Phil Zuckerman, Pitzer College, “The Virtues of Godlessness: The least religious nations are also the most healthy and successful”
Theologians worry away at the “problem of evil” and a related “problem of suffering.” On the day I originally wrote this paragraph, the British newspapers all carried a terrible story about a bus full of children from a Roman Catholic school that crashed for no obvious reason, with wholesale loss of life. Not for the first time, clerics were in paroxysms over the theological question that a writer on a London newspaper (The Sunday Telegraph) framed this way: “How can you believe in a loving, all-powerful God who allows such a tragedy?” The article went on to quote one priest’s reply: “The simple answer is that we do not know why there should be a God who lets these awful things happen. But the horror of the crash, to a Christian, confirms the fact that we live in a world of real values: positive and negative. If the universe was just electrons, there would he no problem of evil or suffering.”
On the contrary, if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies like the crashing of this bus are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A. E. Housman put it:
For Nature, heartless, witless Nature
Will neither care nor know.
Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden (1995)
Richard Dawkins, “Joint statement by Ophelia Benson and Richard Dawkins”
Victor Stenger, “In Defense of New Atheism: A Response to Massimo Pigliucci”
I’m tired of being told to shut up about what I think. I am especially tired of being told to shut up about what I think by people who think I am actually right. […] My problem is with people who ostensibly do see things as I do and yet complain that I or others like me dare to say what we think. I am tired of being told by atheists not to argue about the truth of theism.
I am tired of being told by fellow evolution supporters that it’s only appropriate to criticize creationism and that it is somehow inappropriate to argue that accepting the factual dynamic of natural selection philosophically requires either outright abandoning Christian theism or, at least, drastically revising it in ways few Christians are willing to deal with.
Dan Finke, “Why I’m Not Shutting Up About Atheism”, RDFRS
Go and read the whole post (and ignore the mean-spirited commenters).
h/t gbjames @ WEIT