We should at least be honest in admitting that the outright denial of God’s existence actually does nothing to solve the conundrum commonly dubbed “The Problem of Evil.” All it does, of course, is make the lingering existence of evil—which certainly exists—a matter of unfortunate circumstance. Just ask Dr. Richard Dawkins:
“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” ― Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
Well, Dick, I still have some questions:
How can anyone say that humans ought to endure and not totally lose every ambition in a universe where there’s ultimately total meaninglessness, and a lack of any overriding purpose in the comfort and/or suffering experienced by living beings?
Can anyone actually live in a universe where good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people?
Evidently, most of us can.
But the truth of the matter is that we either suppress our feelings about it (through distractions, carrying out interests and passions, etc.) or seek to alleviate our concerns by seeking a greater purpose (through philosophical reasoning, religious beliefs, etc).
All that we have here, then, is the difference between a world of suffering with purpose and a world of suffering without purpose. But don’t pretend as though you can just shout “NO PURPOSE!!” at all the rest of us and simply leave it at that.
Because, after all is said and done, you can’t get away from the fact that you have some purpose in shouting even this.
Yes—I’m reminding you of this on purpose.
Undoubtedly, the non-theist will still venture to argue that life can have profound meaning and value without a so-called greater purpose. Yet we have to ask: at the most basic level, what can the meaning or value possibly be for any of those who suffer without an ability to fully enjoy life (e.g. those with severe handicaps, chronic illness, and so forth)? Who is willing to honestly look at someone in this position and say, “Whether there is a greater purpose for your life or not doesn’t matter; you’re just on this earth to enjoy the short time that you have.”
What would a non-theist’s rationale be for insisting this? What would his or her basis be for not advocating the “mercy killing” of absolutely everyone in such a position?
Now, in contrast, I’ll readily admit that I believe the biblical God to be sovereign over all history. And following this, I would maintain that the culmination of all things at the end of all history, as Dostoevsky intimates through Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov, “will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men.”
In short, I believe in rhyme and I believe in reason and I believe in justice.