As the details of the recent terrorist acts in Paris unfold, there have been numerous articles and Facebook posts regarding the futility of praying for the victims of that tragedy when the entity to whom one would be praying should have, if he existed at all, presumably been powerful enough to have stopped the event in the first place. This is a sentiment with which I happen to agree.
One man, an acquaintance of mine, did respond as I had expected others to do as well. His response was that God gives man “free will”, which, by what I take from that response, is to mean that having given this free will to man, he, God, is now powerless to retrieve it, even in small incremental incidents when having done so would have saved hundreds of those of us whom he claims to love so dearly, such as the recent Paris attacks.
Although I do not doubt the sincerity of this man’s feelings and the depth of his religious belief, I must take issue with that response since it is inconsistent with that which appears, to me, to happen all over the world on a daily basis.
If the entity referred to as God is truly all knowing, powerful and present, yet cannot control the actions of man due to his having given us free will, I must question why he has done so with so many other forces on earth. The forces to which I refer are hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanos, flash floods, fire and if it turns out not to have been man-made, climate change.
If we embrace the theory that man is uncontrollable by God because God has relinquished control over man’s will, then one must question why God has equally relinquished control over these other devastating and murderous phenomena. How many were killed by Hurrican Katrina, or Sandy, to name only two? How many will die in the next super earthquake which is predicted for California, or the tsunami that killed 19,000 men, women and children in Japan? Climate change may be the cause of the current droughts in California, but there have been droughts throughout history and people have died as a result. Bangladesh in the 1970s comes to mind.
How many lives are lost every year to tornadoes in the mid-west, presumably while some of those lost were huddled in their basements praying to this self-same God to spare their lives as their roofs were blowing off and their children were being carried off by the winds?
If I am to consider the possibility that the rationale for man’s inhumanity to man is God’s having given us “free will”, I must have an answer to the question of why he seems to have given that same free will to nearly everything else that can hurt us as well. Where is all this assumed power in this deity that makes him worth our reverence?
If he can make the earth flood, why can’t he also stop floods? If he can make it rain at will, why can’t he make it rain during droughts that kill thousands of babies?
Failing to answer those questions will help one better understand the position of Atheists.