Sunday, March 15, 2009

On explaining too much or too little

On the one hand, if we don’t offer much in the way of explanations, and just rebut argument against theism, appealing to mystery to avoid refutation, we nevertheless are left with weak position. The atheist can respond that the suffering in the world makes perfect sense on his own world-view, in that if there is no benevolent being in charge then the random distribution of pleasure and pain that we actually experience is pretty much to be expected.

On the other hand, if the theist explains too much, he runs the risk of hubris, or claiming to know what he is not in a position to know. He could find himself in the position of the comforters of Job.

Christian philosopher Daniel Howard-Snyder writes:

We do others a grievous disservice to hold out to them in private or in the pulpit any expectation to understand why God would permit so much evil or any particular instance, expectations which we have no reason to believe will be fulfilled, expectations which when left unfulfilled can become near irresistible grounds for rejecting the faith. We are in the dark here. We can’t see how any reason we know of, or the whole lot of them combined, would justify God n permitting so much horrible evil or any particular horror. We need to own up to that fact.

Daniel Howard-Snyder, “God Evil and Suffering,” in Michael Murray ed. Reason for the Hope Within (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 101.

11 comments:

Blue Devil Knight said...

I have never read such an honest statement in the context of the AfE. It is quite moving actually.

Rob G said...

BDK -- I know I sound like a broken record, forever trumpeting D.B. Hart's 'The Doors of the Sea,' but he says something very similar in that book, which is one of the reasons he "won me over" to his take on things.

Blip said...

BDK is right. It is very sad. :'( *blows nose*

Victor Reppert said...

I removed some posts here.

Ilíon said...

Removing posts doesn't make them untrue.

Victor Reppert said...

No it doesn't, Ilion. But I removed your posts because I had removed the posts to which they were responses. I couldn't be absolutely sure whether you were responding to anonymous or BDK, but I figured it was anon.

Ilíon said...

I don't rightly recall myself, as I didn't save the content of the post to my PC before posting it.

At the same time, given the content of BDK's post which is still here, I strongly suspect that I was commenting on that particular tendentiousness.

Ilíon said...

Ah yes (the notifications were still in my Hotmail 'deleted' folder), I'd made two posts: the first being a comment about BDK's comment; the second being a humorous and throwaway response to Anonymouse demanding that I shut up.

Perezoso said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Victor Reppert said...

Banned means banned.

Ilíon said...

Ah, someone had mentioned to me in an email about a banning at DI. Now I get it.