Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rationally Speaking

I’m an occasional reader of Rationally Speaking, a blog by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci. He and Richard Dawkins are my favorite scientists/atheists. In this post he publishes an argument with Christian evolutionist Ken Miller. He is an evolutionary scientist and has said that it is not incompatible with evolution. They mostly agree and the argument is mostly picking of nits, but I like that kind of stuff.

I posted a comment that I thought deserved it’s own blog post, and I couldn’t resist expanding on it:

Wolverine (comics)Image via Wikipedia

I have long been annoyed that when an atheist suggests that an omni-benevolent god could not have created this world filled with the tremendous suffering of humans and animals, nature red in tooth and claw, they claim that God would then have to make a boring world where nothing can change and nothing can be achieved and free will does not exist.

There are 2 major flaws with this argument, the first is - isn't that exactly what Heaven is supposed to be? Why is Heaven so desirable for after we die but would be a terrible thing to have in this world, here and now?

The second is that there are many degrees in between this world and one with no suffering at all. Imagine a world with no illness, where humans healed as quickly as Wolverine, no earthquakes either. Humans would still be capable of good and evil, cowardice and courage, and the seeking and creation of beauty and science. It would just eliminate the very worst things that can happen in life.

And an all powerful god could easily create such a universe, or any one of an infinite number of such universes that are better than this one, including ones that no human mind could ever think of.

The answer is this world could only come from a god who was either not all powerful or else not all loving. Or, if this really was the best he could do then Heaven has to be just like this.

Picture of a Zen garden. Measures approximatel...Image via Wikipedia

The obvious answer, of course, is that this universe appears exactly the way one that grew on it’s own through cause and effect would look, not one that is created. My favorite analogy is to compare a forest untouched by man and a Zen garden. It’s incredibly clear which one has had careful maintenance and which one grew wild.
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