Problems with Theism

First and foremost, to clear any potential misunderstanding; I do not count any of the following points as disproof of the existence of God, they do however outline the major problems that I have with accepting theism. Cumulatively they may provide an argument for atheism, but they do not necessarily disprove God, merely outline the major problems that I have with the concept.

 

1. The Problem of Insignificance

The diameter of the observable universe is 93 billion light years, there are 350 billion large galaxies in the visible universe – each containing around 100 billion stars. Theism requires one to believe that our tiny planet is the reason that all of this exists. In the face of those aforementioned figures Earth is so insignificant that it is is extremely difficult to accept that the remaining 99.999999 (etc.) % of the cosmos is just unnecessary fluff.

 

Furthermore, the universe consists of 75% dark energy, 25% dark matter, and the remaining less than 5% goes into making visible matter (stars, planets etc.), so in light of this the entire observable universe is just the thin layer of icing on the top, decreasing our significance even further.

 

How does one consolidate these facts with the theistic notion that our planet, and our species is the sole purpose of existence?

 

2. The Problem of Pointless Suffering

Malaria kills more than 3000 African children every day. This is but one example of the kind of pointless suffering that is rampant all over the world. Theism posits the existence of an all loving being, who is concerned for the welfare of living things. How do you console the notion of an all-loving God with thousands of needlessly suffering people all over the globe?

 

Some theists would argue that we cannot know the mind of God, so who are we to judge what he does and does not allow. Some even have the audacity to claim that this suffering occurs to pave the way for some future glory, or to prevent even worse things from happening in future. However this still doesn’t fit with the notion of an all-loving being. A loving parent does not subject their child to a painful injection without explaining the purpose of going through the pain, and reassuring them that their suffering is not ultimately pointless, what reassurance is given from God? And anyway, who is God to cause suffering in one person to ultimately relieve the suffering of another in future? This doesn’t seem like the behaviour of an omnibenevolent deity.

 

Let’s not forget that God can supposedly do anything, so why would he need to let others suffer to achieve some future goal? Surely that goal could be achieved without suffering?

 

I’ve heard it said that in certain places in Africa, by the age of 5 you’re either immune to malaria or you’re dead. How can one consolidate such horrendous and pointless suffering with the existence of an all-loving God? There is no reassurance, no comfort, what kind of loving being allows suffering without offering any explanation to the bereaved?

 

3. The Problem of a Hidden God

Theism posits the existence of a loving, all powerful God who wants our worship. This notion is contradicted by the fact that God does not let his existence be known to all in an inconspicuous manner. A booming voice from the sky, a simultaneous appearance to everyone in the world is within the bounds of what God can possibly do, why, if he desires our adoration, does he not do so and confirm his presence to all beings?

 

Why would he allow a state of affairs in which there is some considerable doubt as to whether or not he exists? Surely, as a loving being he does not want to punish disbelievers, so why does he not allow his presence to be known universally? The current state of affairs is not what you’d expect if an all-powerful, all-loving God exists, however it is precisely what you’d expect if God was not there.

 

4. The Problem of Disagreement

This problem is expounded well enough in my post ‘How Am I Supposed To Believe?’. In short; seeing as there are many different religions, with different sects all disagreeing with each other, what reason is there to suppose that one particular interpretation is correct whilst all others are false?

 

These are a few of the major reasons that I find it difficult to accept the central tenants of theism. We live in an insignificant planet, racked with pointless suffering, with no apparent sign of a God, and countless religions all disagreeing with one another whilst all claiming to be absolutely true. In light of these problems, theism makes no sense.

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2 Comments

Filed under Religion

2 responses to “Problems with Theism

  1. Dr. Bad Sign,

    Enjoyed your post (and your pen name). However, unless anyone can refute the argument I’ve formed recently on the problem of evil – that humans are better off than not living as mortals – then there is no problem of evil, or there never really was one. The world is imperfect because there’s no such thing as a perfect world.

    Remove all hazards from the world, and you take away any incentives for the behavior that shapes humankind on the most primal, fundamental level.

    If you care to, visit my web site and set me know what you think.

    • Doctor Bad Sign

      I think some things need to be clarified before I address your argument:

      1. Are you a Christian, or a different kind of theist? Please describe your beliefs

      2. Do you believe in an omnibenevolent, omnibeneficient God?

      3. Do you believe that God answers prayers?

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