Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My First SSA Meeting

Tonight, I finally attended a meeting of Michigan's Secular Student Alliance. It was good to finally feel like I was among "my people" after feeling alienated all summer. I am constantly amazed at how horrible it is to feel all alone in the world. I hope that atheist organizations like the SSA will continue to serve as a community support system for atheists. I really hope to be able to contribute more to the community and the movement this year. The world is one big opportunity at this point. Let's do this...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Free Will" Can Get Stuffed

Lately, my brother and I have been on a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit binge. Just a few minutes ago, I finished watching an episode from season 10 entitled "Hell". The case in this particular episode revolved around former child soldiers from Uganda. Predictably, the premise of the story brought me to tears. Near the end of the episode, when one of the Ugandan characters attempts to shoot himself, having been threatened with deportation, he makes an especially powerful problem of suffering argument as to why God had "forsaken" him.

As I watched pictures of real Ugandan child soldiers flash by at the episode's conclusion, I was reminded why I despise the "free will defense" so much. I mean, I do think the argument itself is logically flawed on several levels, but this is also one of few arguments that I truly abhor. As I noted in my first post on the free will defense, I've noticed that few people who claim that evil is the result of human "free will" have ever really suffered. I'm sure that at least some of them have experienced troubles and tragedy in their lives, but I can assure you that almost none of them will ever experience the horrors that happen in countries like Uganda.

We're talking about children who not only had to watch their families brutally killed, but who were forced to kill people themselves. There were women and children made into sex slaves, etc. These are atrocities that no one asks for or deserves, especially not children. If there is a god out there who could do whatever he wanted but decided that the free will of some to commit atrocities was more important than the victims of said atrocities, he isn't a god worth worshiping.

I despise the free will defense because it demonstrates a lack of empathy and consideration for suffering innocents. It paints a blood washed portrait of a cruel and unfeeling god using the hands of followers so determined to defend their pet god concept that they would conveniently forget how awful the world can actually be. Free will, to the extent that it actually exists, is a luxury only offered to those of us lucky enough to live in a free society.  Certainly, you and I can choose how we live our lives in order to minimize evil and suffering, but many of our fellow humans can only dream of being so fortunate.

My solution to the problem of suffering is simple: stop praying and start working. Our "first world" society wasn't always as privileged as it is now. People worked tirelessly to make it this way.  Real human beings busted their backs and shed their blood to find cures for diseases, end slavery, dethrone tyrants and build healthy alliances. Some continue to work even to this day. It is our responsibility, if we are able, to put our talents and our strength to good use to improve the world we live in. We must make it our duty to eradicate suffering. Our gods certainly don't seem interested in helping.