The Deplorable God Scandal and the Divine Lost Cause
Part 1. How the Megadisasters of the Innocents Disprove the Existence of a Benign and Moral Creator, a Decency and Science-Based Analysis
Independent researcher, Baltimore, MD
Abstract: Although experiencing historical declines, belief in and worship of a speculative creator of earth and the universe continues to be practiced by a majority of humans despite the continuing lack of quality evidence that the entity either exists, or is moral and loving. Although science has severely degraded the possibility of the existence of a creator, it cannot firmly disprove its existence. Scientific statistical analysis was used to disprove the existence of a benign creator based on the overwhelming evidence in a study that was the first to reveal The Holocaust of the Children. The death toll due to nonhuman causes of the preborn has been a few hundred billion, as well as some 50 billion children, aborting their attainment of mature free will. Persistently ignored by theologians who are unable to deal with the fatal problem, the premature death of immature humans is too vast for a supernatural designer to be caring and moral, all the more so because the awful fact clearly aborts the Free-Will theodicy that has been the primary defense of the existence of a loving God. This skeptotheodicy study also considers the Brutalization of the Animals, in which the merciless suffering of trillions of creatures further refutes The Good God Hypothesis.
Keywords: science, atheism, religion, theodicy, atheodicy, morality, evil, juvenile mortality, suffering, evolution, creationism, god.
The human being is a machine. An automatic machine. It is composed of thousands of complex and delicate mechanisms, which perform their functions harmoniously…. For each one of these thousands of mechanisms the Creator has planned an enemy whose job it is to harass it, pester it, persecute it, damage it, afflict it with pains, and miseries, and ultimate destruction. Not one has been overlooked…. It is the Creator’s Grand Army, and he is the Commander-in-Chief. Along its battlefront its grisly banners wave their legends in the face of the sun: Disaster, Diseases and the rest…. It is wonderful the thorough and comprehensive study which the Creator devoted to the great work of making man miserable…. All of the Creator’s specially deadly disease-producers are invisible. It is an ingenious idea. For thousands of years it kept man from getting to the root of his maladies, and defeated his attempts to master them. It is only recently that science has succeeded in exposing some of these treacheries. (Mark Twain 1962 Letters from the Earth)
Here’s a question for you the reader. How many children have died while still kids since the evolution of Homo sapiens?
Chances are near certain that you have no idea, do you? Which is a very strange thing when one considers it. Should that not be a core figure involving the human experience all persons know, like how 6 million died in the Jewish Holocaust?
The answer is, of course, yes. The children’s death toll should be known, appreciated and most of all honored by all. Much as most should know that around 100 billion people have been born so far, another basic figure about humanity that a few do know. But there is another reason of critical import that the mass loss of young humans, as well as the even bigger accidental termination of the preborn, should be common knowledge.
The massive death of humans before they reach adulthood is a hard disproof of what remains one of the most widely held opinions and mythos of humanity, that a good divine creator with a great purpose for humanity exists. It is the statistics based scientific refutation that is upon consideration patently obvious, but for various reasons has gone astonishingly and scandalously ignored for millennia not only by theists who must immorally suppress wide knowledge of the most terrible tragedy of human history, as well as a global population who has been callously and conveniently negligent, but also by atheists who have been oddly slack in missing their best and most powerful antitheism argument. Also needing consideration is another example of mass premature death of humans that although fairly widely known has been largely neglected concerning how it too severely damages the thesis that God is good and just. The accidental elimination of most of the human population of the western hemisphere in the wake of contact with disease laden Europeans. Further piling on the evidence that if a creator power exists it is not moral is another factor that although not as overlooked, has been underappreciated in various respects, the massive miseries of another set of innocents, animals – in this analysis innocents are beings that have the mental capacity to experience some degree of serious suffering, but lack sufficient mature high order mental capacity to be morally responsible for their actions; among humans all juveniles and long term gravely mentally ill adults are innocents, as are all animals. No mode of creation by an divine designer — whether it be the Special Creation proposed by fundamentalists, the Intelligent Design Theory of those who accept descent of species over deep time but not evolution by natural selection, the Evolutionary Creationism by theists (including deists) who accept Darwinian theory over deep time, or nondivine creators using some form of physics technology to create neo-universes either intentionally or by accident – provides an escape from the fact of the nonexistence of a loving and ethical creator of the planet.
The vast anguish of the innocent humans and creatures does not merely show that any intelligent creator if one exists cannot be benign, it means that if a sentient designer power did deliberately create our child and animal dispatching planet with a goal in mind does exist, then it is extremely unlikely if not impossible for it to not be gravely immoral and cruel. The disproof of a moral and loving creator in favor of an amoral or immoral God not only means that believers of such a deity are factually mistaken. It automatically follows that active worship of an nonmoral or evil creator is itself gravely immoral on multiple grounds. As a result it is not possible for theism organized or otherwise to provide a sound basis for running successful societies, a practical reality proven by negative correlations between higher levels of religious belief and practice and overall socioeconomic conditions in national societies.
Although atheists – as broadly defined as those who are not theists, including most agnostics (as per Paul 2018a) – are not automatically guilty of serious immoral beliefs relating to the nature of creation by amoral natural means, they have been prone to playing up the positive side of biological evolution while not giving due consideration to its grave dark side, which is broadly parallel to the bad aspects of war.
The basic statistical data and scientific and moral analysis proving the scale of the death toll of the immature, and how it and related factors such as the fate of immature souls abjectly falsify the existence of a moral loving God, was presented in Paul (2007/9) in Philosophy and Theology. That ground breaking novel study was the first in human history to publish estimates of the number of preborn and children who have died to date to the best of my well founded knowledge to date. Paul (2012) added some items to the discussion. Although these new papers repeat and add to some of the P&T work and can be read independently, it is suggested that readers first familiarize themselves with that original study which includes items not detailed here, including a substantial set of references including pertinent theological work, This work goes into major areas not discussed in the 2007/9 piece, especially in Part 2 which includes an extensive discussion of how the Megadisasters of the Innocents eliminates the moral and social credibility of God worship, and what needs to be done in view of that hard fact. In order to avoid the compartmentalization that typically afflicts theology, this is a broad, holistic effort to examine the biggest problem of theism from as many aspects as is viable, which is why the analysis is of considerable length.
Why the Moral Nature of the Creator is the Most Important Point
Over human history tremendous and perhaps inordinate attention has been and is constantly directed at what is not entirely possible to disprove, the simple yes/no existence of a supernatural creator. Although the question is an important item, it is not the critical one. Think about it. Assume there actually is a transcendent entity of sufficient supernatural abilities that it created the universe we dwell in, or at least the planet we live on. Further assume that the creator deity is outright evil, its intent to diabolically torment humanity, a possibility that is at least as reasonable as is the vastly more popular premise that God is Good (as explained by Law 2010). Also assume that that depraved nature of the being has been clearly established by one means or another. Would then a major chunk of humanity spend lots of time and resources ardently worshipping such a cruel beast? Considering how the worship of even the alleged benign deities is fast crashing in many nations (Barrett et al. 2001, Paul 2018a), one can be confident that an evil God would not have much in the way of a dedicated human fan base.
So what is the core reason that billions have long been dedicated to the problematic folk hypothesis that there is creator God to the point of devoutly worshipping, praising and thanking – often at considerable effort and expense — a deity? Despite it being no more substantiated than other speculative paranormal entities such as ghosts, or aliens who have contributed in some manner to the existence of humanity. It is not the belief in the mere existence of a creator that inspires such. It is because believers also presume and ardently hope that the being is in the end more good than wicked in its nature and intentions.
By good, it is not only meant that the deity is morally better than it is not, but that it will be good to those in worship it in exchange for their devotion. In other words, good news religions such as Christianity and Islam are in essence transactional deals that are win-wins for both the God and its properly devoted adherents.
Because there are a vast array of potential universe/planet creators ranging from countless proposed supernatural deities to secular extraterrestrials or extrauniversals, it is not possible to consider what the nature induced Megadisasters of the Innocents tell us about the morality of all examples of such a being or beings. This analysis concentrates on the most popular broad religion across the globe, Abrahamism, which is supernaturalistic monotheism centered on a conscious transcendent creator with a purpose for at least part of humanity it devised. The primary focus is Christianity because it has the most adherents, most contends that all human souls must participate in a free-will test to see if they will be suitable inhabitants of the heavenly paradise, goes the farthest to argue that God is perfect in all His ways and absolute morals and enjoys total power, and has produced the largest body of apologetics to try to explain how the latter squares with the grievous situation on our planet. In extremely heretical by Christian norms Mormonism, the God of our planet is not the creator of the universe, being an exalted human that earlier dwelled on another planet. Islam too involves a post death paradise that only those who meet key criteria can enter, but the moral perfection of God is not as strongly emphasize. Judaism does not always propose that the creator is all powerful or perfect, and is a fairly exclusive that faith does not claim that all humanity is involved in a free will test for a Judaic heaven that may not exist. Some other creator hypotheses are considered when pertinent.
Using Statistical Science Based Skeptotheodicy to Test the Good Creator Hypothesis
It is often said that scientific research always presumes that what it investigates is natural in origin and stable in characteristics, rather than arbitrarily magical, so science cannot investigate matters capriciously supernatural – this was expressed by Gould (1997) as Non-Overlapping Magisteria (also see Anonymous 2019). The supernatural is a subset of the paranormal. Scientific methodology, which is a form of detective work, is commonly used to examine and rate the reality of items paranormal from ghosts to mysterious monsters to aliens to psychic powers to astrology, as well things religious. Specific to creation, the early geologists and paleontologists investigating rocks and fossils in the late 1700s going into the early 1800s expected to verify the accounts in Genesis. And if scientific research showed that sediments had indeed been deposited in a great flood, dating methods did not find any objects over a few thousand years old, no evolutionary progression was found in the fossil record, organisms proved to be not genetically related to one another, and so forth, then science would verify the reality of the Biblical creator God. Instead, the data to the contrary directly disproved that supernatural story in favor of natural events that no one had predicted. Although science cannot solve all questions paranormal, neither is it automatically limited to investigating the natural universe — if there actually are things supernatural working within our cosmos there is a very good possibility it can be scientifically detected and a lot about its nature discerned.
When they rest upon properly conducted research and analysis scientific conclusions are not mere opinions, they are expressions of reality that are close to or are the truth – such as earth being a billions years old sphere orbiting the sun of the same age, and mammals and birds being high metabolic rate endotherms compared to low metabolism ectothermic reptiles. Supernaturalist theists are prone to high hypocritical inconsistency when it comes to science – when convenient they deny that the existence and nature of their speculative God is a scientific question, when convenient they try to use science to their advantage (Anonymous 2019 being an example).
Some try to wave away the seeming contradiction of a perfect God with a seriously imperfect earth with the line that He works in mysterious ways that mere mortal humans cannot comprehend, and that the perfect God/s morality is different from and superior to that of the inferiors He invented (Craig undated is an example). This is no better than the opinion that we terrestrials lack the mental savvy to understand the clever motives of superior extraterrestrials who have been visiting earth for decades or longer, yet do not do the seemingly sensible thing by at long last clearing matters up by announcing and displaying their presence. Because the Dumb Humans Hypothesis is a not very convincing, blazingly ad-hoc evasion of the problem rather than an actual, reasoned explanation, and the actions of the moral creator are supposed to be based on supreme logic, theologians spend large amounts of time — generally paid in some manner by the religious complex which includes major colleges — to provide at least the appearance of more plausible explanations for the great conundrum.
Theodicy is that formal, intellectual, grand long term effort to try to reconcile how a notional perfect all powerful creator could have at least created and is in some way involved in the disarray that is earthly affairs. Theodicy is a form of speculative, faith-based apologetics whose practitioners are usually if not always believers heavily invested for personal reasons — including hoped for access to a post death paradise – in openly conspiring to produce stories that at least appear to resolve problems that challenge the moral plausibility of the brand of supernaturalistic faith they themselves and others are dedicated to. Theodicy is therefore, like the theism it is a subset of, a very highly biased ideological propaganda effort that starts with the rock hard preconception that the creator is the very best, and cannot reject that core faith-based belief no matter how much the evidence indicates otherwise — affirming the Good God Hypothesis that billions believe in and the need to be a loyal worshipper is the job at hand. In order to achieve that goal, theodistic arguments are prone to be ad hoc rather than rigorous and broadly logical, and highly compartmentalized to evade the many resulting internal contradictions as much as possible. This does not mean that theodicy is as rigidly conformist as say Biblical creationism, practitioners often vigorously disagree with one another’s analyses. But theodicy does have the air of being a series of extemporaneous propositions thrown out there in the hope that one or some of them will stick well enough to get the theomarketing job done. And while often not simplistic in contents, the intricate arguments that are often proffered often come across as convoluted because they are trying to cope with irresolvable problems. So ideology founded on faith is driving the analysis and conclusions, and in turn the resulting evangelical advocacy. Being such unsubstantiated, biased opinion, theodicy like all other matters paranormal cannot be objective truth unless by coincidence. Practiced most extensively by Christian theologians who have produced a vast literature on the subject, that the large scale theodicy project is still underway indicates that they have so far not yet succeeded in clinching their position.
Skeptotheodicy is the facts and science-based effort — conducted by rationalists who are skeptic of dogma, most of whom are nontheists including agnostics, as well as some theists — that uses im/perfections found within the universe to test the validity of the very good if not perfect deity hypothesis. I have coined the term skeptotheodicy rather than using the older atheodicy, in part because the latter has acquired inconsistent multiple meanings. That skeptotheodicy is much less well financially supported than theodicy is unfortunate because done properly, skeptotheodicy is a pragmatic, objective, rigorous, and rational effort to determine as much as is possible the actual evidence — rather than an ideology with a preconceived conclusion that must be verified — and from there logically go where the data takes us concerning the moral nature of a creator in case one exists. Compartmentalization is avoided in favor of holistic analysis in order keep internal contradictions to a minimum if not eliminate them. It is neither presumed from the get-go that a creator is bad or is good, the whole point of the process is to find out which is most true. Such objectivity is possible because not being deeply invested in the fates of their souls they typically doubt they have, skeptotheodists are free to come to whatever conclusions are warranted. It follows that the process is not ideology driven, and the results are not automatically biased propaganda; if the abundance of evidence indicates or proves that an intelligent creator if such exists exhibits high morality then that is the way it is, if it shows the opposite then that is the objective reality. The degree to which either possibility is true depends on the amount of evidence and how much it skews one way or the other. So while the process is neutral, the empirical results will not necessarily be so. If the results determined as objectively as possible compellingly favor one conclusion at the expense of the others, then skeptotheodists — like scientists in other areas of research – are free to strongly support and present those fact-based conclusions, and from there issue criticisms as strong as are appropriate, and advocate policies. Such will be done herein, especially in Part 2.
Science is highly dependent upon statistics, and the latter is a potent and necessary tool for assessing competence and morality. For example, a democratically elected national leader whose policies whether through strong need or minor error lead to the deaths of a modest number of persons, must be ranked as more moral and competent than a dictator whose cruelly inefficient polices lead to the deaths of millions of persons. That during the Covid-19 crisis the first world United States with less than a twentieth of the population has suffered between a fifth and a fourth of the global casualties, and that this was because the response has been in many regards slack, indicates that the moral status and competence of the administration is below normal and required standards. On the other hand that the American death and infection rate have been well below those predicted by epidemiological extrapolations if no steps had been taken, and in part that was because there was a period of significant action by the federal executive branch, means that the administration has not been totally incompetent or immoral.
Both theodicy and skeptotheodicy usually focus on the seriously dysfunctional consequences from ill-advised to evil human actions from genocide down to poverty to individual abuse. Although the results of human mistakes are very important, skeptotheodistic efforts to deploy them against the goodness of God do not upset many Christians because they readily resort to their go-to Free Will and Best of All Possible Worlds and related theodicies (Hick 1966, Plantinga 1977, 2001, 2015, Dembski 2001, Polkinghorne 1998, 2009, 2019, Swinburne 1998, 2013, 2019, Chartier 2006, Van Inwagen 2006, Behe 2007, Craig undated, 2012, Oord 2015, Aguti 2017, Haught 2017, Miller 2018, Watson 2019, additional refs in Paul 2007/9). In these closely related hypotheses the creator is an absolute autocratic whose wise authority must not be challenged by the flawed human property he created, but the beneficent deity gives people the great gift of a limited but important choice regarding their eternal supernatural life. The option is so sacrosanct that it cannot be overly interfered with. Ergo the prefect creator cannot, even though it has the power to easily do so, interfere too much if at all with even the most heinous human actions, or the most devastating natural events, lest it disrupt the free will that every single human absolutely must enjoy if they are to make a deliberate decision about whether or not to join their divine creator in the post earthly paradise. The two hypotheses can be joined into the Free Will Hypothesis (FWH).
The widely popular notion that the purposeful God wants people to make a choice about their eternal fate rests partly upon the thesis described by Polkinghorne (1998) that the “suffering of the world is such that we might be tempted to think that less freedom would be a worthwhile cost to pay for less pain. But do we really wish we had been automata?” – note that the theologian is invoking a de facto cost/benefit ratio in order to assess the goodness of God. In addition to the creator not wanting his exquisite paradise being contaminated by a single robotic worshipper who did not decide to be there, Soul-Making Theodicy posits that humans also need to conduct a degree of earthly prep work for their improving souls to enter the flawless utopia (Hick 1966; Swinburne 1998; Chartier 2006; Craig undaed), and that mortal suffering is important to said souls understanding how much better existence is in heaven than on earth. In order to maximize human free will, the creator set up the universe to run on as a natural system via preset physical laws that the creator does not fiddle with ever or at most rarely, rather than the creator running everything via his magical supernatural will and thereby aborting much or all human choice (as per Hick 1966, Swinburne 1998, Van Inwagen 2006, Oord 2015, Watson 2019). As a result bad things outside human activities occur, i.e. Natural Evil. Ergo, as much as the biosphere we live on may often be horrific, it cannot be improved upon without endangering the sound and righteous aims of the perfect creator, so it’s a good as it can be while being completely compatible with the flawless God’s ultimate and perfect utopia project. In part because the expression of divine free will is so critical, adherents to the hypothesis are prone to believe that the supernatural designer is “pro-life” when it comes to humans especially those that because of youth or mental disability have not committed individual sins, and strongly opposes murder of those who have been born, with many but by no means all contending that the deity is equally antiabortion.
The belief that people have the free will that is critical to those religions that demand adherents choose for one reason or another to worship deities, is unverified and highly controversial among nontheist scientists and philosophers (as per Dennett versus Caruso 2018). For the purposes of this analysis it is assumed that sufficient adult human free will exists to meet the needs of the divine scheme as outlined by the FWH. It is further presumed, in general accord with religious tenets, that the mature free will needed to make a vital choice about one’s eternal fate is present only among sufficiently mentally capable adults that also have on hand enough knowledge about the theological requirements to achieve an optimal afterlife, those obviously being needed to make a well informed decision that meets the creator’s presumably high standards. Ambiguous.is the level of maturity needed to make a conclusive free will choice about where to go after earthly death. Any reasonable person will concur that the preborn and infants lack the capacity – they will not even have knowledge of a savior, and even if they have some dim notion cannot make a responsible decision — while a teen may have it, but where is the dividing line? Coming of Age rituals of confirmation, first communion, post infancy baptism and equivalent acts considered to mark sufficient spiritual maturity occur from age 7 to 15 in different sects. The lower end of the range is very dubious when it comes to mental maturity. But whether adequate free will is in preteens or teens is not critical to this analysis because the great majority of childhood death occurs among infants and very young children (Volk & Atkinson 2013) that few if any contend possess enough mental ability and choice to make critical religious decisions, and the calculated demographic figures are broad enough to not be greatly impacted by the actual age at which humans acquire mature free will if they ever do.
It is presumed for the sake of discussion that the divine heavens posited by various faiths, which differ significantly, are good places for all to get to (a notion Twain 1962 deconstructs). Not considered are specific doctrinal modes for doing so, such as privately being born again versus carefully following the instructions of a clergy.
Being strongly oriented towards the lives and fates of the human souls that believe in them, most religions direct far less attention to the lives of what most (but not all) theodists see as soulless creatures which when dead are sincerely dead, and none contends that their limited capacity brains face a critical free will test. That does not mean that no theodicy has been directed towards to nonhuman animals, although it has been on a reduced scale. The effort is necessary because there are serious concerns that the creator’s creatures great and small often experience serious levels of suffering due to deliberate mistreatment as well as the downsides of the natural world, which need to be justified as acceptable in view of God’s utopia project for people. There is no grand unified explanation comparable to Free Will theory, the hypotheses tend to be limited ad-hoc arguments that contend the limited mental capacities of soulless of animals means they do not suffer to a degree that challenges the goodness of God, that what natural afflictions they do experience is a practical necessity in the context of the wise designer’s wise Balance of Nature, and that the level of animal discomfort is acceptable in view of the immense glory that human souls can enjoy in their eternal lives.
Closely tied to FWH theodicy, and the efforts to explain animal suffering, is the Universe is Fine-Tuned for Life Including Intelligent Hypothesis (as per Craig undated, Giberson & Collins 2011, Anonymous 2019). This proposes that the physics of the known cosmos are set up in a very precise, delicate manner that has to exist for the presence of living organisms including those with high cognition. This concept is popular among both many nontheists and especially theists, but has been disputed (Rosaler 2018). In the view of many theists the opinion that the universe is meticulously set up for the appearance of living organisms including humans is further compelling evidence that it is was in some means or other constructed by The Creator to be the best of all possible worlds. Pertinent to the discussion herein is that cosmic fine tuning is fully true only if the universe in its entirety is a well running machine that readily produces high quality conditions for intelligent beings.
According to free will theodicy even the most horrendous human actions, such as the severe abuse, torture, rape and murder including of children as well as animals, sometimes in multitudes, is morally in line with the perfect divine utopia scheme. Although based on convoluted reasoning that is extremely problematic, it is difficult to entirely refute that the Moral Evil committed by minds with at least as much sentience as humans is in accord with a creator of great goodness, much as the exceedingly remote possibility that extraterrestrials cleared the way for the appearance of humans by causing the extinction of dinosaurs (an increasingly popular speculation I have been queried about by believers in ancient aliens) is improbable but never fully disprovable. What can be definitive when determining the morality of a cognitive creator are the other source of mass suffering that are not the result of adult humans knowingly doing the wrong thing, that being the unceasing misery and premature death not caused by intentional human action, or in most cases humans at all.
To assess the nature and severity of the mass agony that cannot be blamed on human action requires statistical analysis in order to establish the scale of the premature death of humans by natural causes over geological, historical and current times. The data necessary to do so to the gross accuracy needed to test and either support or disprove the moral condition of a creator power is on hand and not difficult to calculate – all results do have substantial plus/minor errors. The statistical results are then combined with some straightforward, common sense scientific analysis and basic decency to arrive at the conclusions as to the moral nature of creation and any entities that may be responsible. Those conclusions are then applied to the morality of seeking boons from said divine creator power. In doing so some core presumptions of what theists, Christians especially, think are of high importance are tested, even if nontheists may not agree with or see their relevance. Note that theists cite statistics from casually to exhaustive when then feel it serves their purposes, as per Hick (1966), Barrett et al. (2001).
The basic objective means of evaluating the morality of a project is to conduct a cost/benefit ratio analysis, as has been the tacit practice of theodists. A super mind that enjoys tremendous power is not obligated to create any, much less all possible, other entities, so if such failed to create humanity that would not be immoral — after all none would aware of their nonexistence and therefore would not suffer from their own absence. Ergo the nonexistence of humanity is by no means the worst case scenario. If the super intelligent creator entity does choose to create lesser minds vulnerable to considerable suffering for any reason, then it automatically is the moral responsibility and duty of the former to do as well as it possibly can for the latter, those who are the most innocent requiring the greatest protection. In particular, it is a core human right of all children that they receive the maximal protection of their comfort, safety and lives that is practical relative to the level of care that the top entity is able to provide, failure to do so is a criminal level act. That is common decency if nothing else. The worst case scenarios come into play when lesser beings are created and, far from the suffering and early death being kept to a bare practical minimum, a very large fraction or majority is instead subjected to severely adverse events. The most unacceptable situation is for the suffering of innocents to be at such an extreme level that an even higher rank of such will result in extinction of the species — the extinction would at least terminate the egregious mass agony of the innocents. With varying levels of ethics and aptitude possible the assessment is not a simplistic either or situation in which one the one hand only perfection in creation avoids grave immorality and incompetence by the designer, or on the other hand only the worst possible circumstances negate the perfection and ultra-goodness of the entity. Gradation is obviously operative, the higher the pain and the less the gain for the innocents the less the ethical status of the creator is.
Based on the above principles, the grading system is as follows.
Morality level A creator — A complete absence of juvenile mortality constitutes evidence extraordinaire that a great intelligence using tremendous powers to protect them must exist, and is extremely concerned about ensuring youngsters’ comfort, safety, lives and adult free will, and is therefore absolutely prolife. The FWH is fully verified. Zero cost and maximum gain for lesser creatures means that a creator’s level of competence, morality and love must be very high if not perfect.
Morality level B or C creator — A remarkably or atypically low juvenile mortality rate below that expected from natural conditions is strong but not absolute evidence that a creator intelligence using supernatural powers to afford them considerable but not total protection exists, is very but not entirely concerned about ensuring youngsters’ comfort, safety, and lives, and is moderately but not completely prolife. The FWH is refuted. The creator’s level of competence, morality and love could be substantial albeit not perfect, but the possibility that the creator is amoral or immoral and is playing humanity in some manner cannot be ruled out. The more suffering and death extant the lower the rating.
Morality level D or F creator — A juvenile mortality rate that is high in accord with normal biological levels indicates that our universe is very probably entirely natural in origin. If a creator intelligence exists it is not using its considerable powers to protect immature humans, and possesses little or no concern about ensuring youngster’s comfort, safety, lives and adult free will, and is not prolife. The FWH is refuted. The creator is incompetent and immoral, very possibly outright evil, using the good things that occur to make the population more aware of how bad the dark side of its creation is, and to fool the population who wants the promised rewards. So the more extreme the suffering and death extant the lower the rating, with F applying if the mortality level is close to or at the worst level without causing extinction.
The Holocaust of the Children
There are those who contend that the well-being of animals, especially those with at least fairly substantial brains, is as important as that of humans. Whether or not this premise is sound, most humans disagree, especially most theists, most so Abrahamists who frequently cite allegedly divine scripture as ordaining the greater importance and dominance of people over creatures. So to begin the statistical analysis we shall start with the death toll and related suffering of immature H. sapiens not due to human causes.
Few know that somewhere in the area of 100 billion people have been born according to all professional demographic efforts to calculate the number – Kapitza (1996) cites estimates from 80-150 billion, the periodically updated calculation in the approximate middle of that range by Haub (& Kaneda 1995-2010) is the rounded value used herein (and by Clarke 1968, which is where I first became aware of the total population of the species) — around 10 billion were born in the 1900s alone, vast billions in the many centuries and millennia before then, note half before 1 CE. Intelligent Design creationist mathematician Dembski therefore made a major arithmetic faux pas when he guesstimated that the total number born has been 10 billion in 2003.
While a number of calculations have been made regarding the number of people born, what is shameful to the point of scandalous global indifference is that until this researcher did so in the P&T paper in 2009, no one else had bothered to produce the other basic aspect of humanity, the premature death toll.
The calculations are straightforward. It is known that something like three quarters of conceptions fail to come to term, with a large majority of zygotes dying before or shortly after implanting (Paul 2007/9 and refs therein, Orzack et al. 2015, pers. comm.) This enormous loss is due to the human reproductive system being very unreliable due to host of imperfections including very common crippling genetic errors. With approximately 100 billion born, that means somewhere in the area of 400+ billion preborn have died from natural causes (the range being 300 to 600 billion). A mother’s womb is not a safe refuge for the preborn; it’s usually a death trap. Fortunately for the preborn most spontaneously abort long before any neurons are present, and even later miscarriages usually involve limited suffering because of the very limited cognitive awareness of fetuses.
Abundant data indicates that until the mid-1800s juvenile mortality rates were around 50%, as can be witnessed by checking out the numerous infant and children gravestones in cemeteries from that era (Paul 2007/9 and refs therein; Volk & Atkinson 2013); one of my great grandmothers lost 5 out of 12 offspring, the Lincolns lost 3 of 4. Ergo, the number of children who have died as kids may be a staggering 50 billion (approximately, within a plausible range of 40 to 75 billion). The vast majority have been liquidated by a copious and vicious array of deadly viral, bacterial and parasitical infectious diseases that contaminate every habitable part of the planet. Two microbes, the malaria parasite and the smallpox virus, are probably the greatest kid killers, having dispatched tens of billions. Children would not have been subjected to such horrendous Law of the Jungle circumstances had they been equipped with effective immune systems. But lacking such they died at extreme rates until dedicated, caring humans inventing and using hard earned modern science and technology, developed effective medicines and practices to suppress juvenile mortality to a few percent globally, and below one percent in the developed democracies. Interestingly and sadly, after first detecting microbes in the 1600s with microscopes, microbiology failed to properly consider the rather obvious possibility that bacteria were an important cause of premature deaths despite contentions by a few otherwise, the ancient diseases theories remaining in force until the advent of germ theory starting in the mid-1800s. The ensuing medical revolution achieved via sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics was largely in place by the mid-1900s. However, the planetary daily death rate of children remains dreadfully and unnecessarily high at around 15,000 according to the World Health Organization. That is about the same level as it has been for millennia – even though the death rate is now drastically lower, the absolute number of children is correspondingly higher. Add to the deadly microbial illnesses other diseases due to erstwhile causes, birth defects, malnutrition which often contributes to youthful death by disease, accidents, predation, and periodic natural disasters, although the casualties due to these causes are a small fraction of those due to microscopic organisms.
Adding to the horror is that most post-born children are mentally conscious as the diseases, malnutrition, injury and some other factors that render them gravely ill or dead are tormenting them over extended periods of time, so most childhood mortality is death by slow torture. Many quicker child killers are terrifying and agonizing for briefer periods. The persistent fear of severe illness and other adverse events in young humans generates considerable chronic stress for them and their caretakers, and among the latter and other relations and friends terrible grief when their charges die — humanity has consequently been living in a perpetual state of terror, ranging from nagging up to horrific when mass excess mortalities occur. The Holocaust of the Children is therefore easily the most extreme form of child abuse.
To calculate, out of the around 400 billion conceived and around 100 billion born to date, only a mere 50 billion (approx.), or around 15%, have made it to adulthood, in many cases barely, with a significant portion of the adults too mentally damaged to process information properly – humans that have died from old age are in the region of just ten or twenty billion. It follows that around 350 billion conceptions have been denied, whatever free-will humans have, due to mortality not resulting from deliberate human action.
As observed by Twain (1962), there is no evidence that any creator has ever deigned to do anything to alleviate the massive anguish and death of human youth, there is no evidence that rates of youth mortality declined during or after the earthly life of the allegedly kinder Christian end of the Judeo-Christian God, and modern technical studies show that remote prayer does not reduce mortality rates (Paul 2008 and refs therein, it appears that such studies have since been abandoned because of the lack of positive results and ethical issues). Although most but not all of the 15,000 youths who will die the day you read this could be saved by human effort at least in principle, the designer does not make any effort to stop it despite having the power to prevent any juvenile deaths according to standard Christo-Islamic doctrine. Human induced causes of deaths of immature humans – artificial abortion, infanticide, other child murder, war – are a small fraction of those produced by nonhuman causes (Paul 2007/9, 2012). The human project to save the children from creation’s butchery has saved the lives of a few billion over the last century and a half (Paul 2007/9, 2012), perhaps the greatest achievements of the species. It is therefore apparent that humans have expressed considerably less violence against human youth than any creator, and dedicated infinitely more caring effort to save them. In a sense creation has been waging incessant war on children, but with a death toll that is about a thousand times higher than caused by military action (Paul 2012).
The Natural Evil that is the holocaust of infants and children is far and away the worst thing that has happened to our species, with the incredible scale of the pain and suffering nothing else comes close. This is all the more true because with the vast numbers of painfully ill and dead cut off in their youth, the situation has been about as bad as it practically can be in that a somewhat higher immature mortality rate among rather slow breeding humans would have crashed the population leading to extinction. With the data demonstrating such a screamingly high cost due to extreme and brutal incompetence means that the situation is clearly compatible only with a morality level F creator. Yet the super catastrophe has gone amazingly little remarked upon. Why? One reason it has slipped beneath our collective radar is because it usually occurs in little bits and pieces, a child or two here and now and some others there and then, private griefs that do not garner the great attention that periodic natural disasters – that although spectacular are responsible for only a few percent of premature deaths — garner. And the great majority of miscarriages occur so early that the incipient pregnancy is not noticed. Consider. When a natural calamity occurs that snuffs out some or a lot of kids while making the news such as a flood, earthquake, eruption, tsunami, storm or famine, you notice do you not? But how often do you theists and nontheists alike note that ten and a half thousands of kids will die to ordinary pneumonia, birth defects, diarrhea and the like in the next 24 hours?
It is time for the global neglect of the uniquely enormous catastrophe that was the Holocaust of the Children to come to an end, it needing to be common knowledge for the basic reason of people being well educated as to the scale of the tragedy, as well as its telling theological implications.
The Great Dying of the Columbian Exchange
The peoples of the western and eastern hemispheres were largely blissfully unware of one another until Columbus, having underestimated the size of the planet in his commercial project to open a shorter marine trade route to Asia, accidently ran into the western continents. The aboriginal population of those lands were in the high tens of millions (Mann 2005, Koch et al. 2019). Lacking immunity to a large assortment of microbial Eurodiseases, all age mortality rates among the original peoples up to today being very high, up to and exceeding 90% (Mann 2005, Paul 2007/9, 2012, Koch et al. 2019, McKenna 2020 who notes that the first waves of EuroAmericans often enjoyed atypically long lives because of the low loads of diseases able to infect them). The illness induced agonies associated with this events are correspondingly enormous. This mega accident was not avoidable by humans because any substantial interaction between the hemispheres — inevitable in view of the improving maritime technologies — even if entirely benign in intent and execution would have resulted in the mass death of Amerindians even if the initial contact was from west to east. The number of the latter dispatched and otherwise abused by imperialistic and sometimes terrorizing genocidal EuroAmericans – who on occasion deployed disease as a weapon — although substantial, pales in comparison to the disease vectors that humans had limited or no control over even when they were aware of them. It was the disastrous losses due to Eurodiseases that did the most to prevent indigenous people from successfully opposing being conquered and displaced by the European invaders. The problems ensuing from the Columbian Exchange are not over. In the Amazon basin a number of indigenous tribes have had extremely limited contact and refuse to do so. Christian missionaries aggressively wish to convert these peoples to Jesus despite the consistent record of extensive contact producing mass lethal results as well as ruining their cultural stability.
Although the scale of the disaster of the western hemisphere, as enormous as it has been, is dwarfed by the Children’s Holocaust, it is much better known, being the subject of extensive analysis that has been transmitted to much of the public at large. The indigenous peoples commonly cite it as a major component of the undeserved catastrophe that they have suffered since 1492, it being an important component of the movement for ethnoracial justice of 2020 that led to the bringing down of statues of Columbus. That said, the skepto/theodistic implications have not been extensively discussed. Quite incompatible with the FWH, the data is compatible with a morality level D or F creator.
The Amazing Failure of the Creator to Get the Word Out to the People of the World
The above data indicates that only about one in eight of those conceived and half of those born, probably under 50 billion, have reached the level of maturity needed to properly come to the most important opinions in the eternal lives. The largest religion that contends humans must make this choice is Christianity, in which standard doctrine requires that people knowingly accept the grace of Jesus by one means or another. Half of H. sapiens were born before the time of the Gospels, leaving around 25 billion unable to make that choice (Kapitza 1996 refs therein, Haub [& Kaneda] 1995-2010). With Christianity largely limited to the Mediterranean region, for centuries, many inhabitants of the old world, and all of those of the new, were long left uninformed of the word of Christ at no fault of their own, and those who were often poorly so, leaving them “theoinnocents.” An exception is Mormon doctrine that posits that the resurrected Jesus magically arrived in the Americas to spread His word before ascending to heaven. Leaving that aside. as that word actually reached the Americas a millennium and a half later the disease driven mass death promptly killed off most original peoples before they were aware of Jesus. Thus only about a third of those who have become adults in the common era have learned the Jesus story in at least some detail, a mere 3% of those conceived. With Islam arising even later than Christianity in the same region, even a smaller percentage of adults have become aware of its mode for accessing paradise. That such a paltry percentage get to make an adult choice on heaven or hell or whatever the after-life may involve, reinforces that the cost/benefit ratio could not be much if any worse than it is. Directly refuting the FWH, the mega-incompetence required to achieve such miserable results means that the data is only compatible with a D or more likely F creator rating.
The Brutalization of the Animals
While some 100 billion humans having been born so far is a big number, it is a mere drop in a large lake of life compared to the trillions and trillions of assorted animals that have been spawned over the last half billion million years, since complex multicellular creatures began to evolve around the beginning of the Paleozoic. A large portion of them have possessed fairly large, complex brains that suggest they have a substantial degree of conscious awareness of how they are feeling at a given moment.
As bad as matters have been for most humans when it comes to health and premature mortality, such matters have been even worse for animals. Living in full blown Law of the Jungle anarchy they enjoy limited protection against predators and virtually no health care. Juvenile mortality rates range from broadly comparable to humans among slow breeding giant highly parental mammals, to extremely high in those that reproduce rapidly, often up to and over 99%. Causes of premature death at all ages are broadly similar to those that afflict humans, but in different order, physical assault via predation being the leader for most species, also common are diseases most of them microbial or parasitic as well as malnutrition, these supplemented by mass death via natural disasters, and individual accidents. The result of this collection of agents of death is that only a fraction of a percent of animals die of old age, the exception being among the limited number of gigantic species whose adult power affords them considerable protection against flesh eaters.
Concerning mental discomfort, animals presumably do not fear diseases due to a lack of knowledge and comprehension. What all animals do persistently fear are life events that are potentially lethal even if they do not comprehend death, and it is possible that some have some degree of awareness of their termination (Munday 2003, Rollin 2011). Because most creatures are persistently at risk of predation – which is a form of lethal mugging — they need to be constantly on alert, and often need to resort to desperate efforts to save themselves by fleeing, forming self-defense groups, and combat, all of which are stressful and often exhausting even when effective. Many animals are vulnerable to deep distress when severely ill or injured, often over extended periods. All deaths by predation are seriously unpleasant and often agonizing, the always painful death process ranging from seconds to many minutes or hours, sometimes days if an initial assault is injurious but not immediately lethal. The suggestion that predation is often minimized by attacks on the neck similar to humane slicing of the jugular (Munday 2003) is errant because predators are unable to deliver sufficiently accurate bites, big cats usually suffocate prey, other large predators deliver numerous bites to cause the victim to collapse, and the animal may be partly consumed while literally still alive. Assaults by orcas and big sharks on whales can last for hours until the victim is bled out to the point it drowns. Animals caught in wildfires are often incinerated to death like the execution of heretics by fire, perhaps even worse off are those animals that initially survive the flames, but slowly die from the agonizing wounds and/or ensuing dehydration and/or starvation. The latter two can torment enormous numbers of animals to death during extended droughts, which can deprive fish of the water they need to breath. The list of how God’s nature ruthlessly kills creatures is as long as it is sad.
As enormous as is the suffering of animals at the hands of humans, our species has been abusing others for a fraction of a percent of the time that animals have been in severe distress over deep time, and even currently nature is causing about as much misery to animals as is the now enormous population of humans.
The tremendous Natural Evil that is the extensive suffering of the animals is far more widely known than is that of immature humans. This peculiar situation is in part because prevention of cruelty and egregious slaughter of animals wild and domestic is the focus of a large number of private organizations and government regulations, as well as conservation efforts. The theological implications concerning the nature of creation has received a fair amount of discussion especially of late as some theodists wake up to the challenge to their belief system, with some of their efforts appearing downright bizarre, but as discussed below even nontheists have failed to appreciate certain aspects of the problem. In terms of treatment of nonhumans the ratio of the cost to the creatures to the benefit of humans – which is a species centric rip off of the former in favor of the latter — measured by the data indicates a creator morality and competence level of D or F.
Our universe is not fully fine-tuned for life including highly intelligent
For something to be truly fine-tuned requires that the entire machine run smoothly and reasonably safely. For example, if one acquires a brand new luxury car of the highest quality design and manufacture, and one of the cylinders starts misfiring, despite still being a machine of great beauty it is no longer fully fine-tuned and requires repair to return it to that status. Same if the steering becomes defective, risking or leading to a dangerous accident. Fine-tuning does not require absolute perfection including regarding safety – no automobile is perfect in every exact way, and a slight unnoticed defect in even the best built and maintained vehicle can suddenly become dangerous – but it requires very high standards.
For a universe to be fully fine-tuned for life intelligent and otherwise demands that such organisms must be very abundant in all or at least most of that cosmos, and consistently dwell under highly benign conditions that do not include mass premature mortality, especially of the immature, under commonly physically and mentally agonizing circumstances.
Even if the physics of the universe are just what they need to be to at least allow the existence of earthly organisms and humanity, the observable universe does not come close to meeting the requirements for being in any manner actually fine-tuned for life and intelligence. 99.9999….% of the volume of the observable cosmos we dwell in, including even our galaxy and our solar system, is sterile space extremely hostile to any living thing not inside an artificial habitat. Stars are inherently lethal when too close to them, and the vast majority of many billions of planets are barren of any life much less that highly cognitive. It is possible that in any given galaxy high cognition beings are very rare or absent, there is currently no actual evidence to the contrary and arguments otherwise will always be highly speculative unless demonstrated otherwise by direct evidence. The statistical analysis presented herein proves that the wee speck of rock we dwell upon, infested with lethal diseases, predation, assorted disasters et al., is all too obviously dangerously toxic to young H. sapiens, and is chronically inhumane to animals.
Hardly fine-tuned in its whole, the known universe is in a mixed bag, with a major positive component – as per sunsets, the night sky, gazelles, blue whales, adorable infants, and Hedy Lamarr – set within a sloppy, rough and tumble premature agony-death machine. At most it can be said that the physics of the known universe are sufficiently tuned to marginally allow the existence of life including intelligent under often very unpleasant circumstances. We do not dwell on the best of all possible worlds. The Fine-Tuned Hypothesis must at most be applied strictly and only to the questionable possibility that the basic physics of the universe are exactly what is needed to allow intelligence. Extending it further is patently absurd and false to the point of disproof – further data cannot refute what is already known. Whether other universes exist that are fully fine-tuned for intelligence under optimal conditions is possible but unknown.
The Great Cover-up: The Near or Total Absence of Theological Effort to Explain the Mass Suffering and Death of Innocents, the Children Most of All
Logically and ethically, the vast loss of children and their future free will, the largest and most tragic event in human history, should be a central and widely discussed issue in both theodistic and skeptotheodistic tomes, as well as among the public at large. All the more so because Free Will and Best of All Possible Worlds theodicy rests upon the possession of adult free will. Which may explain why it is not. As I detail in the P&T paper, no explicit mention much less extensive discussion of the critical theological problems posed by juvenile human agony and deaths is present in the Abrahamic texts or other scriptures, and an extensive literature research uncovered that no theodist ancient or modern has addressed the issues in any detail if at all (if this is incorrect please inform this researcher). Dembski (2001) was errant when he casually and rather callously opined that even if certain aspect of God’s creation are “cruel.” What of it? Philosophical theology has abundant resources for dealing with the problem of evil.” Also well off base, this time in terms of statistics, was Hick (1966) when he made the off and correspondingly misleading comment that “so far as we can see, the soul-making process does in fact fail in our own world as often as it succeeds,” implying that the ratio could be close to around half and half. Had Hick and/or any other theodist conducted the proper statistical calculations that a responsible analyst is required to do, which would have shown that a mere small fraction of folks have enjoyed the blessed opportunity to improve their souls to the level that they think their child dispatching creator requires, then perhaps theodicy would have been refuted decades ago and this tome telling the planet what it should already know would not be necessary.
After the publication of the P&T analysis in 2009 this researcher sent a PDF to a number of leading theodists. There never has been a reply to the P&T analysis in private or in the literature by any theist in the over decade since. Some of the theologians notified of the analysis continue to promulgate the FWH, and propound on the wonderful love of God, without any regard to the scale of the catastrophe and its obvious implications even though they have been alerted to both. Craig (undated) cites the needs for human free will and soul making as reasons that as “a Christian theist, I’m persuaded that the problem of evil, terrible as it is, does not in the end constitute a disproof of the existence of God. On the contrary, in fact, I think that Christian theism is man’s last best hope of solving the problem of evil” — at no point in the ensuing discussion is there any mention of how the deaths of billions and billions of immature H. sapiens cancels their free will and soul self-improvement squares with the claim. Major theological works on creation including human free will that fail to mention the problem of mass death of the immature since alerted to the issue by the P&T study include Giberson & Collins (2011), Plantinga (2011, 2015), Swinborne (2013), Haught (2017), Miller (2018), Polkinghorn (2019). Such egregious omissions of such an obvious refutation of the FWH and God is Good Hypothesis force one to question whether such evaders are corrupted by their self-serving hopes to solicit favors from the undocumented deity that they calculate demands their unquestioning supplication.
While the absence of any effort to deal with the problem is extraordinary to the extent that it is an epic scandal, it is logical to the extent that it exposes that there is not a plausible theodistic argument to make on the matter. After all theodicy is by its nature biased propagandistic apologetics designed solely to present reasons to worship a divine designer, not to admit when such cannot be achieved. Also not seriously addressed is the catastrophe of the Columbian Exchange.
Equally interesting is that the side of the debate that has the most to gain from exposing the Children’s Holocaust to the world, atheists, also and illogically paid no attention to mention the mass death of children as powerful evidence of godly cruelty that undermines the FWH prior to the P&T paper, and have done little with the novel argument since, often instead continuing to repeat standard antitheists lines of discussion – rare papers expressing skepticism towards theodicy that cite the P&T study are Kramer (2018) and Firestone (2019 and earlier). Erhman (2009) noted that free will theodicy does not adequately deal with Natural Evil, albeit without quantifying the scale of the problem, he probably did not have the P&T paper available.
Because of the absence of formal discussion it remains not possible to directly cite and counter theodicy on the matter. There has been enough theodicy relating to the suffering of animals to consider those specific arguments.
Why the Free Will and Best of All Possible Worlds Hypotheses Are Abjectly Wrong
The extent of earthly suffering has always posed an enormous problem for the thesis that a supernatural designer that is in some way good, loving, just and moral and even impeccable is responsible for the awful mess we obviously dwell in, but apologetics on many aspects of the problem have long and frequently been issued. While the immense violence that is the torture and death of children is such an obvious danger to Free Will Theodicy that it must be asked why it has been pretty much ignored, it is conversely easy to see that the FWH is so wide open to being shot out of the sky by the blazingly obvious dissolution of free will by premature death that one can wonder why the theodicy was offered up in the first place — although admittedly it has had a disturbingly efficacious run. The reason that theodists and other theists have been doing everything to avoid discussing the mass death of innocents becomes readily apparent upon examination – there being no means of explaining this one away any attempts to do so will backfire, so they don’t even try. Here’s why.
The core contradiction is easy enough to see. According to FWH theodicy God wants every single human to have the free will to choose whether or not to end up in its perfect endless paradise. That both assures the imperfection of any spending eternity with the ideal creator if they do not wish to do so, and the imperfection of God finding itself robotically being worshipped in its flawless heaven by souls that did not choose to do so. That in turn requires that every single conception, or infant depending on when a H. sapiens acquires its immortal soul, grow up to be a sufficiently healthy person with the necessary degree of free will. But it also follows that the righteous God cannot interfere with planetary events including Natural Evil because doing so either directly aborts to at least some degree the free will of at least some human adults, or sets up a slippery slope that risks cutting down on human choice, any degradation of which is entirely unacceptable. Although the reasoning may appear logical on the surface, it is inherently embarrassingly flawed. The lack of an effort by said creator to ensure that all fertile female humans possess an efficient and safe reproductive scheme, and to protect all children from diseases – powerful immune systems would do that – and other modes of natural death, that is driven by the free will protecting absence of nature perturbing intervention, has a massive side effect. Enormous numbers of humans who are too young to have done anything wrong are bound to die before they acquire mental choice, denying the innocents their comfort, lives and the very same mature free will that the deity requires that all humans have. Also aborted in the bungled scheme is the ability of many billions of humans to engage in the soul improvement many theodists see as vital before entering God’s utopia. The same profound contradictions afflict premature deaths caused by deliberate human action – if the great designer uses its tremendous or total power to prevent any immature human from dying by preventing all induced abortions and homicides, then it must severely constrain the free will of adults. Add to that the many who for various reasons end up too seriously mentally impaired to make sound decisions in a world of free will. As a cruel side effect innocent animals are commonly brutalized in the effort to benefit human souls. It all poses a set of unavoidable convolutions and contradictions – reflected in the intricate title of this subsection — that no creator God no matter how powerful or wise can solve. The situation as discussed in this paragraph alone disproves the existence of a perfect all powerful creator that can do anything it wishes, a designer entity must be markedly deficient in some manner. To continue to argue that the classic FWH is correct is obviously incorrect, and constitutes the manipulative false propaganda that is theodicy.
Allowing the premature slaughter of humans in order to somehow attain a heavenly goal if the latter is actually underway is by far the largest case of the human sacrifice that all current religions claim to denounce as a grave ungodly sin. In specific terms, if there is no conscious creator with a purpose then the Holocaust of the Children is just that and only that, if there is a divine creator then it is also the Sacrifice of the Children.
Further debunking the most highly developed and widely promoted version of the FWH, the Christian, is how the failure of any creator to adequately protect immature humans combined with the late alleged appearance of the Son of God, resulted in only around one in forty conceived and one in ten born have grown up to become adults with any or significant knowledge of Christ. The circumstance is even worse for Islam. Mormon doctrine is interesting in that most humans are able to continue to make free will choices and conduct soul upgrades during their complex post death existence on the way to godhood for males, the exception being baptized LDS apostates who are doomed to eternally residing in the lowest expression of the Mormon after life.
Regarding to the Great Dying of the Columbian Exchange. It has long seemed an odd theological defect by omission of the New Testaments that the very Word of God did not inform Old World Christians — who had been charged with the Great Commission to spread The Word that every person needs in order to access heaven — that there were entire continents full of pagan souls in desperate need of saving. Having learned of those lands, one of the ways that EuroChristians tried to justify their aggressive Manifest Destiny based domination of the Amerindians whose rapid disease driven withering seemed to represent divine intervention, was that it improved their after lives by providing the information they needed to get to the actual paradise. But if the free will favoring creator exists it severely damaged the project, the deity foolishly doing nothing to deal with how the medically naïve Europeans unknowingly carried His creation’s deadly Eurasian microbes that massacred the majority of natives, usually either before they had significant or any knowledge of the Christianity that could save them, so they were unsaved. This is a classic lose-lose situation in which enormous numbers of blameless humans were denied access to a postulated paradise by events that also prematurely tortured them to death. To contend that the designer deity ultimately responsible for this ugly mess is at all close to perfect including its morality is obviously entirely wrong, and continuing to do so is false propaganda.
Absurd contradictions inherent to benign creator theism associated with the death of immature humans become yet more glaring when considering another factor that is talked about as rarely as it should be frequently by theists. What happens to the supernatural souls that very probably do not exist of deceased preborn and children? This is a serious point because a significant segment of theodicy rests on the premise that while earthly death may seem highly unfortunate, it is not really so bad because after the brief mortal life souls continue to live forever under potentially superior circumstances. It is as glaring and suspicious as is the failure to address the suffering and early death of the immature that nothing unambiguous is said in Bible or Quran on the question of the fate of their souls. So let’s examine the alternatives.
If getting to paradise requires making some sort of deliberate free will choice before earthly death such as accepting the Grace of Christ, following the instructions of the clergy, doing good works, and/or other grownup items, then the great majority who die before becoming adults, are severely mentally damaged, or never hear The Word either end up in Hell (as some scriptural hardliners contend), or some other place that is neither the divine paradise or an everlasting punishment (as per the non-scriptural and now abandoned Catholic Limbo, and the lower tiers of Mormon post death habitats), or are denied an afterlife (as some who cannot stomach torturing innocents contend). All scenarios are grossly iniquitous, the first is outright barbaric viciousness if the hell incorporates torturous punishment.
Most modern Christians theologian and lay are aghast at the prospect of their loving creator who is often proclaimed as especially loving the innocent children – as per images of Christ embracing a child — being so terrible regarding the souls of the guiltless youngsters. They therefore postulate that God gives the little ones (and perhaps adults who never hear the word of the prophets, or are chronically mentally damaged, etc.) a free ticket to heaven despite the lack of scriptural support. If that’s true then the huge majority of the population of paradise end up being exactly the kind of slavish worshippers, the automatons who never had a choice in their fate, that the very same people often claim God does not want in its heaven. If this blamelessly ignorant are all saved hypothesis is true, then hundreds of billions of the residents of paradise went from being early term preborn never having the slightest earthly conscious experience much less a religious test, to finding themselves in heaven worshipping their creator whether they would have chosen to or not. Tens of billions who have had just a limited, juvenile mortal conscious experience before finding themselves functioning as slaves of divine adoration. In this scenario the FWH is severely reduced to near albeit not total irrelevance regarding the afterlife. All the more so in that only those who happen to reach mentally healthy adult status while living in a time and location where they can learn about the true religion whatever that may be, are compelled to make a free will decision about what will happen to them after they die and preparing their souls for the event. The rest get a free ticket to paradise without doing any preparatory work.
The thesis that the divine designer allows all who do not for one reason or another get either its word, or the mentally healthy maturity, that they need to make a free choice before their death, are automatically on their way to its heaven, may seem more fair and kind than those scenarios that send such blamelessly ignorant people to a less pleasant place or total mind death. But the scenario has intriguing and ironically unsettling implications regarding a number of circumstances. If true the blamelessly ignorant are all saved hypothesis means that informing the people about the great choice is counterproductive regarding maximizing the number who ascend to heaven. That’s because doing so greatly increases the risk that a portion of a population will end up not going to paradise, because many are then able to make the choice not to. It follows that the only way to ensure that all souls reside in heaven is to not allow any such souls to be informed of the big option. Which further means that no person should ever be put in a situation where they know about it when they are adults. The obvious way to do that would have been for the creator to never send an emissary to tell the world at any time to let the theological cat out of the bag. Having made that mistake via the Jesus Christ character, the logical goal of Christians should have been and still be to keep their faith secret and let it die with them. The last thing that should be done is to spread the word, that only serving to increase the number who opt out of the heaven selection. Regarding that great evangelical project, spreading the word to the peoples of the New World, if the blamelessly ignorant are all saved hypothesis is operative, the effort only served to make it possible for original peoples to choose to reject Christ, so for the first time they were vulnerable to sending themselves away from heaven. Also scuttled is the fundamental point to Christianity, the earthly appearance and experience of Jesus Christ.
The point applies to another possibility that increasing numbers discontented with the above unfair creator policies propose, that the divine creator intends to let everyone into his utopia. If that supernatural speculation — which is as no more or less plausible as are the rest — is correct, then the FWH is completely inoperative, and the creator mind does not care that his paradise will be an imperfect locale in which all but a few percent of the inhabitants did not choose to be there, in some cases may be opposed to being there, and if all are actively venerating the lord of the paradise they will be many tens of billions of worshipping automatons, in some cases forced. Although the all go to paradise hypothesis seems the kindest, it is not. For if all end up in the divine utopia one way or another, then there is no compelling justification for the massive agonies experienced by tens of billions of souls on earth and countless animals in the first place. Just put all souls in heaven from the get-go and leave it at that. Although not necessarily ideal, that may offer the best practical cost/benefit ratio, and is certainly superior to the Christian and other theoparanormal schemes whatever they may be.
Far from saving the day for the FWH, the absurdly chaotic and nonsensical issues surrounding the fate of the alleged souls of the naturally terminated preborn and children only serve to reinforce the inanity of Free Will Theodicy. Such is true whether the proposed fate is cruel or benign. Now we know why the godly scriptures and theodists also dodge this additional irresolvable problem of the immature like it is a plague for which there are no vaccines or cures.
Abrahamists also have extremely divergent views on the mode of creation. Partly driven by opposing views on the importance of scripture versus science, and on what science tells us, they are also have varying and very important skepto/theodistic implications for the specific nature of the im/morality of a creator. Indeed, the needs of theodicy have contributed in part to their formation.
Biblical special creation. — Young earth special creationism (SC; for details see the Answers in Genesis website) proposes that the imperfections of our planet are entirely the fault of humans. Before The Fall the earth was a perfect utopia lacking any active disease, predation, disasters, or aging for two prime condition celibate humans. The situation apparently would have remained in force indefinitely, but by acquiring unauthorized knowledge via a deceptive creature – the presence of which in Eden proves the paradise was not perfect – that for reasons not clear ruined the paradise and set the planet onto a course of increasing imperfection to the growing discontent of its creator. The conditions under which preflood humans lived for about a millennium and a half according to standard Bible based calculation is not well described. Fundamentalist creationists propose that planetary conditions were markedly superior to those post-flood — before the great deluge many Biblical people lived very long lives which indicates very slow aging and low rates of disease. Rates of juvenile mortality are not detailed in scripture, but may have been low. That combined with presumably high fertility among the exceptionally healthy women have led some to calculate that billions were born. The global flood liquidated all humans and land animals, including faultless preborn and children as well as adult sinners, except for a few adults and the beasts on the ark. Having been severely disrupted, the biosphere has never fully recovered to its preflood level, and has since been afflicted by intense levels of predation and diseases as previously harmless organisms under severe stress resorted to cruel means of making a living, and the human reproductive system has degraded, all resulting in high rates of mortality including preborn and juvenile, and brief lifespans for creatures and humans alike. Prior to the advent of the grace of Christ presumably few if any had access to paradise. Since the flood tens of billions have been born, with most denied the ability to make a free will choice for the reasons described above. SC is not in full accord with the modern FWH, it involved massive intervention in Earthly affairs both in creation of the planet, organisms, and the super flood. Nor does the massive magical creation invoke the Fine-tuned Hypothesis.
The fantasy based shallow geological time proposed by Biblical creationism has the advantage of reducing the totality of suffering because it occurs among a small fraction of the beasts and substantially less humans than does the deep time documented by science. So does the low rate of afflictions prior to the flood, as well the alleged lack of anything close to human level cognition among animals associated with the SC of people that renders us very distinct from far lesser creatures. Despite the last pluses — and although fundamentalist doctrine tries to shift the blame for diseases and other agents of immature death, as well as defective reproduction and immune systems, to allegedly sinful humans — Genesis story creationism does not provide compelling theodicy. The proposed deity would always have been capable of protecting at least immature humans from the cruel and deadly effects of The Fall, but choose not to do so for his purposes. And these antievolution creationists are in favor of intelligent design which is gravely flawed as described immediately below. The creator described in Genesis is guilty of reckless negligent and/or premeditated serial mass abortion and abuse and homicide of immature humans, and mass abuse of animals.
Intelligent Design. — While formal Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) accepts the descent of the species over deep time proven by modern science, it proposes that all organisms including microbes are too complex to evolve by mindless selective means that are natural. It follows that only a very high level intelligence can create and upgrade organisms. Intelligent Design is not in full accord with FWH; it involves massive intervention in Earthly affairs with the designer constantly intensely manipulating the evolution of organisms at the molecular level. If so then every disease organism that regularly kills kids had to have been deliberately and carefully designed by a creator to do so, and the same entity deliberately designed human children with defective immune systems, while doing a substandard job on the incredibly sloppy human reproductive system. Recognizing the moral deficiency of creators designing torturous creatures, Darwin opined that he could not persuade himself “that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.” Disagreeing with Darwin is Behe (2007). Using the intricacies of the malaria parasite that has abused tens of billions to death mostly children, the leading scientist advocate of IDT and ardent theist explicitly argues that the righteous creator of all living things did exactly that. He then dismissed the ethical problem as the Christian God he worships as providing humanity with a stage for the great test of faith and morality to work upon. Of course if humans put together a play they knew would kill off half the child actors while abusing the on stages animal they would be up on 1st degree murder charges. IDT manages to combine the worst of creator intent with the worst of time and populations over which to do it to, so if there is an Intelligent Designer it’s clearly guilty of outright premeditated mass abortion and abuse and homicide of immature children, and massive abuse of animals.
Evolutionary creationism and deism. — Recognizing both the unscientific nature and the morally crippling depravities of both fundamentalist and intelligent design creationism, proevolution theists like the Christians (see Miller 2018), Collins (as per Giberson and Collins 2011) and Polkinghorne (2009, 2019, in Tibbett 2011) in effect argue that God did not deliberately design lethal diseases et al., but in his wisdom merely let them evolve willy-nilly until they infested the entire earth except uninhabited Antarctica, while natural selection failed to provide children with sufficient immunity. It is also proposed that mass lethal natural disasters are the unfortunate but unavoidable consequences of geological activity over deep time. For example plate tectonics have produced the continents with their variable topography, mountains included, and mineral deposits that provide a suitable habitat for humans and civilization. The resulting movement of the plates cannot help but generate deadly earthquakes and volcanic eruptions (this thesis is also applicable under Intelligent Design Theory). Polkinghorne (2007) claims that this is a “package deal” in which humans must take the pain the get the gain — note that lay theist Tibbett (2011) bought into the Polkninghorne’s notion that’s God’s creation is lethal in the name of free will without critiquing its obvious defects. Godly creation via unguided evolution – which is the basic deist concept – is the form of creationism most in accord with the FWH, and most closely tied to the Fine-tuned Hypothesis. The core moral premise of evolutionary creationism (EC) that the creator has had no choice but to let people and other creatures be stuck with the resulting bad along with the good is geologically and theologically naïve. Many active faults do not produce major earthquakes because they do not lock up and then suddenly release, and many volcanoes always erupt non-explosively. With its immense power and perfect wisdom a truly moral creator could deign that all faults glide smoothly and no volcanos blow up. It could intervene to prevent lethal diseases from evolving, or at least give children high capacity immunity. Same regarding keeping reproduction low enough to not require predation and disease to keep populations in check. Likewise when it comes to deleting the damaging UV radiation from the stars that provide planetary habitats with the light and heat they need. A great creator has many options to maximize the benefit/cost ratio of the biosphere. The EC hypothesis that God used natural progressive forces to create the biosphere has been sharply criticized by both anti-evolution creationists and evolutionary scientists on grounds of illogic because evolution is probably unable to ensure a certain result such high cognition beings suitable for an eternity in paradise. In moral terms bioevolution is the classic Law of the Jungle, a chaotic, anarchistic, uncontrolled system that requires mass juvenile mortality for the driving force of natural selection to work — obviously it does not make it better for the caterpillar, or more moral, if a creator allowed the evolution of the parasitic wasp rather than carefully crafting it. EC is morally defective because while partly crafted to eliminate the creator as a suspect in the crime of mass death of children by attributing that and other suffering to the system rather that to God, it abjectly fails is this task. Geological processes and bioevolution are mindless amoral systems bound to produce very bad results as well as good. Any reasonably intelligent creator using this lawless scheme would be aware of this lethal darkside of nature. And while EC does not portray the planet creator as being as meticulously murderous as does IDT, it is markedly worse than SC in terms of the deep time over which animals and humans are tormented. If follows that a creator that uses entirely natural means is guilty of maximal scale reckless endangerment leading to negligent mass abortion and abuse and homicide of immature humans if not worse, plus massive abuse of animals.
No matter the mode of creation, any divine creator who created our dangerous universe and violence packed planet is fully responsible for what is far and away the greatest crime against humanity, the Holocaust of the Children, and the criminal enormity of the Brutalization of Animals. Mass sacrifice of kids and animals as part of means to a divine end is such ruthless and relentless slaughter regardless of the barbaric details. All above modes of creation score a morality/competence D or more likely F for the creator.
The Depravity, Bioignorance, and Outright Weirdness of Animal Theodicy
The theodistic effort to downplay the misery of animals has been explained by Craig (in Craig & Law 2011).
There’s a second level of pain awareness which sentient animals have, which is the experience of pain. And animals like horses, dogs, and cats would experience this second level pain awareness. But they do not experience a third level of pain awareness, which is the awareness of second order pain, that is, the awareness that one is oneself in pain. For that sort of pain awareness requires self-awareness, and this is centered in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, a section of the brain that is missing in all animals except for the higher primates and human beings. And therefore, even though animals are in pain…. they are not aware of pain, and therefore they do not suffer as human beings do…. The problem is that we humans are so often guilty of anthropopathism…. we treat animals as though they were human beings… But once we see that God in his mercy has spared the animal world the experience of suffering such as human beings exhibit… [it is].a tremendous comfort to those of us who are animal lovers like myself, or to pet owners, even though your dog or cat may be in pain, it really isn’t aware of being in pain, and therefore it doesn’t suffer as you would when you are in pain.
If this disturbingly callous, obtuse and ethically dangerous example of theodistic apologetics is correct, and the massive anguish experienced by enormous numbers of animals with their limited mental capacity since their initial appearance is not sufficient to contradict the goodness of the creator, then it follows that imposing such cruel miseries on animals is justifiable. The humans that Abrahamic scripture has according to common translations given dominion over all creatures enjoy the right to impose similar levels of abuse and torment on animals — if it’s good enough for God, it follows that it is for us too — note that fundamentalist Christians tend to be less interested in animal rights than are most — and laws against animal abuse are not necessary. Of course common decency based on modern secular values teaches that such human cruelty is depraved animal abuse, and the statistics leave so doubt that any divine creator is clearly guilty of animal maltreatment on a scale that far outweighs that imposed by humanity.
An issue that may hinder theodists such as Craig and others who have proposed that animals do not hurt enough to worry too much about their suffering (Lewis 1957, Hick 1968, Harrison 1989) is their insufficient knowledge of modern biology. They appear to be following the thesis proposed by B. F. Skinner well back in the last century that on since we can’t really tell what’s going on inside the brains of animals, let’s not engage in excessive anthropomorphism and instead assume they are automatons at least for practical experimental purposes, a premise that became popular but unsubstantiated dogma I recall from my remote college days. But the assumption violates evolutionary theory which proposes that the capabilities of animals including mental are gradations between taxa – animals that suffer little is more in line with fundamentalist Special Creation which dramatically distinguishes our species from all others, including apes — the thesis has been displaced with modern analysis of animals minds (Maller 2009, Rollin 2011, Dougherty 2014, Aguti 2017, Blackmore 2018). There is evidence that big brained apes, elephants and cetaceans may have some awareness of death – elephants have an inordinate fascination with their own remains. Other derived mammals, and the surviving dinosaurs, birds, often show indications of high level intelligence.
Here is a case that indicates animals of much more aware of bad situations that they are in than Craig realizes. In a nature documentary a large lion cub was trampled by a big ungulate fleeing an attack by the pride, breaking the cub’s posterior spine so it could only drag it’s hindlegs. As it’s pride moved its mother tried to call it to come along, which the cub desperately attempted by dragging itself with its arms as it called out is fear and pain for help in subsequent hours. At one point the mother tried to assist, but it was of no use. In the final scene the mother began to walk away from its hardly able to move offspring in order to keep up with the rest of her pride. As the cub cried out for her to come back, in clear view of the camera the mother stopped, closed her eyes for a moment to mull over and render that final awful decision which its neural network was pretty clearly consciously making, then without looking back walked away having no choice but to leave its offspring to its fate in the vicious natural world that many believe the loving creator devised one way or another, and Craig and his fellow theotravelers are OK with.
Very possibly awareness of serious distress goes well down the tree of animal evolution, and may include fish.
Indeed, it is possible that animals are even more vulnerable to anguish than are humans. Our exceptionally high level cognition affords some alleviation — when experiencing severe earthly suffering, we often assuage the situation to some degree with the knowledge that the pain will at some time come to an end one way or another, whether it being that the cause ceases, effective means of suppressing or eliminating the pain becomes available, or death brings it to a termination. That is why when some are in an agony they cannot escape they come to prefer death, even if they think that will be the final end of their conscious experience. And it is why an alleged Godly threat is eternal torture in Hell. Lacking such understanding, suffering animals, as well as children, may suffer more greatly than mature humans because they do not realize the agony will end. And because of their high order intelligence, mature humans have a better ability to avoid bad events, or reduce their impact than other species.
As discussed above young earth creationists cite the far shorter geological time span over which God has animals suffering as dramatically reducing the theodistic problem, but this does not come close to eliminating it. Because it cannot be demonstrated that animals are not subject to very limited awareness of their intense distress, and probably are not, the remote possibility cannot be used to defend the goodness of God unless the mental unawareness by animals of the severity of their pains can be scientifically proven. That the animal rights movement has largely been a secular effort with limited involvement by theistic organizations shows that the suffering of nonhumans is not a priority of theists focused on getting their souls into the magical utopia of the animal abusing designer which will be discussed in more detail shortly.
Craig (in Craig & Law 2011) makes another, practical theodistic argument that tries to convert Natural Evil into a positive force that many seculars are actually likely to be sympathetic with.
Now let me say one more thing about animal predation and suffering, since this featured largely in [co-debater Law’s] argument. Animals are part of a broader ecosystem in which the human drama is played out. And such an ecosystem must be balanced it it’s to be viable. It is no accident that every ecosystem involves predators of some sort. For example. I saw a program on television about how the Canadian authorities are reintroducing wolves into the wild in Canada. Why? Because in the absence of these predators the caribou herds were over populating because there was no one to pick off the diseased and the aged. And as a result they were overgrazing and therefore dying of starvation! The predators actually enhanced the survivability and the health of the caribou herds in which they preyed, so that predators are an essential part of an ecosystem. In a world without predators, the insects would take over, since there would be nothing to eat them, and all the animals would soon die because all the vegetation would be consumed by insects. And once the insects had consumed all the vegetation, they would die off as well. So any viable ecosystem needs to have predation in it in order to succeed. (Quick notes — Craig in his profound biological ignorance does not seem to know that insects are animals. Specially invertebrate animals. He should have been saying insects versus vertebrates. Nor is it possible for herbivores to totally wipe out the plants they munch on — as the plants decline the population of the herbivores precipitously drops too, allowing the plants to recover which cause the herbivores to do the same in a classic population lag cycle over time. I have to tell bionaive Craig everything.)
It is a good bet many atheists think that Craig has a point. That as harsh as it is, a scheme that requires knocking off most juveniles on a mass basis is an integral and necessary part of healthy biosystems, part of the grand and wonderful “balance of nature” that evolution has left us in. But is it?
No. Craig like many is again not sufficiently up to date when it comes to modern biological science. The “balance of nature’ including the need for predation to cull out excess young, sick and dying animals is another obsolete concept devised on flawed early bioscience about a century ago and long refuted. It is partly based on assumptions that seem logical — all creatures must reproduce as fast as they can in the never ending Darwinian competition of survival via DNA replication, so if the spawning of any given species is not culled by some form of predation whether it be disease by microbes, parasitism, or carnivory, they will overpopulate the planet.
That logic is false because it is known that predation is not always necessary to limit the populations of nonpredators, there being examples of such. The big modern ground birds, ostriches, rheas, emus and cassowaries, live on continents where they are subject to intense predation by large carnivores. As a consequence of the relentless attacks on their young, the living big birds deposit half a dozen to many dozens of eggs per annum, the vast majority of which never grow up to become adults. Up to just one thousand years ago gigantic birds dwelled on New Zealand and Madagascar. Laying only one or two eggs a year, moas and elephants birds did not risk overpopulating their habitats, which lacked major ground predators. Giant mammals that can readily defend their young breed slowly, as do the big sharks. In evolutionary terms this is logical — large scale reproduction is expensive, and is therefore employed when forced by the need to overcome high rates of juvenile predation; ergo predation is not necessary to control rapid reproduction. Many islands large and small have lacked predators without the herbivore populations running wild, with the happy consequence that the creatures do not live in perpetual fear of being eaten – consider how people friendly are the animals of the Galapagos. Rapid reproduction does not drive predation, the latter often drives the former. So predators evolve not because they are “needed” for a balance of nature, but because it is one way that DNA systems semi-randomly can and will survive and reproduce successfully. Nature is after all often the chaotically unstable and commonly barbaric Law of the Jungle, rather than beautifully balanced and self-correcting.
Because predation is not an ecological necessity, the latter cannot be used to morally justify the massive wastage that is the premature agonizing death and chronic stresses it imposes on innocent creatures, and is not effective theodicy. That is all the more true because a powerful and truly benign creator has the wherewithal to directly optimize the comfort of animals – that would involve not allowing the presence of predators and disease, while keeping the reproduction of species in check. The cold fact is that a scheme that demands that hapless juveniles and weakened ill and old be regularly dispatched by an intensely frightening and painful process is patently nasty. On a planet created with a benign purpose, when a given animal gets too old to function properly then have it simply keel over painlessly and die, then non predatory scavengers and non-disease microbes can clean it up.
Not only Biblical creationists blame everything bad that happens on the planet to The Fall and other human sins, so have mainstream theodists Lewis (1957) and Plantinga (1977) in what can be labeled the Blame It All On Sinful Humans Hypothesis. This is the ultimate egregious expression of morally relativistic collective punishment in which creatures that are in no regard at fault for anything get massively beaten up by their habitat because a biggest brained species does ill-advised things in the opinion of the creator, who is correspondingly outrageously immoral.
The God Cares and Suffers in Sympathy with Animals Hypothesis is in parallel with the belief that God assumes the pains of humanity to the point that Jesus died on the cross in sympathy, so the creator may take upon the risk of animal pain to Himself (Chartier 2006, Watson 2019). Obviously this does nothing for the animals who do not even know about the existence of their purported devisor.
Alternately, in The God Just Does Not Care Hypothesis, Maller (2009) suggests that God cares about animals in general, but not as individuals. Geach (1970) offers that the creator does not care all that much about animal pain in pursuit of its purposes, much as many humans pay little attention to the suffering of the animals that are killed for food and other products. The former is no more moral than the latter. That these callous propositions are the other extreme of the previous theory that the creator cares intensely about animal discomfort helps expose how theodicy is failing to solve the issue.
Then the is the Suffering is Good for Animals Hypothesis. Swinburne (1998) in his support of the ethics of evolutionary creationism suggests that the misfortunes animals experience in God’s nature gives them the opportunity to conduct good acts of courage and resolution in aid of others animals and humans. This would be similar to humans abusing animals so that the latters’ nonhuman companions can help them out while being brave about it. Swinburne also argues that the agonies of animals helps other creatures to avoid bad events like fires and predators. Aside from animals often knowing such via instincts developed through natural selection, the creator could assign such knowledge to beasts. Even better would be if lethal fires and predators did not exist in the first place. As specious as this hypothesis is, it is topped by the next one.
Topping them all is The Animals Will Talk and Get Souls Hypothesis. Theodist Dougherty (2014) acknowledges that animals are capable of serious suffering in the chaos of God’s nature, and that it cannot be readily justified in the context of a flawed humanity’s search for the glory of heaven. The fatal defect in standard humocentric theodicy has driven Dougherty to actually propose that as a reward for their desolations many animals get souls and become saints.
I will defend the thesis that a class of animals . . . will not only be resurrected at the eschaton, but will be deified in much the same way that humans will be. That they will become, in the language of Narnia, ‘talking animals.’ Language is the characteristic mark of high intelligence. So I am suggesting that they will become full-fledged persons (rational substances) who can look back on their lives — both pre- and post-personal — and form attitudes about what has happened to them and how they fit into God’s plan. If God is just and loving, and if they are rational and of good will, then they will accept, though with no loss of the sense of the gravity of their suffering, that they were an important part of something infinitely valuable, and that in addition to being justly, lavishly rewarded for it, they will embrace their role in creation. In this embrace, evil is defeated.
This amazingly non-scriptural speculation, as bizarre as it is extreme – Lewis (1957) allows how beloved domestic animals may accompany their human owners to heaven but does not have them endowed with souls — shows just how far theodicy will descend in its paranormal desperation to come up some sort of explanation for how a good creator can accommodate the titanic suffering of animals no matter how ridiculous. Apparently there are not much in the way of minimal standards of credibility. Of course dead animals getting speech is not totally falsifiable, but the same is true of alien abductions. That such wild absurdity that has no foundation in reality or sense is taken as a serious suggestion in the theodistic community (as per Schneider 2014) shows that they dwell in their own bubble of internal philosophical il/logic that is nothing more than self-reinforced pseudointellectual fantasy based on ancient mythologies that should have been abandoned long ago. It is a symptom of how theism is a form of make-believe as is any other area of magical group-think.
Academic theodicy appears to operate on the presumption that as long as the speculative supernatural discussed in what appears to be an erudite, intellectual tone, that it deserves to be taken with serious respect even by those who may disagree with little regard to its magical absurdity and severe moral defects. This parallels how fans of Sherlock Holmes often discuss him as though the great sleuth was a real person. One must ask why theology continues to be taken seriously in academe while similar expressions of paranormalism as ancient aliens, as well and science-based skeptical atheism, remain on the societal fringes where the former illogic belongs, and the latter logic does not.
As for why the argument such as it is that animals will become talking persons fails even in the realm of theodicy, that is because there is no apparent reason for the designer to have generated and let suffer so many creatures the vast majority of which have not had anything to do with the geologically brief existence of humans imagining they can get to a magical eternal paradise — it has the same problems as God giving a free ticket to that place to immature people, and it does not explain away the abortion of free will in most of those H. sapiens.
Munday (2003) asserts that all the above is not really of that much concern for followers of Jesus because they have a more important item on their plate than the mere tribulations of creatures. He states that for Christians “our concern need not dwell for long on the natural suffering and dying of animals, whose level of consciousness and therefore living experience of pain and suffering our only dimly revealed to us,” and that most “of us will be content to let God maintain the natural world, and concentrate on those dominion activities we find within our circle of influence and responsibility as sons of God.” Those responsibilities being to do whatever necessary to get to His Heaven. Munday testifies as a Christian how the pursuit of the Glorious Goal leads people down the path of callous moral corruption and indifference. Note that this disturbing example of Christian disinterest to animal misery is not paralleled by similar attitudes towards the natural afflictions and deaths of children — because theodists have evaded that issue to date.
To be fair, I am not contending that atheism can claim some grand moral high ground regarding the status of the animal world. If you are an atheist who consumes animal carcasses — an act that is not incompatible with atheism which takes no moral positions — then then you cannot claim close to moral perfection. It is theists who are claiming to conduct high morality by seeking benefits from a creator of the highest ethics no matter how cruel its creation; note that being a Christian vegan does not get a person out of the depravity of worshipping a deity who lords over an animal and child killing planet. I am showing that the suffering of animals is a direct, overwhelming, and obvious contradiction to the notion that there is an ethical God – with the cost/benefit ratio so extremely poor the D or F creator rating on the morality-competence grading scale is affirmed. As for the FWH hypothesis it is not a viable excuse for creation’s cruelty to the animals.
End of Part 1
The inconsistency of there being a creator that is extremely and if not perfectly good with the incredible amount of suffering and death of young H. sapiens and animals is patent. So much so that it is more than reasonable to conclude that the proposition is taken at least seemingly seriously by so many only because the old faiths have been grandfathered into our cultures, with most not thinking about the conflict all that much. But there are those who have mulled over the problem, and Part 2 will first examine some of the common theodist theories that try to reconcile the paradoxes, and then go from there to address why worshipping a creator on the premise that it is an ethical entity is not merely mistaken, but in itself morally seriously ill-advised. It wraps up with what atheists should do to improve the situation.
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