Do the Right Thing

A few weeks back, while djing at the open mic, someone got up, and before saying what they came to say, began with “God is good…,” to which the crowd replied “all the time.” Being a good skeptic, I doubted this claim and began doing some research. On their July 24th show The Atheist Experience had Gregory Paul on to discuss his paper “Theodicy’s Problem: A Statistical Look at The Holocaust of the Children, and the Implications of Natural Evil for the Free Will and Best of All Worlds Hypotheses,” which I downloaded and began pouring over, what follows is the result.

Do the Right Thing

God is good, all the time
is an assertion that can be
evaluated using empirical evidence,
but before we can come to a conclusion
as a community we need to agree
on what these words mean.
Being an atheist
I have no concept of this word god,
but there are some ideas
about a supernatural entity
that I have picked up
in my conversations with Christians.
The god of Abraham is typically depicted
as being all knowing, all powerful, and all loving.
Good is a social construct,
my idea of good music and my 17 year old cousin’s
idea of good music may overlap,
but they will not be the same
since we grew up in different generations,
in different households, with different influences,
but the god of Abraham is often referred to as father,
so let’s apply the qualities
of what makes a parent generally good.
To me, a good parent protects their child
from danger and harm whenever it is in their power to do so.
All the time is fairly self evident,
but the father figure
possessing the previously agreed upon qualities
would protect his ‘children’
whenever it was in his power to do so,
and being that he is apparently all-powerful
he should be protecting his children all the time.
Now we are frequently told that we are flawed,
that because of a fall from paradise
the world we live in is cruel and uncaring,
but god is loving and compassionate,
as Richard Carrier states,
“by definition if god is compassionate,
then he wants the same compassionate things
that I want if I’m compassionate,”
and this moderately compassionate
being trembles with anger
whenever I encounter a child suffering.
However in his paper with a title that will be shortened
to “The Holocaust of the Children,”
Gregory Paul points out that throughout history
1 in 8 conceptions have managed
to reach the age of majority,
with the low estimate of the human population
throughout evolutionary history
guessed to be around 100 billion people,
this means that at least 700 billion conceptions
have failed to reach puberty,
even today it is estimated that 9 million
children around the world will die
each year before they reach the age of 5.
So given these statistics of natural causes for death
to the most defenseless and helpless among us,
when I hear you make a claim like
“God is good all the time,”
what I hear is, yes,
children get raped by parents and caretakers
at ages when they are still breast feeding,
but I’m ok, so “God is good all the time,”
that yes, children are used to transport
to their death improvised explosive devices
in conflicts they can barely comprehend,
but I’m ok, so “God is good all the time,”
that yes, children die in tsunamis, earthquakes,
tornadoes, hurricanes, and other instances deemed acts of god,
but I’m ok, so “God is good all the time,”
that infants often die
in their mother’s arms,
but I’m ok, so god MUST be good.
If a person should be judged
by their actions and not their word,
why can’t I hold your god to the same standard,
and if I can’t understand the nature of god,
then naturally, neither can you.
How can you proclaim he to be good all the time
when the plight of children throughout our existence
tells a different story?
As David Hume paraphrased Epicurus,
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

Victor Harris © 2011

Do you have any topics you’d like me to address and a suggestion for a source I can use?


Trained in the ways of critical thinking and skepticism at a young age by his mother, Victor then learned the ways of atheism during ten years of catholic schooling. He has been a Dj since 1996. a performance poet since 1999, a cheesecake baker and entrepreneur since 2003, and a race car driver since he figured out which pedal was the accelerator, which pedal was the brake and which pedal was the clutch, there is a rumor that there is a video of him doing these four pursuits at the same time...but it is as of yet unsubstantiated. He is also an avid Formula 1 fan, and would like to add: Go Lewis.

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    So much hearted.

    Please tell me there’s a spoken word version of this.

  2. As usual, Victor knocks it out of the park.

    As for suggestions, I love to see a poem about how, even though we don’t happen to believe in telepathy or ghosts or whatever, we really, reeeeeaally wish they existed.

  3. hellotothefuture, not yet, I just finished it last week, gimme a few weeks to get it off the page and I’ll record it.

    Brian, thanks, that does sound like a cool idea. I’ll throw it in the Wip pile.

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