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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.4 > Does God Exist?

Does God Exist?

A Rebuttal of Theologian Brian Huffling
Illustration by Anna Maltese

IN A RECENT ISSUE OF SKEPTIC magazine (Vol. 24, No. 2), theologian Brian Huffling presented his answer to the question “Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God? A Response to Michael Shermer’s Affirmative Answer.” 1 Although Huffling does yeoman’s work in his attempt to justify the negative answer, in the end his defense fails. The evidence cited by Shermer is not only good, it is decisive. It shows that God does not exist!

What is evil anyway? Shermer defined it as “intentional harm against sentient beings.” I think this is a pretty good modern definition, but Huffling doesn’t buy it. He wants to hang on to an older concept that asserts that even natural disasters, like destructive hurricanes, are evil. Of course, if a god were to cause destructive hurricanes, then they would be evil by Shermer’s definition, since the god would have intended these harms. “Evil” is primarily a religious concept and has different meanings even among theists. Huffling himself equivocates on the term in his own essay.

I think it is time to discard the idea of evil in discussions of the existence of God. Let’s simplify and ask: “Does the fact that humans are significantly harmed in many specific ways count as evidence against God?” Or, to put it more bluntly, “Do significant specific harms to humans prove that God does not exist?” Furthermore, let’s forthrightly rename the associated argument to “The Argument from Harm Against the Existence of God.”

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About Skeptic

UNDERSTANDING FLAT EARTHERS WHO SAYS THE EARTH IS FLAT, AND WHY? COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Water Fluoridation: Public Health, Not Poison, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Are You in the 43 Percent?, by Carol Tavris DEBATE Does God Exist? A Rebuttal of Theologian Brian Huffling • God is Not a Moral Being: A Response to Gary Whittenberger on the Problem of Evil ARTICLES Understanding Flat Earthers • Shroud of Turin Update • The Girl Who Smelled Blue: The Colorful Case of Willetta Huggins • How to Navigate Contentious Conversations • How Much Longer Will Cancer Screening Myths Survive? • Nationalistic Pseudohistory in the Balkans • “Prove that I am Wrong!” What QAnon, Descartes, and Brains in Vats Have in Common REVIEWS Reviews of Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness • The Human Swarm: How Tolerance of Strangers Creates Society • Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues • Forensic Science Reform: Protecting the Innocent • The Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions: Forensic Science Reform • Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law JUNIOR SKEPTIC Victorian England’s Jurassic Park, by Daniel Loxton