Monday, December 1, 2008

The Case for an Incompetent Architect

Some theists tell me that part of the reason we suffer here on earth is because God granted us free will. However, they also claim that in Heaven there will be no suffering. From this we can logically conclude that believers in Heaven will have no free will.

Some theists find themselves in a no-win situation. If they argue that free will is a necessary condition of our world--even if that leads to pointless suffering--then they must choose one of two situations. First, citizens of Heaven do not have free will. If free will leads to sin, and sin leads to suffering, and there is no suffering in Heaven, then working backwards we must conclude that there is no sin in Heaven, therefore there is no free will. In other words, if free will and sin and suffering are inextricably linked here on Earth, then they must be inextricably linked in Heaven as well. The three are a package deal; you can't have one (free will) without the other two (sin and suffering).

However, if the citizens of Heaven do not have free will, then this turns them into robots. Isn't this the very condition on Earth that theists argue that God does not want, making the granting of our free will absolutely necessary?

The second situation of which theists must choose if free will is a necessary condition of our world is that citizens in Heaven will have free will--and that sin and suffering will shortly follow, making Heaven into just another Earth with all its attending evils and sorrow. After all, that's the situation described in the Genesis story of the Garden of Eden. God created a world for sinless beings who had free will--and they shortly exercised their free will to sin, thus ushering in suffering. This was two people in less than one generation. How likely is it that millions of people in heaven will always freely choose to do good and never choose evil?

But of course, if Heaven will be just another Earth, then there is no reason to worship God as an omnibenevolent being. If God cannot create a world without suffering, then God is not omnipotent.

Suppose an architect built a house for you, and he stated that he can't build the house without using, say, asbestos in the walls and ceilings. Now suppose the asbestos causes severe respiratory problems, inducing a lifetime of pain and suffering. What would be your response if the architect then tried to sell you a timeshare of a luxury resort he's constructing, soon to be open? Your first question would probably be, "Will it have asbestos in the walls and ceilings?" If the architect answers yes, then the timeshare resort will cause just as much pain and illness as the house he just built for you--perhaps more. If the architect answers no to the asbestos question, then the natural follow-up would be, "If you can build a resort without asbestos, then why didn't you build my house without it?" Either way, you are dealing with an incompetent architect, and he should be rejected at once.

Some theists try to rescue the concept by placing the blame of human suffering on Satan. After all, if the serpent hadn't convinced Adam and Eve to sin, then perhaps we would have been spared this earthly misery. However, this only changes the problem--it doesn't answer it. The believer still has the same two dead-end choices. If Satan will be a necessary part of Heaven, then he will tempt believers to sin against God, and Heaven will turn into another sinful, suffering-filled Earth. On the other hand, if we can live in Heaven without the negative influence of Satan, then why didn't God prevent Satan from inhabiting Earth? Either way, God apparently doesn't know what he's doing.

3 comments:

Rhology said...

I'd be interested in seeing you
1) create a world
2) set up moral laws
3) redeem a bunch of people who hate you.

For starters, anyway.
Just what standard are you using to judge the architect incompetent? How do you know what's a good structure? Your own intuition? How is that any better than the photographer who snapped the moon-God-smile pic you posted above?

Tommy Holland said...

I'd be interested in seeing you
1) create a world
2) set up moral laws
3) redeem a bunch of people who hate you.


This might be an interesting exercise, but since I don't have the power or wisdom to do this, I won't. And incidentally, I don't hate your god anymore than I hate Joe Chill for killing Bruce Wayne's parents.

Just what standard are you using to judge the architect incompetent?

My analogy is clear. If the architect chooses to use building materials that are known to be harmful to human health, then he is incompetent.

How do you know what's a good structure? Your own intuition?

Any structure that brings unnecessary suffering is not a good structure. This is a result of my reason, not intution.

Rhology said...

You assume that the architect built the building FOR HUMANS. What's your argument?

How exactly does your reason inform you what you OUGHT TO do? What is good and bad?