By David B. McCalmont
When people who believe in the existence of a kind, all-knowing, and all-powerful god are asked why such a god permits so much cruelty, torture, murder, and war on Earth, the usual answer is that god did not wish to create men and women who were automatons, that s/he wanted human beings to have free will. In exercise of that free will, believers argue, human beings often choose to be violent, cruel, and warlike. God could not prevent this, they say, without making human beings into automatons.
Not so. An all-knowing god would have known in advance that, if s/he created people like Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, or Jack the Ripper, these people would personally, or by inciting others, inflict injustice, violence, torture and death upon other human beings. To prevent this, god need only have refrained from creating these evil individuals. God had the power to do that without in any way preventing other human beings from exercising their free will.
You and I do not feel that we have been made into automatons because our federal and state governments forbid us to murder, rape, or maim other people, or steal or destroy their property. On the contrary, we still have plenty of leeway for exercise of our free will. Similarly, human beings would not have been turned into automatons if the alleged god had placed the same kind of reasonable limits upon their exercise of free will.
Consider also the terrible suffering which is inflicted upon human beings by hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and drought. These painful calamities are obviously not caused by our exercise of free will. Yet, the alleged kind, all-knowing, and all- powerful god permits them to occur. This is an additional reason why the asserted need to give human beings free will cannot serve as an excuse for the pain and suffering endured by millions of people in this unhappy world.
Sometimes the people killed or maimed by an accident or natural disaster turn out to have been criminals. When this happens, believers happily proclaim that their misfortune was arranged by god as a punishment — even though millions of other evil-doers escape such godly retribution.
On the other hand, if some of the victims turn out to have been persons of admirable character, believers then assert that they died because they were SO good that god desired their company up in Heaven!
By this mental legerdemain, believers can cling to their precarious faith. But people with common sense are not impressed.
NOTE: It has also been of great interest to me that those who experience a close call in a catastrophe, the survivors of plane crashes, etc., are the source of great praise to the almighty when those who perish in these same disasters do not evoke any blame to this same deity.