Part 9 Does the existence of evil prove God doesn’t exist?

I will now answer a couple of popular objections.  Remember how I started this series, quoting two of the New Atheists as they attacked religious beliefs.  Christopher Hitchens titled one the chapters in his book “Religion Kills” and Richard Dawkins chose to name a chapter “Childhood, Abuse, and the Escaped from Religion.”   These men and others truly believe religion is dangerous and have beliefs that have influenced people to commit violent acts throughout the centuries.  They believe religious bloodshed proves God doesn’t exist.  I will examine that contention.

The existence of evil proves God does not exist

There are two major problems with citing religious evil as evidence against the existence of God.  The first is logical, and the second is factual.

Let’s say for sake of argument they are right; religions are responsible for the greatest amount of evil in the world (I do not agree and will soon deal with this issue).  So what?  How does that prove God does not exist?  The point is you cannot infer God does not exist based on the actions of religious people.  Here are some conclusions new atheists want us to believe:

  • Some religious people are violent.  Therefore, religion itself is evil.
  • Some religions teach evil.  Therefore, all religions are evil.
  • Some religious people do evil, and some religions teach evil; therefore, God does not exist[1].

Just by reflection you can easily see the conclusions do not follow from the statements.  Even if the statements are true the conclusions don’t follow.  What these statements teach concerns people and not necessarily religious belief or the existence of God.  Are religions responsible for the greatest evil to mankind?  Here is where we will examine the facts.

The truth is the atheist is in no position to judge the carnage that comes as a result of religious beliefs.  When we look at statistics we find atheistic ideologies in the 20th century have been responsible for the greatest killing in all history—to the tune of over 100 million bodies for communism alone.

The main difference is when someone acts against the clear teachings of the belief system, should the belief system be held accountable?  The Bible teaches to “Love God and love others,” and when violence is done in the name of Christianity, is it the fault of the religion when a person acts against this teaching?  Yes there have been some horrible things done by so-called Christians but they were not following the teachings of Christ.  A religion should not be held hostage by its heretics.

However, it is different for Atheism.  Every worldview has behaviors and lifestyles that seem to logically flow from them.  Atheism doesn’t require mass murder, but it has no resources to set up a barrier against it.  Joel Engels writes:

Let’s imagine six billion people who believe that flesh and blood is all there is…that Hitler and Mother Teresa, for example, both met the same ultimate fate.  Commonsense would suggest that such a world would produce a lot more Hitlers and a lot fewer Mother Teresas, for the same reason that you get a lot more speeders/murderers/rapists/embezzlers when you eliminate laws, police, and punishment….Nothing clears the conscience quite like a belief in eternal nothingness.[2]

Why would anyone expect that a world without God, heaven, or hell would lead to a world of unity and peace?  The facts cannot be denied; the greatest evil has always come from a denial of God, not in pursuit of Him.

Go to part 10 here


[1] Koukl, Greg Answering the New Atheists, Solid Ground magazine, Sept./Oct. 2008

[2] Engel, Joel, “Imagining ‘Imagine’,” The Weekly Standard, December 8, 2003

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Tom Wright June 14, 2011, 8:55 pm

    Let’s imagine six billion people who believe that flesh and blood is all there is…that Hitler and Mother Teresa, for example, both met the same ultimate fate. Commonsense would suggest that such a world would produce a lot more Hitlers and a lot fewer Mother Teresas, for the same reason that you get a lot more speeders/murderers/rapists/embezzlers when you eliminate laws, police, and punishment….Nothing clears the conscience quite like a belief in eternal nothingness.[2]
    Why would anyone expect that a world without God, heaven, or hell would lead to a world of unity and peace? The facts cannot be denied; the greatest evil has always come from a denial of God, not in pursuit of Him.

    Hi, Steve;
    Your site is finally up and running, and since you’re now retired, so are you! I haven’t read all of your posts about this subject, but the above paragraphs caught my eye. The writer is supposing a world w/o religion would be evil, that in the absence of religion there could not be a world of unity and peace. This principle that people are inherently evil, including original sin, has no basis in fact, in my opinion, and has always been one of my doubts about any religion, especially Christianity.
    All for now, and see you Thurs. eve.
    Tom

  • Steve July 16, 2011, 6:48 am

    Tom,
    Sorry for the long delay in replying; technical difficulties with the web site. Now that we are back online, as you said I am retired and have more time to reply to your letter.

    The writer wasn’t supposing original sin but what we see and experience on a daily basis when there are no laws or accountability. My son Jeff just returned from a mission’s trip to Haiti. In Haiti there is a city called the most dangerous city in the world. The criminals are in charge and there are no laws. People in that city live in terror every day. Their mission’s group was in that city briefly and had to leave by 11am because that’s when the criminals wake up and begin to rape, murder, steal, torture, and any other unspeakable crimes. We live in Southern California and have no clue to what goes on in cities like this without laws.

    For arguments sake, let’s just say there is no original sin. Then explain the above city or hundreds of similar cities and answer why is there so much evil. In the city of Escondido we have multiple laws and our police keep the criminals in check; for the most part we feel safe. However, in this Haitian city and others like it around the world, you would never want to live. Explain why when laws are abandoned, those cities are the most dangerous in the world. What drives people to do evil when there are no laws? Why don’t they strive for unity and peace?

    Steve

  • Tom Wright July 18, 2011, 8:36 pm

    Hi, Steve;
    Glad to see you’re back on line…..
    I would guess that people do evil when there is no law, because they’re hopeless: religion, has nothing to do with it, except that it may give comfort and solace, not be the basis for morality. With no rule of law there is no freedom, liberty, no hope, and anarchy reins. Witness Somalia. Unity and peace come after a full belly and freedom from fear. The direct opposite is the US, where there is opportunity and hope to succeed because of the rule of law, not religion’s imposed morality or the supposition of original sin.

  • Steve July 19, 2011, 7:24 am

    Tom,
    You still didn’t explain why people do evil when there are no laws. You said you think they are hopeless. How do you know they are hopeless? What would cause hopelessness? How do you know hopelessness causes people to do evil? Without laws, why wouldn’t people just do good? Why do we always see evil when there are no laws?

    You keep pointing to religion as no help but I am not arguing for religion. I am arguing the ground or foundation of all morality is God. You assert religion is not the basis for morality. Again, let me substitute God for the word “religion.” How do you know God is not the foundation of all morality? Without God, how do you define evil? What is good? Without God, who gets to set the standard for good and evil?

    You ended by mentioning “United States (US) succeeded because of the rule of law and not religion imposed morality or the supposition of original sin.” The foundation and key concepts of the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are rooted in Biblical morality. The vast majority of the signers of the constitution were Christians committed to a country based on Biblical principles.

    Opening lines of the Declaration of Independence: “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    The Declaration of Independence says the foundation of all rights is God. The vast majority of the writers and signers believed in original sin. Thomas Jefferson and the other writers that contributed to this document knew with God as the foundation of all law, rights would have a solid foundation. A right is a justified claim. They knew without God there could be no transcendent rights; only morality by who was in power. According to atheism, where do rights come from? Without a set standard, how do you prevent rights from being changed by the govenment?

    If the writers and signers of the key US documents were atheists, what would our laws look like? Who would get to decide? Again, the atheist morality is guided by “might makes right.” All we have to do is look at Communist countries to see examples of what happens when atheism rules the land. Do you support Communist governments? If you say no, then why? Do you want to live in a country based on atheist moral principles? Or would you rather live in the US with the foundation of all laws based on the Biblical God?

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