Reason Freely


Posted in discussion seed, news by reasonfreely on January 11, 2011

I was reading an article in the Post about the Arizona shootings today, referring to the classic The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder when I saw a comment from an Angry Atheist:

Do you believers ever stop to wonder if your god is simply incompetent?

You people forgive your god a lot more than it ever forgives you, and for much bigger things too. How do you compare a lustful thought against a quarter million people lost to a tsunami, against a little girl killed by a nut?


What caught my eye was that the article discusses the mystery of evil — why do bad things happen to good people? — and the commenter was off topic.  It caught my eye at first because I’m annoyed by off-topic comments since they ignore the points raised in the article and make their own.  I believe if you want to make a totally tangential point, make it in your own blog.

So here I go.

First, let’s ignore the first sentence.  It’s acerbic and insulting; and it has nothing to do with the interesting part.

Now, look at the second paragraph:  It’s two sentences long and tangential to the On Faith article.   First it reminds us that some evil is committed by man (little girl killed by a nut) and some is committed by nature (tsunami).  Those that believe that the acts of others are guided by God have to accept both; but the majority of Theists I know attribute only natural occurrences to God (however, He seems content to sit idly by, watching 9-year-olds get shot by sick nutjobs without so much as a clear omen of warning or providential jam in the gun).

Instead of exploring the metaphysics of the question of evil (as I have, here; as Thornton Wilder does in his novel; and as Julia Duin does for On Faith) he throws it back in our face:  “You people forgive your god a lot more than it ever forgives you, and for much bigger things too. How do you compare a lustful thought against…”  He’s not saying “God can only be at most two of the three:  just, knowing, or powerful” as many philosophers have reasoned, dryly and ad nauseum.   He’s just pointing out the obvious — that to give up resenting God for natural disasters or failure to save the innocent (by arguments like “He works in mysterious ways”; “He is testing us”; or “we cannot hope to understand his plans for us”) is to forgive.  And, the commenter points out, Theists seem to do quite a lot more forgiving of Him than they expect from Him.

What does that mean?

What do you think?

Insightful comment?  Internet trolling?  Both?


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