Friday, December 11, 2009

A World Without Evil?

David Klinghoffer tackles the "Bad Design" argument frequently used by atheists in his new essay, With Chanukah Approaching, My Knee Hurts.

Because of my sore knee, it follows that there this is no God.

You think I'm kidding but this line of reasoning is commonly heard from devotees of evangelizing atheism like Richard Dawkins.

It's the argument from seemingly poor, botched, or suboptimal design...

That is a theological argument, not a scientific one, based on the premise that Dawkins & Co. know what a God would or wouldn't do if that God existed which he does not.

If a trivial example like a sore knee is "bad design" and a point scored for atheism, then any trivial lack of perfection in created reality is enough to trigger the atheist response. Any evil in nature, any suffering. Over Shabbat, a dentist friend of our family was at our home for lunch and he told about how one of his patients was up hiking on a mountain trail near Seattle and got eaten by cougar…

The world can be rough and it's obviously not all a matter of people freely choosing evil. The verse in Isaiah (45:7) says it directly:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

My apologies if this upsets any delicate sensibilities, but consider the alternative. A world without evil. What would that be like? It would be the perfect hamster cage or turtle terrarium, where all our needs are provided, there are no predators, no contagious disease, no confusion, no loneliness, no sin, no particular purpose, no growth, just spinning aimlessly on our exercise wheel or swimming idly in our calm, algaed paddling pool.

For Dawkins & Co., it's either the turtle terrarium or a Godless universe. What an absurd false dilemma…

Creatures that could never grow or change spiritually because they were unchallenged and therefore totally uninteresting? What's the point? Once we admit that some lack, or anyway so we perceive it, in creation was inevitable if there was to be a creation, what extent of deficiency was going to be enough? Maybe a little, maybe a lot. You will have to ask God when you meet him.

In fairness, Jerry Coyne (an atheist biologist) offers a decent rebuttal…

I may be wrong, but couldn’t God have arranged the world so that people could “grow and change spiritually” without horrible things happening to innocents? Do little kids have to get leukemia so the rest of us can experience spiritual growth? What kind of growth is enabled by the deaths of thousands of people in Indonesian tsunamis?...

I took a stab at addressing these concerns in my essay, God, Evil, and Forgiveness.

H/T: Darwiniana

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