It's not just about explaining suffering in light of God; the believer has to explain everything in light of OmniGod.

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I have primary progressive multiple sclerosis. One of the main symptoms is a lack of balance. As the body attacks the central nervous system—the informational messaging highway connecting the brain and body—the messages fail to reach their destinations.

One destination is “the feet.” When the feet fail to be told what to do, they stay put. But when the rest of the body is in “continue walking” mode, this results in the subject faceplanting. or armplanting.

One fractured elbow later, I am left cursing the universe and the evolution of my condition. But there’s very little else that needs explaining in light of “shit happens.”

It’s a very different world for the believer—a very different way of interpreting…everything.

In a certain manner of speaking, thinking and experiencing can be a huge burden on the religious believer. Every single piece of data, every sensation, each and every event that happens in the world, and exactly how the world is, must be explained in light of OmniGod. The all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving has everything covered. “His” design is watertight. There can be no gratuitous suffering, and everything must be interpreted and understood though the lens of his abilities.

Atheists might wonder about carnivorousness, the second law of thermodynamics, plate tectonics, cancer, malaria, clinical depression, and why the universe is so vast and replete with black holes. We can wonder about hypotheticals, and suppose naturalistic answers. But the theist? They are condemned to explain each of these difficult or provocative or irreverent questions with reference to God.

Why would God give my mother dyslexia and make my cousin bipolar? Why did God allow that train to crash and design and create a world with the 2004 tsunami that killed 240,000? Why did God create the mosquito and design humans to choke easily or have ectopic pregnancies? Why did God not align pain and pleasure with moral harms and goods, but rather align them in light of evolutionary pressures? Why the eventual heat death of the universe or make it such that 98& of the world’s living organisms are now extinct?

The thing is, most or even all of these questions can be answered really rather satisfactorily on naturalistic atheism. But on OmniGod theism, one struggles to come up with convincing accounts of each and every phenomenon.

This is, in effect, a giant abductive argument. This style of argument is an inference to the best explanation: If you have competing hypotheses (naturalistic atheism and OmniGod theism), then what hypothesis better explains the data. Or, what hypothesis does the data better predict?

When I look at the combined pain and suffering brought about by carnivorousness and plate tectonics, and when I consider black holes and heat death, I don’t intuitively jump to the explanation of an all-loving, all-powerful god.

When I look at multiple sclerosis and a fractured elbow, I don’t think this is predictive of a god simply overflowing with love. That there was such a superfluity of love that he morphed it into a progressive condition affecting the bodies and minds of millions of people worldwide.

This god hypothesis falls desperately short.

It falls short across the whole gamut of data points. And when you add those all up, that’s a quite gargantuan cumulative case against the existence of OmniGod.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...