Saturday, March 23, 2013

Putting up a Smoke Screen

Love spy hunter (pic from wired)
I recently saw a post by an apologist on the problem of evil. His post was a response to the question of why does God allow such horrible things to happen, and it was in three parts, past present and future. For the past, he said that God hates evil so much he allowed his son to die for it, in the present, he stops some evil and the world would be worse off if God wasn't intervening, and for the future he referenced judgement day.

As far as I'm concerned, the present part of his argument is all that is relevant to the problem of evil. The fact that Jesus died on the cross is a smoke screen here, whether or not Jesus died on the cross, tragedies still happen, same with judgement at the end, it doesn't change the fact that innocent people suffer all the time.

So that is where I focused and argued that "it could be worse" is not a very good argument. An all powerful, all knowing God shouldn't allow these tragedies to happen at all. I also pointed out that this argument will never have an end, no matter how bad it gets, you can always just say it would be worse without God.

He answered back that no, his argument isn't just that it could be worse, but then he simply referenced his other argument and said that God defeated evil by sacrificing his son. He never really answered my complaint. After a very short back and forth he stopped answering my questions. I'd like to say he could tell he was beat and ran away, but he probably thought he won, that is the way these debates usually goes I suppose.

As far as I'm concerned, the whole "Jesus died on the cross" as an answer is just a smoke screen.  It doesn't answer the problem of evil at all. The only remaining question in my mind is whether the author of that other blog knows exactly what he is doing, putting up a smoke screen to obscure a question that he can't really answer, or if he is blinded by his own poor argument.

This is a tactic I see apologists using quite frequently on a wide variety of topics. When asked a question they will answer a different question, or appeal to something that is completely irrelevant. It's pretty irritating, and I'm not really sure what the best way to deal with it is. I suppose the only thing to do is keep trying to get back to the other point and challenge them to answer it satisfactorily. At the very least, hopefully it will be possible to highlight what they are doing for any onlookers.


  1. The Jesus died on the cross lines are a way to distract from the issue at hand, yes, but it's also his way of saying: "God forgave all our sins, so we don't have to suffer in the next life! Don't worry about suffering here!"

  2. In those situations, I just keep repeating my initial question---ie..driving through the smokescreen (I agree Spy Hunter was awesome).

    Like you, I am not always sure if the smokescreen is accidental or is being used as a specific tactic. It depends on how 'accomplished' the apologist is I suppose. In the end, it doesn't really matter much to me, as I still need to deal with the smokescreen.

    On the case of evil, I very much find myself in the same scenario that you did. They rarely answer any questions and just keep rephrasing some version of a mantra, be it Jesus died for our sins (then why is there still evil and why are we still supposedly born sinners?), free-will (a complete cop out), or some other argument. I can't recall a time that I ever got a good answer to the question of evil. I think that most theists realize their arguments fail here and that is when the conversation ends. That being said, I don't know how many of them continue to think on it and ever change their minds...

    1. When I'm in debates with them online, I usually try to force them to stick the the main topics at hand, if they refuse, then I take as a sign that they're stumped, or don't want to face the hard questions.

      Either way, it's a sign they've given up, and they don't want to admit it. I usually keep going though, it can be fun still, and the more fundies talk, the worse they make their side look.

    2. Yeah, it's all I can really think to do as well. After they try to deviate or answer another question just reiterate my question and perhaps point out that they didn't really address it. It rarely if ever works, I guess my only real hope is that someone else who sees it will realize what the apologist is doing. I feel like if I do it properly it will be obvious to onlookers.

  3. Spy hunter rocks.

    "The Problem of Evil" is the one topic I occasionally get theists to admit they don't have an answer for. This guy doesn't seem like one of them.

    1. agreed, the problem of evil was one of the arguments that was huge for me when I was on the verge of leaving Christianity.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...