There’s a crappy Christian webcomic that I keep running into, which tends to utilize worn-out apologetics fallacies while failing to actually answer the questions. For example, I just saw this one in which he attempts to tackle the problem of evil, but instead ends up writing a bunch of nonsense that only adds to his problems.
Let’s rewrite the dialogue with an analogy to see how it holds up. Instead of god, we’re going to hypothesize the existence of omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard precious metals. The greatest desire of these dragons is to obtain all precious metals, and since they are omniscient and omnipotent it is impossible to hide any precious metal from them or stop them from taking it. In this analogy, the dragons represent the Christian god, precious metals represent evil, and the dragons’ obsession with obtaining all precious metals represents god’s obsession with destroying evil.
Adragonist: “One of the reasons I cannot believe in omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard precious metals is because of all the precious metals we have.”
Dragon Believer: “That statement is paradoxical. You say the dragons don’t exist because of precious metals, but to claim dragons don’t exist is to throw out any real basis for calling precious metals ‘precious’.”
Adragonist: “Do you ever go to jewelry stores? Do you see the jewelry people wear? How could those dragons really exist when precious metals like gold and platinum can be found all over the planet?”
Dragon Believer: “But dragons are the only possible source of objective preciousness. If there are no dragons then what we know as ‘preciousness’ is nothing but a biological adaptation aiding us in our struggle for survival. It has no foundation; it’s an entirely subjective product of evolution with no meaning whatsoever beyond storing wealth. If there are no dragons, there is no such thing as real preciousness, because there is no standard by which we can call any metal objectively precious. If we are just carbon blobs meandering through an accidental and utterly meaningless existence, then preciousness is just a set of opinions people impose on certain metals. So to say you don’t believe in dragons because of all the precious metals in the world, you’re using preciousness as a justification for adopting a worldview in which preciousness itself does not actually exist, and for rejecting the only worldview in which it can exist.”
Adragonist: “So all the precious metals on earth don’t make you question the existence of omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard all precious metals?”
Dragon Believer: “Quite the opposite. I believe that precious metals are actually, objectively precious. So I must believe in omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard precious metals because of all the precious metals we have.”
Where did the dragon believer go wrong? His argument utterly fails to address the problem–if omniscient and omnipotent dragons that obsessively hoard precious metals actually exist, they would have taken away all our precious metals. Instead, he dumps out a smelly bucket of red herring bullshit about the definition of ‘precious’, attempting to push off his own logical failure onto his challenger.
Whether you think good and evil are an objective standard (which is impossible) or an expression of how humans experience the world (which is precisely what they are), the fact still remains that evil is rampant and no god has stepped up to stop it. Which means one of the following statements must be true:
- God exists but is unable to stop evil
- God exists but is unwilling to stop evil
- God exists but has no knowledge of evil
- There is no god
If a god is knowledgeable of evil, and both able and willing to stop it, then there would be no evil. If he is unable to stop it, he is weak and deserves no respect. If he is unwilling, he is evil himself and deserves no respect. If he has no knowledge of it, he is ignorant and irrelevant. All of that is accurate even if there is a god and even if he defines good and evil. It is accurate whether evil is objective or subjective.
The argument in the comic is a common and tiresome attempt to sweep the problem of evil under the rug by playing a game of semantics. And even if you go along with the misdirection, it still fails because it appeals to the opinions or nature of a sentient being (god) as the foundation for good and evil. Which, as I’ve written before, is a totally subjective standard. In most cases it’s also a form of moral relativism, which I reject but many Christians inexplicably embrace.
So now he faces two problems: the problem of evil, and the problem of defining evil objectively. I’ve never seen a Christian present a logical solution to either.