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?


Ayn Rand on Human Nature, Credulity and Authority

Posted in discussion seed by reasonfreely on March 2, 2010
“You see, Dr. Stadler, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel that they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue – out of what they know to be sin, their weakness and their guilt.”
– Dr. Ferris to Dr. Stadler (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p. 322)
I hated that book.
Feel free to discuss this quote in comments.  Or discuss Ayn Rand’s unique life that led her to radical ultra-libertarianism and a burning, vocal distaste for religion.