ama

Black Eye

Reply to Readers

Providence

 

Write to:
Edward J. Furton
edward_furton@americandeist.com

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Greetings,

I am very interested in the topic of Deism, specially American and English Deism.

I absolutely agree with your position about the American Deists. Unlike some Deists I have found on the Internet, I believe that American and English Deists did not believe in a "Watchmaker God," but in the True God who cared for His creation and guides all by His providence.

This being said, I would like to know how to refute the atheist’s argument against God concerning imperfections in nature which hurt human beings and how these are attributed to a loving God and a fair and just providence.
Cataclysms like tsunamis, earthquakes, storms, and the like, could be answered by stating that nature is still evolving under God's providence, and when these hurt human beings they could be attributed to human miscalculations or greed, for example, when it comes to housings that may have been built in unsuitable places by greedy people. Others may have been caused by man and his irresponsible care for nature.

On the other hand, how can a Deist answer atheists bad things such as malformations in the womb of unborn babies that may cause them pain and cause distress to their parents for the rest of their lives, or illnesses like cancer?

I most certainly revolt against the idea that it was nature blindly working here. On the other hand, I don't want to answer that God did this by His providence, without arguing that there was a good and positive purpose for these things. Please help me with this question.

Blessings!

Your servant in the Lord,

Ricky Ramos

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Dear Mr. Ramos,

You raise very difficult questions concerning theodicy. Why does an All-Good God allow human suffering?

The arguments in favor of God’s existence and providence are certain. Thus we can begin thinking about this question with these truths already in hand.

But we must also humbly acknowledge the limits of our understanding. As finite beings, we cannot expect to know the ways of the Infinite. So we start with a distinct disadvantage. Although committed to the life of reason, the Deist recognizes that certain matters transcend reason. For example, we cannot understand how God knows all things. There is an element of mystery that confronts even the most rational consideration of theology.

Most arguments against God’s existence are efforts to disprove the proofs for God’s existence. The problem of evil, however, is a positive attack on the possibility of a Divine Being.

One proposed solution to this problem is to say that evil is inherent in any created world that is finite. Thus disease and death are natural to our world. This “solves” the problem of evil by denying that God can overcome the limits of finitude. The Christians take a different approach. They hold that the existence of evils in this world is the fault of mankind. We engaged in a primeval act of disobedience that brought sin and death into the world.

Few good answers are given to this question in the philosophical literature. In my opinion, the best approach is to observe that evil cannot exist without the good. For example, starvation cannot exist unless there is life. The evil of starvation is the destruction of health in a living creature. Once the good of life is destroyed, the evil of starvation also ceases to exist. Put in the broadest terms, the good can exist on its own, but evil cannot. This is true of all evils in the world. Evil is parasitic on the good.

So although there are many evils in our world, and although they seem inexplicable under the Divine Providence, the good is the more fundamental attribute of created nature and therefore holds a place of preeminence. Without the good, evil could not exist, for it would have nothing to corrupt.

Thus, in reply to the atheists, one may offer various preliminary reasons for why God would allow human suffering, as you do in your reflections on this question, but these will always be partial replies. They are necessary and important, but they leave the subject open to further debate.

To do justice to the problem of evil, it is necessary to show that when we consider the universe as a whole, we see that evil has no proper existence of its own, but depends for its being upon the good. Thus the good is the more fundamental attribute of the universe. The metaphysical priority of good over evil conclusively shows that there is a Divine Providence.

Under God’s Providence,

The American Deist