Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is There a God Who Cares? Yes. Here’s Proof.

The biggest question about God is not, surprisingly enough, whether he exists. It’s about whether God is really good.

In my debates with leading atheists, I noticed that many of them aren’t real unbelievers. It’s not that they refuse to believe in God; rather, they are angry and disappointed with God.

Many unbelievers are wounded theists. And their main complaint is that God, who is supposed to be all-powerful and good, seems in reality to be uncaring and even malicious. They fault God for allowing so much evil and suffering in the world.

Christians, too, can be wounded theists, cherishing God when things are going well but feeling godforsaken when there is tragedy. At some point all of us ask the difficult questions:

  • Why do bad people end up on top while good people go through hardships?
  • Why do so many people suffer needlessly?
  • Is God really omnipotent and benevolent, and if so, why does he permit so much suffering?

“A triumphant tour de force.” —Eric Metaxas

In the book I draw on new discoveries in modern science to offer an original solution that will satisfy believers and challenge the most hardened skeptics.

What others are saying

“In addition to reviewing the classic explorations of this most vexing problem, Dinesh D’Souza adds two provocative contributions: first, the perspective of a man born in India, a land that views suffering very differently from the West; second, an active engagement with the New Atheists, whom he counts as friends as well as debate partners.”
—PHILIP YANCEY, author of What’s So Amazing about Grace

Atheists beware: this book contains incontrovertible evidence of a benevolent and omniscient Creator. What is that evidence? It is the spectacular mind of Dinesh D’Souza. Believing such a mind could be the product of random forces would take infinitely more faith than believing in unicorns and leprechauns. A triumphant tour de force.”
ERIC METAXASNew York Times bestselling author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

“Dinesh D’Souza examines the strengths and weaknesses of the historic approaches to the problem of suffering and offers some provocative suggestions based upon more recent ideas of fine-tuning and the Anthropic Principle. He tackles the challenges in fair-minded way while offering direct answers to the arguments of today’s anti-theists. The result is a readable and entertaining book.”
—IAN HUTCHINSON, physicist and professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT

“In this provocative and important book, Dinesh D’Souza tackles the most difficult question of faith. Every reader, believer or not, will come away enriched, inspired, and compelled to rethink old assumptions.”
—RABBI DAVID WOLPE, author of Why Faith Matters


22 Responses to “Godforsaken: Bad Things Happen. Is There a God Who Cares? Yes. Here’s Proof.”

  1. Tony Escobar May 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Dinesh! I so look forward to reading this. Thank you for all your excellent work.

  2. Michael Martin May 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    I ordered this book as soon as I saw it available. Dinesh’s other books satisfied me that his capacity for thoroughness and balance will be available in Godforsaken, as well. It is sure to be the one book on that theme (of theodicy) that necessitates my quoting from it often when I deal with this issue again.

  3. adam June 7, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    I remember in one of your debates with Ehrman someone in the audience asked both you and Ehrman what you personally did to help those suffering. Ehrman said he donated alot of money to charities that help those in need/who are suffering. To my surprise, aftering saying that giving money is not enough (this may be true–something which I fail at personally), you went on and spent your time discussing a study which apparently showed that Christians have done more to help others than humanist/atheistic/agnostic organizations. You never said what you personally do. This is not an attack on you, but I was surprised that after subtly critiquing Ehrman by saying we need to do more than give money, you weren’t able to come up with anything you do (which was the original question of the audience member)…

    • katie August 29, 2012 at 4:19 am #

      Perhaps he was choosing to say that he handled things the way Christianity demonstrates without having to toot his own horn and put himself upon a pedestal in mentioning specific actions on his own part. It is really more of a Christian thing to do good without doing it for the sake of an audience. The point is to honor God, not receive praise from men for being such a “good person.” – Matthew 6:1-4 speaks directly to this issue.

      Rather than speaking specifically about how great he is in handling the situation, he simply mentions how all of us (including himself) should handle the issue.

      • marcus January 21, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

        Furthermore, his literary contributions can be a motivating help to all who are willing to read them with an open mind – thus encouraging perhaps countless numbers of people to help others.

  4. pam June 7, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I am buying this and yes I am a Christian . My children were viciously taken away from me 12 years ago by the state and my own family .I hurt and still cry hard tears thanks

  5. Kip June 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Just finished the book. There’s plenty of good info there. The first chapters look a lot like my class notes for a course that I teach on this topic. My primary contention with the book is the attempt to explain natural evil via biological evolution. I think that in doing so you lose more than you gain. As you point out, 1. It must be theistic evolution. 2. Accepting that forces a metaphorical interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and more (including comments from Jesus like “from the beginning they were created male and female. 3. It leads to a type of finitism. God must not know the future of what levels of suffering that the evolutionary process will result in. But if God DOES know that and still brings about life via biological evolution, then how is that a better situation philosophically/theologically than just saying that God created everything like XYZ and that comes with collateral damage? I appreciate the book, but I think that it faltered on that point.

  6. Mr Jocelin Salins June 27, 2012 at 6:41 pm #

    I read your book ‘God Forsaken’ recently. At the beginning of the book you state that you have something original and fresh to say about the problem of suffering and I was interested to find out what it was. Unfortunately, I was disappointed as I read the book, as the bulk of it deals with humans’ freedom of choice and that evil and suffering is unavoidable because of our wrong choices. Therefore, we are to be blamed and not God. I fully agree with this, but this answer is not original. Dr Peter Kreeft in his book ‘Making sense out of suffering’ which was written in 1986 gives this answer.
    Moreover, Lee Strobel in his book ‘The Case for Faith’ published in 2000, writes about his interview with Dr Peter Kreeft, and there also the same answer is given very clearly. Also the meaning of God’s Omnipotence, Omnicience and what is meant by saying God is all Good is dealt with by Dr Kreeft. I am sure that you have read these books, at least Lee Strobel’s book. Therefore, much of what you have written in this your book is not original. The only thought of linking the Anthropic Principle to the problem of suffering, I grant, is original. Well done.
    I want to point out two glaring mistakes:
    1. On page 43 you write, ‘God hurled the bad angels into hell’. I’m sure you very well know that it is not yet, but at the end of time (Rev 20:10)
    2. On page 214 you write about Abraham bargaining with God and that as a result, God relents concerning wiping out a city and spares everyone on account of the righteous (Gen 18). In fact, the Biblical account says quite the opposite! The cities in question were Sodom and Gomorrah. Because even ten righteous people could not be found there, Abraham’s bargaining did not succeed! The cities were destroyed.
    It is surprising that no one had picked up this glaring mistake in spite of the fact that in the Acknowledgments you mention that several people had read this book and offered helpful suggestions. You better correct this error for the printing of the second edition of this book!
    I write these as constructive criticism. I enjoy reading your books and I praise God for the gifts that he has given you.

    • Virginia Hughes November 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

      Mr. Salins. I would like to commend you for your knowledge of the Bible and your steadfast faith. As I was reading your comment, I sensed your faithfulness to the Word of God and how important it is to you not to paraphrase, give an opinion or add to God’s Word. One must be prepared when one speaks about the Bible of the contents and the meaning of what God has intented for us to know. Thank you … God continue to bless you and keep you bold in Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ love,

  7. Rich Gaffin July 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    Dr. D’Souza does a great job of bringing together various powerful apologetic arguments, and I highly recommend this book. Nonetheless, in my view he fails in his main task. (More on that below.) I would urge D’Souza to consider “Evil and the Cross: An Analytical Look at the Problem of Pain” by Henri Blocher. In the final analysis, evil is a mystery that defies explanation, and we cannot go much beyond the “answer” provided by Job. In fact, the irrationality of evil is central to what evil is. It is that which cannot be, yet is. As Blocher puts it, it is the thorn in reason’s flesh.

    Some comments on the book’s main arguments. Dr. D’Souza argues that God is “constrained” in his ability to prevent both moral and natural evil. In the case of the first, it is the free will argument. In the case of the second, it is the fine-tuning argument.

    The free will defense of moral evil fails because of the doctrine of heaven. Christians believe that we will be sinless in heaven and that we will have meaningful choices there, i.e. we will not be automatons. The question, then, is why didn’t God create Adam and Eve as we will be in heaven? D’Souza attempts to address this question. He says that in heaven we will have perfect happiness, and therefore have no motive for sin. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, did not have perfect happiness. Drawing on Anselm, D’Souza says that God withheld perfect happiness from them, and they chose to pursue that happiness rather than obey God. But the obvious rejoinder is: Why should God create beings capable of perfect happiness but not grant it to them? This “answer” is no answer at all.

    The fine-tuning argument to explain natural evil fails because it doesn’t take into account the implications of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. In discussing the concept of omnipotence, D’Souza usefully clarifies that it does not mean that God can do anything at all. It means rather that God has unlimited power to do what is possible. So, God cannot make square circles, because a circle by definition has no sides or angles. “Square circle” is a nonsense phrase, like “ofmagoma fmu fmu”. It signifies nothing; there is nothing there for God to make. But then D’Souza implies that the interaction of the laws of nature are of the same character as this type of logical relation. He uses the example of earthquakes, in part because the Lisbon earthquake of 1757 was one of the first occasions when a natural disaster gave rise to widespread skeptical questioning. What we know now that 18th century skeptics didn’t know is that plate tectonics cause earthquakes and that plate tectonics are responsible for (among other beneficial things) recirculating carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making life possible. No plate tectonics, no life. Therefore, D’Souza concludes, no earthquakes, no life. But is the relationship of plate tectonics to carbon dioxide recirculation the same as “anglelessness” to circles? Is there any logical reason that carbon dioxide couldn’t be produced some other way? Would plate tectonics that didn’t circulate carbon dioxide cease to be plate tectonics? In answering that, it is not enough to say that within the existing laws of nature, it is impossible for plate tectonics not to recirculate carbon dioxide or that if it did not recirculate carbon dioxide, the string of knock-on effects would make life impossible. Creation ex nihilo means that God had no constraints on making the laws of physics. There is nothing external to limit Him. He could have constructed nature’s laws differently, so that, to take a specific example, nitrogen, of which there is plenty in the atmosphere, might produce carbon dioxide under certain circumstances until the right amount for life was produced. In our world, this may seem absurd and ad hoc, but does that mean it is logically impossible? Why couldn’t it just be a property of nitrogen that it can cause carbon dioxide to come into existence? Perhaps D’Souza considers that notion to be the same as “square circles”, but if so, he needs to do much, much more work to demonstrate that. Failing that demonstration, the question remains why God couldn’t make this world a less dangerous place.

    • Mary Ellen meyer August 19, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      Boy! Good one! Thanks for sharing the careful reasoning! I am of the opinion that sometimes we are too clever by half, that we come to believe that if we are just clever enough, we can explain everything, and try to, and that gets us into trouble. – Bernie Meyer

      • Joseph Fronius October 15, 2013 at 8:37 am #

        Romans 1:22 comes to mind. But then again here I am: _______ fill in the blank.

    • Mike August 25, 2012 at 12:35 am #

      If Adam and Eve, or any of us for that matter, were perfectly happy without any knowledge of sin, nor experiencing “evil” – do you suppose we would feel a need for God? Would we ever have come to Him as our loving, Heavenly Father if we possessed bliss from the beginning? There are many happy people who care nothing for God nor want to, after all why seek a god if you already have peace, love, and happiness? I know it is my times of distress I seek Him more! Perhaps there’s a point that God wants us to want Him, to rely on Him. Without “bad things” to contrast the goodness of God, why would we seek Him more than perhaps just as an acquaintance? Perhaps happiness from the beginning would have made automatons – never having any experience except one. Free will gives us a choice to experience, and to experience choice – choosing God or not, which I think is the only reason we have free will. we make choices all the time, but God is interested in one (outlined in John 3:16).

      It isn’t that there can’t be other ways God could have done something else – obviously He could have, but also obvious that He didn’t – but that He did establish things in such a manner for our existence to be possible and sustained. Had plate tectonics not been one of many features for life on this rock, and God had instilled, say giant purple belching plants, then we reason that that was His intentions. However, does either plate tectonics or giant purple belching plants contradict a need for the circulation of carbon dioxide? No. Something was needed…God chose plate tectonics.

      ‘square circles’ is a good illustration of the kinds of things miss-associated with omnipotence. yes, it is nonsense to say “a circle that has the properties of a square”, but it also nonsense to say “God can make a square circle” which is what people will question when confronting the all powerfulness of God. these properties were set at creation, ex nihilo would be the point before creation. once created, God called it good. for God to continue to create things from nothing would imply that perhaps what He created in the beginning was not good. So, from the beginning there had to be a plan that everything that will exist can exist from beginning. if nitrogen had other properties (just using the example) of generation carbon dioxide – what undesirable effects would that create? I’m not a chemist or physicist so I can’t answer that…but there is a grand expanse of a universe that might not have come about as it has without nitrogen just being nitrogen.

      questioning why God used the mechanisms He used may not be the correct line of questioning – we will get stuck questioning and not understand the purpose – carbon dioxide is the purpose, in the plate tectonic example. this route is the same as asking “why don’t we have 3 eyes?” “why do we only have eyes in the front of our head?”, rather than the purpose of our eyes is for vision and maybe questioning – “what do I need to be seeing?”

      • Rich August 26, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

        Mike, thanks for your comments. While what you say about pain helping us feel the need for God is true, is it necessarily true? Is it Biblical to say that God was incapable of creating us such that we could understand our dependence on Him without pain? I don’t see it. Certainly, the angels who are in His presence understand their dependence on Him (Rev 4.11). To argue that we need evil to fully enjoy God is to argue that evil has a value — and this contradicts Scriptural teaching that evil is a total affront of God’s justice.

        As to fine tuning, my point is only that you cannot argue from the physical characteristics of our universe that God could not make a universe without natural evil. The constraints of the laws governing this universe are not logically or definitionally so, such that they must apply in all possible worlds.

      • Foxhole Atheist June 13, 2013 at 9:03 am #

        Man, that is some twisted logic…God requires us to worship him and to ensure we do so he introduces pain and suffering…are you a parent? would you act this way towards your children? for them to love you and pay attention to you, you must provide the possibility for pain and suffering…isn’t this what parents try to protect their children from? is god such a bad parent?

        also, an all-knowing god is not compatible with free will…if god knows the outcome of every action, then we are compelled to behave in the manner that generates the known (to god) outcome…so no free will (other than the appearance of free will that we experience)

  8. Patrik August 28, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    [I bet this comment won't get approved...]

    I’m an atheist, and I’m very much convinced that God does not exist. Until evidence is presented, God is a fairytale. Why is the burden of evidence on those of us who don’t believe in fairytales, rather than being on those that have the original claim?

    That being said… I’m not angry at God (because he doesn’t exist… duh,) but rather I’m angry at the God’s fanclubs. By believing in a supreme being of any sort, you take away responsibility for your own actions (“God made me” or “It’s just God’s will”) and/or you relinquish your own achievements (“I thank God for this opportunity” or “I have God to thank for my success”).

    For an entity that never ever shows itself, God sure do get a lot of credit.

  9. Matt August 29, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    To Patrik,
    Perhaps the “burden of proof” has fallen on you because of the lack of evidence to support your disbelief in God. No one has their responsibilities taken away by God, only their punishment (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Romans 6:1-2). We have all sinned or missed the mark and have lost our way as Isaiah put it. We all then have a choice to make, do we try to find our own way thus rejecting God or do we trust that there is something (or someone) beyond ourselves that has put order to our universe and order to our lives. We give credit to God because of the personal impact that He has made on our lives. I’m sure you’ve heard the old examples like “do you have a brain?” we’ve never seen it, you’ve never seen it but you are continuously being affected by its presence. We don’t see the wind, but we see and feel its affects. You have made a decision about God which means in some way you have acknowledged the thought or notion of God. I pray you’ll reconsider this particular “fairytale” and approach this decision with an open heart.

    • Patrik Alienus March 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      No! That is NOT the way “proof” works. I do not need to prove that your unproven claim is false. If you presented that idiocy to anyone in the justice system, you’d be laughed out of the room.

      Your “do you have a brain? argument is also ridiculous. I have never seen my own brain, no. But I have seen enough that I know it’s there. I can deduce that it exists because of.. well, I shouldn’t have to explain that.
      We do the same in physics and astronomy. We DEDUCE that the Big Bang happened because the universe is expanding – or, inflating to be more accurate. And, it’s speeding up and has been since the beginning of time. Now, I’m not going to go in to theoretical physics, astronomy or quantum mechanics here, because quite frankly, I doubt you would understand it.
      Using the same way of thinking, we (err, Einstein) realized that E=mc2. This, in turn, led to the atom bomb. The atom bomb would not have worked if the original equation was not in fact, true. Just because YOU don’t understand it, doesn’t mean that “God did it”. To say it is so, is putting yourself in a box marked “dumb” and taking your responsibility in the world and putting it on an entity that can neither say yes or no – because he conveniently does not exist, nor has he ever existed.

      You are also wrong in that I have made a decision about God. I have not. I have made a decision to base my personal beliefs on facts instead of something that was written in a book 2 000 years ago.

      I think that about covers it.

    • peter March 22, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Proof of a god’s existence will never come. So no matter who the burden of proof falls on they will be unable to prove their claim. It is a fool’s errand to attempt to prove or disprove something that does not exist. As an example I am god. with that out of the way Consider that there is a god. What would lead you to the assumption that he cares? would it be the existence of absolute poverty be proof of his concern with humanity? Our would the countless staving and diseased children around the world. Perhaps the most compelling evidence of god’s love and compassion for his people would be shown by the slaughter of Christians by their Abrahamic brothers the Muslims. Your god does not exist and if he does he doesn’t care one iota about anyone or anything. People only have one life and one chance to do something good for humanity. Don’t squander this chance on an archaic social control.

  10. Foxhole Atheist June 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

    Dinesh and I have much in common. We are both men that are living in the 21st century. We communicate in English (his American, mine the true English :-). We both think deeply about the nature of existence and on the existence of god. And we are both atheists. We are separated in this regard by less than 0.02% (by conservative estimates).

    • dan February 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      The common experience of mankind, as well as the relatively recent advances in science over the last couple of centuries, all point to the laws of nature as being immutable and therefore unchanging. We are a part of nature, and therefore subject to all aspects of it’s unrelenting force. Pain and sufering are an indispensable part of life. Man, with his rational mind tries to make sense of it. Enter God, or as some say, a higher power. It matters not whether God exists or is only a concept created in the mind of man. The point is that man needs God to complete himself. Without God man’s ego will ride roughshod over the earth.

      All this discussion on why God permits such suffering to exist is an exercise equivalent to arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In the end there are two kinds of people: those that say, “Thy will be done”, and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done”.

  11. Jim April 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Good but not great, helpful but lacking real life- giving substance. So little sound biblical depth. The author owes it to himself and his readers to go to the Source. The Christian Bible, read and interpreted in context is the source for millions of Christians all over the world. God has not taken away man’s will, but man’s will was corrupted in the Fall. Suggestion: http://www.desiringgod.org, John Piper has struggled with the issues and provides answers bases squarely on what God has revealed in His word.

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