who is responsible for Satan’s continuing existence? Satan should rank as no more than a mosquito in Yahweh’s mind, so why does he not swat him? Why did he have to create a blood sacrifice to “wash away our sins”? If he wanted to eliminate the Original Sin He created, he could just think it away and it would never have existed in the first place. (Being outside of time and space has certain advantages).

    The only rational approach to an all-powerful, omniscient god is that everything is as he wants it to be. All of the good, all of the bad, all of the meh. But that seems to escape the likes of SOM and others of his ilk.

    1. The Problem of Evil never goes away. The fact that God (with foreknowledge) created evil destroys the idea that It is good. If it was an accident, it destroys the idea of omniscience. If It can’t stop evil, it destroys the idea of omnipotence.

      But by making 3 pillars, I’ve noticed people will destroy pillar 1 in their defence of pillar 2, and then destroy pillar 2 in defence of pillar 1 — and never admit or notice that’s what they’re doing.

    2. Steve,
      The reason monotheism is beyond you is because it is simple common sense.

      For if God is infinite, there can only be one.

      Two or more Gods mean that neither is infinite.

      1. No. You made an assertion. And I’m asking how you came to that conclusion.
        How did you decide that there can only be one infinite being? How did you decide that being infinite precludes anything else from being infinite?

      2. Allallt,

        The reason atheists hallucinate so much is that you can’t tell the difference between a fact and an assertion.

        Just to be clear, what assertion do you hallucinate that I am making?

        After you do that I will explain why what I wrote is based on fact.

      3. Allallt,

        The fact that two or more gods means that neither is infinite is based on the meaning of the word, infinite.

        I can’t dumb it down any further than that.

      4. What’s infinity * 2?
        Or infinity /2?
        You might not think you can dumb it down, but unfortunately — in typical fashion — you’re not demonstrating that you understood it in the first place.

        But let’s take your naive childish definition of ‘infinite’ as some sort of absolute value — how can anything else exist? If there is a God and that God is infinite, how do I exist? How is there space for you? Or for my mobile phone?

        Think about that…

      5. Aseity explains that, but it raises some godawful awkward problems. If everything is “of” the aseitic being, then evil exists in that being, negating the maximally good thesis.

      6. Oh, I see. To you, ‘hallucination’ means ‘something you don’t understand’.

        Perhaps one of the plethora of 101 courses you seem to take will broaden your intellect on the issue.

      7. In the mean time, look up the meaning of the word, infinite.

        Then think about it just a little.

        Then, from your own thinking you can understand for yourself why their can be only one God.

  4. My expectation is for calls on faith or ‘but I believe in a good God’, neither of which are good enough.

    “Calls on faith” are exactly what it must boil down to Allallt. If there was anything extant called (and supported by) Absolute Certainty, then there would be only ONE religion in the world, with ONE form of theological doctrine, ONE form of reliable revelation from/with this God, and only two types of humans. Simple! Very very simple and not the least bit confusing/mysterious to anyone no matter their age or emotional-intellectual maturity. Claiming otherwise totally ignores and/or denies the overwhelming empirical evidence.

    In my personal opinion, agnosticism and humanism are more than sufficient for every single human being. And I DO feel it is indeed possible to be quite happy — not 365 days of every year of one’s life of course, but happy between at least 50% to 85% of your entire life!

  5. Allallt,

    You need to read up on infinity. Aristotle and Saint Thomas Aquinas give it a good working over.

    There are varies types of infinity. For example, there is infinity as it pertains to numbers.

    Then there is infinity as it pertains to time and space. They start at a certain point and go on forever. Time and space is where we live.

    God exists outside of time and space and mathematics.

    In the God space, two infinities can’t occupy the same infinity at the same time.

      1. Allallt,

        The authentic meaning of words by definition of the word, authentic, cannot be a hallucination.

        I use the term hallucination when referring to atheist mental gyrations because you people simply make up your own meaning to suit yourself.

        Fortunately, reality doesn’t depend on what suits the atheist.

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