posted on Feb, 5 2010 @ 07:36 AM
“Wow!” said the Christian. “That’s not what they told me at church.”
“I’m sure. They can’t refute evolution so they have to spread misinformation about it. But don’t you know that many Christians believe that
god made humans by evolution?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“In fact, of the four people who debated the evolution side on PBS, on William F. Buckley’s ‘Firing Line,’ which I just mentioned, two of them
were theists. One of them is a reverend, in fact.”
“Really. Many denominations of Christianity embrace evolution. Catholicism, the largest denomination of Christianity, is compatible with evolution.
So evolution is not relevant here, is it?”
“I guess not.”
“Even if it were true that you have to be an atheist to believe evolution, which is not the case, and even if it were the case that evolution was
unsupported by evidence, which is also not the case, this would not explain evil at all, would it. It is irrelevant.”
“I see that now,” said the Christian. “I don’t even know why I brought it up. I guess I thought it was an example of how you believe something
“Well,” said the professor. “As you can see, it is not. There is plenty of evidence for evolution. And even if there were no evidence, this has
no bearing on the issue of evil. As we proceed through the philosophy course, you will see how to use your reasoning ability to separate important
issues from irrelevant ones.”
“I guess I’m learning already,” said the student, looking at the floor.
“But back to the problem of evil,” said the professor. “You stated that evil is the absence of good. How does that solve the problem of
The student said lifelessly: “If evil is the absence of good, then god did not create evil.” It was evident that this was something the student
had learned by rote and had often repeated.
The professor shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, let’s suppose for the moment that this is true. This still does not explain evil. If a tidal wave
wipes out a whole town, and 100,000 people die, is that evil?”
“There is the absence of good,” said the student.
“But so what? The problem is why god did not prevent the disaster. If god is all-powerful he can prevent it, and if he is all-knowing he knows that
it is about to happen. So whether he created the tidal wave is not relevant. What we want to know is why he did not do anything to stop it.”
The student looked confused. “But why should he prevent it? It’s not his fault.”
“If a human being had the power to prevent a tidal wave wiping out a town, and this person intentionally failed to stop it, we would not say that
the person is good. Even if the person said, ‘It’s not my fault,’ we would be appalled that someone could stand by and do nothing as thousands
die. So if god does not prevent natural disasters, and he is able to do so, we should not say that god is good by the same reasoning. In fact, we
would probably say that god is evil.”
The Christian student thought for a moment. “I guess I’d have to agree.”
“So redefining evil as the absence of good does nothing to solve the problem of evil,” said the professor. “At best it shows that god did not
create it, but this does not explain why god does not prevent it.”
The Christian student shook a finger at the professor. “But that’s according to our human standards. What if god has a higher morality? We can’t
judge him by our standards.”
The professor laughed. “Then you just lost your case. If you admit that god does not fit our definition of good, then we should not call him good.
“I don’t understand,” said the student, wrinkling his brow.
“If I go outside and see a vehicle with four tires, a metal body, a steering wheel, a motor and so on, and it fits the definition of a car, is it a
car?” “Of course it is,” said the Christian student. “That’s what a car is.”
“But what if someone says that on some other definition it could be considered an airplane. Does that mean it’s not a car?”
“No,” said the student. “It still fits the definition of a car. That’s what we mean by saying that it’s a car. It doesn’t fit the
definition of an airplane, so we shouldn’t call it that.”
“Exactly,” said the professor. “If it fits the definition, then that’s what it is. If god fits the definition of good, then he is good. If he
does not, then he is not. If you admit that he does not fit our definition of good, then he is not good. It does no good to say that he could be
‘good’ in some other definition. If we want to know whether he is good by our definition, you have answered that question. God is not good.”
“I don’t believe it!” said the Christian student. “A few minutes ago I would have laughed at the suggestion that god is not good, but now I
actually agree. God doesn’t fit the definition of good, so he’s not good.”
“There you go,” said the professor.
“But wait a minute,” said the student. “God could still be good in some other definition even if we don’t call him good. Despite what we
think, god could still have his own morality that says he’s good. Even if we couldn’t call him good, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t good on
some definition. He could have his own definition anyway.”
“Oh, you would not want to push the view that god might be good in some other definition,” said the professor.
“Why not?” “Well, if he has definitions of things that are radically different from our own, he might have a different definition of lots of
other things. He might have his own definitions of such things as eternal reward, or eternal life. Your supposed eternal life in heaven might just be
a year, or it could be a thousand years of torture. God could just say he has a definition of reward that includes excruciating torture as part of the
“That’s right!” said the Christian, jumping up. His eyes were wide open. “If god can redefine any word, then anything goes. God could send all
believers to what we call hell and say that it is heaven. He could give us ten days in heaven and say that that’s his definition of eternity!”
“Now you’re thinking!” said the professor, pointing a finger at the student. “This is what a philosophy class is supposed to do for
The Christian student continued. “God could promise us eternal life and then not give it to us and say that’s his definition of keeping a
“Yes, yes,” said the professor.
“I can’t believe I used to fall for this Christianity stuff. It’s so indefensible,” said the student, shaking his head. “Just a few
moment’s thought and all the arguments that my church gave me in Sunday school just collapse.”
“So it would seem,” said the professor.
“I’m going to go to my church tonight and give the pastor a piece of my mind. They never tell me about important stuff like this. And they sure
didn’t tell me the truth about evolution!”
The student, who stood up as a Christian, now sat down as an atheist. And he started using his brain–because that’s what it’s for. The other
students in the class sat there, stunned, for a few moments. They knew they had witnessed the changing of a person’s life, the redirection of a
young mind from falsehood and religious dogma to the honest pursuit of truth.
The students looked at each other and then began applauding. This soon gave way to cheering. The professor took a bow, laughing. When the students
calmed down he continued his lecture, and class attendance was high for the rest of the semester.