For a debate I have to argue "The real question of the Holocaust is not ‘where was God?’, but ‘where was man?'" I am arguing for the point (not my personal view).
So far the points I have got are:

  • God gave mankind free will: it was mankind’s choice to elect Hitler and for Hitler to decide on the Holocaust as God gave us free will.
  • Although the slaughter of 6 million Jews seems excessive, it is part of the bigger picture of God. For example, had the Holocaust not happened there wouldn't have been the creation of a Jewish nation (Israel)
  • God did not create the death camps or Nazi ideology, God gave out his love yet it was rejected by humanity. However, his love came out in the hearts of those who stood against the Holocaust, for example Dietrich Bonhoeffer

However, I find all these points unconvincing particularly the rebuttals. How else can I put the 'blame' on man rather than God?

Sorry if this question would be better suited to skeptics or Christianity.

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    I think this would be much better suited to Christianity, though the homework-ish aspect of this question may be problematic there as well. Voted to close. Mar 15 '13 at 20:46
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    @Gugg Thanks, I've moved it to Christianity (I don't know how to delete it here)
    – Sebiddy
    Mar 15 '13 at 21:18
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    For reference, as written it has been closed on C.SE. It maybe can be worked up in another direction, but as it stands it's not up our ally. I would have suggested this as the best home. Why does it feel like we're playing hot-potato?
    – Caleb
    Mar 15 '13 at 22:47
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    I'm not sure why x-posting was suggested but posting the same question to two stacks is never the right thing to do. Use a flag to get mod attention; but note we wouldn't have migrated it in its current state as it's not tailored for C.SE... I'm going to go ahead and close the copy here as it's not really very well-specified. The Shoah definitely isn't off-topic; it's just not particularly clear what problem you're encountering in your study of philosophy. (Consider clarifying exactly what it is you would like explained to you here, what you may have found out so far, etc.)
    – Joseph Weissman
    Mar 15 '13 at 23:20
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    @JosephWeissman He did state which arguments he considered, he was looking for something more sustainable. I for one am not quite sure why this question was closed.
    – k0pernikus
    Mar 16 '13 at 1:28

Assuming that by "God" you mean an omnipotent, benificent and all-knowing supernatural entity, this question boils down to a rephrasing of the classic problem of "evil". And I think it was argued by Epicur quite sufficently thousand of years ago:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

[Source: Wikipedia]

So in order to get out of this dilemma while still upholding such a god concept, one has to rationalize evil differently.

You can ad hoc rationalize why man is to blame quite easily: Simply invent "sins" committed by man, so that blame can be attributed "correctly". Just watch the news of any natural disaster, you surly will find some theologian claiming that the wicked way of man made that event a just and rightful punishment.

Problem is, the concept of "sin" only works a theological framework that allows for "free will". Not only is "free will" incompatible with the physical world, it also conflicts with the all-knowing attribute. Surly such a god would know how his creation would choose.

The whole "sin" concept has also troubles with the disconnect between what humans think to be good and a god as origin of "goodness". As in the end, whatever god wants to be "good" would be good. Even murdering millions of people. This is why you could even turn this whole argument upside down by arguing that a god was there the whole time during the holocaust as it very much wanted the holocaust to happen to punish the Jews!

How benevolent such a god would be is debatable. For me, it would be a malevolent one, but I am not the standard here. If God would want it, it would be "correct". Anyone else would have gotten it "wrong".

Nazis did not consider themselves doing evil acts. They did what they thought to be right. In their twisted world view, Jews were parasites, and it was their duty to destroy them. "Gott mit uns" aka "God with us" was one of their mottos.

And as cruel as that may seem, there still are many irrational conspirational theories attributed to the Jews, and to this very day some people think it is their holy duty to purge the Jews from this planet. And not because they consider themselves evil, no, but because they think they are the good guys as strange as that may seem.

Or as Voiltaire once said: People believing absurdities will commit atrocities.

In the end, I would claim there is no sufficient enough argument that would support the concept of a benevolent god and the event of the holocaust. Playing devil's advocate (Pun very much intended) is a fool's errand here.

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    "Not only is "free will" incompatible with the physical world, [...]." Could you please provide or refer to a definitive argument for this? :)
    – user3164
    Mar 15 '13 at 22:21
  • @Gugg I linked an argument of mine that dealt with this very question.
    – k0pernikus
    Mar 15 '13 at 22:24

Which god then? Zeus, Thor, Yahwe, Allah, Wotan, Ra, Shiva, Krishna, Manitou, Huitzilopochtli, your local nymph or sprite, Gaja, etc.. There is a saying that Hinduism alone has 330 Million deities (here is a list to get you started http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hindu_deities ).

So it would seem in order for this debate to make any sense, one would first have to define "god" in enough specificity to actually be debatable. The line of debate then would depend mainly on what this definition of god looks like and what his/her/its attributes, abilities, and motivations are.

Even if you limit this to the Judea-Christian god, the definition would still be very important. A Calvinist would answer this quite differently than a Lutheran.

  • Yes, I think it is implying a Judea-Christian (or at the very least abrahamic) God
    – Sebiddy
    Mar 15 '13 at 21:15

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