In this God Squad article, which was published in hundreds of newspapers in the United States, you can see an apparently intelligent theist twisting and turning to try to explain his imaginary God:
The author (Rabbi Marc Gellman) is trying to explain why a supposedly perfect, loving, omniscient God would create a world filled with so much suffering, terror, disease and heartache. The author’s answer is:
Our complicity in evil is the result of a God-given gift of free will, which is both good and also necessary for moral responsibility. If God stopped all evil, we’d have no incentive to do good. These are obvious truths and I still remain perplexed why so many people find the problem of evil so recondite.
When challenged on this point, the author elaborates:
If God constantly intervened in history, we human beings would quickly get the message that there was no need for us to exercise our courage and wisdom to help reduce evil in the world. We’d become passive observers of the moral fate of humanity, rather than active participants in its improvement. Obviously this is why we’re granted free will by a good and powerful God.
This is the place where every theist looks completely ridiculous, for three reasons.
First, there is this statement: “If God constantly intervened in history…” By making this statement, the theist automatically eliminates the possibility of answered prayers and any other interaction by God with the material universe. An answered prayer is an intervention by God. Therefore, if you believe that God gives humans free will, then you must also believe that God never interacts with the known universe. Of course if God never interacts with the known universe, that is the same as being irrelevant.
“Now wait one minute!” says the theist. “The fact that God never interacts with the universe (which I do not believe – God does answer prayers!) does not mean that God is irrelevant! God also created the infinite bliss of heaven and the eternal torment of hell!” The problem with heaven is that it runs straight into this statement by Gellman: “If God stopped all evil, we’d have no incentive to do good.” Wait, isn’t heaven supposed to be a place devoid of evil? If God can create one place devoid of evil, why didn’t he create earth that way too?
The third problem is that most theists also believe in God’s plan. They pull out Bible verses like these:
Jeremiah 29:11: “I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you. I don’t plan to hurt you. I plan to give you hope and a good future.”
Even the God Squad, just a few months ago, wrote this:
It is hard to let someone go whom you love dearly. But death is part of God’s plan, and the time of death is totally in God’s hands.
What? How can we have free will if God has a plan for us and totally controls things like time of death? This of course is an absolutely ridiculous position. Not to mention the fact that, once again, prayers of intercession would be pointless.
The only way for an intelligent person to be a theist is to completely disengage his or her brain and, in the process, look both ridiculous and stupid. So why do theists do it? How do they do it?