Imagine an acquaintance named Sarah tells you that she discovered this very morning an abandoned infant crying in a cold ditch. You ask Sarah what she did with the infant. She responds “Oh, I just left it there.” You exclaim “But why would you do that?” Sarah explains “Oh, I’ll probably go back tomorrow and take the infant home since I’m a loving person. The infant will more appreciate the fact that I took it home if I let it suffer a while longer.”
Would you consider Sarah loving as she claimed to be? Would you yourself let that innocent infant lie crying another night in that cold ditch?
Now consider the God of the Bible who has not only stood by while millions of innocent infants suffered due to a lack of clear Biblical injunctions against slavery and other life-diminishing actions and lack of simple facts about disease-preventing hygiene, but has also required grown men to slay innocent infants. Is such a God loving as you understand love?
Theists of all religions cite the apparent healing of infants as evidence of the love of their particular God. However, if healing is evidence of love, then to that same degree the lack of healing is evidence of a lack of love.
This goes back to the rhetorical question introduced in #01. “How dare you question the actions/inactions of God?”
We dare question the actions of all alleged Gods since their actions/inactions reflect on the likelihood that the God in question is who he is claimed to be. If you think your love would make it impossible for you walk by a crying infant laying in a cold ditch, then you are justified in finding absurd the notion that any allegedly loving God to do the same.
Many who are reading this have never seen an infant dying of starvation or abandoned to die in the cold. However, the sad truth remains that such suffering occurs hourly the world over. Imagining that the dying infant will have a wonderful afterlife does not negate the fact that any actual omnipresent God is standing by watching that innocent infant suffer.
Note that this is not an argument based on some moral standard. It is not suggesting that any actual God is morally obliged to rescue the dying child. It is merely saying that actual love will result in loving actions. If you can not imagine your love for infants allowing you to stand by and watch a dying infant suffer in a cold ditch, and you believe children suffer and die regularly in cold ditches, then you are quite justified in concluding there is no actual loving, omnipresent and omnipotent God.
The deaths of many innocent infants could have been simply prevented by an actual loving God including in the Bible prohibitions against slavery and the like, as well as instructions on preventing diseases that ravish the frail bodies of suffering infants. These prohibitions and instructions are not found in the Bible. Would an actual loving God have been so negligent?
For this and similar arguments, the distinction between what is possible and what is probable needs to be emphasized.
Could it be possible that someone loving and capable has a reason to stand by while an infant suffers for reasons unknown to us? Perhaps. But that possibility is irrelevant to our conclusion since our judgements are necessarily based on our own experiences and understanding. We don’t simply forfeit our understanding of what is loving and agree there is a God who might act lovingly in a way that appears unloving to us. From our experience we justifiably arrive at a high degree of certainty that loving and capable individuals do not watch infants suffer and die. To the degree that we have never seen a loving and capable person ignore a suffering and dying infant, to that same degree we can be certain that any alleged loving and capable God would not do the same, the remote possibility of some unfathomable exception notwithstanding.
So, what kind of candidate Gods does this leave us with? A hateful God? Unlikely. The distribution of suffering and pleasure in the world seems quite consistent with what we should expect of impersonal and indifferent natural processes.
Due to the apparent indifference to humans we observe in our reality, it also appears unlikely a God, should one exist, would possess the emotions ascribed to the God of the Bible. Diseases and death appear to occur at identical rates among all humans, all naturalistic factors being equal, regardless of what God is prayed to. (See also #10 and #17.)
And if God is this indifferent to and different in essence from the humans occupying a tiny corner of the universe, this would eliminate theistic Gods from the list of candidate gods, and justify short-listing only impersonal deistic gods.
VERITY: How can God be both loving and omnipotent when millions of innocent children are regularly suffering and dying?
THEO: We are not God. God has his reasons.
VERITY: But how can I claim to be honestly assessing which if any God is actual if I don’t compare each candidate God’s actions against what I understand to be loving?
THEO: You are not omniscient. You don’t know whether there might be a legitimate reason a loving God would stand by watching an innocent infant suffer and die.
VERITY: But do possibilities I can not imagine mean I can not conclude based on my honest understanding of love that it is highly improbable that an actual loving and omnipotent God would stand by and watch an innocent infant suffer and die?
THEO: You must accept God before you can understand him.
VERITY: But do you understand why the God you want me to accept allows innocent infants to suffer and die?
THEO: No, but I feel his love. I know he is loving.