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5 Christian Excuses For Malevolent Design


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An “excuse” is defined as “a defense of some offensive behavior or some failure to keep a promise.” We find an overflowing amount of these from theists in an attempt to free their god from rightly receiving the blame for being an evil monster. Christians even have a name for this very specific branch of apologetics. They call it “theodicy” and define it as “a vindication of the divine attributes, particularly holiness and justice, in establishing or allowing the existence of physical and moral evil.” Do they succeed? Let’s see.

 

According to Steve Wells (the genius behind the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible) there are five “answers” he’s heard that he shares on his widely popular blog, Dwindling in Unbelief, for the readily apparent Malevolent Design we find in nature. For his example, he cites what famously bothered Charles Darwin so much, the ichneumon wasps:

 

1) God originally made everything good; there was no suffering or death until the fall of Adam. Then all hell broke loose. Animals immediately began to kill and eat earth other, and predators, parasites, parasitoids, and pathogens roamed the earth. (Answers in Genesis)

 

2) God made things nasty right from the start just to show us how important we are to him. He knew that Adam would sin, so he made nature cruel to show us the serious nature of sin. (Dembski's Defective Design Inference)

 

3) God made everything good and then Satan messed everything up. (Satanic Insects)

 

4) God likes it just fine the way it is. He created it that way for is own pleasure. He likes to watch things suffer. (David Snoke)

 

5) God couldn't help it and had nothing to do with it. He would have liked to create a kind and peaceful world, but he had to let things play out according to the laws of nature, over which he had no control. So the ichneumonid wasps just evolved, along with everything else, over millions of years while God sadly watched from a distance, unable to affect the outcome. (Ken Miller) 1

 

Number one is the most common response I’ve heard when challenging Christians with MD. It’s a knee jerk reaction for most of them. They can’t wait to jump out with “the Fall!” They’ve been programmed very well!

 

This is quite sad, though, because this hypothesis is nothing more than dressed up self-degradation of our entire species:

 

The ongoing spate of violence in America’s public schools saw tragic manifestations last year, including the murder of five Amish girls and the critical injury to several others at the same rural Pennsylvania schoolhouse. While most people struggle over such tragedies, the Bible explains why these terrible actions occur. Suffering and death are the consequences of Adam’s Fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). In fact, the first murder happened only a few years after the Fall, when Cain murdered his own brother Abel. 2

 

We’re all lowly, corrupt, horrible, sinning humans and we have to seek Jesus and God to get better. It’s the only way! We’re bad! They’re good! It’s an excellent example of creating a problem just to offer the solution -- which is anything but free!

 

Here’s what we find on the AiG site:

 

Both humans and animals were vegetarians at the time of creation. In Genesis 1:29–30 the Lord said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food.” 3

 

Vegetarians?! Is he kidding? For the thought experiment on this one I like to think of a Tyrannosaurus nibbling on a carrot or viciously attacking a salad. Wow, that’s just too funny! What about snakes like the egg eater? Did they swallow cantaloupes and grapefruit? What about leeches? Did they drink vegetable juice? What about vampire bats? Did they, with their sharp teeth, instead attack the citrus and drink oj? Did vultures, hawks and owls swoop down to snatch grapes and strawberries? What about lions? Can you imagine a lion scaling a tree to get a banana? Surely this is ridiculous!

 

It is interesting to note, though, that this only includes what lives on land. It says nothing about what is in the sea. Apparently, while all the land animals were peaceful vegetarians, the sea was full of vicious killers like the shark, orca (which eats sharks), sea snake, squid, octopus, barracuda or any number of venomous jellyfish like the tiny, thumbnail-sized irukanji – an animal so lethal your death arrives within 30 minutes of being stung!

 

AiG continues confidently, despite the logical absurdity:

 

Sometime after God declared His completed creation “very good” at the end of the sixth day, one of God’s angels, Lucifer, led a rebellion against their Creator. Lucifer then took on the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat the fruit God had forbidden. Both Adam and Eve ate it. Their actions resulted in the punishment that God had warned them about. God is holy and cannot tolerate sin in His presence. The just Creator righteously kept His promise that punishment would follow their disobedience. With the rebellious actions of one man, death entered God’s creation. 4

 

But there are three major flaws in this view. The first is that it just shifts the blame from one point in time to another. It doesn’t get their god off the hook. He still remains evil. Instead of things being created “red tooth and claw” from the very beginning, he waits till he sees two infractions of his rules (infractions that would have been scripted by no one other than himself and based on a lie) to bring down the iron fist! How is a Malevolent Re-Design any better than planning it that way? It’s not. It’s actually much, much worse! For now this god is punishing everything alive for the “sin” of just two people. Is that fair? Is that just? Is that loving?! No, no and no, again. The second flaw is that the view that things were good in the first place is based on an interpretation that assumes a loving god. What would “very good” mean to an evil god? What makes an evil being feel happy? Yes, it’d be exactly what the believer is trying to avoid: Malevolent Design! He saw all the pain, suffering, death that he had made, and behold, it was very good! He loved it! Can’t you just hear the maniacal laughter? The third is that death was already in “creation.” Remember the seas? Oopsie!

 

The second one, taken from William Dembski’s Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science, actually agrees with me, if only partially:

 

In answer, then, to the question why a benevolent God would permit evil, tolerate its continuation, and even invent a form of it (i.e., natural evil), it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we will not see its gravity. Instead, we will treat it lightly, rationalize it, shift the blame for it—in short, we will do anything but face the tragedy of willfully separating ourselves from the source of our life, who is God. Additionally, we will fail to recognize the enormity of Christ’s suffering on the Cross to redeem us. In consequence, we will not be moved to repent of our sin and return to God in trust and humility. 5

 

Note that he believes that “natural evil” is God’s invention! What is natural evil? It’s just another word for Malevolent Design! What is his excuse, though, for its existence? Basically, we need really bad stuff in order to realize we desperately need Jesus to save us from it all! That is why, according to him, that Jesus had to suffer so horribly. (Never mind that this “event” would have qualified, too.)

 

Dembski is no ordinary creationist, however. He is of the Old Earth variety, believing the standard scientific model of a 12 billion year old universe with a 4.5 billion year earth (with a hint of evolution, too), and so has a different set of problems. He has to account for the existence of this natural evil before the Fall. He does this by making his god a being that exists outside of time, a being that can punish the “crime” before it even happens (kind of like Tom Cruise in The Minority Report):

 

In focusing on divine preemption as the means by which God anticipates the Fall and controls its damage, I have stressed the active role God played in bringing about natural evil prior to the Fall. Natural evil mirrors the personal evil in our souls brought on through the distorting power of sin. Accordingly, a world that exhibits natural evil becomes an instrument for revealing to us the gravity of sin. In particular, the emergence of living forms through a violent and competitive historical process (be it through a sequence of special creations or through a more continuous evolutionary development) does itself exhibit natural evil attributable to the Fall. 6

 

The third is probably the second most popular. Who made all the bad things? Oh, I don’t know. Could it be? Saaaaaaaaaaaytin! This view can clearly be seen in these quotes from an article found in an old Jehova’s Witness publication, The Golden Age:

 

Some people regard the common house-fly as comparatively harmless; but in point of fact it is one of the greatest disease carriers known.... One thing that tends to prove that the fly was originally created by the devil is that it loves every evil thing and hates every good thing. The odors that are most unpleasant to man,... are all pleasing to the fly....

 

THE mosquito has a bad record. He it is that carries the germs of malaria, yellow fever, [and other diseases].... If you have a disease of any of the above varieties, the mosquito loves to come and bite you and poison you,.... Then he goes off and bites some luckless chap and injects the germs of your disease into him. And if that does not show the disposition of the devil, will you please point out something that does?...

 

The Japanese beetle is said to be, at this time, our country's worst pest.... Perhaps the devil made this one, too; it looks like his work...

 

Probably the Lord made some of the useful insects. No doubt the devil made some of the others. The Lord is the better architect... 7

 

The mosquito, malaria, yellow fever – gosh, that sounds so familiar! Yes, it’s Malevolent Design, but it’s not the Grand Architect’s baby this time. No, by this view God lets Satan sit at the design table. This naturally leads to the question of why a god, who is supposed to have our welfare in mind, would allow such a thing to happen. Why give up such a position of authority to a being who he is supposed to despise? Well, there’s always the script. As we all know, it must be honored. You just don’t mess with the Divine Plan™! But that doesn’t answer the deeper why. The obvious answer would be that God and Satan, in “reality,” would be the best of friends, pals in a dark union, united in the common desire to torture humanity (and everything else alive). So, once again, this doesn’t help, but actually hurts!

 

The fourth, written by David Snoke, a man of the great outdoors, is the most realistic approach to the problem, as far as creationism goes, at least:

 

Many people say they do not believe that God is wrathful, but on what basis do they say that? Is it because nature is so gentle and kind that the God who created nature could not have done and said all of those wrathful things in the Bible? On the other hand, some people who believe in the Bible say that they do not believe God would create cruel things. On what basis do they say that? Is it because of the complete lack of cruelty and wrath in the Bible? We have two things which agree completely—the Bible and nature—in giving us a stark picture of God’s wrathful nature, but instead of accepting them, we reject both. On what basis, then, do we reject them? Merely our own wishes? If religion is about believing what is true, not just what we wish was true, then surely we must swallow the hard pill that God, the real God who exists and created the world, is not just the way we would like him to be. This is why many people hate him. But they cannot say it is illogical to say that God has wrath. What is illogical is to believe in a God who would never harm a flea, when we see lots of harmed fleas around us. 8

 

For him, nature is both evidence of design and evidence of the character of his god. He doesn’t dare call him evil, though. He is very careful in his choice of words, calling him instead “wrathful.” But is wrathful really that far away from evil? Shall we take a look? “Wrath” is defined as “violent anger; vehement exasperation; indignation; rage; fury; ire.” “Evil,” on the other hand is “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked.” It is then just a question of whether you find a god that has violent anger, rage and fury to be morally wrong in his actions. You know my answer.

 

So how does he rescue his god after all this? How can he, with all he knows, still call this raging, immoral beast “loving?” Well, he still has a card up his sleeve that he’s been saving for just this occasion:

 

Yet God is loving, because the door is not slammed shut. We still can reach Heaven through the work of Jesus, who solved our main problem—the wrath of God. 9

 

So, yes the universe is awful place, filled to the brim with danger, and his god is eternally furious and violent, but hey, at least since he had Jesus torturously executed we can get into Heaven! It boils down to life sucks, but at least we get might get a prize at the end! Yaaay! If that’s not Malevolent Design, I don’t know what is!

 

Number five comes from a man I admire greatly, Kenneth Miller. He’s a professor of biology at Brown University and the author of Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. He’s both a practicing Roman Catholic and a Darwinian evolutionist! Naturally, his view varies enormously from that of the previous four views and holds the absolute most rational vision of the nature amongst the theistic perspectives:

 

I would ask people who are concerned about the issue of how God could have created us if our species arose by evolution to have a somewhat higher opinion of God. What I mean by that is that the God that we know through Christianity is not someone who acts like an ordinary human being, who simply happens to be endowed with supernatural powers. We are talking about a being whose intelligence is transcendent; we're talking about a being who brought the universe into existence, who set up the rules of existence, and uses those rules and that universe and the natural world in which we live to bring about his will.

 

The overwhelming scientific evidence shows very clearly that all species did not appear simultaneously. They appeared gradually over time and often appeared to take the places of other species that had been lost to the earth by extinction. We human beings—created from the dust of the earth, the Bible says—arose in exactly the same pattern. We are part of the natural world, and I think one aspect of God's message to us is that we have to look to the natural world to understand our relationship with God. 10

 

Unfortunately, though, despite his reasoned approach, and the distant stance his god assumes as the inventor of materialistic evolution (as opposed to special creation), what we find in the universe reflects quite badly on his character. He would still be the one responsible for all the creatures that I’ve described. He’d still be the one that would have designed a system for change that has helped bacteria, viruses and pestilent insects survive -- even though our technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the Biblical days! He’d also be guilty of neglect through simply allowing nature to have its way with us, with minimal to zero intervention. It’d be equivalent, really, to his god standing idly by while children are raped and beaten -- just because those are the rules he set up! Lastly, this god would still be the one that scripted things to happen that way. And with that, the last hope fails.

 

Despite five well-fought attempts to resuscitate the cooling corpse, the loving god remains dead. Whether nature is explained in terms of a magical creation that had to be totally redone as punishment for some minor rule breaking, a preemptive strike at those silly, sinning and forgetful humans, a dark and violent creation that was considered “very good” the first time, the result of a Satanic exercise in creativity or simply as the end product of billions of years of god-guided/observed evolution, the sum remains the same. It all adds up, no matter how many times you calculate, to a being that definitely should be feared – but never worshipped.

 

It’s a good thing then that no gods or goddesses exist! We have nothing to worry about from them or their terrible afterlives. We need not be angry at invisible beings for the situation we find ourselves in, living on a fragile, spinning blue ball hurtling through space. They had no hand in it and made not even the tiniest virus nor the biggest whale. Our godless universe, from the Big Bang onward, evolved all on its own without ever needing anything from our completely impotent anthropic creations! Likewise, we arose from the same natural processes that fashioned every other manner of living thing we find on our planet. None of it, not a single thing, requires a god to explain its origin – and for that we should rejoice!

 

Quotes

 

1) Wells, Steve, Did God Create the Ichneumonidae?, February 13, 2009

http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/20...eumonideae.html

 

2) It Started in Eden , May 9, 2007

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/a...started-in-eden

 

3) Mitchell, Tommy, Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering?, January 31, 2008

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/n...clude-suffering

 

4) Mitchell, Tommy, Why Does God’s Creation Include Death & Suffering? , January 31, 2008

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/n...clude-suffering

 

5) Dembski, William, Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science, March 15, 2007, page 30

http://www.designinference.com/documents/2...an_theodicy.pdf

 

6) Dembski, William, Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science, March 15, 2007, page 52

http://www.designinference.com/documents/2...an_theodicy.pdf

 

7) Raines, Kenneth G., Satanic Insects! The Golden Age and "Natural Evil"

http://www.seanet.com/~raines/insects.html

 

8) Snoke, David, Why Were Dangerous Animals Created?, June 2004

http://www.asa3.org/aSA/PSCF/2004/PSCF6-04Snoke.pdf

 

9) Snoke, David, Why Were Dangerous Animals Created? , June 2004

http://www.asa3.org/aSA/PSCF/2004/PSCF6-04Snoke.pdf

 

10) Giberson, Karl W., A Somewhat Higher Opinion of God, February 9, 1998

http://www.karlgiberson.com/Site/Interview...Op%231724A2.pdf

 

© 2009 by Reverend Atheistar

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I don't believe their "god" exists so I don't even argue with them anymore. It's like trying to talk to a Schizophrenic.

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I don't believe their "god" exists so I don't even argue with them anymore. It's like trying to talk to a Schizophrenic.

 

I don't, either, yet I feel something much more aggressive should be done about the situation. I'm for a planet-wide deconversion, even if it remains nothing more than a utopian ideal. Till then I'm satified with rays of hope like these:

 

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blog/ameri...s_and_baptists/

 

<b>American Nonbelievers are now Third behind Catholics and Baptists</b>

 

March 9, 2009

 

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey has just been released. Confirming earlier trends, the fasted growing segment of the American population is still the "Nones", especially in the Northeast. The Survey tables show how the 8.2% of Americans in 1990 who declared their atheism, agnosticism, or lack of belief in any religion has grown to 15% by 2008.

 

Confirming this lack of belief in religion is a new question asking people about their belief in God. 2.3% answered "there is no such thing" as God, while 4.3% said "there is no way to know" and another 5.7% said "I’m not sure." Adding together the atheists with the strongly skeptical and the personally skeptical reaches 12.3% which is similar measure of American skepticism and disbelief. With another 12.1% of Americans who think there is a god but it isn’t a personal theistic god, a grand total of 24.4% of Americans announce that the traditional supernatural God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam doesn’t exist.

 

(more on site)

 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/c...icle5907453.ece

 

From The Sunday Times

 

March 15, 2009

 

<b>There’s a new power in America – atheism</b>

The faithless are a growing force as the churches duck the challenges of the age

 

Andrew Sullivan

 

There is one thing that is not allowed in American national politics – and that is atheism. “In God We Trust” is on the currency; and the number of congressional members who avow no faith at all are about as plentiful as those who are openly gay (none in the Senate; five in the House).

 

Under the last president, religious faith – evangelical Christianity or Benedict-style Catholicism – was a prerequisite for real access to the inner circle. But the requirement is not just Republican. Among the more excruciating campaign events of last year was a faith summit for the Democrats in which candidates vied with one another to express the most piety. Barack Obama’s Christianity – educated, nuanced, social – is in many ways more striking than that of, say, Nixon, Truman or Eisenhower.

 

Americans are losing faith, though; and those who have it are moving out of established churches. The nonreligious are now the third biggest grouping in the US, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the just-released American Religious Identification Survey. The bulk of this shift occurred in the 1990s, when they jumped from 8% to 14% of the population – but they have consolidated in the past decade to 15%.

 

(more on site)

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I don't believe their "god" exists so I don't even argue with them anymore. It's like trying to talk to a Schizophrenic.

 

A schizophrenic has a hardware problem. Most believers have nothing, at all, physically wrong with their brains. They're just running bad software. With enough argument and evidence this problem can be corrected.

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