Tuesday, August 28, 2007

more on atheism...

First Things has again alerted me to the ongoing debate with the "new atheists." Here they provide a link to a YouTube video clip ("clip" is a relative term--it's over an hour long) and brief analysis of the debate.

Most of the analysis focuses on the question of suffering, especially of innocents. Dawkins, in the debate, asks the Christian apologist how he can explain a God who allows thousands of children to suffer in disasters. The Christian dances and stumbles in an attempt to justify the ways of God to man. The whole question of suffering, though, must be grappled with: it is often the primary roadblock to faith, I've found. We must be able to "give an account of ourselves" that does not sound like a clock-work world of checks and balances that somehow justifies suffering...

So here's a link to get those thoughts flowing. It's a shorter version of David B. Hart's The Doors of the Sea, his work on the Christian response to the tsunami of Christmas 2004. Probably the best popular theology I've ever read on the subject (yes, even better than Lewis's The Problem of Pain).

4 comments:

Erika Ahern said...

Thanks to Mike Homol for getting me to fix that last paragraph!

Beth said...

Hey, your blog looks like mine :) Mrs. Carter

Erika Ahern said...

Oh, where's yours?

David Wright said...

You are right that the question of suffering is an important one. And we should try to answer it as best we can. It seems to me, however, that objections such as that are more often convenient excuses for refusal to believe than true obstacles to faith. Would any answer to the question satisfy Dawkins or those of his ilk? I suspect not.

Some questions are simply unanswerable. Answer the question of suffering, and the next question is likely to be, "Well, where did God come from, anyway?" He who refuses to believe can always find some apparently reasonable justification.

I would argue that pride and the rebelliousness of sin are the truest obstacles to faith in God. See John 3:19-20. Some people, perhaps even the majority, will never be convinced by elegant answers to complicated theological questions. Now this is not to suggest that we should give up on the questions.

And by the way, I don't think the burden of proof should rest entirely on us, either. Why don't we start asking the atheist to prove his case? Too often we allow ourselves to be put on the defensive by the very terms of the debate. Atheism requires just as much of an act of faith as does Christianity. You could even make the case that it requires more. I even seem to recall reading somewhere recently that at one time the popular view of atheism was that it was the province of the idiot. My, how times have changed.