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Why some atheists shouldn’t have children

July 10, 2014

Another fascinating presentation this morning was on the problem of evil by Vince Vitale. I actually felt this was a more comprehensive presentation than his earlier one on the cosmological argument. Vitale offered a number of reasons of why we can accept suffering in our world. His eight reasons were:

  1. A response of freedom
  2. A response from morality
  3. A response from humility
  4. A response of grace
  5. A response to ‘life to the full’
  6. A response for eternity
  7. A response at the cross
  8. A response of relationship

I can go into these responses in more detail if necessary. Yet I wanted to touch on a point he made in response number four, ‘a response of grace’. His main point here was slightly complex to grasp, but it was essentially, ‘in the midst of suffering, why couldn’t God create me in another world without suffering?’

Vitale’s response was that if you change something, you change everything and in this ‘alternative’ world, we wouldn’t actually even exist!

He offered a provocative illustration surrounding childbirth. If we should do all we can to avoid suffering, then we shouldn’t have children – because we are bringing a person into the world who will suffer.

Hence Vitale proffered, ‘If it is in principle evil for God to create world with evil and people will suffer, then we would also have to call every human decision to have a child also evil.

Hence if an atheist believes ‘in principle’ that it is wrong to bring people into a world where they will suffer, then they shouldn’t have children!

Vitale’s point is fascinating. Any child will suffer in some form or another and hence the decision to have children perpetuates suffering. I think he shows that bringing people into a world where they’ll suffer is not ‘in principle’ wrong (either for God or for humans). Hence he demonstrates that this doesn’t preclude God from creating a world ‘in principle’ without suffering. 

Of course, this isn’t a complete explanation for the problem of evil (and Vitale acknowledges this), but it does help overcome a perhaps simplistic notion that it is evil for God to have created a world with evil.

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3 Comments
  1. “Hence if an atheist believes ‘in principle’ that it is wrong to bring people into a world where they will suffer, then they shouldn’t have children!”

    So, was god unable or unwilling to create a world without suffering?

  2. eyeontheuniverse permalink

    “Hence if an atheist believes ‘in principle’ that it is wrong to bring people into a world where they will suffer, then they shouldn’t have children!”

    I’m not sure that anyone actually believes it would be evil for any god to bring people into a world where they would suffer. Generally this is applied to a supposedly all powerful and all knowing god, who should have the power to ensure suffering doesn’t happen and to know (alternatively) which lives who have more suffering than well-being. Humans are neither all powerful nor all knowing so this doesn’t apply. Humans are facing a world in which people already exist with their happiness and pain. Bringing a child into the world is a best guess scenario: will that child be mostly content, conscious and happy? What impact will the child’s birth have on the rest of the world?

    The calculations of a human vs. an all-powerful and all-knowing god are very different.

  3. Silly click bait.

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