Problem of evil and religion's double standard
By DANIEL C. DENNETT - THE WASHINGTON POST
Added: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Q: Many have criticized Pat Robertson's suggestion that the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was the work of the devil or a form of divine punishment. But if one believes God is good and intervenes in the world, why does God allow innocents to suffer? What is the best scriptural text or explanation of that problem you've ever read?
One of the striking differences between modern, "organized" religion and tribal or folk religions--religions without seminaries and theologians and official books--is that in tribal religions they have no double standard! They thank their gods for the good stuff that happens and blame them for the bad. The idea that God is a worthy recipient of our gratitude for the blessings of life but should not be held accountable for the disasters is a transparently disingenuous innovation of the theologians. And of course it doesn't work all that well. The Problem of Evil, capital letters and all, is the central enigma confronting theists. There is no solution. Isn't that obvious? All the holy texts and interpretations that contrive ways of getting around the problem read like the fine print in a fraudulent contract--and for the same reason: they are desperate attempts to conceal the implications of the double standard they have invented.
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