Sunday, February 17, 2019

Is it Necessary for the Holocaust to Happen for "Greater Good" to Come About as Many Religious Leaders Claim?

The historian Karen Armstrong points out a life-stance doesn’t succeed because it “can be demonstrated rationally but because it [is] effective in preventing despair and inspiring hope.”

Of course, if the life-stance is fallacious, irrational, superstitious, harmful, unjust, destructive, etc., even questionable, then the hope it inspires is delusionary, not real.

Maybe, even despair would be better than delusion, than false hope.

Isn’t facing loss, distress, heartache, grief, sorrow, anguish, tragedy, desperation, hopelessness, and intense suffering preferable to what is false, an empty pretentious lie?

Ought not we human primates to realize that terrible accidents happen for no reason, and that often evil events occur without any hope against them?

There is no meaning in an accident, especially not in a serious one. (Isn't that the usual meaning of "accident"--that it happened by chance, wasn't planned!?)

UNLESS, of course, one is a Muslim for whom everything that happens, evil as well as good, is Allah’s will...
Or a creedal Christian for whom the Trinitarian God foreordained every event, evil as well as good, before the universe came to be...
Or an Orthodox Jew who believes that God created evil in the beginning, etc.

Billions of such true believers claim to know that accidents are planned:-(

And another very bad philosophical view in another sense is the horrific belief that God ordained and permitted (or willed) the Holocaust, the Black Death, the 30 Years War, etc.

According to them, God allows, permits accidents and other evils in order to achieve “greater good”!

For instance, the Baptist philosophical professor Randal Rauser argues that not even God can get humans to demonstrate compassion…without allowing the amount of evil/suffering which would be required a condition for the demonstration of compassion.”

Even more reprehensibly, Rauser sincerely states, “Even in the paradigmatic example of evil, the Holocaust, one could readily draw up a vast list of some (but certainly not all) of the types of reasons that might be operative in God's allowing that evil. At no point is the Christian left with "very little, if any, content to such speculation."

Totally baffled and grieved, I courteously asked Randal Rauser, “May I ask what greater good came from the Holocaust?

And the 1918 Spanish Flu, the Great War, the 30 Years War, the Black Death, etc.?

Also, doesn't allowing horrific evil in order to achieve a greater good sound similar to the immoral action of the end justifies the means?

God permits horrific abuse, torture, and slaughter of millions including children and infants in order to achieve a “greater good”?

As a former teacher of the Holocaust and one who has lived and worked in Palestine-Israel, I can't think of any good that has come out of the Holocaust, let alone any greater good.”

BUT Rauser never answered me, didn’t give even one example of a greater good that came about because of the Holocaust!


But, thankfully, most humans, even many millions of religious ones are baffled and appalled by such horrific thinking by millions of other Christian leaders. During the 55 years I was a dedicated liberal Christian, mostly a Quaker, we NEVER thought that accidents or intentional evil actions happened for some greater good.

What an immoral, unjust, terrible idea—that the God had to allow the intentional torture and slaughter of over 10 million humans, 6 million of them Jewish, in order to get some unknown great good.

Even on the local level such thinking is wrong! I still remember reading about this high school girl who thought she had had an accident, become paralyzed so that she wouldn't be able to dance, because dancing was a sin in their conservative Christianity.
How absurd and tragic both at the same time.

A commenter on Rauser’s blog wrote even more starkly about this, “The innocent smile of a child hides within itself all the evils of history. It is horrible when children suffer and die; but, when I look at my son and daughter smiling at me, I realise that smile is only possible because other children (my older siblings for instance) suffered and died.” “If God loves the particular persons who exist as the particular persons who they are, and loving them wills their existence, then he must also will everything necessary to their existence, including even great and horrific evils.”
“If the Holocaust had never happened, then very many Jewish people alive today would never have been born. Without the Holocaust, there would have been, not just more Jews in the world, but a very different set of particular Jewish individuals.” Jews who live now do so only because “of the Holocaust.”
“So, if one of these individuals concludes that it is good that they exist – or good that their own beloved children exist – well, that good is only possible because of the Holocaust.”
“If God loves the particular persons who exist as the particular persons who they are, and loving them wills their existence, then he must also will everything necessary to their existence, including even great and horrific evils.”


How can one possibly answer such grossly immoral, unjust defenses of the idea that some God premits horrific evil, even genocide in order to get “greater good”?

I think the best response to such bizarre religious thinking is the story from Dostoevsky:
"Tell me yourself, I challenge your answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature- that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."

"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly."

And can you admit the idea that men for whom you are building it would agree to accept their happiness on the foundation of the unexpiated blood of a little victim? And accepting it would remain happy for ever?"

"No, I can't admit it."

The Brothers Karamazov
Thankfully, ALL such religious doctrine is fallacious.

But that doesn't mean that all theistic thinking is wrong.

I do think that theists are right, that there is meaning in existence, just not in accidents, not in chance, not in evil events, especially not in the Holocaust.

No, I’m not of the sort of modern non-religious leaders who claim that everything is meaningless, that the human species is only “pond scum,” "biochemical puppets," without any worth, etc.!

When any human shows care and concern for others there is good meaning. And the Enlightenment values of human rights, justice, and equality are of great meaning.

That is why I think that moral realism is true, that humans have inherent worth, that existence isn't meaningless, and so forth, why I am a theist, not an atheist or agnostic.

However, I don't claim to know the ultimate nature of reality; I suppose some might term me an agnostic theist.

Unlike many theists and atheists, I don't start by asserting the ultimate nature of existence, but start with the local--reason, moral realism, caring, human rights, math, etc. and
from finding those reasonable, I work my way out toward the cosmic,
thinking that while I don't know ultimately what is the final nature of existence, I can be fairly confident that reason, moral realism, caring, human rights, math, etc. aren't meaningless and worthless even if human primates are a rather insignificant brief species in a minor solar system of the universe.

In the Light,
Daniel Wilcox

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