Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dawkins on Haiti and Robertson- At Long Last

Ah, here it is, the long aawited piece on Christiaanity and Haiti by Richard Dawkins. Over ht past past many months, talking to agnostics, I've understood that no amount of reasoning is sufficient reasoning for the existence of God. A friend and relative who I have chewed the fat over this one issue admitted as much a month ago. He said even if there was a good indication of 'design' existing in the universe, if every avenue of scientific discovery was covered by Biblical history, explanation , theology and logic, he would still look for a reason to disbelieve rathern than believe. He strongly affirmed this as being objective, while I let him know that this was also a form of prejudice rather than true objectivity.

I also shared with him my own feelings on this subject. I felt he was being truthful. As a matter of fact I would say that science is only a pretext for prejudice in theological discussions, even at the highest levels. This is of course hypocrisy in a way, which is what Dawkins accuses people like me of, by saying that we have no right to criticize Pat Robertson for his comments on Haiti, and that hje was simply being theologically consistent and true to his beliefs.

You see- I believe the problem of evil- in the form of internal evil (sin), evil in other people, especially those of certain faiths which affirm that sin is a reality and merits undesirable conssequences, and finally evil that is attributed to no human being (animal attacks, natural disasters, accidents, dealths of relatives, loneliness, depression, health problems, et al)- is the *only* objection ever to arise against God in the human heart.

Dawkings refuses to debate anyone other than ones with PhDs in the sciences. I don't know the reasons- it could be that he believes science is the only reliable guardian of truth, or that logic, rhetoric, theology, history and other such sources of truth are not his forte, or simply because he will not deign to debate people outside of the scientific community. But he does delve into theology in this article and many others. Of course, it is no surprise- a scientist who is also an activist for atheism is necessarily getting into theological waters.

The problem of evil confronts us with many questions, most of which Dawkins asks:

1. How can a loving God allow these things to happen?
2. How can a loving God destroy human beings?
3. How can a loving God destroy innocent people, or putting this in another way, how does he decide between Haitians and say, the Americans?
4. How can Jesus overlook the sins of Christians, especially the sin of hypocrisy?
5. When there are so many religious manipulations, so obvious and prevalent in recent and distant history, how could God allow such malpractice to continue unabated?
6. Isn't all religious persuasion only a tool for manipulation?
7. And if an atheist/Christian is honest with himself, he will also ask the question: how about my sins that I struggle with? Yes, I feel the guilt, but I can't believe God will judge me for these!

Of course, from a Christian's point of view, all of these questions have been answered by 'experts' and some which the Christians have answered for themselves. As a last point, a Christian would add that his own personal experience with Jesus negates all of this. You see, Malcolm Muggeridge had seen mostly evil in himself and around him (as he has admitted), but his encounter with Mother Teresa shook his skepticism changed his perspective. How does that happen? A hardened atheist sees reason for God's existence in a single act of a few acts of love, compared with the weight of immense evil he has seen in the wars, politics and lives around him?

This is a mystery, but a very real one. If one has felt the love of God in his heart as a believer, one reflects to an extend the same love to others. Arguably this love has changed the world.

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