God Must Be Evil (If It Exists)

By Vexen Crabtree 2003 Aug 02

There is more evidence that God is evil than that God is good.

A quote from Vexen Crabtree from this page, with a photo, against a pentacle backdrop.

1. God Must Be Evil

1.1. The Existence of Suffering

If God was all-powerful and all-loving, with free will yet perfectly good, God would create life with similar properties: with free will and perfectly good. Meaning that there would be no human-created evil, and no need for evil, suffering or death in the world in any way. However, there is evil and death in very great quantities, therefore it holds that if the situation was created by a god then such a god is not omnipotent and benevolent. Given that such a god exists, it must be malevolent: An evil god, who created life for the sole purpose of watching life suffer.

Such a god would make life, in its very essence, impossible to exist without death, violence, suffering and struggle. Advanced life, especially, would be inherently prone to nastiness, wars, immorality, killing and causing of suffering. As this is how it is in the world, it holds that the existence of such levels of suffering, if it is the result of intelligent design, is thoroughly evil, and to call god "good" is a corruption of the truth.

As it happens, the world is as we would expect it to be if the designer of life was evil. Ancient religious minds also realized this. Gnostic religions such as the Manicheans explained that this world was the creation of an evil God, and that we had to somehow escape from it. Some people criticize this, asking, if the world was designed by an evil God, why is there some happiness and goodness in the world? Why isn't the world purely evil, with only suffering?

A Manichean might retort that this is the worst of all possible worlds, in which the good things that exist serve only to heighten the evils. The world, he might say, was created by a wicked demiurge [who] created some virtuous men, in order that they might be punished by the wicked; for the punishment of the virtuous is so great an evil that it makes the world worse than if no good men existed.

"History of Western Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (1946)1

Look around this universe. What an immense profusion of beings animated and organized, sensible and active!... But inspect a little more narrowly these living essences... How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own happiness!

David Hume2

1.2. The Dominance of Death in Nature

A god could not have created a more vicious cycle if it tried: Tying the very existence of life with the necessary killing of other life is the work of an evil genius, not of an all-powerful and all-loving god.

-- Vexen Crabtree

The main piece of evidence here is biological matter and the food chain. All life dies - all biological life decays, erodes, fades, becomes diseased and ill if it does not sustain itself. To sustain itself nearly all life, except the least living elements of life, kills and eats other life. If not this, then it consumes biological matter at the expense of other living beings; the fight for food is also a case of living beings being required to outdo each other merely to survive.

If life was created, and not simply the result of undirected unconscious evolution (as seems sensible), this is surely the worst possible way to have created life. It appears very much that life cannot survive without causing suffering for other life. A god could not have created a more vicious cycle if it tried: Tying the very existence of life with the necessary killing of other life is the work of an evil genius, not of an all-powerful and all-loving god, that could choose if it wanted to sustain all life immediately and forever with manna from heaven. But it seems such an all-powerful good god doesn't exist.

Satanism is about reality. In reality, all living beings die. There are no exceptions. Satanism, in embracing life and indulgence, is in affect striving against death. However, death will eventually win, it is inevitable. Satan, representing reality and the Human condition, symbolizes the victory of death. This eternal truth is more meaningful and potent than deceitful symbols of life, of reincarnation or of other spiritual pipe dreams.

"Satan is Death: 2. Satan Represents Death" by Vexen Crabtree (2003)

Sensible refrain:
Life exists as a precarious balance of self-replicating chemicals, and such a balancing game is always bound to be temporary, pending major technological discoveries or serious and continuous genetic engineering. That such extreme measures have to be taken to prolong life is evidence to the fact that life is incidental to the universe, a by-product that exists due purely due to statistical likelihood, and that life is temporary is because all the physical constructs of the universe are temporary. However, if a deity was believed in, it would be sensible to assume that it was evil and created life as such a disharmony in order to cause the suffering and pain of living beings.

1.3. Genetic Diseases and Unintelligent Design

Christian doctrine holds that mankind suffers because of sin, which we choose as a result of free will. Without free will there would be no sin, and therefore no suffering. But it is obvious that a great number of the genetic diseases reviewed above on this page are inherited from the moment of conception, and therefore are nothing to do with choice or character. Not only that, but genetic diseases affect all species, although, as a result of mankind's increasing lifespan, many diseases have come to fore in humankind due to senescence. It is possible to construct evolutionary trees tracing the history of a faulty inherited gene through species by looking at which species emerged from what predecessors (phylostratigraphy), and through other genetic techniques. Many faulty genes that afflict mankind originated in previous species that existed before humankind emerged3, therefore, it is a logical impossibility that the existence of mutations and diseases are a result of human sin. In other words, the suffering that results from genetic diseases has affected all species throughout the history of life, and is part of the fundamental process of evolution. It has been noted that this is a hefty piece of evidence that if there is a god, it isn't the good-natured creator that traditional religions believe in. [...]

Genetic diseases afflict not only mankind, but also all other animal species, and all other forms of life down to the simplest bacteria and harmless single-cell lifeforms floating in the oceans. In all these species and in plants there are seemingly endless cases of genetic flaws and problems. Perhaps the best indicator of how badly life is 'designed' is the stark reality that 99% of all species have gone extinct. The food chain requires that nearly every living being survives by killing other creatures to eat for food, and species naturally expand to use up all local resources, limiting the success of other species. Everywhere in nature, predator-and-prey chains are central to life. This isn't a design for life, but a design of strife and violence. The genetic defects of nature, and the violence and strife of the natural world, indicate that life was not designed by a good-natured creator god but maybe by an evil one. My favourite phrase to describe all of this waste and bad design is one I picked up from Paul Kurtz in the Skeptical Inquirer:

The existence of vestigial organs in many species, including the human species, is hardly evidence for design; for they have no discernable function. And the extinction of millions of species on the planet is perhaps evidence for unintelligent design.

Paul Kurtz (2006)4

1.4. God, Free Will and Morality

It seems to be logically impossible for a good god to exist. Imagine the case of a perfectly good god. It could not be immoral even if it tried. Whatever it done would work the maximum amount of good because god's actions would be the definition of perfectly good. God has no choice in this matter - it is perfect, and there's nothing it can do about it! A being with no choice is not a moral agent. It is the same situation if God is only capable of doing good things, even if it could do bad things. In both cases it appears that God does not have a choice in its own morality. This makes God amoral, and not morally good, in the same way that any automaton with no moral free will is neither "moral" or "immoral", but amoral, as a computer is neither moral or immoral even if we program it to always do the right thing. Because there is no free will, there is no way to assert that God is moral.

That "God is Good" is a common assumption made by theists yet God could exist and be neutral (amoral) or malevolent (evil and immoral). But it cannot be "morally good". It if it perfectly good then it always makes the most perfect choices and therefore has no free will. A being with no free will cannot be morally good as it makes no moral choices; it can only be morally neutral like a robot. Also, if God's actions and wishes are automatically good by definition, then its morality is arbitrary and we ourselves have no moral reason to follow it, and may do so only out of fear of the consequences or of selfish want of reward. If God's actions are not by definition good, then, there must be an independent source of the definition of goodness. If God has always been good then God can't have been the creator of goodness; yet if it wasn't, then what was? The idea of a good god causes contradictions. If you do not accept purely logical, philosophical or theological arguments that god cannot be benevolent, then, the real-world existence of evil and suffering (of babies, etc) is also evidence that the world was not created by a perfectly good god. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanoes appear to be universal and not linked to Human free will, yet they cause much destruction. It seems that morality and God are contradictory. God cannot be the author of morality nor can it itself be moral.

"God and Goodness: Can a Perfectly Good God Exist? Is God Love?: 7. Conclusions" by Vexen Crabtree (1999)

That the idea of a perfectly good god contradicts itself means that it is impossible for a good god to exist. An amoral or immoral one could still exist. The evidence on this page on suffering, pain and the unsuitability of the universe for peaceful life is rather a big hint, however, that God is not amoral, but is actually immoral and sadistically evil. Of course it is completely more obviously the case that there isn't a god of any kind, but if there was one, it wouldn't make sense to call it "moral", it'd have to amoral at best.

1.5. God Does Not Prevent Suffering

Unhindered natural evil
God could act to prevent all natural disasters, fires, earthquakes, radiation and accidental mishaps from afflicting pregnant women, young children, babies and innocent people. That God doesn't do this is a clear indicator that it doesn't want to do it - because it sees nothing wrong with our suffering. This is not a moral God, who can just sit around and do nothing all day whilst creation suffers in the hands of the stray photon particles God left laying around in their billions! God could prevent all background radiation from harming people... but it doesn't.

Heaven
Whether people deserve it or not, a good God would elevate everyone to heaven immediately. Good and bad, moral and immoral... once in heaven where there is no evil and no suffering, even bad people only do good things. If God is forgiving or loving (or exists...) then it would automatically and instantaneously place everyone in heaven. Why doesn't God do this? Because god is neither all-loving or forgiving! Life is a game intended to draw out peoples' lives as much as possible, making them endure the maximum amount of pain that is logically possible... because God, if there is one, is utterly evil.

2. What Would an Evil God Do?

2.1. The Evil God Says It Loves You!

If God was evil, it would definitely convince the weak-minded amongst us that it loves them. That's exactly what an evil God would do! In fact, it would make believing that this is true as one of the cornerstones of its teachings! Like the totalitarian government of George Orwell's 1984, like the Fascist governments of history, and like the leadership of every inhuman cult leader: once the followers believe that the figurehead loves them, they'll bend to his will! A pure evil God would boast about love, forgiveness, and compassion! And, being very powerful, an evil God would be convincing, too.

2.2. An Evil God Would Make Heaven Hard to Get To

An evil God would create a beautiful, perfect, fabulous heaven, and then not let anyone go there. It would tell people about heaven, and tell people that they can get there, and even show some people what heaven is like. But in reality there would only be hell and eternal suffering. It might even create human forms (Jesus, Muhammad, etc) and go around preaching about heaven, in order to tease Humanity even more, and increase our suffering.

A good god would, obviously, put everyone in heaven immediately, whether they deserved it or not. So an evil god would have to invent reasons why it couldn't do this, so that people wouldn't realize it was an evil god. If a god was particularly evil, it could even tell people that they have to believe these reasons in order to get into Heaven! That would be a perfect circular argument, augmented by the emotional and selfish wants of people who want eternal bliss! A perfect deception!

2.3. An Evil God Would Create Conflicting Religions

Religions that fight each other tend to make their adherents believe in them even more strongly. Group solidarity comes into effect: when you have enemies, you keep a closer grip on your friends and also reinforce your own group identity. So, an evil God would appear to mankind in a variety of guises and preach a number of powerful, but conflicting, religions. It would therefore create maximum confusion, and maximum suffering, through war and intolerance. It would preach to each religion that its followers were right and other followers were wrong! These groups would all wholeheartedly believe that as God (or, the gods) has revealed the truth to them, other religions must be wrong and ungodly. That way, most of the weak, inferior, pathetic people that the evil god creates would fall foul of one religion or another, and be duped! Once duped, they'd cling to the lies even more the stronger because of the existence of competing religions. An evil God, indeed, would do this, and this is exactly the state the world is in. Coincidence? If there is a God, it is surely evil!

"Fundamentalism" by Malise Ruthven (2007)5 has the author state that for the secular non-believer, the warring of fundamentalist groups is proof that god is "if not downright evil, a demonic power who delights in setting humans at each other's throats". Too right!

2.4. An Evil God Causes Confusion and Hides Itself

If we knew the truth, our existential crises, mental angst and warring world religions would have no grounds to vex. If god revealed itself to everyone, in no unclear terms, there could be no disagreement. But god does not do this. God remains hidden - and if god is the source of any of our world religions, it seems that it is intentionally giving conflicting messages. Saying one set of things to one group of people; appearing as a multitude of gods to others, and appearing not at all to many. These appear to be the tactics not of a god that wants us to understand and unite, but of one that actively encourages division, war, conflict, confusion and stress.

Sensible refrain:
Such a god remains 'hidden' because actually it doesn't exist. Experiences of god and experiences of other spiritual things are mistakes, ego-projections, psychology and misleading experiences which nonetheless appear true to those that have them and are even partially a side product of the way we've evolved. However, if there is a god and it intentionally hides and spreads confusion and disagreement about its own nature, then it is not a truthful, good-natured god but one that prefers conflict.

2.5. Genetic Diseases

Evolution has stumbled down many confused and unfortunate alleys and left much of the biological world with a legacy of problems that could easily have been averted with some foresight. I discuss much of this in "Evolution and the Unintelligent Design of Life: Inherited Traits, Genetic Dysfunction and Artificial Life" by Vexen Crabtree (2007) but there is one particular type of genetic disease that is relevant here: those that show an advantage in their heterozygote form, but are lethal in a double dose:

The way genetics works, some genes have terrible effects only when inherited from both parents. This means that the gene can be successful and get passed on from generation to generation, but, it occasionally wrecks havoc on a baby or child. It is very unfortunate that this type of gene exists, but, thankfully the march of evolution means that most dysfunctional genes are eventually removed from the gene pool because they reduce the average viability of offspring. It would be so much better if evolution could see what it was doing, because there is an unfortunate twist. Some of these terrible diseases, which only strike families occasionally, have an advantage when they're not showing their ugly side. This is known as "heterozygote advantage". Examples of this type of disease include sickle-cell anaemia. This disease is spread because in its hidden, harmless form it gives an advantage against malaria. Likewise, cystic fibrosis is believed to give protection against cholera, and the terrible neurodegenerative tay-sachs disease linked with protection against tuberculosis. Due to the advantage of having these genes in their heterozygote form they spread, but, this means that the terrible diseases caused by them occasionally afflict unborn babies and the very young.

"Evolution and the Unintelligent Design of Life: Inherited Traits, Genetic Dysfunction and Artificial Life: 3.6. Genetic Diseases With Heterozygote Advantage" by Vexen Crabtree (2007)

If I was an evil architect who wanted to create a species that would suffer needlessly, then, I would design evolution in such a way that terrible diseases were hidden by genes that conferred an advantage and therefore spread well in the population. If I was a good designer, I wouldn't create genetic diseases at all. Which way does the evidence point? The existence of genetic diseases with heterozygous advantage is evidence that, if there is a creator, or a designer of evolution, such a being is either malevolent or a very poor geneticist.

2.6. Mark Twain's Diatribe

...a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who could have made every one of them happy, yet never made a single happy one; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal happiness unearned, yet required his other children to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet cursed his other children with biting miseries and maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice, and invented hell--mouths mercy, and invented hell--mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who mouths morals to other people, and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon man, instead of honourably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine obtuseness, invites his poor abused slave to worship him!

Mark Twain

3. What Would Vexen Do If He was God?

Full page: "If Vexen Crabtree was God, What Would he Do?" by Vexen Crabtree (2005)

Why doesn't God do these things? And just as importantly... why did God create evil, suffering, sin and the food chain in the first place? There are two possibilities to explain God's confusing choices: God Doesn't Exist or God is Evil. People who believe that a god exists should probably spend more time wondering whether their God is really the good guy or not! Maybe if everyone believed in Vexenism, the world would be a better place!

"If Vexen Crabtree was God, What Would he Do?: 2. So Why Doesn't God Do These Things? Is God Evil?"
Vexen Crabtree
(2005)

4. Good and Evil: What if We Can't Tell the Difference?

4.1. Pascal's Wager is Safer in Reverse

We couldn't tell from its appearance or character if a god, or a powerful spirit, was actually good or evil. Deceiving us mortals would be easy.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

1 John 4:1

Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

2 Cor. 11:14

Any powerful spirit can pretend to be good. Even a being of complete evil, like Satan in the Christian Bible, is said to be able to appear 'as an angel of light' (2 Cor. 11:14). And in Islam, the Satanic verses were sneaked into the Qu'ran by the devil, without Muhammad noticing that they were from the most evil being rather than angel Gabriel. That a being of complete evil can hide its true nature and appear as good is a genuine warning from world religions; how much easier must it be for lesser demons and naughty spirits to hide their lesser quantities of evil (e.g. 1 John 4:1). Some groups of early Christians thought that the entire Old Testament was written by an interloper; an evil god, that ought to be overthrown. Such dualistic battles are common in gnostic and mystery religions. Us poor Human beings have little chance of determining who are the good, and who are the bad, in the world of gods, angels, demons and spirits.

"Pascal's Wager is Safer in Reverse: Picking a Religion is Dangerous Business" by Vexen Crabtree (2010)

One argument is that we should assume the existence of a good god. But even from within the standpoint of traditional religion, this fails as a tactic.

Pascal's Wager is that it is 'safer' to believe in God because if you're wrong, you don't lose anything. But here are five reasons to turn this argument on its head, and reject God and religion: (1) As God has historically served as a force for evil and it seems that any demon could very easily trick us into thinking that it is God, we must reject all feelings and thoughts from God for fear of us being deluded into committing yet more misdemeanours. (2) The major monotheistic religions hold that idolatry is a serious sin so it is safer to accept no god rather than risk accepting the incorrect one. (3) The major monotheistic religions hold that having the correct beliefs is so important that having the wrong ones is normally punished with particular glee; it is safer to remain doubtful than to commit to the wrong set of beliefs. (4) The goal of reaching heaven is a selfish motive so probably won't get you there. (5) A good and benevolent god judges us according to our choices in life, not according to the religions we happen to be born with, or convert to, given that our choices are based on incomplete and subjectively interpreted evidence - if God is just then our religion is largely irrelevant to it. In conclusion: it is much safer for yourself and for society to not pick a religion and to not believe in any particular god.

"Pascal's Wager is Safer in Reverse: Picking a Religion is Dangerous Business" by Vexen Crabtree (2010)

So even if we fail to find evidence for a good god, or an evil one, or any god at all, it is safer to avoid the concept of God and not to commit to it. If God is good, it will understand that we are concerned that powerful demons might masquerade as angels of light - as it says in the Bible for example. If God is evil, we didn't want to commit to it anyway. And if there isn't a god, as least we successfully made a sensible assumption based on the evidence.

4.2. Homocentricity / Anthropocentrism

There is one potential flaw behind the arguments for the existence of a God that is either moral or immoral: It assumes that the suffering of Humanity and life on Earth is relevant to the intentions of that god. Life could merely be a by-product, a means to an end, and therefore suffering is completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. This points to the existence of a neutral god, if we speak in absolute terms. However this argument against giving moral labels to god fails. Firstly, we are not speaking in absolute terms, we are specifically speaking from our own point of view and from the point of view of living beings. So, in the English language, according to Human Beings, if there is a God the evidence suggests we are justified in calling it evil. Secondly, although from its own point of view, it may not see itself as evil because our suffering is irrelevant to its plan, from our point of view the suffering we endure is an overridingly important oversight. So much so that the creator of the universe is revealed to be morally flawed; or in other words: to be evil. So call it evil, we will, and likewise, if we choose to uphold a symbolic figurehead as representative of reality, that figure must be the evil one of Satan.

5. Conclusion

The existence of such large quantities of suffering, despair, pain, of natural disasters such as earthquakes, of the death of the unborn and the immense suffering of lovers & kind-hearted people means that god is evil and intentionally creates life in order to create suffering. That all life exists in a food chain means that life is completely tied to death, and such a barbaric biological cycle could only have been made by an evil god. Also, that such a god appears not to exist, or actively hides itself, is a source of confusion, conflict, war and stress and is again more likely the antics of an evil god. Given the state of the natural world, it is impossible that a good god exists. It is more likely that an evil god exists, but, it is sensible to assume that there is no god of either type. Even if there is not a god of either type, as the dominance of death and violence in the natural world, a result of nature being abused by life and not being designed for life, I think the evil symbol of Satan is the best representative of the state of reality and the universe, whether or not an actual evil god exists.

If God did exist and was evil, it would undoubtedly lie and tell everyone it was a good god and that it loved them. It would create maximum confusion by preaching multiple conflicting religions. It would create heaven and make it hard to get to in order to tease and torture people into making their own lives hell. As all of those things happen, if there is a God, it is doing the things an evil God would do!

Once I recognized and accepted this state of affairs and adequately called myself a Satanist, I could concentrate my life on happiness, love, stability and peace. Because I know and understand that death always wins, that life is temporary, I waste no time on short-term whims that reduce my quality of life, or of those around me, and I waste no time with spiritual pipe dreams. Recognizing Satan as the personified meta-figure of reality is self-affirming, life-affirming, positive, honest and clarifying.

Read / Write Comments

By Vexen Crabtree 2003 Aug 02
http://www.dpjs.co.uk/god.html

Links:


Vexen's Bane of Monotheism site
Arguments against the existence of a good god

References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. [Book Review]

LaVey, Anton. (1930-1997)
The Satanic Bible (1969). Published by Avon Books Inc, New York, USA. Anton LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966.

Russell, Bertrand. (1872-1970)
History of Western Philosophy (1946). Quotes from 2000 edition published by Routledge, London, UK.

Ruthven, Malise
Fundamentalism (2007). First edition 2005. New edition now published as part of the “Very Short Introduction” series. Published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Stenger, Prof. Victor J.
God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007). Published by Prometheus Books. Stenger is a Nobel-prize winning physicist, and a skeptical philosopher whose research is strictly rational and evidence-based.

Footnotes

  1. Russell (1946) p571.^
  2. In Stenger (2007) p47.^
  3. The Economist (2008 Nov 15) "Genetic disease and evolution: Bad old genes". Added to this page on 2011 May 19. Dr Domazet-Loso and Dr Tautz have published research on the ancient origins of harmful genetic mutations.^
  4. Paul Kurt in Skeptical Inquirer (2006 Sep/Oct, Vol 30:Issue 5).^
  5. Ruthven (2007) p3. Added to this page on 2013 Aug 15.^
  6. 2005 Aug 15: Added substantial text to section What would an Evil God do?.
  7. 2011 May 19: Added section Genetic Diseases and Unintelligent Design.

© 2013 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.

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