It all started in my public speaking class last semester. We were supposed to give a speech to persuade the class on any topic of our choosing. Everyone else in the class, including me, gave a "happy go lucky" speech on some frivolous topic. Then, another member of our class went up to speak and dropped a bombshell. He spoke about God and agnosticism. Agnostics, while not denying the existence of God, in a way rebuke God for letting pain and suffering occur in our lives. My class member proceeded to make his argument and rebuke God by showing some very graphic images of injustices, crimes, starvation, and mutilation. He then argued that if God exists, he just doesn't care. He stated that if God cared he most certainly would have stopped these heinous events from occurring. I regret my decision to speak on a frivolous topic, and thereby not giving myself a forum to counter what my classmate said. However, I now wish to issue my rebuttal.
This argument, as presented by my classmate, despite the graphic presentation, is neither a new nor a revolutionary idea. In fact, I remembered it right away as an argument I learned about in my freshman year of college in my Philosophy class. The argument was first presented by and ancient Greek philosopher named Epicurus. Here is what he said. "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"
What my classmate, and Epicurus for that matter, fail to take into consideration are two vital pieces of logic. First, the nature of Good and Evil. Second, the reason for man's existence. Let's begin with fault in logic number one:
As argued by many agnostics, if God really cared about us on earth, he would most certainly stop any and all pain and suffering from happening. If we take that logic further, the only way for an Omnipotent God to accomplish this would be to force everyone to choose Good and not Evil. Therefore, the ideal God, in an agnostic's mind, would be a god that takes away our freedom to choose and thereby ends all pain and suffering. Sounds great right? However, I pose a question. What constitutes a correct choice? For example, if a criminal holds someone at gunpoint and forces them to commit a crime, it is not the victims fault that the crime was committed, but the criminal's fault. However, what if the criminal were to force the victim to do a good deed instead of a crime? Did the victim just make a correct decision? No! In fact, evil has been accomplished. The very essence of making a good decision is that the person making the good decision has to act freely and do the good deed out of their own free will. The agnostic's view of an ideal God appears to me as being the exact description of the devil.
This brings me to point out the second fault in my classmate's logic. The lack of understanding of the reason for man's existence on Earth. If God were to force man to make only good decisions, as agnostics believe, what progress would man make? I would ask an agnostic who is also a parent if they treat their children the same way they believe God should treat us. Do they prevent their child from experiencing any pain? Do they always stop their children from making poor decisions? If so, I would suggest they first take a parenting course instead of lecturing God on how to treat us. Most parents who love their children exercise a certain degree of "laissez faire" that is, letting their children learn from their mistakes. It is common experience for almost every child to touch a hot stove. From this experience, the child learns that the stove is hot and should not touch it. If this experience were deprived of us as children, there would be no other way for us to learn about the danger of a hot stove. Likewise, if God were to deprive us, his children, the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and the mistakes of others, I wouldn't categorize this god as a loving God, rather a selfish god who hoards all knowledge to himself, not allowing us to learn and grow. It is apparent that God lets us experience pain, in order to learn from it. He lets us experience sorrow, and grow from it.
In conclusion, God allows man to make mistakes. God is a loving parent, and as any parent, He must not like it that we hurt, kill, maim, ridicule, or otherwise harm one another. However, He let's these things happen because he knows that if He didn't, only evil would come to pass. If all negative experience were withheld from us, we would not have an opportunity to learn and grow, which, in the end, is the very purpose for our existence. For these reasons I know that God is a loving, kind, and merciful Father. Not because he doesn't let me to fall down, but because he allows me to pick myself up.