I am an agnostic. I suppose for most practical purposes I am an atheist, but I haven’t turned away from theism enough to be comfortable with that label. The primary reason that I am not a theist is the argument from evil (or “Argument from EVIL!” if you want to be more dramatic about it). The gist of the argument is that it makes no sense to suppose that an all-powerful, all-loving, all-good god would allow the evil in this world to exist. But my purpose at the moment is not to present a complete account of the argument. Instead, I simply want to discuss something which has made me a bit uncomfortable with it for a while.

I can’t deny the intuitive force of the argument since it is what ultimately led me away from theism. It is very powerful, but the bulk of its force comes from its emotional appeal. It is a rational argument, but you ultimately find yourself being swayed by your emotions rather than reason. As an illustration, a famous version of the argument dealing with gratuitous evil uses as an example the suffering of a young deer. The fawn is badly burned in a forest fire and lingers several days before dying. This example packs quite a punch. But does the argument have as much force if one doesn’t appeal to the suffering of Bambi to make the point?

I don’t think it does. Just imagine the argument except with an iguana or some other less cuddly animal. The effectiveness of the argument is, at least to a degree, dependent upon the listener’s non-rational response to it. Now I don’t think this invalidates the argument (otherwise I would be a theist), but it does make me a little less comfortable with my reaction to it.