Thursday, 21 January 2010


An hilarious, if it wasn't such a serious subject, Thought for the Day on January 15th from the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, trying to make sense of theodicy in the light of Haiti. He gives a brief rundown of theodicy's history, noting Voltaire's devastating critique in Candide.
Well, I have no answer to the question of how God can allow so many innocent people to die in natural disasters, like the earthquakes of Lisbon or Haiti. And indeed, I can quite understand that many will regard these events as proof positive that religious people are living a foolish dream like the idiotic Dr Pangloss.
It does rather seem that way. At least he's honest enough to admit he has no answer; so why does he believe? Oh, hold on:
And yet, I still believe. For there exists a place in me - deeper than my rational self - that compels me to respond to tragedies like Haiti not with argument but with prayer. On a very basic level, what people find in religion is not so much the answers, but a means of responding to and living with life's hardest questions. And this is why a tragedy like this doesn't, on the whole, make believers suddenly wake up to the foolishness of their faith. On the contrary, it mostly tends to deepen our sense of a need for God.
Oh yes, he's got a gut feeling. This is one of the problems of faith. Because it is (often) impervious to the evidence in front of it, there is no resolution available, *in principle*, when one is faced with someone with a completely antithetical belief. I'm comforted a little by the fact that some theists do lose their faith because of this problem of evil.
What many believers mean by faith is not that we have a firm foundation in rational justification. Those, like Leibniz, who try to claim this are, I believe, rationalizing something that properly exists on another level. Which is why, at a moment like this, I'd prefer to leave the arguments to others. For me, this is a time quietly to light a candle for the people of Haiti and to offer them up to God in my prayers. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.
I agree that many believers do not have a firm foundation in rational justification. I would go further and say I've not come across *any* who have got such a foundation, although many claim it. It re-iterates the problem above; how are we to get *him* to reconsider his faith in the light of reason and evidence? His is the very definition of a closed mind.

And offering ineffective prayers and lighting candles is a waste of time and effort; one wonders how this is a 'good' thing? He would have used this platform better if he had urged donations and practical help.


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    演唱會 says:
    2 February 2010 at 20:38

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • LitByLightning says:
    5 February 2010 at 11:15

    Good thoughs on theodicy. If you're interested, I wrote on the same topic here regarding Haiti.

  • Mark Jones says:
    5 February 2010 at 13:49

    Thanks LitByLightning; I've commented on your piece.

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