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HAPPINESS, VIRTUE AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL

Believers in God argue that evil is needed by God for the sake of a greater good. He only lets it happen if he can do good with it. Essentially, he will one day make the bad consequences of evil good.

If you are happy, you simply know you are. You do not need to check to see if you are happy in God terms or because of God and your faith. But if you are to love others and yourself less than God then you should check. That will only diminish and wreck your happiness. Happiness is begrudged to you if you find it has little to do with God or nothing. That makes a train wreck of the notion of a God who loves you so much and wants you to be happy. The problem of evil being let be by God is a poisoned well and that is pouring more poison into the well.

Christianity claims to be other-centred not self-centred. So it is surely better to wish you were unhappy instead of somebody else. If you are happy you have to begrudge it to yourself. But is that ungrateful to God? No because it is not about telling God he is wrong to make you happy. It is hypothetical. You can say, "I wish that somebody else had my happiness and not me and that I had their despair instead. But I am glad that God chose me to be happy. I just feel for the other person who could have this happiness instead of me." Nevertheless this will diminish the happiness a lot. You might think you are very happy when you don't realise you are missing out on greater happiness. Christianity's talk about the meaning of life contains the hidden premise that I should want to be happy even if it means somebody else has to lose it so I can have it.

I must never, even implicitly, agree that I should endure what I do not want for a greater good or for any reason. It is vital that I drop belief in God for it suggest that God should let me suffer for good reasons. An all-good God cannot stand by and let evil happen. But it happens. Christians redefine evil to make it fit belief in God. They callously make out it is less bad than what it is. They turn it into the seed of good.

The Christian looks at evil and claims that it is a problem how it can be reconciled with an all good and all perfect God of almighty power. The Christian assumes it is a problem and not a refutation of God. The matter is so serious that it is a terrible thing to assume that it is merely a problem. You would need to see sufficient evidence that God is good in order to justify calling evil a problem. And that would be a lot of evidence and good quality evidence too. It would take time and effort to be able to perceive that God must be good. It would be almost a lifetime for some. It depends. But to just assume evil is a problem is not good enough.

The Christian faith says that God has the power to make us happy right now.

He will do not it because he wants us to face evil and become virtuous. We have to develop virtue ourselves. It cannot be implanted in us for then it will not be ours. Virtue implies that you overcome evil and resist it and give birth to goodness. For example, with pride you fight your desire to be seen as better than others and when you overcome it you see yourself as you are. The Christians reason that it is better to have to endure evil and develop virtue in the face of it than to be given goodness on a plate.

If I get intelligence from God or whatever and I need to develop it then am I really developing it? I am only tuning into what I have already got. I am really only becoming aware of my intelligence and its wrong to say I develop it. It is the same with virtue. I have to have a built-in concern for others to some degree. Though our heads tell us that virtue is not ours if it is implanted in us or poured into us like a substance, that is not important to us. We treat our virtue as ours regardless of whether it comes from chance or God or is programmed into us.

The teaching that evil is allowed ultimately for the sake of virtue implies that virtue matters more than happiness. So virtue is not mainly about being happy though it may help you to be happy.

Some go further. They say it implies that virtue matters and happiness does not matter at all. So virtue is not about happiness to any degree even though it may help happiness to come.

Christians say that atheists expect God to give everybody total bliss without interruption. That is a caricature of what many atheists say. They say, "Happiness is great. Unhappiness can be a form of happiness when we embrace it for the sake of appreciating the happiness we had or will hopefully have again." The problem is suffering not the degree of happiness.

Virtue is pointless if it is a denial that happiness is good or important or turns it into mere luck. Even if you have to be virtuous though it will lead only to you suffering, it does not mean you reject happiness in principle. Happiness is more important than virtue if virtue must accept happiness in principle. So if happiness is more important than virtue then the atheists are right. Suffering disproves God and whoever says it doesn't does not really understand or care what the word virtue means.

The Christian cannot say even hypothetically, "I want you to sin if that is what you want to do as long as it does no real harm to you or anybody." That would be implying that people come before God and a pure heart. The atheist can say it and indeed should! The atheist is the one who can be the genuinely nice person.

If virtue is its own reward, then no further reward is possible. You will accept it not as a reward but as a gift. A reward for virtue is not a reward except in name only.