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Does Dawkins still have any connection to science?

Memo to bus passengers stranded in massive snowstorm:

Don’t worry! Be happy! Don’t be in such a hurry! There’s probably no God …

… and if you freeze to death by the side of the road, no one cares …
Don’t worry! Be happy!

Apparently, a Christian bus driver has refused to drive a bus with one of Dawkins’s slogans proclaiming that “There’s probably no God: Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” plastered on the side.

Like commenter jstanley, addressing this post on Dawkins’s bus ad campaign, I am mystified why anyone holding a pink slip, foreclosure notice, or list of pills to start – prior to dreadful cancer treatment – would be especially happy to learn that there is probably no God.

And today, those people are pretty numerous, too …

(Pssst! There probably is a God. So pray anyway. It might help, and can’t hurt.)

Actually, it’s odd, and quite sad, to see the career of Dawkins, Oxford’s once Professor of the Public Understanding of Science end this way – raising funds for anti-God transit ads. But that’s his supporters’ problem.

He himself claims that he fears that his atheism campaign is losing to religion.

Obviously not for lack of publicity or attention, so most likely for lack of substance.

That said, I’m antsy about bus drivers refusing to drive the bus if they don’t approve of the ad on the side. Drivers have various opinions, but so do advertisers. And no passenger wants to be stranded.

My view? A Christian bus driver should review the causes his lefty union is actually supporting out of his compulsory dues, rather than refuse to drive the bus because of an ad on the side.

(Personally, I’d love to get rid of all the ads that feature models who – quite honestly – dress and pose like hookers, and are unhealthily (or dishonestly?) thin. But if I were driving the bus, I would just drive the bus, and pray each and every day that the companies who sponsor those ads lose a ton of money – and take all reasonable private actions to ensure that they do.)

From the story in The Times,

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “I have difficulty understanding why people with particular religious beliefs find the expression of a different sort of beliefs to be offensive.

“I can’t understand why some people seem to have a different attitude when it comes to atheists.”

Pressure group Christian Voice has questioned the campaign’s effectiveness but the Methodist Church said it would be a “good thing if it gets people to engage with the deepest questions of life” and suggested it showed there was a “continued interest in God”.

The advertisements run on 200 bendy buses in London and 600 vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales.

I wonder whether Hanne Stinson would mind if Christian or other religious organizations ran ads fronting their own views? Not trashing anyone else, just fronting their own views? Or would that be “advertising religion” – somehow totally different from what Dawkins is funding?

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19 Responses to Does Dawkins still have any connection to science?

  1. There is no scientific proof for atheism.

  2. Well it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before something like this would happen.

    The irony in all of this is that Dawkins et.al., think it is a good thing to run these ads and that it is good for people to forget about God or quit thinking and worrying about the question altogether. But, what’s the basis for calling it good? Ultimately, it is meaningless to call something good apart from some objective standard of goodness otherwise it is just expressing subjective personal opinion.

    There’s no question it is Dawkins’s personal subjective opinion that it is a good thing for people to deny the existence of God or that it is a good thing to run these ads, but what he lacks is any objective argument to back any of it up. And if he thinks The God Delusion constitues said objective argument, then ‘delusion’ is exactly the right word!

  3. I see Richard Dawkins has another book scheduled to be released, titled

    “The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution”.

    Amazon’s product description includes…” The mass of data that proves the theory is vast, with scientific fingerprints numerous and varied. The logic Dawkins employs to explain it is the same throughout the book”

    So that means my answer to your question Denyse, is “no”. Richard Dawkins does not have any connection to science.

  4. Like commenter jstanley, addressing this post on Dawkins’s bus ad campaign, I am mystified why anyone holding a pink slip, foreclosure notice, or list of pills to start – prior to dreadful cancer treatment – would be especially happy to learn that there is probably no God.

    There is no doubt that religion is a source of great comfort and strength in times of personal crises – that may be one of the reasons it has proved so durable – but the fact that it is comforting is not, of itself, evidence that it is true.

    (Pssst! There probably is a God. So pray anyway. It might help, and can’t hurt.)

    If God exists is he likely to be impressed by someone who is praying just to hedge their bets?

    I fully understand those who pray desperately for something like the recovery of a sick child and no one, atheist or otherwise, should attempt to interfere – unless, perhaps, praying is all they were doing for the child. And it is natural that, if the child recovers, that should be attributed to those prayers. The question is, how many sick children recover after being prayed for compared with those who, like Darwin’s own beloved daughter, die regardless?

    This, obviously, brings us back to the theodicy problem. If only a relatively small number of children survive after being prayed for then either we have a capricious God who is choosing who will survive on the basis of a metaphorical toss of the coin or there is no God and survival is decided by other factors.

  5. Seversky


    If God exists is he likely to be impressed by someone who is praying just to hedge their bets?

    I’d like to reply by quoting a prayer that a priest taught me once, called the agnostic’s prayer:


    Oh my God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul.

    I fail to see why God should take umbrage at a prayer like that, if uttered sincerely.

    You argue that if only a relatively small number of children survive after being prayed for, then God is capricious. I would entirely agree with you, IF we lived in a world where: (i) children were fated to get sick, as part of God’s original plan; (ii) the rejection of God by His own creatures (human and super-human moral agents) did not in any way lessen God’s freedom to subsequently intervene in worldly affairs, in order to prevent suffering; and (iii) there were no hereafter, in which God could take away the sting of death. Obviously, many people of faith would reject all three of these assumptions you have made.

    Not being a Deity, I simply don’t know what the Deity can and cannot do, and neither do you. The mere fact that I can imagine God healing every sick child on Earth does not make it possible. I can imagine a winged horse, too, but that does not make Pegasus possible.

  6. If God exists is he likely to be impressed by someone who is praying just to hedge their bets?

    I don’t think God has a problem with skeptics seeking Him.

    I think He does have an issue with people thinking He might exist but dismissing what He wants.

  7. #4

    Not being a Deity, I simply don’t know what the Deity can and cannot do, and neither do you.

    #5
    I think He does have an issue with people thinking He might exist but dismissing what He wants.

    From these two comments it appears that God supplies guidance about what we should do but tells us nothing about he can do.

  8. From these two comments it appears that God supplies guidance about what we should do but tells us nothing about (what) he can do.

    Job describes some of things He can do :-)

  9. vjtorley @ 4

    I fail to see why God should take umbrage at a prayer like that, if uttered sincerely.

    Personally, I agree that an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omnipresent God would most likely be big enough to accept it, as you say.

    You argue that if only a relatively small number of children survive after being prayed for, then God is capricious. I would entirely agree with you, IF we lived in a world where: (i) children were fated to get sick, as part of God’s original plan;

    …which is hard to square with the property of omnibenevolence.

    (ii) the rejection of God by His own creatures (human and super-human moral agents) did not in any way lessen God’s freedom to subsequently intervene in worldly affairs, in order to prevent suffering;

    The God envisioned by Christianity is surely too big to punish all for the rejection of a few or to punish all future generations of mankind for the weakness of one man – Adam; a man, moreover, who only gave way to the instinct of curiosity with which he had been endowed by his Creator, a Creator who, being omniscient, should have foreseen what happened in the first place.

    and (iii) there were no hereafter, in which God could take away the sting of death.

    That still doesn’t explain why the suffering is inflicted at all. It seems unlikely that it could be because there is no other way since we are talking about an omnipotent being not a creature like ourselves whose choices are limited. It is hard to see how it works as punishment either since, to be effective, it requires that the offender knows why they are being punished and common justice requires that only the guilty be punished.

    Not being a Deity, I simply don’t know what the Deity can and cannot do, and neither do you. The mere fact that I can imagine God healing every sick child on Earth does not make it possible. I can imagine a winged horse, too, but that does not make Pegasus possible.

    I agree that the argument from inscrutability reduces to a simple ‘I don’t know’, which is perfectly acceptable but which leads to the position that, if we cannot fashion a concept of God which is consistent with what we observe and with itself then perhaps there is no God there at all.

  10. I find it ironic and strange that the ad says, “now stop worrying and enjoy your life”
    Ironic that it “religion” and Christianity that says that very thing best best,

    Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

    – the New Test Philip. 4:6

    And Christ himself put it this way, Mat 11:28

    “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
    Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    And even more, Mat 6:25

    “So I tell you to stop worrying about what you will eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? “Look at the birds. They don’t plant, harvest, or gather the harvest into barns. Yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?
    “Can any of you add a single hour to your life by worrying?
    “And why worry about clothes? Notice how the flowers grow in the field. They never work or spin yarn for clothes.
    But I say that not even Solomon in all his majesty was dressed like one of these flowers.
    That’s the way God clothes the grass in the field. Today it’s alive, and tomorrow it’s thrown into an incinerator. So how much more will he clothe you people who have so little faith?
    “Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’
    Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them.
    But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.
    “So don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

    How much more simple can you get for good reasons not to worry!?

    Now the curious thing is that by saying “stop worrying” these atheist ignoramuses are taking up an old, out-dated and completely erroneous view as to why people take to religion in the 1st place. They seem to think it has to do with fear and worry as per Freud et al. Strange. Most believers never see it that way at all!

    Dawkins is such a dinosaur, trying to survive against inevitable extinction and trying so hard to “save” the world from the truth that leads to peace in favor of a pointless and useless substitute called atheism.

  11. Oops, sorry for the typos, I’m trying to watch CSI NY while typing! :-O

  12. —“Don’t ever worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’
    Everyone is concerned about these things, and your heavenly Father certainly knows you need all of them.
    But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.
    “So don’t ever worry about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. —

    Does this mean we shouldn’t invest, save, work?

  13. Seversky

    Thank you for a well-argued post. Before I respond to your arguments, I’d like to take a step back and examine the defects of some theodicies that have been proposed in the past.

    Some have attempted to justify the existence of evil in the world by appealing to “the big picture” and “the greater good”: certain events might look bad when viewed locally, but somehow they make for a better whole. But that approach only works where the entities affected are secondary to something else. The death of a tree can be rationalized as being good for the biosphere; the death of a child cannot.

    Others have appealed to “higher-level” moral goods as a rationale for the occurrence of evil in the world. A world without pain and death would also be a world without courage, for instance. But this response won’t do. For we fight evils (such as the smallpox virus), precisely in order to eradicate them, and when we have done so, we surely do not cease to be morally good. In that case, why shouldn’t God just make a perfect world – especially as that is what we are aiming for, anyway?

    By now, it should be clear that in order to justify the evil in the world, it will not do to appeal to “goods” – whether “greater” goods or “higher-level” ones. Instead, we have to ask: what could possibly limit God’s obligation to intervene in a world filled with unspeakable horrors, such as our own? The only plausible answer is: the countervailing rights of (human and super-human) moral agents opposed to His will, whose agency would be utterly thwarted if they were always prevented by God from carrying out their evil plans. Were God a Deity who intervened on every occasion, proud Lucifer – or Adam, for that matter – could justly retort: “You gave me free will. Aren’t you going to let me use it?”

    “But why did God create bad moral agents, if God knew they were going to be bad? Why not create a race of morally perfect beings, instead?”

    If these morally perfect beings were somehow guaranteed (by God) to behave perfectly, then many theists would argue that these beings were nothing more than robots, and hence not really agents. However, not all theologians would agree: if the notion of someone’s being “confirmed in grace” makes any sense, then the notion of someone’s being created that way does too. In any case, the skeptic is not envisaging a scenario where God controls other agents’ wills so that they always do what is right; rather, he/she is envisaging a world where God, who can foresee what agents will do before He even creates them, chooses to create only those who He foresees will freely choose to do the right thing, all the time.

    Personally, I think that the notion of a Creator’s knowing what a free agent will do “before it even exists” is probably incoherent. It would mean that God’s knowledge of His creatures’ choices is logically (not just temporally) prior to their very existence AND additionally, logically prior to God’s free decision to create them. That sounds odd.

    But suppose we grant for argument’s sake that it is possible for God to create one or more races of beings who He foresees will do no wrong – human and super-human beings who will not tamper with God’s original design for the natural world, or hurt each other. My question is: who would they be? They certainly wouldn’t be us, that’s for sure. And if God had created them, we wouldn’t be here.

    My identity is bound up with where and who I came from: if I had had different parents, then I wouldn’t be “me.” Now think about your ancestors. Think of the Vikings, and Genghis Khan, and you’ll see my point. None of us – including children who die young – would be here today if God hadn’t allowed innumerable acts of murder, rape and wholesale slaughter to occur in the past.

    Seversky, I presume you are happy to be alive. That means you’re happy to have been born. You cannot regret that God allowed these terrible acts to occur without thereby nullifying your own existence. For what you are then saying is: God should have created a world in which I did not exist.

    However, you may be a very noble and high-minded soul, willing to forego even your own existence if it meant that God could make a better world … a perfect world, in which children did not die young. So now I shall ask you: what makes you sure that such a world would be better than this one, anyway?

    “That’s a no-brainer,” you might reply. “A world with no suffering is better than one with suffering – even religious believers look forward to such a world, in the future. Also, a world of perfect agents is surely better than a world containing imperfect agents.”

    In response: first, we don’t measure the goodness of a world by summing up the aggregate of goods and evils in it. For such a summation ignores the inherent good of the agents themselves. Second, religious believers have traditionally regarded each moral agent as being of infinite value. “He who saves one life, saves an entire world,” as an old Jewish saying puts it. Two infinities are no bigger than one, as I’m sure you’re aware from studying Cantor’s work.

    Nevertheless, I think that the theological insight needs to be sharpened here. An intelligent skeptic might retort that some infinities are larger than others, as nineteenth-century mathematicians proved, and that a world with (say) aleph-one perfect agents is surely better than a world with a finite number of imperfect agents. Instead of saying that each agent is of infinite value, I think it’s more accurate to say that each agent is of incommensurable value. This means that no agent can be said to be more or less valuable than any other agent, or collection of agents, however large. That might sound odd to a Darwinian, but it accords far better with our moral intuitions than the creepy alternatives, such as consequentialism, which generally end up trying to maximize “goods” anyway (such as utility), thereby making agency of secondary importance.

    A world created perfect would be a very nice one, but it would be no more valuable than the flawed world in which we live. Our world, for all its faults, is rich in one thing: agency. And one agent is as valuable as any other, or others. What this means is that God is under no obligation to create a perfect world, as it would be no better than any other world containing agents.

    Now let’s return to your original objections concerning God’s justice, Seversky.

    You write:


    The God envisioned by Christianity is surely too big to punish … all future generations of mankind for the weakness of one man – Adam.

    “Punish” is the wrong word here. What is being supposed is that a fateful decision by the first human beings had terrible (physical and spiritual) consequences for their descendants. We suffer because of what they did, but we are not being “punished,” as the original fault was not ours. God did not wish to interfere with our first parents’ freedom to raise their offspring as they saw fit to do. They were adults, after all. That’s why throughout history, God has generally left us alone. God is free to intervene when He sees a need to do so; but as a respecter of other agents, He rarely does.

    Referring to the Fall, you write that God, “being omniscient, should have foreseen what happened in the first place.” I have already argued that the notion of a Creator’s being able to foresee a creature’s free choices, logically prior to His act of creating that creature, may not be coherent; in that case, one cannot fault God for not possessing this ability.

    But let’s suppose that it does make sense to speak of God’s possessing the ability you describe. You write that as “common justice requires that only the guilty be punished,” even the consolation of a hereafter for children who die young “doesn’t explain why the suffering is inflicted at all.”

    In response: I agree that their suffering is unjust, but from that fact alone, it does not follow that God is bound to prevent it. I have argued above that a world in which such suffering was always prevented would also be a world in which these children would never have come into being. To establish this point, I examined the skeptic’s favorite scenario: a race of perfect moral agents. All I can say is: be careful what you wish for!

    What, then, is God bound to do? All we can say is that he is bound to put things right in the end. That’s why the hereafter matters.

    In the meantime, believers should refrain from offending unbelievers’ moral sensibilities by trying to find a greater or higher “good” that lies behind the suffering in this world. In most cases, there isn’t one, and believers should humbly acknowledge this. In the meantime, both believers and unbelievers can still fight and defeat some of the evils that surround us. The advantage believers have is that they know exactly what they are up against: not only malevolent human agents, but super-human ones as well, who may have tampered in various ways with the world God originally made, possibly even inserting their own nefarious designs into the biological world. Not everything designed in nature is necessarily good, or part of God’s plan. For my part, I don’t believe that God designed the smallpox virus, whether directly (ex nihilo creation) or indirectly (working through the laws of nature).

    Lastly, you may ask: is there any kind of evil which would disprove the existence of God? Yes, there is. If it were possible for a malevolent super-human intelligence to take over our minds, and make us believe anything it wanted (e.g. that it was God), then moral agency would become impossible on a global scale: no-one would be able to reason reliably about any moral issue, and hence no-one could do anything good or bad. This would negate our entire reason for being, as a race of moral agents.

    For the mere fact that we are capable of acting morally on a day-to-day basis, we ought to be grateful. Bad as life sometimes is, it could be a lot, lot worse. This world isn’t heaven; but it’s certainly no hell.

  14. critter @ 12 -

    No. It means that you don’t place material things above spiritual things in your daily life. You don’t attach undue importance to them.

  15. Very good points Borne (@ 10). Im a Christian for about 5 to 6 years and never met anyone who accepted Jesus because he/she was afraid of going to hell.

    *Unfortunately, i can also say that a great number of people become Christians just to ask for things :(

  16. What’s wrong with this world, if it takes atheist activists to remind people about God? :)

  17. critter :

    Does this mean we shouldn’t invest, save, work?

    Are you kidding?

    From 2Th 3

    We didn’t eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, we worked hard and struggled night and day in order not to be a burden to any of you.
    It’s not as though we didn’t have a right to receive support. Rather, we wanted to set an example for you to follow.
    While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat. We hear that some of you are not living disciplined lives. You’re not working, so you go around interfering in other people’s lives.
    We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to pay attention to their own work so they can support themselves.”

    And a well known parable of Christ’s since you seem either unaware or asking where this kind of teaching is found

    “The kingdom of heaven is like a man going on a trip. He called his servants and entrusted some money to them.
    He gave one man ten thousand dollars, another four thousand dollars, and another two thousand dollars. Each was given money based on his ability. Then the man went on his trip.
    “The one who received ten thousand dollars invested the money at once and doubled his money.
    The one who had four thousand dollars did the same and also doubled his money.
    But the one who received two thousand dollars went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.
    “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.
    The one who received ten thousand dollars brought the additional ten thousand. He said, ‘Sir, you gave me ten thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.’
    “His master replied, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’
    “The one who received four thousand dollars came and said, ‘Sir, you gave me four thousand dollars. I’ve doubled the amount.’
    “His master replied, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’
    “Then the one who received two thousand dollars came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you are a hard person to please. You harvest where you haven’t planted and gather where you haven’t scattered any seeds.
    I was afraid. So I hid your two thousand dollars in the ground. Here’s your money!’
    “His master responded, ‘You evil and lazy servant! If you knew that I harvest where I haven’t planted and gather where I haven’t scattered,
    then you should have invested my money with the bankers. When I returned, I would have received my money back with interest.
    Take the two thousand dollars away from him! Give it to the one who has the ten thousand!

    From Mat. 25:17-28

    People who think belief in God somehow causes fear and worry rather than peace and joy, or who believe that being Christian implies no need to work, invest or save are either sorely ignorant of Christianity (like Dawkins et al.) or just plain indoctrinated into glaring error.

  18. MaxAug:

    *Unfortunately, i can also say that a great number of people become Christians just to ask for things

    Yes and that’s how Christians and thus Christianity get a bad reputation.

    Any mafioso could come to God and give offerings if he thought it would be easy to get big cash returns for it, or just by asking. But that’s totally the wrong motive.
    God is no man’s debtor.

    I serve Christ because he’s always right; because he is goodness and justice incarnate, and besides he never lies. :-)

  19. Some have attempted to justify the existence of evil in the world by appealing to “the big picture” and “the greater good”: certain events might look bad when viewed locally, but somehow they make for a better whole. But that approach only works where the entities affected are secondary to something else. The death of a tree can be rationalized as being good for the biosphere; the death of a child cannot.

    It also implies a being of limited powers, one who cannot achieve a greater good without committing lesser harms. This may be true of us but would it be true of an all-knowing and all-powerful God? Among the ways we protect ourselves from malaria, for example, involves killing mosquitoes in their billions. But suppose we could tweak a gene here or there to render them harmless just by a thought? No one, either human or mosquito would have to die to achieve what most would agree is a greater good. If we can imagine something along those lines then an all-powerful God should have no problem doing it.

    Personally, I think that the notion of a Creator’s knowing what a free agent will do “before it even exists” is probably incoherent. It would mean that God’s knowledge of His creatures’ choices is logically (not just temporally) prior to their very existence AND additionally, logically prior to God’s free decision to create them. That sounds odd.

    The problem seems to lie in the concept of omnisicence. If we had the power, we might create a race of beings with free will and place them in a world full of ‘evils’ in order to see what would happen. And that is what some seem to believe God is doing. But we would do it it because we are not omniscient, because we would be curious to see what was going to happen. An omniscient God on the other hand would know what the outcome was going to be in advance, by definition. So why would He do it in the first place?

    We can certainly reconcile what we observe with the agency of a god if we envisage a less-than-omniscient deity but, by so doing, we sacrifice the unimpeachable authority of an all-powerful, all-knowing God on which Christianity bases its claim to moral supremacy.

    My identity is bound up with where and who I came from: if I had had different parents, then I wouldn’t be “me.” Now think about your ancestors. Think of the Vikings, and Genghis Khan, and you’ll see my point. None of us – including children who die young – would be here today if God hadn’t allowed innumerable acts of murder, rape and wholesale slaughter to occur in the past.

    Seversky, I presume you are happy to be alive. That means you’re happy to have been born. You cannot regret that God allowed these terrible acts to occur without thereby nullifying your own existence. For what you are then saying is: God should have created a world in which I did not exist.

    I count myself very lucky to be alive, not because I have survived some near-disaster, but because those of us that have survived are far fewer in number than those that did not. As an aside, it is one of the reasons that I oppose abortion, not from any religious belief but because, if we take into account that upwards of 50% of the unborn abort spontaneously and that there are so many other ways for us to die prematurely, it becomes clear that life is so rare and precious a gift that we should not destroy it except where we are given no choice.

    All of us here are also very fortunate to live in relatively secure and affluent parts of the world. We have more than adequate shelter, water, food, clothing, medical care, education, means of earning money, entertainment, freedom to pursue our interests. The majority of the world’s population are not so lucky.

    However, you may be a very noble and high-minded soul, willing to forego even your own existence if it meant that God could make a better world … a perfect world, in which children did not die young. So now I shall ask you: what makes you sure that such a world would be better than this one, anyway?

    “That’s a no-brainer,” you might reply. “A world with no suffering is better than one with suffering – even religious believers look forward to such a world, in the future. Also, a world of perfect agents is surely better than a world containing imperfect agents.”

    It all depends, of course, on how you measure “better” because it usually resolves to ‘better for whom?’. Not for those doing the suffering as they would almost certainly argue that if you can’t create a “better” world without them suffering then you’re not doing it right. In fact, I think it is probably a little easier to bear suffering if you believe it is just a terrible accident than if you think it was deliberately inflicted on you by some joker who had decided, without even asking you, that you should suffer for the greater good.

    A world created perfect would be a very nice one, but it would be no more valuable than the flawed world in which we live. Our world, for all its faults, is rich in one thing: agency. And one agent is as valuable as any other, or others. What this means is that God is under no obligation to create a perfect world, as it would be no better than any other world containing agents.

    Which again raises the question of “valuable” to whom and on what grounds?

    Referring to the Fall, you write that God, “being omniscient, should have foreseen what happened in the first place.” I have already argued that the notion of a Creator’s being able to foresee a creature’s free choices, logically prior to His act of creating that creature, may not be coherent; in that case, one cannot fault God for not possessing this ability.

    If God creates or designs as we do then He forms a mental model of the intended creation before giving it physical form. An omniscient God would presumably be aware of the complete potential future ‘history’ of any creation when that ‘model’ is complete and before it is ‘materialized’. As mentioned before, you can have a god who is not omniscient but only at a price.

    In the meantime, believers should refrain from offending unbelievers’ moral sensibilities by trying to find a greater or higher “good” that lies behind the suffering in this world. In most cases, there isn’t one, and believers should humbly acknowledge this. In the meantime, both believers and unbelievers can still fight and defeat some of the evils that surround us.

    Exactly. There is more than enough ‘evil’ to go around, so much so that it will most likely take all of us pulling together to defeat it.

    The advantage believers have is that they know exactly what they are up against: not only malevolent human agents, but super-human ones as well, who may have tampered in various ways with the world God originally made, possibly even inserting their own nefarious designs into the biological world.

    The disadvantage is that if we get lazy and assume supernatural causes without good reason we could overlook – or simply not look for – proximate material causes that are responsible for something.

    For the mere fact that we are capable of acting morally on a day-to-day basis, we ought to be grateful. Bad as life sometimes is, it could be a lot, lot worse. This world isn’t heaven; but it’s certainly no hell.

    Jena-Paul Sartre apparently disagreed but then, as I wrote before, those French existentilialists seemed to be a miserable bunch.

    No, those of us that are alive are pretty lucky to be that way and, speaking for myself, that becomes ever more aparent the older you get and the closer you get to not being that way. If we could just get everybody to realize that then the world might be a better place.

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