Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Genesis Chapter One

The first few chapters of Genesis are the bedrock of creationism, so I thought I would examine chapter 1 (and a bit of chapter two) in some detail.

Day One

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Creationists sometimes like to draw a parallel here to the Big Bang, particular verse 3. Does that work? In what sense was the Big Bang when light got divided from the darkness? In fact most commentators believe the separation of dark and light refers to the cycle of day and night, as verse 5 makes clear.

Hmm, does that work any better? Day and night are a result of our planet rotating so different regions are exposes to the light of the sun, but the sun was not built yet, so how can they be?

The ICR offer this fanciful solution:


"This light was directional, coming from a particular source. The earth was evidently rotating underneath it, causing alternating periods of light and dark. "And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night" (v. 5)."

Where is that directional light now?

The real answer is simple. The ancient Israelites had a rather different view of the universe to us. To them, the world was huge and flat and stationary; the Sun a fiery ball that periodically crossed the sky. This is talking about waxing and waning light above a flat primordial Earth. In this cosmology the Sun does little more than mark the time.

Day Two

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Instead of the hard vacuum of space, the ancients believed the universe was water. Our planet sits in a kind of bubble, with water above it and water below it. To keep the water out there is a solid structure called the firmament stretched across the sky (and rain is water from above that falling through it).

Nowadays even creationists reject the idea of a firmament. Or a water-filled universe, a flat Earth and geocentrism. Well, most reject geocentrism. The Bible is perfect and inerrant exactly as much as they want...

Day Three

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
This is a bad day for creationists as God creates trees and grass before creating the sun. How can plants survive without sunlight? They have come up with various fanciful ideas to get around this, for example claiming that actually God had already created the sun, but kept it hidden until the next day. It does not suggest that in the Bible, but the great thing about Biblical Inerrancy is you get to make stuff like that up. Of course, plants could survive a day without sunlight, but it would be a pretty stupid God he decided to make plants first, and then make sunlight.

Oh wait. There is that mysterious directional light God created on day one, that has now mysteriously disappeared. I guess the light of the Big Bang shone on those first trees...

Day Four

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Only now, on day four, is the Sun made. Reading verse 16 we can see that the author does not believe that day and night are caused by the Earth's rotation causing different regions to face the sun. The sun is there to "rule the day", not to provide illumination - we have already got that from day one.

Another interesting problem for the creationists is; what was the Earth orbiting before the Sun was there? Was it just floating in space, and God gave it a push to set it on its way around the sun? Of course, to the ancient Israelite this is a non-issue, but we know the Earth is travelling at a little over 67,000 mph. Just think what conditions were like for those fruit trees on a planet that was accelerating from a stand still to 67,000 mph. Another reason it might have been a good idea for God to create the Sun before he did plants.

Day Five

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
On day five God creates all the creatures that live in the water (and the shores too perhaps), and also all the birds. This puts me in mind of a zoo filling first one habitat, and then another. It is totally at odds with evolution, and the standard divisions of living things. Here flying things will include bats, and possibly insects too. In the Hebrew there is no whale, it simply says great things. Linnaeus was thousands of years away, the idea that bats and whales are actually mammals was a long way off.

Day Six (First Part)

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Various commentators  interpret this as being a list, with "living creature after his kind" being an introduction to the list, "cattle" referring generally to all domesticated animals, "creeping thing" referring to snakes, worms and perhaps spiders and non-flying insects too. Then "beast of the earth" refers to predators animals. That last one is a bit of a problem for creationists, who claim there was no death before the fall, but it is not clear in the Hebrew it has to be said.

Nowadays we divide animals into invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals (putting it very simplistically). What Genesis shows is how the ancient Hebrews categorised animals.

What I find interesting is that there is a parallel with evolution here, with the types of life getting successively closer to mankind. First there is only the inanimate, then plants, then animals in the sea and air, and finally land-dwelling animals, before we get to:

Day Six (Second Part)

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
That God refers to himself in the plural is seen as some of evidence that this creation myth was originally about Baal and Ashtoreth, a god and his consort originally worshipped by many of the ancient Israelites. Adam then is made in Baal's image, and Eve in Ashtoreth's image - like most pagan gods, they looked like humans, so this makes sense. Furthermore, God is refered to as Elohim, which actually means gods in the plural (in the second creation account from Genesis 2:4 onwards, God is Yahweh, in the singular). Here are some links relating to that issue (in the interests of balance, the last is an aplogetics site):
http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/henotheism.htm
http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/genesis-creation/
http://www.theskepticalreview.com/tsrmag/1poly94.html
http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=6&article=1131

Day Seven

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
For reasons unfathomable to me, the last day of the creation week has been put into chapter two (a relatively recent event, in the thirteen century by Archbishop Langton).

In Judasism, Saturday is the sabbeth, so it must be that God finished creation on a Saturday, and so day one would have been a Sunday. Christians have ignores God's wishes; while God considers Saturdays to be holy, Christianity has decided it knows better and considers Sunday to be holy. Even those who insist on an inerrant Bible.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Pasteur vs Abiogenesis


A common fallacy among creationists is that Pasteur disproved abiogenesis. Here are some examples:
One of Pasteur’s first major scientific contributions was disproving the supposed spontaneous generation of living things (such as bacteria) from non-living organic matter. (However in spite of this disproof, spontaneous generation is now considered to be the foundation of the evolutionary view of the origin of life if “millions of years” are added).
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v4/n1/creation-germ-theory

Louis Pasteur destroyed the belief that life could be created from inanimate substances.
http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/short_history_02.html

However, Louis Pasteur was in the very process of proving that spontaneous generation of cellular life was even more illusory than the flat earth.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/cm/v23/n1/life

The Law of Biogenesis is real, and accepted as true by all scientists. Evolution cannot be true, because it is against this law. To have a law there must be a law-giver. Who gave us the Law of Biogenesis? That Law-Giver could only be God.
http://www.discoverymagazine.com/articles/d1992/d9204g.htm

The law of biogenesis plainly teaches that all life comes from preexisting life, and that of its kind. That is exactly what the Bible always has taught as occurring in nature.
http://www.evolutionisdead.com/quotes.php?QID=018

Prior to Pasteur, most people believed that complex organisms could appear spontaneously. For example, maggots appeared spontaneously in rotting meat, snakes from piles of hay. Of course, the reason for these beliefs was that they had failed to see the eggs being laid. Rats, mice, barnacle geese and crocodiles were all thought to appear by a process called "spontaneous generation"

What was it that Pasteur actually did, and what conclusions can we draw from his experiments?


In the midst of the great excitement and controversy created by Pasteur's research on fermentation, a debate was ongoing in the scientific world on the theory of "spontaneous generation". The idea that beetles, eels, maggots and now microbes could arise spontaneously' from putrefying matter was speculated on from Greek and Roman times. ... The experimental design that clinched the argument was the use of the swan-neck flask. In this experiment, fermentable juice was placed in a flask and after sterilization the neck was heated and drawn out as a thin tube taking a gentle downward then upward arc -- resembling the neck of a swan. The end of neck was then sealed. As long as it was sealed, the contents remained unchanged. If the the flask was opened by nipping off the end of the neck, air entered but dust was trapped on the wet walls of the neck. Under this condition, the fluid would remain forever sterile, showing that air alone could not trigger growth of microorganisms. If, however, the flask was tipped to allow the sterile liquid to touch the contaminated walls and this liquid was then returned to the broth, growth of microorganisms immediately began.
In the words of Pasteur "Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment. No, there is now no circumstance known in which it can be affirmed that microscopic beings came into the world without germs, without parents similar to themselves."

http://louisville.edu/library/ekstrom/special/pasteur/cohn.html

The theory of spontaneous generation was finally laid to rest in 1859 by the young French chemist, Louis Pasteur. The French Academy of Sciences sponsored a contest for the best experiment either proving or disproving spontaneous generation. Pasteur's winning experiment was a variation of the methods of Needham and Spallanzani. He boiled meat broth in a flask, heated the neck of the flask in a flame until it became pliable, and bent it into the shape of an S. Air could enter the flask, but airborne microorganisms could not - they would settle by gravity in the neck. As Pasteur had expected, no microorganisms grew. When Pasteur tilted the flask so that the broth reached the lowest point in the neck, where any airborne particles would have settled, the broth rapidly became cloudy with life. Pasteur had both refuted the theory of spontaneous generation and convincingly demonstrated that microorganisms are everywhere - even in the air. 
http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/AB/BC/Spontaneous_Generation.html

See also (the last one has illustrations of the apparatus):
http://biology.clc.uc.edu/courses/bio114/spontgen.htm
http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/staff/TimLynch/sci_class/chap01/pasteur.html

The creationist argument goes like this:

1. Pasteur proved that life will not form spontaneously from sterilised meat broth under an oxidising atmosphere in about a month (I am guessing the time span).
2. Therefore, life can only come from life (the Law of Biogenesis)
3. As this is a law, it must be universal
4. Therefore life cannot form from primordial soup under a reducing or neutral atmosphere over the course of a million years.

The argument is founded on changing what the of Law of Biogenesis actually says along the way, and so is fundamentally flawed.

As an aside, Darwin's theory actually depends on the law of biogenesis. Common descent says that every living organism has an ancestry that can be traced back to a single common ancestor; this would not be true if crocodiles, mice and maggots were generated spontaneously.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Irreducible Complexity

Irreducible Complexity (IC) is the idea that certain systems are made up of a number of integrated parts, such that the removal of one of those parts will prevent the function of the system. This could mean that a system also has parts that can be removed without losing the primary function, but it has an IC core of parts that are necessary. A car would be an example; you can remove a windscreen wiper and it will still go. Remove the battery, and it will not. The battery is part of the IC core.

The concept of IC was first presented by Michael Behe in 1996 in his book Darwin's Black Box (though he had previously discussed an embryonic form of the argument in the creationist textbook Of Pandas and People). He defined it:
By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.
The important point to note in that definition is that IC only refutes direct evolutionary routes. I am told Behe argues that other routes are "improbable" but whether that means 1 chance in 3 or 1 chance in a billion I do not think anyone has any idea. The usual tactic for IDists is to demand that the evolutionists do the hard work and determine the probabilities. In any event, I am not aware of anything by Behe that would lead us to suppose that non-direct routes could not cause these IC systems.

This is odd, as it leaves his argue looking a bit stupid:

1. IC systems exist in nature
2. IC systems cannot evolve by a direct route, but they could evolve indirectly
3. Given that IC systems might or might not have evolved, it follows that they must be designed

Point 3 is clearly nonsense.

But here is the trick; Behe uses another definition when it suits him. Here is an article by Behe himself, hosted at ARN. From it:
A system which meets Darwin's criterion is one which exhibits irreducible complexity. By irreducible complexity I mean a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced gradually by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, since any precursor to an irreducibly complex system is by definition nonfunctional. Since natural selection requires a function to select, an irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would have to arise as an integrated unit for natural selection to have anything to act on. It is almost universally conceded that such a sudden event would be irreconcilable with the gradualism Darwin envisioned.
Hmm, that sounds a little stronger than his previous claim. Now he is claiming that there are no evolutionary routes to an IC system at all! He continues:
The components of cilia are single molecules. This means that there are no more black boxes to invoke; the complexity of the cilium is final, fundamental. And just as scientists, when they began to learn the complexities of the cell, realized how silly it was to think that life arose spontaneously in a single step or a few steps from ocean mud, so too we now realize that the complex cilium can not be reached in a single step or a few steps. But since the complexity of the cilium is irreducible, then it can not have functional precursors. Since the irreducibly complex cilium can not have functional precursors it can not be produced by natural selection, which requires a continuum of function to work. Natural selection is powerless when there is no function to select. We can go further and say that, if the cilium can not be produced by natural selection, then the cilium was designed.
How interesting. So now the argument is:

1. IC systems exist in nature
2. IC systems cannot evolve by any route
3. Given that IC systems could not have evolved, it follows that they must be designed

Now at least his argument makes a bit more sense. However, this leaves a couple of problems. The first for us is that apparently Behe accepts evolution - not modern evolutionary theory (MET), but universal common descent at least, and presumably much of MET. How does he reconcile that with his IC claims? I have no idea.

The second problem is for Behe. In this alternative definition, how on Earth does he go about proving that an IC system cannot arise via an indirect route? How can he show that point 1 is true?

What a lot of IDists do (and I have no reason to suppose Behe is guilty of this) is to quietly flip from one definition to the other.

1.IC systems (definition 1) exist in nature
2. IC systems (definion 2) cannot evolve by <i>any</i> route
3. Given that IC systems could not have evolved, it follows that they must be designed

The IDEA Center describe themselves thus: "The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting intelligent design theory and fostering good - spirited discussion and a better understanding over intelligent design theory and the creation - evolution issue among students, educators, churches, and anyone else interested." An organisation dedicated to a better understanding of ID. Perfect. These guys will surely know about IC and its implications. Right? So how do they describe IC?
Darwin, meet Michael Behe, biochemical researcher and professor at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. Michale Behe claims to have shown exactly what Darwin claimed would destroy the theory of evolution, through a concept he calls "irreducible complexity."

Darwin recognized this as a potent threat to his theory of evolution-the issue that could completely disprove his idea. So the question must be raised: Has Darwin's theory of evolution "absolutely broken down?" According to Michael Behe, the answer is a resounding "yes."
Now as far as I can see, the IDEA center is using exactly this definition flipping here.

For completeness, Behe has a third definition:
An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.
This is not so far from the first, as both concentrate on one specific evolutionary route. The task for Behe must be to eliminate every route possible (which may well be more than every route he can think of) to prove the system did not evolve. Then again, Behe accepts evolution, so I guess he will not bother...

One of the examples of an IC system that Behe presents in his book is the immune system. He says (quoted from here):
We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system
These words came back to haunt Behe at the 'Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District' court case (as describe in an article in Nature):
Then, 10 days later, Behe took the stand. During cross-examination by the plaintiffs' lead counsel Eric Rothschild, Behe reiterated his claim about the scientific literature on the evolution of the immune system, testifying that "the scientific literature has no detailed testable answers on how the immune system could have arisen by random mutation and natural selection." Rothschild then presented Behe with a thick file of publications on immune system evolution, dating from 1971 to 2006, plus several books and textbook chapters. Asked for his response, Behe admitted he had not read many of the publications presented (a small fraction of all the literature on evolutionary immunology of the past 35 years), but summarily rejected them as unsatisfactory and dismissed the idea of doing research on the topic as "unfruitful."

And so ID rejects real science.

There is, however, another dodge up Behe's sleeve which lets him maintain his delusion.

Behe has proposed a number of IC systems, the immune system being another. When it was pointed out in the Kitzmiller trial that actually biologists have a fair idea of how it evolved, he hid his God in the gaps. There were still bits that were not fully understood, and that is where his God is lurking. When asked what would convince him otherwise, he said:
Not only would I need a step-by-step, mutation by mutation analysis, I would also want to see relevant information such as what is the population size of the organism in which these mutations are occurring, what is the selective value for the mutation, are there any detrimental effects of the mutation, and many other such questions.
He is so desperate to cling to his pet theory that he admits only the most detailed evolutionary process would convince him he is wrong. Compare to the alternative that ID offers - there was an intelligent design who did it, we refuse to consider the nature of the designer or how it was done or when it was done.

Further resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/icdmyst/ICDmyst.html

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Problem of Evil

Although I was raised as a Christian, I was never really a part of the faith, and as I went though my teens, it was the Problem of Evil more than anything else that persuaded me the Christianity is wrong, so this is an interesting and important issue for me.

Definitions

Here is how I understand some terms.

All-loving: Love could be (perhaps inadequately) described as a strong positive emotion of regard and affection. If you love someone, you want the best for him or her, you care for and respect that person. From Wiki we also see this:
Agape: In the New Testament, agape is charitable, selfless, altruistic, and unconditional. It is parental love, seen as creating goodness in the world; it is the way God is seen to love humanity, and it is seen as the kind of love that Christians aspire to have for one another.
John said (1 John 4:16):
God is Love
This gives us some idea of the degree of love that God supposedly feels for all his children.

All-knowing: God knows all that is and all that every has been and all that will ever be. As an aside I see no incompatibility here with free will. If I had a time machine and went into the future to see what happened to you in the next ten years, and then came back to now, would that mean you had no free will? I think not, as why should God knowing what we will do mean we did not choose it freely?

All-powerful: Can God do evil? Can God break the laws of nature? Can God do the logically impossible (eg create a square circle)? For the basis on my argument, I am going to say (in order) yes (but being perfectly good, he would never actually choose to do so), yes (as he exists outside the universe, and created those laws; this is what a miracle is) and no.
Of course you may disagree with these definitions, but I think they represent mainstream Christian thought fairly well.

The Problem

The Problem of Evil can be simply summed up as; why does God allow suffering? However, I think it would be better to put this on a more formal basis. I see no reason we cannot apply  scientific methodology here: A hypothesis is proposed, it is assumed to be true, and from that inferences about the real world are deduced. If those inferences are actually observed, this supports the hypothesis. If the inferences are not observed, the hypothesis is rejected.

The hypothesis under discussion is the existence of a being (God) who is all-loving (with regards to humanity at least), all-powerful and all-knowing. If we assume this hypothesis is true, then it seems reasonable to also assume that there is an objective evil.

An all-loving God would not want humanity to suffer, an all-powerful God would be able to stop that suffering, and an all-knowing God would know how to do it. And yet, we observe suffering for humanity.

Suffering for humanity would seem to therefore be incompatible with this concept of God.

Free Will

One way around this is to invoke free-will - a lot of suffering is caused by man, not by God, because God gave us free will. I find this unconvincing because plenty of suffering is not caused by man (eg earthquakes and polio). Furthermore, God chose to curse us with free will for his own purposes, so that would seem to make him culpable here too.

It is interesting to ponder whether there is free will in heaven. If there is, then why is there none of the suffering we see on Earth? The only conclusion is that free will does not necessarily lead to suffering. On the other hand, if there is no free will in heaven, where people will have a blissful eternity, why claim that free will is important to us or to God?

The Fall

Another rationalisation involves the Fall. This is the idea that two people disobeying God thousands of years ago in some way makes it reasonable for God to inflict suffering on six billion people today. Sure, this fits with the Bible (Gen 3), but is this really compatibly with an all-loving God?

Exactly why is it that what Adam and Eve did should determine that people would suffer today? Who set up the system to make it so? God. If you follow this rationale, then God chose to create a universe such that disobedience by Adam and Eve - something he knew would happen when he set up the system - would lead to suffering for billions of people.

Is that compatibility with an all-loving God? No.

The Big Plan

An alternative explanation is that this is part of God's big plan. Sure, people suffer on Earth, but this is so they are tested/purified/whatever ready for heaven. But why do they have to suffer? Who decided that people are born in the fallen state?

Ultimately it comes down to this: God chose to set up the system such that we are all already sinful when we are born.

God is supposedly all-powerful. If he wanted to, he could have chosen to set up a system where people did not suffer for what Adam and Eve did (or however you want to rationalise it). There is nothing God cannot do. He chose to set it up so people suffer.

Getting Souls Into Heaven

God wants us to get to heaven apparently, but the evidence suggests that the majority of people will fail to get there. Sure, in Revelations 7 it say the number of people in heaven will be uncountable, but that could be just 1% of the population. Six million people would be uncountable. So when Revelations say those in heaven will be uncountable, that merely gives us a lower limit somewhere below a million, and not much to go on besides that. All the text says is this will be a big number; no more than that.

Compare to Matthew 7:
13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
Is this God's great plan, then? Most of his beloved children ending up in hell to suffer for eternity, cast aside like so much rubbish?

The Parenting Analogy

I have children, so I appreciate that sometimes you "have to be cruel to be kind". I take them to the dentist, I take them for vaccinations, I punishment if they are naughty. I cause them suffering because I understand that in the long term they will be better for it - even if they do not understand that. However, the analogy is not that good, because I am not omnipotent. If I was omnipotent, I would certainly not take them to the dentist; I would ensure they just had perfect teeth. No need for painful injections, I could just make them immune. No need to punish them, I just make them understand what they did was wrong, so they do not want to be naughty next time, or I remove the temptation to be naughty.

Sadly,  I do not have that choice. But God does. He could choose to have us born free of sin, and to live in a place where we are happy all the time. Adam and Eve were born sin-free, so we know he can do the first part, and God created heaven, so no problem with the second half either. It would seem that God chose to set up a system in which people suffered, despite being capable of setting up a system in which people do not suffer.

Am I Angry With God?

Discussing this n internet fora usually results in someone sayong I am angry with God for letting bad things happen. This is just a dodge - it completely fails to address the issue - however, I will say this:

I am no more angry with God than I might be with Father Christmas when I find out he does not exist. My point in this thread is that the contradiction between the Christian claims of an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God are inconsistent with what we observe in the world.

I am not telling God what I think he should be doing; there is no point, he does not exist. Rather I am approaching the claim that an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God exists. The way this is done in science is to assume the hypothesis is correct, to draw predictions from that assumption and test thoise assumptions against what we observe. If we assume that an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God exists, what kind of world would we predict? One where everyone is happy, where everyone is safe. Like heaven, but all-inclusive.

Not like this world.