Introduction to "God and Horrendous Suffering."

I'm finishing up my very last anthology on God and Horrendous Suffering. As always this takes a great deal of my time. Here's something from my introduction for your consideration:

 The goal of Part 1 A Prolegomena to Horrendous Suffering is to provide the reader with some background knowledge that can help assess the arguments in this anthology. No one approaches the issues in this book without having some previously held views, called background beliefs or background information, or just priors. They help readers evaluate what they’re reading. So believers don’t evaluate the problem of horrendous suffering in a vacuum either. They do so against their prior background beliefs, which are largely culturally indoctrinated ones. But only background knowledge counts, which is based on evidential reasoning. So in chapter 1 I’m providing a large dose of it by defending Hitchen’s Razor. When taken together with the chapters that follow I consider this anthology to be a refutation of Christianity, even though I’m aware that “refutation” is a very strong word. It’s not the central argument, or only argument in my case against Christianity. But it’s pretty damned powerful, an ironclad case if there is one, even though I realize there’s no silver bullet that can kill blind faith since cognitive biases are in near total control of the believing mind.

The goal of Part 2 Philosophical and Apologetical Problems, is to challenge apologists and philosophers on behalf of Orthodox Theism to admit that horrendous suffering renders it exceedingly improbable to the point of refutation for a perfectly good, all-knowing, all-powerful, omni-everything god to exist. Theists treat God just like Poseidon’s son Procrustes did to dead bodies. He amputated their limbs in order to force them into iron beds he had previously made. Theists are forcing their god into a Procrustean bed of their own making, divorced from prior conceptions of god behind a Veil of Ignorance (see chapter 2), and from unadulterated conceptions of god stemming from ontological arguments, and from honest conceptions of the god we find in an honest exegesis of the Bible. Instead, conceptions of their supposed omni-everything god are based on whatever can exonerate him from charges of incompetence, ignorance and indifference in light of the ever-present massive amount of horrendous suffering in this world. This must stop!

The goal in Part 3 Theological and Religious Problems, is to show the relationship of horrendous suffering to different theologies and religious faiths. We never find the orthodox theistic god in the abstract. That kind of philosopher’s god is the one extracted from a multiple number of religious faiths purely for discussion’s sake. It doesn’t exist except in the minds of a few people in the world, just as there is no such thing as “mere Christianity”, given the number of Christianities in the world. Only sect-specific theological gods exist, one’s that have a whole religion, or a complete theology as baggage. So they should be discussed within the context of their sect-specific religions, as is done here.

The goal of Part 4 Biblical, Historical and Personal Issues, is to demonstrate the horrendous nature of the Bible’s god, the horrendous actions of faith, and how these considerations can personally lead us away from religion. They provide the necessary backdrop for understanding the philosophical arguments, something lacking in almost every strictly philosophical discussion of the problems addressed in this book.