Reading Time: 3 minutes

Introductory spiel: One of my more recent books, Not Seeing God: Atheism in the 21st Century (UK), has a plethora of gems in it for the reader and a smorgasbord of variety. It was a labour of love and was particularly rewarding due to the fact that so many great writers had been involved in the production of the book. There were some 24 writers from the ranks of Patheos Nonreligious and they all did their bit to make the project a really good looking, good feeling, and intellectually stimulating affair.

There is a great variety of writing and subject matter on offer, in the book, with the first section (Part One: DECONSTRUCTING GOD) dealing with philosophical, moral and theological issues with the God concept. The second section (Part Two: REFLECTING ON GODLESSNESS IN MODERN SOCIETY), deals with atheism within various contexts in modern society, from cinema to the military, politics to education. The final piece of the puzzle (Part Three: LOOKING TOWARD A FUTURE IN A GODLESS WORLD) asks the reader where we go from here, and seeks to give a few answers.

I am going to split up my opening chapter to the book over a number of posts here. All of that which I will excerpt has been the subject of various posts over time. After all, you are my sounding board. Here goes. This is the second piece.

He created imperfectly

Shelving the problem that he would have had no desire or need to create anything, existing, as he did, in perfection, let’s consider actual creation. Anything created must necessarily have been a degradation of his perfect state of affairs. Unless, of course, he created absolute perfection there and then. Let’s face it, although I’m pretty awesome, I’m not quite perfect, and it took me a few billion years of trial and error to get here, too.

A perfect painter is unlikely to produce a really shoddy painting and still maintain the moniker of a perfect painter. It’s all about the deeds.

A perfect creator, a perfect chooser, as God must be (if we listen to great Christian philosophers who thought up syllogisms like the Ontological Argument to supposedly prove this, and his existence), would surely choose to create perfectly?

We are here. Good old humans, on the good old world, with its good old tsunamis and malaria, in this good old universe, with its supposed heat death, and life-sucking black holes. This here universe is a perfect creation. Somehow, at some point. Is it now? Jury’s out. Could it be on a journey to perfection? Who knows…? I am just not sure that all the pain and suffering we see is necessary for the eventual perfection.

Okay, let’s analogize (analogy: the philosopher’s favorite toy). Imagine you are an extraordinarily good scientist in your lab. You have concocted a design for a new sentient creature. You know that this creature, if you were to create it, would, with one hundred percent certainty, go out and rape and pillage in the local town. These sentient beings, you know, would run amok, freely causing pain and suffering. They would also paint some lovely pictures, and be nice to people at times, too. Knowing all of this, you create anyway. And the creatures go out from your lab into the wider community and cause some mayhem, perfectly predicted. The police come knocking. They find you ultimately morally culpable for the crimes committed. You are deemed, rightly, to be some meddling, ne’er-do-well scientist.

If I was CEO (and chief designer) at a car company, and I designed a car that I knew would be faulty and would cause death when it malfunctioned, which it would, and decided to create that car anyway, releasing it to market, I would be morally and legally culpable for so doing.

These analogies show that God should not be let off the hook for the moral misdemeanors of these imperfect beings called humans. There is no way round this if God has that perfect foreknowledge, that omniscience, and was the ultimate creator of all there is and ever will be. He has chosen to create imperfect beings that he has designed, and whom he knows will cause untold havoc. And he is apparently perfect, and morally off the hook?


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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,...