A Salmon of Doubt Episode 5 – The Problem of Evil.

Click HERE to listen to the show.

An Anectdote

by Matthew Toobee

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battleships_in_World_War_I (I haven’t watched this link at all, but it is what comes up when one searches for Battleship Myths.)

 The News:

Ontario Divisional Court Upholds the Decision of the Law Society of Upper Canada to not credit Chirstian Trinity Western University as a feeder law school.

Apologetics Counter – The A Problem of  Evil

My description of the Argument.

Pretty thorough treatment of the argument and counters here. (We haven’t read this…)

Good fun conversation about the evidential POE.

From whence the argument about god’s delegation of responsibility to angels and so on came.


The Non-Conference

The Atheist Community of Toronto

Posted in A Salmon of Doubt | Leave a comment

A Salmon of Doubt – Episode 4 – The Argument from Scripture

 The News:

Jerry Coyne talk presented by CFI Toronto, about his new book: Faith Versus Fact

The Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change

Apologetics Counter – The Argument from Scripture

William Lane Craig Debate with Christopher Hitchens

Some Bart Ehrman

Erhman on Reasonable Doubts

Secular Outpost series, the Logic of the Resurrection


The Non-Conference

The Atheist Community of Toronto

Posted in A Salmon of Doubt | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Argument from Evil.

I had planned to post some counter-apologetics here in advance of discussing them on the podcast. Four episodes late, but I am now getting started.

Pure Evil

Pure Evil

Among the most popular reasons cited for atheism is the “Problem of Evil”. Like most positive atheist arguments it is not a complete argument for believing there are no gods. Rather, it is an argument against the essential attributes of some definition of god. The problem of evil argues that there are inherent contradictions between the attributes of omnibenevolence, omnipotence and the evil and or suffering we seem to observe. Christians typically believe God possesses these attributes, if he could not, then the God they believe in cannot exist. Another, might but it could not be all-good AND all-powerful.

In its basic, strong and logical form it goes like this:

1) if a god exists, it would be all-good, and would want to stop any unnecessary suffering or evil he could

2) if a god exists he would be powerful enough to stop all unnecessary evil and suffering

3) there is unnecessary evil and suffering

5) therefore no such God exists

There are only a few counters to this the strongest being the skeptical theist response that all the suffering and evil observed is necessary in some way. In others words, god has perfectly good reasons for not stopping evil and suffering from occurring.

For example, a theist might argue that much evil and suffering are due to our own immoral and sinful conduct, wars, crimes, torture, and so on. That allowing humans the freedom to act this way and for the consequences to really manifest, is a greater good than preventing the evil, since it allows for a sensible moral creation with humans having to make meaningful moral choices. I don’t agree with this, but let us grant it for the sake of argument.

This is only a partial response , since not all human suffering is due to human actions. Disease and natural disaster are responsible for a great part, if not the majority of human suffering. Our free will is irrelevant to whether these events occur. So what reason could a god have for not intervening to prevent this suffering? Why do the prayers of most of the parents with children dying of disease go unheeded? I cannot imagine any legitimate reason.

"Mom, Dad, don't touch it, its Pure Evil!"

“Mom, Dad, don’t touch it, its Pure Evil!”

The best reason for theists to propose is “I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean the reasons aren’t there.” This may be true, but it seems out of keeping with the idea that we are born equipped, even partially, to understand objective morality. It would seem to mean that we are ignorant of many important moral facts about the cosmos, in fact we would be ignorant as to why or how some of the worst and seemingly gratuitous suffering is not stopped by one who can stop it, and does not want us to suffer. We should be able to speculate somehow as to why god might not intervene if there are perfectly good reasons not to. This might even result in moral paralysis. Should we intervene to prevent or alleviate suffering? How could we know if doing so prevents this mysterious greater good?

After this analysis the argument survives quite well in its weaker form:

1) if god exists he would be powerful enough to eliminate all evil and suffering.

2) if god exists he would eliminate all evil and suffering unless there were moral reasons not to. Or, if god exists the would be no gratuitous suffering or evil.

3) much suffering and evil appears gratuitous. We can not imagine any reason why god would not intervene to eliminate it.

4) so much suffering and evil seems gratuitous because at least some of it is. If we are created by God with a divinely instituted moral sensibility, we should be able to come up with reasons why God would not intervene even if we can’t verify them

5) therefore it is unlikely that god exists.

There are a few other, less persuasive counters, such as the speculation that all suffering, even disease and natural disasters,mare caused by human sin. This seems to be an incredibly unfair and torturous cosmos, where young children are somehow responsible for their cancer, or worse, they suffer and die because of the wrongs if their ancestors.

Another weak response in my view, is that the reason god doesn’t intervene is that he doesn’t want to deprive us of the opportunity to do good works of charity and healing, in the face of disease and disaster. I don’t think the opportunity for good here outweighs the harm caused by natural disasters like the Haitian earthquake, or the Indonesian Tsunami. Even so, there are plenty of wars and human caused disasters for us to rally together in relief and healing. We don’t need Altzheimer’s disease to have the opportunity to be good.

Please let me know your thoughts on this argument, and we’ll discuss on the podcast.

Posted in A Salmon of Doubt | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Salmon of Doubt – Episode 3 – Teleological Argument Part 1


Raif Badawi, before he met Saudi justice…


Click me to listen

Get in touch! briangreenadams@gmail.com

Matthew Toobee’s Name


Brian’s Name

Brian Eno – https://ffrf.org/news/day/dayitems/item/14827-brian-eno

Robert Green Ingersoll- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTkVCccCA4w

Douglas Adams – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kK1YgR7J0g

Why We Are Doing This Podcast

(Well at least why Brian does this.) https://briangreenadams.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/is-there-a-god-why-it-matters-to-atheists/

The News

Third Atheist Blogger Hacked to Death http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/12/third-atheist-blogger-killed-in-bangladesh-after-knife-attack

Loyola Supreme Court Case Revisited – Teaching from a Catholic perspective yes, but it is not as bad as we thought it might be. http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/14703/index.do

Apologetics Counter

Paley’s Version of the Argument http://philosophy.lander.edu/intro/paley.shtml#two

A Pro Fine Tuning Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpIiIaC4kRA

KnownNoMore’s Funny Response https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD81sCoPOEw


The Non-Conference

The Atheist Community of Toronto

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Salmon of Doubt – Episode 2 – Moral Argument 1(Links)

Click me for Episode 2


Supreme Court rules Quebec infringed on Loyola High School’s religious freedom

The hour-long show that made Brian think the US Supreme Court will allow same sex marriag

  • The Strange Notions website – a place for civil discussions about Catholicism and Atheism

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act info.

Apologetics Counter

The Moral Argument on Apologetics Press

Known No More’s “The End of Theistic Morality

The theme to 3-2-1-Contact.

Battle at Kruger

Fallacy Fun Time!

Poisoning the Well

Michael Shermer on Long Now


Reasonable Doubts Podcast


The Non-Conference

The Atheist Community of Toronto


The ACT meets the third Tuesday, not Thursday, every month.

Posted in A Salmon of Doubt | Leave a comment

Podcast: A Salmon of Doubt

A Salmon of Doubt is my podcast with co-host Matthew Toobee. It is loosely associated with the Atheist Community of Toronto.

We discuss news we feel is relevant to atheists, counter-apologetics, and other issues of interest.

Download or listen on Soundcloud or iTunes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Human Rights and Freedom of Religion in Indonesia

On my bus ride Twitter perusal this morning I cam across this tweet from Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom.


I would love to visit Jakarta, Indonesia and especially its expansive religious buildings. But there was more news about Indonesia this morning:

Bali Nine executions: Tony Abbott to recall Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia

Yes, to the anger and outrage of much of the world yesterday, Indonesia killed 8 people because they were involved in drug smuggling. The death penalty is a violation of international human rights norms to begin with, but to do it for drug crimes is particularly abhorrent. A number of the prisoners executed were Australian which is why Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is recalling his ambassador.

Canada has two ambassadors in Indonesia at the moment, one is our diplomat, the other is our Ambassador for Religious Freedom. No indication they will be withdrawn in protest. I had no idea what he is doing in Indonesia, or what he expects to accomplish, until I found this on the interwebs:

In August of last year, Minister Baird announced the first three religious freedom projects. In Nigeria we are funding a two-year and roughly $553,000 project to promote interfaith dialogue and conflict mediation between different communities, specifically Christian and Muslim communities. With the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE, we are launching a three-year project worth just over $670,000 with the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, to promote international standards on freedom of religion, focusing on recognition of religious or belief communities in eastern Europe, central Asia, and the south Caucasus. In Indonesia we are launching a $260,000 project with the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace to produce annual reports on freedom of religion and belief, increase understanding by religious communities of their constitutional rights, provide advocacy and networking tools to religious communities, and provide training for teachers on religious tolerance and pluralism.

So he is likely there in connection to the quarter million dollars Canadians are giving the Setara Institute to promote religious freedom. Not likely to demand Indonesia recognize the right to believe and not and ask them to get rid of their law that literally criminalizes atheist expression and resulted in the arrest and jailing of  Alexander Aan in 2012 for writing “God doesn’t exist” in social media.

This highlights the strange and, frankly, offensive fact that Canada has established an office in Foreign Affairs to support only one human right. There is no office for Human Rights, no ambassador. No millions of dollars funding promoting gender equality in Saudi Arabia, promoting gay rights in Russia. Meanwhile Baltimore burns because of racism.

And, on my dime, Ambassador Bennet gets to tour the world’s third largest mosque. I would love to see the Istiqlal Mosque one day, but I am now afraid to go to Indonesia, because it is illegal to promote atheism there. And Indonesia executes people, today drug trafficking, maybe tomorrow for blasphemy. I have little hope that my Ambassador is promoting my rights in that country, or anywhere else.

Impress us Ambassador Bennet. Be courageous. Make a statement in support of Alan Aan, or are you also afraid you will be imprisoned? (Hint: you have diplomatic immunity.)

Posted in The Internet, this-would-be-funny-if-it-was-not-true | Tagged , | 1 Comment