When Christians are asked why their all-powerful, loving god does not intervene when people are carrying out acts of horrendous cruelty and violence, they have an answer. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they have an emergency exit. This mental escape hatch allows them to stop wrestling with the implications of a god who stands idly by and allows psychopaths to carry out their cruelties, unopposed.
Long ago, Epicurus pointed out that a god’s inaction in the face evil calls into question its power and goodness:
The emergency exit which Christians often utilize is ‘free will’.
“God wants people to freely choose to love him, so he had to create us with free will. Otherwise we would be robots. People can use that free will to do bad things because of sin, and God can’t stop them because then he would be violating their free will.”
I guess it’s sort of like the Prime Directive in Star Trek, which kept Captain Kirk from meddling in alien civilizations. God has his hands tied, and can only watch helplessly, while:
In his name, countless people are tortured and killed during the Inquisition.Hitler imprisons and starves Jews (‘God’s chosen people’), and gasses them by the millions.Ted Bundy kills thirty women and defiles their corpses.Priests rape countless boys, and their Church superiors cover up their crimes, allowing them to continue the abuse.Ariel Castro holds three young women captive for a decade. He rapes and impregnates Michelle Knight and subsequently beats her in the stomach with a barbell to force a miscarriage. He then punches her in the face for miscarrying.In Jasper Texas, white supremacists drag James Byrd Jr. for miles behind a pickup truck, until he is dead.Unsuspecting victims are killed or maimed when a suicide bomber detonates the explosive vest he is wearing.
Guess what? All of these victims had their ‘free will’ violated! These horrific acts were done to them against their will, by their captors/torturers/killers. DarkMatter2525 brilliantly points out in this video, that the Christian’s god actually favors the free will of oppressors, over the free will of their victims:
What’s more, the free will defense is complete bullshit by the Christian's own standards, because the Bible is full of stories about Yahweh violating free will all the time.
Kicking Adam and Eve out of Eden? Sentencing them to death, suffering and painful childbirth? Against their will.
Killing all the people on the planet (except 8) in Noah’s flood violated their free will. I’m quite certain none of them wanted to drown.
Lot’s wife turned into a block of salt, for looking over her shoulder at Sodom and Gomorrah? Probably wasn’t on her bucket list.
The death of the firstborn of Egypt? Against their will. Don’t forget also that the Bible says Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart to make him not want to let the Israelites go, so that Yahweh would have a chance to show off and hurl some punishments on the Egyptians.
The victims of Joshua’s god-directed genocide campaign against the inhabitants of the ‘Promised Land’? I’m pretty sure that getting murdered was a violation of their free will.
Let’s go New Testament for a minute. Ananias and Sapphira – reportedly struck dead for lying about how much money they gave at church? Free will violation. Funny how he doesn’t ever strike down fraudulent televangelists for stealing money in his name…
Herod, struck down by an angel and eaten by worms? God’s choice, not his.
All the people who Christians think will be roasted by their God in his eternal barbecue? They wouldn’t choose that any more than Jews would have chosen a death-vacation at Dachau.
Since Christians insist on using the Bible, we will use it to point out that their god interferes with free will whenever he feels like it. Usually it’s when he wants to kill people and/or make himself look impressive. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to want to use his powers for good – to intervene and stop evildoers, but we are talking real world rather than in stories, and that would put a lot of pressure on him. Performance anxiety perhaps?
Free will is nothing more than a defense argument for a negligent god. When the free will excuse is challenged, the backup argument goes like this:
“God’s ways are mysterious. He knows the big picture and we can never fathom his plans. I have faith that he has a good reason why he didn’t intervene. Who are you to question God anyway?”
Yeah, right. Or maybe your god is imaginary. That would fit the facts a lot better.
But, I am open to the possibilities. Maybe Christians are right and there is a god... one who in actuality is a sadist. If so, perhaps our suffering is like a horror flick for him. We’re his twisted reality TV and he is up in heaven with a big bowl of popcorn. Let’s hope not.
Written by J. M. Green