So right now, there is a baby penguin in Antarctica. It still has feathers on its body, so it’s completely dependent upon its parents to get food for it, since with feathers it cannot swim in the ocean to get food for itself. But, this particular baby penguin’s parents have died; eaten by orcas.
Without its parents, it will starve to death.
Right now, this baby penguin is scared, cold, and alone… not knowing where its parents are at. Most importantly hungry and without any means of obtaining food. Other penguins realize this, and start attacking the baby penguin to make it even more frightened up to the point that it vomits up its food… the attacking penguins do this so they can eat this regurgitated food.
As human beings, we know what it’s like to be scared, cold, and alone. We know what it’s like to be oppressed; to be picked on – attacked because we seem weak. We know what it’s like to be hungry, so we know exactly how this baby penguin feels. Modern Christian apologist claim that human suffering is ultimately for some sort of “greater good”. But what about that baby penguin? It’s going to die a slow, painful death by starvation; exacerbated by feeling scared and alone before it dies. For what purpose? What’s the “greater good” in this scenario? In Antarctica, far removed from any human civilization?
And that’s just one baby penguin. This situation happens hundreds of thousands of times a year; not just with penguins in remote Antarctica, but in the remote jungles of Brazil, the African savannah, everywhere where there is no human around in sight. Thousands of times a year, animals suffer cruel, painful deaths. And this happens every year. Thousands of these painful deaths 10 years ago, thousands of these painful deaths 100 years ago, thousands of these painful deaths 10,000 years ago, thousands of these painful deaths 10 million years ago, thousands of these painful deaths 1 billion years ago.
There were no humans around 1 billion years ago. What greater good did animal suffering back then grant human beings – who wouldn’t be around for another 880 million years? The equivalent of probably 100 billion baby penguins starving to death, or being painfully eaten alive throughout the existence of this planet.
If a personal god created the world, then it must have intentionally designed a world for maximal suffering. A world where for one living thing to live, another living thing has to die. Even that deer on the side of the highway is the cause of a living thing’s death; the grass it’s eating must die in order for the deer to live.
Marcion, the very first Christian to put together a “New Testament”, realized that the world seems designed for suffering. So he said that Jesus was sent by a different god, a god other than the one who created the world. Makes sense. Cerinthus, an Ebionite, also argued the same thing. That the world was created by the angels who were incompetent and that YHWH hadn’t created the world… and that the Logos/the Christ, which descended into Jesus upon his baptism, was sent by YHWH to redeem mankind from the world of suffering created by the incompetent angels.
If I believed in a personal god, I would have to conclude the same things that Marcion and Cerinthus believed: that this personal god was either abjectly malevolent or an idiot. There’s no way that this Universe, that is 99.99999…% hostile to life (how long would a human survive outside of the Earth in the 99.99…% vaccuum of space?), or this Earth with its billions of (non-human) lives extinguished in the most brutal of fashions prior to any human being gracing it, was created by a “God of love”.
What kind of “God of love” would design a world where for one living thing to live, another living thing has to die?