If a doctor travels to a village with enough polio vaccine to inoculate 1,000 children, but only gives 10 of them the shot and throws the rest of the vaccine away arbitrarily, and then watches the remaining 990 die or be crippled by polio, we would conclude that doctor was a monster, not a saint. Suppose that Jesus miraculously fed and healed thousands, raised someone from the dead, or that God parted the Red Sea to save the Israelites. Suppose that all of the millions of visitors to the shrine at Lourdes, France who claimed to have been miraculously healed were actually miraculously healed. Suppose that God were to reach out and instantaneously eliminate all pointless suffering in the world today. None of these miracles accomplishes nearly as much as God could: He didn’t do it yesterday, he didn’t do it at Auschwitz in 1945, or when the bubonic plague ravaged and killed millions in Europe during the 1300s. He didn’t do it in countless other cases where all of the morally relevant details were the same as the cases where he is alleged to have performed a miracle. She says, “As those who would defend the argument from evil point out, there is a huge amount of evil in the world—psychological and physical suffering, malnutrition, starvation, pandemics, cruelty, torture, poverty, racism, lynching, sexism, child abuse, assault, war, sudden deaths from natural disasters—the list is appalling. . . . Instead of using miracles to feed a small number, to transform water into wine, or to convert a few people, God could very well be performing miracles that have a much larger effect, especially on the lives of the millions of children whose suffering is particularly incomprehensible to anyone with a sense of justice. The question is why a good God would be concerned with details like the need for wine at a wedding, and yet apparently not be concerned with huge tragedies like the holocaust of six million Jews.” James Keller argues against God’s performing miracles: “The claim that God has worked a miracle implies that God has singled out certain persons for some benefit which many others do not receive implies that God is unfair.” He continues, “there may be two cases which are similar in all ways that seem relevant, yet in one case there will be a recovery (which some deem a miracle) and in the other case no recovery.” A supernatural being who performs a miracle while idly standing by in the presence of so much suffering in the course of history would be guilty of gross negligence, failing to meet obligations of moral stewardship, and failing to fulfill a duty to rescue. It would be reasonable to conclude that such a being is evil.
In the bathroom of a Las Vegas casino in 1997, Jeremy Strohmeyer brutally killed a little girl while his best friend, David Cash Jr. watched and did nothing about it. Strohmeyer was tried and convicted for the murder, but even though Strohmeyer had confessed to Cash, the law had no provision for prosecuting Cash for his gross failure of moral duty to report the crime. The California state legislature quickly passed a law obliging witnesses of felonies against minors to report them. David Cash’s negligence was morally wrong.
Many years ago, a woman name Kitty Genovese was murdered outside her apartment in New York. Dozens of neighbors listened and even watched, but did nothing. The murder took over half an hour. After the attacker had stabbed her repeatedly, stolen her money, assaulted her, gone away and come back, and left her for dead, someone finally called the police. They came within a few minutes but it was too late. The neighbors were immoral in their indifference.
The doctor, David Cash, and the witnesses to the Genovese murder should have done something, particularly since so much good could have been accomplished with so little effort.
Adults have greater moral obligations in the presence of children or animals than they do with other normal adults. They must restrain themselves and to protect the other beings because they are weaker, more vulnerable, and have greater basic needs. There are moral obligations of stewardship. In general, it is wrong to do less good or to fail to prevent evils that you are able to prevent with very little effort.
At any given moment on the planet when miracles are alleged to have occurred, there are billions of other people who are not being miraculously cured, healed, or benefitted.
Christine Overall says, “If Jesus was the Son of God, I want to know why he was hanging out at a party, making it go better [turning water into wine], when he could have been healing lepers, for example.”She concludes, “a being that engages in events that are trivial, capricious, and biased cannot be a morally perfect God.”
Overall, Christine, “Miracles, Evidence, Evil, and God: A Twenty-Year Debate,” Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 358.
Keller, James. “A Moral Argument against Miracles,” Faith and Philosophy. vol. 12, no 1. Jan 1995. 54-78