In the last few posts, I've talked about some of the main reasons theists will give as arguments for the existence of God. However, these arguments have major flaws, and therefore do not prove the existence of God.
However, we haven't examined any atheist arguments AGAINST the existence of God. Can atheists prove the God of ethical monotheism doesn't exist?
One of the most powerful arguments against God begins with the observation that the world is full of evil. By evil, I am referring to both natural evil (destructive natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tornados, droughts, as well as disease, natural predator vs. prey relationships, birth defects, etc, etc) as well as human evil (suffering caused by war, rape, genocide, murder, abuse, slavery, torture, etc, etc). Both kinds of evil occur ubiquitously, indiscriminately, and gratuitously in a world supposedly designed by God.
Now, if we start (as the theist does) with the idea that this world is designed, then the occurrence of evil is a huge problem for God. Why? Well, if the world is designed by a perfect God, then his designs should't have flaws in them. Flawed designs indicate flawed designers. If design flaws exist (and it's impossible to argue they don't), then God is not perfect. An all-perfect God would WANT to avoid introducing design flaws into his creation that would cause us pain, an all-knowing God would KNOW HOW to design a world that did not have such gratuitous suffering in it, and an all-powerful God would BE POWERFUL enough to design it. But, for some reason, there is a vast amount of human suffering and natural evil in the world that, according to theists, God designed.
And remember from my previous post, that a non-perfect, less than all-knowing, less than all-powerful God does not deserve to be worshiped. Evil in the world appears to be a major flaw in a perfect God's design. Therefore, even if the world WAS designed by something, it does not deserve to be worshiped, and therefore doesn't deserve our concern, obedience, or admiration. Perhaps this designer was a powerful E.T. alien, or a novice God, or a God who was less than all-powerful, all-knowing, or all-good. Maybe it was an evil God who wants to hurt any sentient life that it creates. But it appears that whatever this designer was, it cannot be the all-powerful, all-good, all-knowing God of ethical monotheism worshiped by billions of people.
If, on the other hand, we take a natural view of life, then the existence of evil (both natural and human) have purely natural explanations. The fact that evil has natural explanations does not excuse the naturalist from trying to ameliorate its effects if possible (and plenty of humanitarian work is done by secular humanists and atheists). However, the implications of evil's existence don't shake the worldview of the humanist, as it does the theists. We don't have to invent dubious explanations about why natural disasters occur, or why humans do bad things to eachother. We just accept the natural explanation, and do all we can to minimize the effects of evil in this world.
The existence of evil is simply inconsistent with the idea of an all-loving, all-powerful, and all- knowing God who knew such suffering would occur, who could have prevented it if it wanted to, but chose not to. Therefore, the God of ethical monotheism appears to be severely challenged (to the point of nonexistence) by this argument unless the theist has a good rebuttal.
These rebuttals, called theodicies, will be evaluated in my next post.