On the Possibility of Perfect Humanity

Last month, in "An Impoverished Infinity", I wrote about the strange limitations that many Christian believers impose on God. These theists believe that God was not wise or powerful enough to create a world with intelligent beings that did not also include earthquakes, diseases and other disasters - as if the infinite space of possible worlds was somehow foreclosed.The discussion in the comments thread centered largely around the issue of free will, which is the most common example of these … [Read more...]

An Impoverished Infinity

In Christian theology, God is presented as the omnipotent creator, able to bring about literally any world it is possible to imagine. His power has no limits, he never suffers from weakness or fatigue, and he possesses the omniscient knowledge necessary to shape the world according to his overarching plan.Or so Christian apologists say, anyway. Yet when we atheists challenge them with the problem of evil, asking why a benevolent creator would bring about a world where disease and disaster … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow V

A while back, I came across the moving story of an individual calling himself Real Live Preacher, whose faith was shattered when he saw a young mother die while working as a hospital chaplain:30 something. Cute. New mother with two little kids. Breast cancer. Found it too late. Spread all over. Absolutely going to die.Jenny had only one request. "I know I'm going to die, chaplain. I need time to finish this. It's for my kids. Pray with me that God will give me the strength to finish … [Read more...]

Inexplicable Justice

"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mold me Man? Did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me, or here place In this delicious Garden? As my will Concurred not to my being, it were but right And equal to reduce me to my dust, Desirous to resign and render back All I received, unable to perform Thy term too hard, by which I was to hold The good I sought not. To the loss of that, Sufficient penalty, why hast thou added The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable Thy justice … [Read more...]

Open Thread: The Problem of Evil

I'm creating a thread to address this comment by Mollie:I've only been familiar with your site for a few days, so I'm not sure if this is the right place to discuss what I'm about to say. If not, please direct me to a more appropriate place.My husband thinks it's a bad idea to debate with you guys because we come from two totally different backgrounds of thought- I believe that God exists and that the Bible is totally true and you do not. Therefore, you will not convice me of anything and I … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow IV

In an e-mail conversation I had a few weeks ago, a theist visitor attempted to answer my argument on the problem of evil by comparing God to parents who let their children learn from work and life experience, rather than trying to shelter them from all possible harm.My parents have money, they could have written away all my debt in an instant and then let me come chill back at home. But no, they helped me enough so that I wouldn't starve to death, but they made me work.There is an important … [Read more...]

Improving on God's Handiwork

"With every advance in our thought the unity of the creative act, and the impossibility of tinkering with the creation as though this or that element of it could have been removed, will become more apparent."—C.S. Lewis, The Problem of PainIn the above quote, C.S. Lewis argued that even an infinitely powerful deity could not have created a world entirely without evil or suffering, and that whatever evil or suffering does exist must be an intrinsic part of creating any world at all, … [Read more...]

An Answer That Begs the Question

I don't want to spend all my time picking on the Newsweek/Washington Post blog On Faith, but a recent posting there contained such a devastatingly revealing omission that I couldn't resist the chance to comment on it.The posting in question was written by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary and a minister of the United Church of Christ. I bear no grudges against the UCC - any denomination that could have given us Barry Lynn is all right in my book - but … [Read more...]

The Theodicy of Narnia

When I was a child, I read and devoured C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books. I was too young then to understand most of the religious symbolism, and didn't realize that Lewis had intended the series as a Christian allegory until the end of the very last Narnia book, The Last Battle, which makes the comparison explicit. I will say, however, that I enjoyed the books greatly, and that they were a great source of inspiration to my young imagination. Even now, though the Narnia books have aged … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow III

A recent post from the blog Respectful Insolence, A different kind of alternative medicine "testimonial", graphically illustrated the danger of choosing non-scientific "alternative" treatments over evidence-based medicine when faced with a potentially fatal disease. The post told the tragic story of Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert, a woman with malignant breast cancer who decided to forsake conventional medical treatment in favor of quackery. The result was her death; but only after the cancer had … [Read more...]


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