Atheism and suffering

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Theodore Beale wrote about atheism and bitterness: "...the age at which most people become atheists indicates that it is almost never an intellectual decision, but an emotional one."[1]

On a societal level, there is generally an inverse relationship between atheism and suffering. In third world countries, for example, where there is a lot of poverty, individuals adopting atheism is rare/infrequent. On the other hand, in communist China, where there was (and still is) atheist indoctrination, atheism was common even when there was poverty in post 1949 China. Compared to Christians, atheists have not done a significant amount of charitable outreach to poor countries (see: Western atheists have not done a significant amount of outreach to poor countries).

On a personal level, some people turn to God/religion during times of adversity while some people become embittered by adversity and forsake religious belief (see: Atheism and bitterness). See also: Causes of atheism

Currently, there is a growth of evangelical Christianity in irreligious/nonreligious countries. For example, in China, there is an explosive growth of evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christianity often grows fast in areas where there is social/economic instability.[2] Many people turn to God/religion in times of trouble. At the same time, Protestantism is positively correlated with economic/societal progress (see: Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism).

The Bible teaches that suffering/evil came into the world as a result of the man's disobedience (see: Fall of man).

Atheism has nothing worthwhile to say about evil and the Christian apologist Ken Ammi wrote:

Imagine considering the problem of evil and (illogically) concluding that God does not exist—what happens next? Well, you look around the world again and notice that evil still exists and now you do not even have God to blame. Rejecting God does nothing about evil. Thus, atheism does nothing about evil. Of course it does nothing—it cannot do anything and is not supposed to do anything. Atheism is merely an idea and thus, has no volition by which to do anything at all. Indeed, and that is just the point: atheism is an idea, but God is a being who can and does various things about evil: God can condemn it absolutely, God can make provision for redeeming evil, God can abolish evil.

Atheism not only does nothing about evil; atheism actually makes evil even worse. Atheism guarantees that evil is for nothing, it has no greater purpose or meaning; it guarantees no redemption of evil.

However, it is inaccurate to state that atheism guarantees that evil is for nothing and has no greater purpose or meaning. This is because in the absolute materialism that atheism implies, evil is very purposeful in that it benefits the evildoer. The evildoer commits evil acts, and as long as they are not caught they evade the judicial systems of this world and simply get away with it, the victim suffers and may suffer for decades while the evildoer enjoyed committing evil deeds.

Also it is inaccurate to state that atheism does nothing about evil; it actually makes it go away by pretending that it does not exist. A tsunami that drowns thousands of people is not “evil”; it is a large wave. A hurricane that destroys cities and kills people is not “evil”; it is high winds. An animal, whether human or otherwise, that kills another animal is not “evil”; it is acting according to all that there is; its own will. It may be inconvenient, we may not like it, we may attempt to do something about it, against it, but it is not evil; it just is.

The fact of evil in the world is one of the very best reasons for rejecting atheism.[3]

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