The responses to my letter to the editor of the Times Leader regarding the problem of evil and the Japanese earthquake continue to roll in…and the responders continue to miss my point and strawman. This letter writer has questions, so I have answers.
Questions for writer who said belief ‘irrational’
In a recent letter, a spokesman for the NEPA Freethought Society said that belief in an omni-god is “irrational.” He apparently comes to this conclusion because the Earth doesn’t suit him.
His points are infused with implicit theology of his own that seems to say something like “if a God exists, he must create a perfect world where everyone must be happy.” His argument is not science versus theology. Christians know where they got their theology. Where does he get his? How does he justify his presumptions?
Similarly, his points are based on the idea of “bad design.” If bad design is a pointer to non-design, then one must justify what the original purpose of the proposed designer is! Justin Vacula, the spokesman, must justify his theological presuppositions.
There also is a problem of optimizing a design across multiple goals. For example, a laptop computer could be much more powerful if you didn’t care if it weighed 50 pounds. Earth is similar, in that there are tradeoffs. We get rain to grow our food, but we get floods. Earthquakes, caused by tectonic plate shifts, are part of the natural order that makes life on Earth possible. This is, in turn, caused by atomic reactions inside the Earth’s core. Without it, life on Earth would not be possible.
He also says that the universe is ultimately indifferent to human life. Vacula’s arguments neglect the cosmological fine-tuning argument and the anthropic principle. These show that Earth is exquisitely suited for human life.
Vacula is right about donating to charitable organizations such as the Red Cross. But, he gives us no ethical foundation by which he is informed to do one thing or the other. In the Bible’s book of Micah, Chapter 6, Verse 8, we are directed by the Lord’s requirement “to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.