I. The Problem of Evil in the World
II. If Gods are Acting in the World,
Why is it Never Reported in the News Media?
III. Does History Have a Direction or Destiny?
IV. Can Prayer Change Things?
V. Do Gods Bring Good Fortune?
VI. Do Gods Cause or Cure Sickness?
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WHICH GODS DO NOT
No Gods Are
by James Leonard Park
PROBLEM OF EVIL IN THE WORLD.
All of the religions of the world
that believe in gods who are benevolent
must deal with the observed reality
that bad things do
happen even to good people.
If God is all-powerful, why did he permit
the killing of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust?
Why do natural disasters
regularly wipe out large numbers of people?
Why does war prevail on Earth,
killing thousands of people every year?
Various answers have been given to this 'problem of
Some say that the gods limit
in order to permit us to have free will,
that the gods do not really have enough power
to change the order of the world that leads to accidents, etc.
The burden of such explanations
rests with every system of belief that claims
an almighty god and acknowledges evil in the world.
GODS ARE ACTING IN THE WORLD,
WHY IS IT NEVER REPORTED IN THE NEWS MEDIA?
Many religions claim that their gods
are active in the daily events of the world.
But when we turn on the television
or pay attention to any other news source,
we never hear that such-and-such events
were caused by gods.
And if we did hear or read such claims,
we would know immediately
that we are viewing a religious program
or reading a religious publication.
Non-religious accounts of world-events
never refer to supernatural causes.
Believers in all-powerful gods acting in the world
will have to explain how such divine actions
might be taking place behind
even if we have perfectly natural and historical
explanations for everything we observe.
And when we notice events that are not easy to
do we improve our
understanding of these events
by saying that they were caused by gods?
DOES HISTORY HAVE A DIRECTION OR DESTINY?
Religious world-views often include claims
that there is an underlying
direction to the process of history.
Even tho we might not be able to discern these purposes,
divine intentions nevertheless lie behind everything that happens.
And, according to many such religions,
history is moving toward a destiny
that will ultimately be good
for at least some of
the people of the world.
In some versions,
this wonderful destiny will not be realized until after death
in this world as we know it.
But a new world will
be created somewhere
for the people who have been good enough
in their earthly lives to deserve heaven.
This claim is not easy to confirm by
And the burden of proof rests on those who make any such claims
about the underlying direction or ultimate destiny of world history.
IV. CAN PRAYER CHANGE THINGS?
Many of the religions of the world believe that
their all-powerful gods
can intervene in the processes of the world
and change things for the better.
And sometimes there is a theory
that gods need to be informed
about the bad things
that are happening (or are on the verge of occurring)
so that the gods can intervene to change the course of history.
Many prayers to these supposedly all-powerful gods
are offered every day by the believers of the world.
But is there any evidence
that such prayers ever make any difference?
Once again, the burden of proof rests with the
Can they convince anyone who does not already share
their belief in all-powerful gods working behind the scenes
to achieve some ultimately good ends
that the process of asking
for favors from these gods
actually makes something different?
Of course, the process of praying for something
can change the people who
offer such prayers.
Once those who offer prayers have formulated
what they want to see happen in the world,
they might become focused enough
to begin actions themselves
that will result in a different outcome
that can be observed in the real world.
If this is the main effect of prayer,
how does this differ from non-religious people
analyzing the problems and then taking effective action?
V. DO GODS BRING GOOD FORTUNE?
All observers of human life notice
that good things do occasionally occur.
And sometimes there is no easy explanation
of why things turned out this way.
People who believe in all-powerful gods
often attribute good fortune
to the intervention of gods on their behalf.
They think that the gods must be smiling on them
because they have won the lottery
or avoided an airplane crash.
But what about the people who lost their money
or the people who were
killed when the plane crashed?
Did all-powerful gods wish misfortune on them?
might be a better explanation.
Those who believe that their gods bring them good luck
will have to show how this might be happening.
How does good luck differ from believing in all-powerful gods?
VI. DO GODS CAUSE OR CURE SICKNESS?
When people believe in all-powerful gods,
they often think that sickness and death
have come to them or to members of their families
because they have offended their gods in some way.
If so, they might try to make things right
with their gods once again
so that their sickness will be lifted
and so that death will be avoided at least this time.
People who have no such assumptions
about the causes and cures of sickness and death
will turn to other methods besides
appeals to the gods to cure their diseases.
In the parts of the world where science has taken
they will probably try medical
to cure their sickness and to postpone death.
Those who believe that their gods
can cure diseases and prevent death
have a heavy burden of proof.
How will such believers convince non-believers
that powerful gods exist?
Anyone on Earth who believes in an all-powerful God
will have to present very strong evidence
which will be forceful enough to replace
the more obvious explanations:
The events of the world have wholly natural and human causes.
Why should we believe that anything is caused by supernatural agents?
Spring 2003; revised 5-12-2003; 6-14-2003; 11-25-2003;
2-4-2007; 1-12-2008; 2-8-2008; 3-29-2008; 4-18-2008; 1-8-2009;
4-3-2009; 10-28-2010; 3-24-2011; 3-26-2011; 8-8-2012
James Park began his college career in the natural sciences,
earning minors in physics and mathematics
before switching to philosophy and humanities,
and then going on to Union Theological Seminary
in New York City,
where he earned a Master of Divinity degree.
in the scientific method
and the scientific world-view.
Nevertheless, he has written five books
Capacities of Our Human Spirits:
chapters of this small book
have been incorporated as PART II of a new book to be called:
Capacities of Spirit:
The above cyber-sermon is Chapter 4.
Depression, Anxiety, & Death
This book contains two chapters also published
as separate books:
Chapter 6 Existential
Chapter 9 An
Existential Understanding of Death:
Phenomenology of Ontological Anxiety
3. In Quest
Achievement, Marriage, Children, Pleasure, & Religion
Our Spiritual Malaise
Interpretation of Paul's Letter to the Romans
Complete information about these
and other books by James Park will be found here:
much more information about James Park
will be found on his home page:
Go to the
opening page for Free
Go to the
index page for Heart,
—an electronic magazine for UUs
Go to other
cyber-sermons by James Park,
organized into 10 subject-areas.
to the UNITARIAN
to the beginning of this home page:
Existential Philosopher's Museum.