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...]

A World in Shadow II

In the first post of this series, I wrote about some of the diseases that afflict human beings from without. In this post, I will shift focus and discuss two articles about disorders that afflict us from within. The first, from March, is titled A Hunt for Genes That Betrayed a Desert People, about inherited genetic disorders among Bedouin people in the Negev Desert:In a sky blue bedroom they share but rarely leave, a young sister and brother lie in twin beds that swallow up their small … [Read more...]

A World in Shadow I

The New York Times recently ran a series, titled "Diseases on the Brink", that surveyed five diseases - polio, measles, dracunculiasis (also known as guinea worm), blinding trachoma and lymphatic filariasis - that it may be possible to eradicate, if the political will of the world community is up to the task. All these diseases can be treated with relatively simple measures, and have been wiped out or nearly so in industrialized nations thanks to improved sanitation and vaccination, but remain … [Read more...]

Answer the Question, Billy

Thanks to a Google news alert, I recently became aware that the evangelist Billy Graham has a syndicated newspaper column, entitled "My Answer". Graham addresses both theological queries and requests for advice, both of which he typically answers by quoting Bible verses and ending with a standard invitation for the reader to convert to Christianity. (Despite Billy Graham's fame, few Christians today know that when he began preaching, he was one-half of a team. His partner, Charles Templeton, … [Read more...]


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