An Honest Atheist Grapples…

with the problem of evil over at the Register.

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  • Excellent article, Mark. It gets right to the contradiction inherent in objecting to God’s goodness/existence based on the existence of evil. You need a conception of absolute good in order to be scandalized by the presence of evil, that concept of the good has to have a source, and the only possible source of absolute, objective good is God.

  • Subsistent

    Altho Mr. Shea’s article there, IMO, is by and large excellent, profound, and comprehensive, it’s marred with one really major flaw: for he writes of “why God creates when He knows that a consequence of creation will be sin”.
    No! Given that sin is an utterly free and non-necessary option of which a creature is the absolutely first cause — *absolute prima causa*, says Aquinas (Commentary on the Sentences, I, dist. 40, q. 4, a. 2) — it follows that there could have been a human world entirely without sin. When it comes to utterly free option, all statistical calculations must go out the window. There is no room here for anyone saying, “Well, sooner or later, someone’s bound to utterly freely sin” — an absurd contradiction in terms. Because every fully deliberate sin that’s utterly freely chosen is obviously utterly non-necessary. And utterly non-foreseeable. Mr. Shea should therefore have written rather of “why God creates when He knows that a consequence of creation CAN be sin”; not “will be sin”.
    “Properly speaking, God does not FORE-see the things of time, He SEES them, and He sees in particular the free options and decisions of the created existent which, inasmuch as they are free, are unforeseeable in themselves.” (Jacques Maritain, *God and the Permission of Evil*, pp. 78 & 79.)

    • Mark Shea

      I’m not saying sin is a *necessary* correlation of creation. I’m saying that God, being omniscient, knows the fall of Adam as he knows all things. The fall remains a free choice of men, but it is not a surprise to God which he then has to patch up with the work of redemption, like a tinkerer trying to fix a badly designed engine.

  • “joe”

    what makes this atheist “honest”?

    • Mark Shea

      When he asks questions to find things out instead of to keep from finding things out.

      • “joe”

        i wholly agree, but just to clarify for myself, that’s a quality not restricted to atheists.
        anyway, that really was all.

  • Tom R

    Just how much evil _is_ there over at the Register? Egy is it the new Lisbon Earthquake for the 21st century?

  • Bad MF

    Wonderfully wonder filled. Going to be rereading this one slowly.