The problem with atheism

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

— C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

Categories: Atheism, CS Lewis

33 replies

  1. This would seem to be a problem with Lewis’ atheism, and perhaps with similar views, but there are a great many of us for whom this is not really an issue. For example, my own atheism has absolutely nothing to do with the Problem of Evil.

  2. But how did you get this idea of just and unjust?

  3. “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

    — C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity

    Well, per your bible, humans do know just and unjust from that apple. So we can compare what this god does with what most humans agree as good. Most humans agree that genocide is evil e.g. harm done for no reason but personal pleasure or advantage. This god repeatedly commands it. If it is okay when your god does it, then you have made morals subjective, dependent on the actor. This destroys the idea that morality is objective and your god is its source. We also have your bible saying that your god works with its archenemy when it must release this being after this god has murdered all non-Christians, and those Christians have been living under the rule of JC for an “eon”. Working with supposedly ultimate evil isnt’ a good thing, not when this god intentionally allows its people to be corrupted by its supposed enemy for evidently no more reason than needing one more bloodbath.

    CS. Lewis is someone who has questionable morals. In the same book, he advocates for Christians to lie to others by hiding the divisions in Christianity ““And secondly, I think we must admit that the discussion of these disputed points has no tendency at all to bring an outsider into the Christian fold. So long as we write and talk about them we are much more likely to deter him from entering any Christian communion than to draw him into our own. Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son”

  4. The problem of evil has never been an argument for atheism. It’s an argument agianst the quality of God.
    Whether God exists or not is irrelevant to the issue of the problem of evil. Also, I think and in a general sense that the problem of evil has more load upon the christian mind because seemingly God created the world then he regretted. There had not been a hope for humanity till God sent his son finally to die at the end of the ages. Also, we read that the pain that women get when they have birth is because of the sin that the son supposedly did get rid off. This view as whole intensifies this question. On the other hand, the muslim mind doesn’t have such an intensity when he addresses this question or he tries to understand why we suffer.

  5. One of my problems with atheism is not just the concept and its consequences (which I will not deal with on this thread) but more the certain types of atheist who have a lack of tolerance and manners and start attacks on others with their anti-religious arguments. Now there is no doubt there are various religious individuals who also have a lack of tolerance and manners against others who have differing views to their own but the various religious individuals are rightfully condemned and ridiculed in our communities however the non-tolerant atheist are frankly not condemned and ridiculed as much as their religious counterparts. If anyone wants me to prove that this double-standard is applied in our western societies it is going to be a conversation for another day going through many personal experiences but more importantly many examples within the foundations that we currently have in our establishment that favours atheism in many, if not, all areas.
    I will make clear, my beef is not with non-religious atheist but with the anti-religious atheists and I will like to emphasise that just as we have with various religious groups, thankfully the tolerant non-religious atheist outnumber the less tolerant anti-religious atheist by a huge margin. It is always a few rotten apples in every bunch.
    Outside speakers’ corners, the most common unprovoking attacks I have personally encountered were from anti-religious individuals who have a lot of backing and are blatantly influenced from the mainstream western establishment and status quo. In my personal cases, they always get away scot free when they are reported to authorities for any attacks and our ears are now filled with very typical cliches such as “religions are the causes of war” (boy has that become their motto) and other typical remarks like “we need to ban all religions” and “why do you believe in an imaginary sky-God?” and “oh come on, why is your Friday prayer important can you not just miss it for one day and come with us?” and so many other examples of times when you are minding your own business and these mostly Atheists and some from other faith groups unprovokingly challenge or attack you, but mostly these particular atheist get away with it because they are the mouthpiece of the majority who rule us locally and nationally. That is one of the key reasons I would not apply relativism between atheist bigots and religious bigots, especially here in the west. I will not get into the non-Western world atheist examples but in the western world (especially European nations like Britain and France as opposed to USA who have strict evangelics within their wider population), for the past many decades now, we have a secular non-religious and / or anti-religious ruling system and most of the population are openly atheist and at best there are some who claim to be agnostic with the religious communities being a minority. They are not truly “Christian” countries however many times it is written on paper or however many times a ruler may claim “God” ordered them to invade Iraq. The same cannot be said of countries outside Western Europe etc, what you see on paper is what you get within the population unlike Britain and other nations.
    I will say this unapologetically, we are very quick to judge certain Gulf state rulers who are critical of those who are different to the status quo and majority population (and rightfully so) but due to social norms we turn a blind eye to western powers and their populations who are exactly the same in principle but an atheist equivalent. In principle, we have no right to say “let’s challenge” certain religious African or certain Arab countries and their authorities when on the other hand atheist authorities and their population in the west are unchallenged. Apologies to also raise a West vs East issue here but mainstrram atheism is part of the problem along with the accepted narrative among the western powers who also happen to be the ruling-class of most of our planet.
    It is time we truly challenged it (like we challenge anyone else) otherwise this is not a level-playing field.

    • That comment is way too long in my opinion. I would recommend you paste it into a properly laid out blog post so it is easier to read.

      • That comment takes roughly a minute to read. I appreciate the suggestion but that comment is nothing in length in comparison to other comments. It’s a religious theology blog therefore it’s nothing unusual. Thanks.

  6. This is no rebuttal of the atheist position, as atheism is not based purely on the problem of evil. That fact however is that we get the idea that the world should be free from injustice and pointless suffering from the hypothesis that there is an all-knowing, all-knowing, all-powerful God at the helm. Atheism is in no way undermined by the existence of suffering and injustice because its not positing the the world ought to be any other way.

  7. The concepts of good and evil were not part of my atheism at all. It was the fact that the outcomes of religion in general, never match up with the promises. As far as morality goes, I’ve always found the morality argument for a god to be the absolute weakest for the simple reason that we have hard evidence that this thing we call “morality,” which is really nothing but a formative sense of good (positive) and bad (negative) behaviour, is a product of neurological processing power. The more neurons, the more accute an organisms understanding of it. Countless studies, across numerous species, prove this beyond any rational doubt. It is not a human phenomena, and its anything but complicated. All species find this drive to equilibrium quite naturally. No Holy books needed.

    • Understanding the natural laws God created doesn’t negate the existence of God. That’s in case what you said is proven scientifically. We are more than biological and chemical machines.

      • That is just your theory. My theory has actual evidence across multiple species. We are born a blank slate. It’s no wonder each culture and region develops their own morality. Just as different whale pods do, and different birds and elephants. It’s a natural process. No god needed. If gods morality was superior to man’s, why all the drip-fed, late advances in equality. Mans laws always pave the way to a change in the churches. Not the other way around. Religion has opposed every equality, then gradually the people in the church force the change. There is no god involved.

    • Not sure what you try to say
      “is a product of neurological processing power. The more neurons, the more accute an organisms understanding of it.” VS “We are born a blank slate. It’s no wonder each culture and region develops their own morality” ??
      Are you saying it’s an internal factor or an external factor?

      “Mans laws always pave the way to a change in the churches”
      The problem with the western mind is that it makes the christianity the standard by which it judges other religions.
      David Mills says in his book (Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism)
      “On esoteric philosophical grounds, I hesitate to claim absolute proof of a god’s nonexistence, I will claim proof that the Bible is not the word of God because much of it has been shown by science to be false” pp.28-29.

      “It’s no wonder each culture and region develops their own morality.”
      If the western culture “developed” a culture in which it’s ok to marry your sister, would that be ok for you?

      Finally, you emphasized a lot about the notion of “equality”. However, equality doesn’t necessarily mean justice.

      • There is nothing tricky or misplaced in anything I’ve stated. Faith is the cognitive dissonance dream. Belief in supernatural powers that do not exist will not allow you to connect the dots, even simple ones like these. With all due respect Abdullah, the key to understanding this whole process is unbelief. I presented many of these same arguments as an apologist for years. When I realized there is no prayers answered, no miracles, the god of the Bible is praised as loving, but there is no love, not a bit of it meets objectivity, nothing but people helping, people hurting, no god, no devil, it’s all a huge hoax depending on which culture you were born to. If you can’t see that, you’ll stay in the closed system of faith without substance or reality.
        You are unable to speak or even think your own words (I was there as well) Faith is a trap, and only when you release that does your mind become your own, and true love for your fellow man emerges like a fresh and sunny day. The judging, the division among us, and the real you, the just and fair you can operate without bias. Total respect sir—Jim

      • I find your comment is loaded with emotions and unstable claims. May Allah guide you to His path and light.
        My advice for you to look for the truth out the box of Christianity and Atheism. Don’t squeeze yourself between the falsehood of atheism, and the falsehood of corrupted religions. Ask Allah (sw) the guidance. Islam will release your soul and heart from these falsehoods.

      • Thanks for the kind words. I actually believe in nothing. Everything I stated is beyond any reasonable doubt and verifiable by multiple sources and studies. Actual evidence of how the brain works and clings to mere belief in any field over actual knowledge. The human mind is a gullible thing, from birth to death surrounded by claims and stories of fable. The writers were pretty keen on this phenomenon. But today it’s all quite explainable, if one cares to peek outside his own little biases. All the best to you! Enjoy the journey.

      • I would like to add one thing. I have a pretty good feel for these things having been on both sides. Apologists rarely will address the issues of a comment, but rather analyze the speech—emotional, unstable, basically dismissive of very provable evidence from multiple disciplines. I know that all you have is a belief, so that’s ok, but your comments about me are very far from my personality. All I would ask in the future, is dispute my claims with evidence. I am happy to be corrected and often adjust my views if it makes sense. Holy books make no sense without the miles of professional explanations. Even the Islam websites invite you to be guided by a pro. Uh, no thanks. Bias of a nonsensical ancient text where forced conversion and coercion were the norm and still are in many cases, should raise caution in yourself as well as anyone else. No god would need to convince anyone of his existence. Period!

      • All what I’m saying that don’t limit yourself because of what you know about Christianity.

        “Enjoy the journey.”
        And I’m telling you the chance of to enjoy for eternity This life is so short.
        “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion. Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.” QT

      • Nonsense. That is all a fabrication. What do you know about the moon god and the pagan roots of Islam? That Al-lah predates Islam and the Quran. Pretty sure the data tells us al-lah is a name borrowed from paganism (faceless god?) and elevated by Muhammad (pbuh). What do you know about that? I read about that years ago in my looks at Islam.

      • Not sure why you cloud yourself with the most baseless accusation against Islam which is only used by fanatic fundamental christians. I told you already don’t limit your knowledge about this world by what you know about christianity. However, now I see that not only do you limit yourself by christianity, but also you use one of the most vapid argument against Islam made up by christians!
        Allah(sw) is not the moon god. However, Qur’an invites you to reflect upon these signs Allah( sw) has created which make our daily life possible.
        “And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to Allah, who created them, if it should be Him that you worship.” QT

        The nonsense is when you atheists tell me ” the universe is just an accident and there’s no reason for our existence, and it’s was not designed for our existence anyway we can see!..” Prof. Lawrence Krauss.

        It’s as if that Qur’an has just been revealed when I read these verses
        “And whoever turns away from My remembrance – indeed, he will have a depressed life, and We will gather him on the Day of Resurrection blind. He will say, “My Lord, why have you raised me blind while I was [once] seeing?” [ Allah ] will say, “Thus did Our signs come to you, and you forgot them; and thus will you this Day be forgotten.”

        Those who choose to blind themselves from seeing these signs which can easily fill their sight and hearing, they will be blind on the Day of Resurrection.

        May Allah (sw) guide you to His light.

      • And of His signs are the night and day and the sun and moon. Do not prostrate to the sun or to the moon, but prostate to Allah”. Of course this book is not to be doubted. Says so right in the book. There is no creator but natural processes It happens and for billions of years and beyond, no mention of any gods predate man or are any concern at all until man made up stories for what they didn’t understand. Well, the beginning is a complicated science but we’ll get there. Just like every other scientific discipline has replaced superstition, this will be explained and demonstrated as well. No supernatural explanation. Has ever replaced a natural one. Ever! This will be no different. Then we can finally place religion in a museum with all the other gods that have come and gone. Why is it that no god has ever been revealed twice? Always a different god? 1000s of them. Weird. Sounds like a human construct to any rationale.

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