Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Evil as a Reason to Believe?

Most people think of the problem of evil as one of the prime theological challenges facing religions throughout history.

A commenter writes on XGH, though:

There are many reasons to assume God exists -

1) why do bad things happen to good people?
2) Why do we exist?
3) what is our purpose?
4) How does something come from Quantum Soup if all there exists are laws of physics?

Ignoring 2-4 for now*, it was at first incredibly odd to me that someone cited bad things happening to good people as a reason to assume God exists. This was one of the prime arguments against religion for millennia!

But I realized how much sense that makes. One of the prime motivations for religious thinking, it seems, is to explain the universe in an ordered way. The Just World Hypothesis in social psychology states that we all have a need to view the world as ordered and just. If something bad happens to someone and we cannot help them, we will often tend to assume it must in some way be their own fault. By doing so, we keep the world ordered, and separate ourselves from the bad things that happen.

As such, while an argument from evil would be just about the worst logical argument for God ever envisioned, it gets directly to the root of the matter as an emotional argument for God.

*2 and 3, like 1, are psychological reasons we would like to assume God exists, not standalone reasons to assume God does exist. 4 is somewhat unintelligible to me as written.


Luke Skyhopper said...

welcome back spock

JewishGadfly said...

Thanks, Luke. May the prax be with you.

JewishGadfly said...

That should definitely be our blog catch phrase, by the way.