Showing posts with label Problem of Suffering. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Problem of Suffering. Show all posts

God and Horrendous Suffering

This is a helpful post for readers deciding whether to get my anthology on god and horrendous suffering. It should be available by Halloween, Boo! Be kind. Please share. Link to it. Click on the Tag, Thank you!

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. 

First Few Blurbs For My Very Last Book!

Dr. Richard Carrier was probably the first scholar who recognized my work as important. He wrote blurbs for my books along with several chapters. I'll always be grateful to him. He's also the first person to recommend my last book, God and Horrendous Suffering:
Loftus has again produced a brilliant gallery of informed experts, now addressing the problem of evil from every angle, and with such power and depth that it shall be required reading for anyone promoting or opposing evil as a disproof of God.
-- Dr. Richard Carrier, author of Jesus from Outer Space and Sense and Goodness without God.
This volume contains many excellent, accessible essays on the problem of evil. If you want to get a sense of the scale of the problem, then this volume is a great place to start. John Loftus is exceptionally well qualified to produce such a book. Having followed his work for years - including his valuable Debunking Christianity blog - I know him to be not only a highly knowledgeable and careful thinker, but also someone who can bring philosophical issues and arguments to life. John tells me this is his last book, which is a shame. He is certainly finishing on a high note.
 -- From the Foreword by Dr. Stephen Law, author of Believing Bullshit.
If you still believe in God after reading this book, it’s a miracle. The arguments in it against faith are so strong, that no logical reading would allow faith to stand up to them. But then, faith isn’t logical.
-- Linda LaScola, co-author with Daniel C. Dennett of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind.
The most pressing challenge to belief in God today is undoubtedly the problem of pain. One only needs to read the provocative array of essays in this volume of leading atheists and other non-theists to see why this is such an ongoing problem for those of us who believe that God is real. Whatever one’s beliefs or worldview, and whether one agrees or disagrees, I commend all seekers of truth to read and reflect on this significant work that John Loftus has so skillfully edited.
-- Dr. Chad Meister, Professor of Philosophy at Bethel University and co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Problem of Evil.
Loftus’ previous book, The Case Against Miracles, is the final nail hammered into the coffin of magical, miraculous beliefs. This book on horrendous suffering should permanently inter that coffin, and with it morally absurd reasoning in defense of religious faith.
-- Dr. Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists, and co-author of How to Have Impossible Conversations.
As a Christian apologist, I can say that there is no intellectual objection to Christianity more daunting than the problem of horrendous suffering. In this important new book, John Loftus has gathered a diverse collection of voices that seek to build a comprehensive, multi-pronged critique of Christianity based on this most difficult problem. No Christian apologist can afford to ignore it.
-- Dr. Randal Rauser, Professor of Historical Theology, Taylor Seminary, and co-author of God or Godless.
I’m not sure there is anyone out there right now who articulates atheistic augments as well as John Loftus does, and this book on horrendous suffering is no exception. In it Loftus has done a great job in marshaling a stellar group of scholars in offering one of the best attempts at criticizing the Christian faith in a more comprehensive way with regard to the problem of evil. Believers who hold to a theistic perspective should seriously--and more deeply--study the alternative perspectives and questions that this anthology poses for theism. They should especially be more mindful of these kinds of criticisms when speaking with people who do not believe like we do that the Christian God is so good.
-- Dr. David Geisler, President Norm Geisler International Ministries, and Adjunct Professor, Southern Evangelical Seminary and Veritas International University.
For centuries upon centuries believers have wrestled with the existence of God given horrific suffering in this world. But the excuses they offer for God twist our moral sensibilities. They frame suffering as good, inexplicable, or inevitable, and absolve themselves of harms that they themselves inflict, or passively ignore. This book makes that impossible. In chapter after chapter, the excuses get shredded before a jury of rational jurors. As a result, God vanishes, leaving the blood-stained Church to face conviction alone.
-- Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt.
One of our oldest myths is the tragic story of Job. Faithful to God, who had blessed him with a wonderful life, Job tried to understand why so many disasters suddenly befell him. One after the other, increasingly horrific tragedies destroyed Job’s estates, his family, his health, his happiness. He cried out to God for an explanation. There was none. Job’s lament has echoed across the millennia but no answer has ever come back. In this ambitious anthology, John Loftus and his colleagues argue the response to Job’s lament can only be “God does not exist.”
-- Dr. Karl Giberson a Scholar-in-Residence in science and religion at Stonehill College and author of The Wonder of the Universe and Saving Darwin.
John Loftus has a voluminous back catalogue of superb counter-apologetics books. This latest one on suffering is equally powerful as well, clearly and decisively showing that belief in God should not coexist with the huge gamut of pain and suffering in the world. From the thorn of horrendous pain Loftus fashions a spear, piercing theism’s side from which certainty, belief and religious adherence should rationally gush forth. It presents ample evidence that classical theism is dead and buried, so in one hand, Loftus is holding a spear, and in the other, a spade.
-- Jonathan MS Pearce, publisher of Onus Books, and author of Not Seeing God: Atheism in the 21st Century, and Did God Create the Universe from Nothing?
In this book, Patterson’s chapter had me imagining myself as a default future human, not yet assigned a sex or race or even historical era, and then seeing how any God who made such an assignment wouldn't abide by my own innate sense of fairness. Loftus's chapter on Calvinism exposes the book of Job as an outrageous horror story in a way I didn't really appreciate until now. The clear-eyed explanations of the many writers Loftus has assembled would have forced me as a troubled Christian to confront some major issues with my faith. What a gift that would have been to bypass those difficult doubting years!
-- Ed Suominen, publisher of Tellectual Books and co-author of Evolving Out of Eden.
What’s the collective word for sage? An encyclopedia of sages? Whatever it is, John Loftus has corralled one to create his latest anthology. This book is a wide-ranging and insightful look at the problem of evil, which is as relevant (and unanswered) a problem for Christianity as it has ever been.
-- Bob Seidensticker, author of Cross Examined blog at

My Last Anthology: God and Horrendous Suffering


I just finished my own contributions for my last anthology, to be titled, God and Horrendous Suffering, to be published next year by Global Center for Religious Research. I'm done. It's time to enjoy life more. What a ride this has been! No more books. I've written all the books I want to write. I'm very grateful for my readers and your encouragement over the years. It has been very frustrating at times. But it has also been very rewarding knowing I made a difference to some degree. I'll still be here writing for my blog DC, Facebook, and Twitter, along with doing podcasts, speaking engagements, and debates, so no worries. I'm even thinking about doing some videos, we'll see. 

I didn't write a single chapter for Christianity in the Light of Science, and only one chapter for The End of ChristianityBut in this upcoming anthology I've written the Introduction plus five chapters! That's because I'm more of an expert on this problem than any other.

Today I finished my last chapter on Calvinism. I think it may be the best chapter I've ever written! Given God's pre-ordained decretive will he must agree. However, I might change my mind just to fuck with him. ;-) Below is the Table of Contents. It's an excellent model for how philosophers, apologists, and theologians should've been discussing this problem decades ago. If you place this upcoming anthology next to Christianity is Not Great, you'll have everything needed to understand why we think it's worthwhile to debunk Christianity, and religion in general. 

William Lane Craig On The Probability Version of Suffering

Magician Eric Chien

The video below on the probability version of suffering was written by William Lane Craig and produced by his staff at Reasonable Faith. The question is whether an omni-god exists or not. Don't allow Craig the magician to draw your eyes away from that question with the deception of misdirection. For Craig the magician cannot use the existence of an omni-god to solve the problem of suffering for the existence of an omni-god, since whether an omni-god exists is the issue. Nor can he use his unevidenced believing background indoctrinated information.

Furthermore, Christians like Craig are still focusing on the wrong problem. We keep hearing how they (i.e., Alvin Plantinga) have answered the logical problem of suffering, and it's nauseating (and probably false). But when they turn away from it to the probability version of suffering they don't answer the real problem. It's not just suffering we're talking about. The real problem is that the amount of horrific suffering in the world makes the existence of an omni-god improbable. <-- See the link then ask yourself if the video addressed the points made there. While the video gives lip service to the phrase "so much pointless suffering", it expresses the problem like this: "Suffering provides empirical evidence that God's existence is highly unlikely."

So there are two kinds of misdirection going on. Craig the magician 1) uses an omni-god, at least in part, to solve the question of the existence of an omni-god given the existence of so much horrible suffering, and he does so 2) with a strawman version of the real problem. If you don't see what's going on you're not paying close enough attention. With this magician's trick exposed for what it is, enjoy the show:

The Amount of Horrific Suffering Makes The Existence of God Improbable

Recently I participated in an online debate on an omni-god and suffering. My Catholic opponent mostly quoted from the Bible and Church fathers. Like so many others he had a strategy of nitpicking and using up my time in the cross-examination. Here are my opening and closing statements.

My 10 minute Opening Statement:

Believers will argue that not even a god could create a world without some minimal level of suffering in it. But what about the amount of horrific suffering that exists? That’s my focus.

Here’s the problem: If a god exists who is all-knowing, all-powerful and perfectly good, then the amount of horrific suffering in our world needs an explanation. Either this god isn’t smart enough to eliminate it, or isn’t powerful enough to eliminate it, or doesn’t care enough to eliminate it. The reason is that an all-knowing god would know how to eliminate it, an all-powerful god has the power to eliminate it, and a perfectly good god would want to eliminate it.

For the sake of argument what if such a god exists?