Spencer Lo writes:
1. The Christian God strongly desires a loving relationship with almost every human being, and desires it to last for all eternity. [Christian assumption]
2. A loving relationship with God is possible only if one (a) believes that he exists and (b) chooses to be in a loving relationship with God.
3. Therefore, if the Christian God exists, since he wants humanity to have a loving relationship with him, he would make his existence well-known to almost everyone, thereby ensuring condition (a). (from 1, 2)
4. There are multitudes of conflicting religions and religious beliefs (Christianity, Islam, Hindus, Buddhism, secularism, etc), and more people who don't believe that the Christian God exists than those who do. [empirical assumption]
5. Therefore, not almost every human being believes that the Christian God exists. (from 4)
6. Therefore, the Christian God's existence is not well-known to almost everyone. (from 5)
7. Therefore, the Christian God doesn't exist. ( from 6, 3)
The reason I formulated (2) the way I did was to block the free will defense.The thought is: even if there is libertarian free will, belief in God is not a choice. I can no more choose to believe that God doesn't exist than I can choose to believe that an invisible genie isn't in my room. If I did believe that an invisible genie is in my room, I can then choose to talk to him. Similarly, I can choose to be in a relationship with God, but only after I believe he actually exists. Many Christians who cherish free will claim that if God's existence was so obvious, everyone would be forced to accept Jesus as their lord and savior, and thus salvation would not be a free choice. This just seems false to me. Belief is a necessary but not sufficient condition for acceptance. I can believe that there's life-saving medicine at the nearest store, but that in itself doesn't force me to go there and buy it.
1. If God exists, then pointless suffering wouldn't exist.
2. It is untenable to claim that pointless suffering doesn't exist.
3. Therefore, it is untenable to claim that God exists.
Defense of (2)
1. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. [Christian assumption]
2. Hence, God can thwart or prevent any negative consequences which may arise from a particular action. (from 1)
3. If God intervened to thwart or prevent suffering, he could thwart or prevent any negative consequences which may arise from such intervention. (from 2)
4. Therefore, God can't have a consequentialist justification for not thwarting or preventing suffering. (from 3)
5. The only other possible justification for not thwarting or preventing suffering is deontological: God is morally forbidden to intervene because of the nature of the intervention itself.
6. However, since God is the moral legislator, (5) is untenable.
7. Apart from a consequentialist or deontological justification, there is no other type of justification that God can appeal to to not thwart or prevent suffering.
8. Therefore, it is untenable to claim that pointless suffering doesn't exist. (from 7)
The intuition that God can thwart or prevent negative consequences without having to prevent the action is quite strong. Suppose I see a small child about to walk into a building rigged to explode as soon as he enters it. I can easily prevent him from walking into the building, but I choose not to. Why? Because I know that if I prevent him from walking into the building, 5 millions people will suddenly die horrible deaths as a result of my action. Hence, I justify my inaction to prevent an instance of suffering by appealing to the negative consequences which would have inevitably resulted from my action. Me acting to save the child will bring about far worse consequences than me not acting to save the child. Hence, I have a morally sufficient reason for my inaction.
However, since God is omnipotent, he can have his cake and eat it too. He can prevent the child from walking into the building and the deaths of millions who would have died as a result of God's action. There are no negative consequences that God cannot prevent which would result from him thwarting or preventing suffering.
Only if there is a logically necessary connection between a particular action and its negative consequences would God then not be able to thwart or prevent those consequences without preventing the action. However, at best, it seems that in most cases the kind of necessary connection involved is only causal. Since God can perform miracles, he can surely suspend "natural regularity," and there doesn't seem to be any limitation on the amount of miracles he's allowed to perform. I think the burden would be on the theist who wants to posit a logical necessity between an action and its consequences.