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8.31.2006

The Idiocy: Atheists' Arguments from Theodicy

Here's a great response to Heather Mac Donald's disdain for religion on the Right:

Mac Donald’s mockery of common religious sensibilities, in my view, is so unfeeling as to border on the inhuman. She ridicules the woman in the Pennsylvania mining town of Quecreek who put a placard in the window of her diner, “Thank you God, 9 for 9,” when all the miners were safely recovered after three days trapped underground in the famous 2002 disaster. The woman was being arbitrary and irrational, according to Mac Donald: “When 12 miners were killed in a West Virginia mine explosion in January 2006, no one posted a sign saying: ‘For God’s sake, please explain: Why 1 for 13?’” While the miners were trapped, the entire town gathered under the leadership of the eight pastors of the various churches there, and prayed and sang hymns constantly for the safety of the miners. The woman with the placard no doubt was part of this and wanted to express her conviction that the men were saved, in part, in response to prayer.

The mining families of Quecreek would need no lecture from Mac Donald on the importance of human skill and ingenuity in the rescue of those men. They know all about the high-tech bits, “superdrills,” compressed air lines, and communications cables that were necessary to save the miners. But they also are as familiar as anyone with the limits of that technology, and the way in which ingenuity in difficult circumstances depends upon happy accident in order to succeed. They know the odds, and if they say it was a “miracle” — that is, near to impossible — that, among other things, the very first bore hole struck the spot 240 feet down where the men were trapped, they know what they are talking about. And who can say that that accident was merely an accident?

To reject as nonsense the belief that a God might alter what happens in response to prayer is not a conservative attitude, as it is at odds with a near universal belief of humankind, and it would naturally alienate the person who adopted it from much of human history, including Patton’s prayers for good weather at Bastogne, or Lincoln’s national prayers during the civil war.


The question is not why God allows suffering and evil (the answer to that is "you cannot have free will without it") but why love and self-sacrifice would exist in a purely materialistic world.

If I follow Darwinian logic, my sole impetus is to pass on my genes. Yet I willingly signed up for dangerous military service in places far from potential mates for the sake of people who stayed at home to reproduce up a storm. Why on Earth would I do something so stupid, particularly given the social reality that such experiences provided no real expectation of increasing the number or quality of potential mates down the road?

The answer to the non-materialist is simple: I felt a compelling need to served my country and my God.

Now, the Darwinists no doubt can construct any number of "just so" stories which dull Occam's Razor to uselessness in an attempt to explain why a collection of selfish genes act altruistically to the point of self-destruction (in others' cases, not mine to date). That's what they get paid to do, and while they're not particularly plausible, they certainly crank out the mythology in great quantity.

But for the rest of us, altruism is proof of a living, loving God. Is it any wonder that those who sneer at the religious as stupid, naive, or insane display so little love toward their fellow men?

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