Peter Singer at Comment is Free has posted an article, Good God?, that is sadly all too common. It opens:
Do we live in a world that was created by a god who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all good? Christians think we do. Yet a powerful reason for doubting this confronts us every day: the world contains a vast amount of pain and suffering.
I kid you not. Peter Singer seems to think that he was the first person to notice this problem—and it really doesn’t get any better with him recounting a debate with–not Rowan Williams, not Georg Ratzinger—but, wait for it, Dinesh D’Souza. You haven’t heard of this theological titan? Me neither, and nothing about his resume suggests that that is any shame. That said, D’Souza may have been demonstrated a deep and profound mastery of theology for all I can tell as Singer proceeds to trot out all the usual tropes.
Does it occur to these people that perhaps that some Christian with an intellectual dexterity that exceeds a five year old may be living today and have lived in the past. An enormous proportion of humanity is Christian today, and some of them are quite respected for their intellect, and almost all of those people that gave us the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment were Christian. Is it credible that these people would have maintained and propagated a truly vacuous system of thought that can be knocked over in a short blog entry?
I am no Christian theologian—indeed I am not even a Christian—but even I can see that such articles are not making the slightest effort to understand that which they seek to criticize. This does not happen anywhere else as far as I know. In any other field people will make an effort to make a proper study before wading in, or if there isn’t time to do that, at least try and fake it and give the appearance of having mastered the area.
But this is not the case with a certain kind of atheist. Quite the contrary, these people seem to make a point of embracing the crudest and least reflective understanding they can find, and I don’t think this is any accident. I am only concerned with a particular kind of atheist whose belief is founded in a faith-based principle that those that believe in God are existential cowards that cling to a collection of fairy stories, lovingly propagated from the bronze age at the point of a sword.
This is truly tragic. It is as if they have been confronted with an awful choice: given a bundle of beliefs—Christian religion—are they true or false, as if deciding whether a current is flowing in a wire. Clearly you don’t want to oscillate in an unstable way on this as that could lead to mental instability, so you have to make your choice and then stick with it, and having decided that it is steaming pile of turds, it becomes important to keep the flame of faith burning. And these people have found that it sells books and projects articles up to the top of the Cif leaderboard. There is clearly a huge market for this, founded on perfect ignorance, fear and irrationality.
It is really quite tragic.
(Should anyone be really interested in a real edgy discussion between a great theologian and a sceptical inquisitor with attitude I recommend Humphreys in Search of God interviewing Rowan Williams; Christianity was never the same for me again and I now see Christianity and Buddhism as different ways of making sense of the same reality—and by extension all authentic religions and wisdom traditions.)