Considering that god is supposed to be concerned with humanity and watching every move, evidence of direct divine intervention in human affairs, and humanity’s struggle against evil, is quite scarce. Why doesn’t god stop evil, especially when he could do so very easily? This is especially troubling at times when evil is done by those who think they are following divine will. What could be stopping god from helping his creations?
Killing for the lord
Although the majority of religious people do not think their god wants them to kill in his name, there are all too many who do believe their god wants them to do horrible things. Assuming this thinking is contrary to the teachings of the religions these people follow, you still have to wonder why their god does not do something to stop killing in his name.
While some people are probably cynically using religion to justify crimes, certainly many truly believe in their hearts they are carrying out divine will. This includes suicide attackers who are giving up their lives, even if they are flying planes full of people into buildings or blowing up marketplaces. Would not a person who let others kill in his name when he could have easily stopped them share a moral responsibility for the deaths caused? If god not only created these religions, but the flawed human minds that misunderstand them, isn’t there some kind of responsibility on his part for not intervening?
Guidance for a greater good
In the past, people thought that natural disasters where signs of an angry god. As this view has faded, it has now become more fashionable to say god creates natural disasters to teach people lessons or carry out divine will in some other way. However, this seems like a rather crude and cruel way to teach lessons or carry out any kind of divine will. How can annihilating a city in a tsunami or volcano, killing only and young, saint and sinner alike, be the part of any plan? If there was some lesson to teach, shouldn’t that lesson be easily discernable? As bad as killing so many to teach a lesson would be, it is much worse if nobody can even be certain what that lesson was.
Others say that all of this helps people appreciate life and become closer to each other or god. If people do need such reminders to give their lives real meaning, then they certainly are not going to be happy in heaven. To cause death and misery to make people closer to you is not exactly a great moral principle either. It is hard to see why a god would choose misery, evil and death to carry out any kind of divine plan. There would have to be a better way.
It has been argued that god simply cannot interfere with free will. However, those who argue this also say that god interferes when good things happen. Besides, not interfering and watching a child die is destroying any chance of that child ever exercising free will.
On a more individual level, those who do survive some type of disaster, or even smaller accident, often attribute it to divine will. This can be a moving experience for people and sometimes leads to changed lives, but this is still far from proof of divine will and raises more questions.
It does seem rather arrogant to assume a god intervened to save someone to improve his or her life while letting others die or live short, miserable lives. Couldn’t god find a better way to convince someone to be a missionary or fulfill some other purpose than to kill mothers, fathers and children?
There is no evidence that those who survive accidents and disasters are any better or worse than those who do not. When the saving of some is attributed to miracles, all of those who did not make it should also be considered.
Giving god the credit for the good
Those who simply do well in life for whatever reason often give divine intervention the credit, but there is no reason to assume any god plays favorites. Why would a god help an actress or sports star to succeed, while letting a child, perhaps of very pious parents, starve after a short, painful life?
The Greek philosopher Epicurius summed it up very well many generations ago:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”
People risk, and sometimes sacrifice, their lives to stop evil and harm coming to others. To do nothing, especially when you could do so easily, is considered a crime. A god that does not intervene is lacking in some combination of power, will and morality.