If God is hypothesized as being “perfectly good” as knowing everything, and as “able to do anything”, then how come there is so much, indeed any, evil in the creation? Furthermore, if we are all creatures of this creator, then how can it be anything but unjust to arrange to punish us at all, much less some of us inordinately and eternally, for doing or failing to do precisely only what – upon these embarrassing traditional assumptions – that God determines that we should do or fail to do? In dealing with the argument that God is required to ensure the objectivity of moral standards, we need to distinguish carefully between the motives for morality and its possible grounds. I mean, there is no doubt that belief in a God has frequently been the source of moral incentives - sometimes the motive has been the altruistic one of love for a deity or a saint whose wishes one believes oneself to be carrying out of love for other human beings on the ground that they are equally the children of God. Children of God? It has also been, and perhaps more frequently, the motive of fear of future punishment or hope of future reward. Ooh, I'm scared about what lies in store in the next life, so I'll be good now. Why not be good for the sake of being good? It was once believed that men were not generally capable of behaving decently without this prudential motive that led Voltaire to say that “if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him.” Much good has been done in the name of religion, but also very much evil, as we all know it. When the long history of religious intolerance and persecution is taken into account, together with the tendency of religious hierarchies to side with the oppressors rather than the oppressed, it is arguable that the evil has outweighed the good, and religion’s purpose of creating a cohesive moral standard has been thrown into the divine dustbin.
Hey Nietzsche - coffee? Tonight. 8pm. By the Red Sea.