Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Journal Gazette/Times-Courier. They don’t disclose where they’re located, but it’s probably Charleston, Illinois. The letter is titled To atheists, what is ‘good’ is what ‘I think’. The newspaper has a comments feature.
Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. But today we’ve got a preacher — Ron Thomas. He preaches at the Highway Church of Christ in Sullivan, Illinois. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
Some atheists like to accentuate what they perceived to be the problem of evil in society and its relationship to an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good God. To them, there is an incompatibility, even a contradiction. The incompatibility (contradiction) is not obvious to anyone, so the atheist has to make an extended argument on what they think is a contradiction.
The rev spends a couple of paragraphs describing the Problem of evil — an ancient theological question of how to reconcile the existence of evil with that of a deity who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. We are fortunate today, dear reader, because the rev has it all figured out. He says:
There is no necessary incompatibility in the construct of this atheistic argument – it is merely asserted.
Huh? Let’s read on:
What atheists try to do, then, is form a moral standard of some sort where the formulator of that standard is in position to judge something else. They try to formulate what “good” is and what it does. This is nothing more than an “I think” approach based upon an opinion. One person might argue in “rocket-science” terms that it should be obvious as to why inflicting pain and suffering is wrong. Yet, no atheist can tell us why – they only assert it.
Oh, we get it. The only people who pose the problem are atheists, and they wouldn’t know evil if it beheaded them. The rev continues:
The best an atheist can do is to find some common features or qualities in humanity and then assert them as a collective in a moral code that others should follow. For instance, one atheist said with regard to a law that says it is acceptable to extinguish another human being based solely on their race/religion, “I personally would asses that law to be wrong because it involves pain and suffering.” That’s it? Yes, that is it. It is the only basis on which he can judge, and does judge. No atheist can do better at offering a reason.
The rev can do much better than the atheist, of course. He doesn’t even bother explaining it to us because it’s so obvious. He knows what’s evil because the bible tells him. The atheist, on the other hand, knows nothing. Here’s more:
Some atheists assert they know what “good” is and how it operates. In this assertion, it is nothing more than an “I think” approach based on subjectivity.
Ah, but unlike the squishy subjectivity of the atheist, the rev has an objective guide. And now we come to the end:
There is no “I know” to it because atheists have no objective moral standard by which to judge.
So there you are. The rev has solved the problem of evil, which has bedeviled theologians for millennia.
Wait — you have a question? You say the rev didn’t explain, on his own terms, why there is evil in the world? Hey — now that you mention it, he didn’t explain it. But he made it clear that it’s only people like you who ask that question, and he doesn’t have to answer because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
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