Book Review: Questions of Truth: God, Science and Belief by John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Beale
"I found the Beale-Polkinghorne explanation of natural evil (tsunamis and earthquakes that drown or crush tens of thousands, childhood cancers, and other marks of benign providence) as disgusting, though it is novel, as any that other apologists trot out. They say that the deity allows natural evils to happen because "he" has given creation "freedom to be and to make itself" - thus imputing free will to "creation" to explain natural evil in the same way as moral evil is imputed to the free will of humans. Heroic stuff."
~ AC Grayling

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I enjoy what AC Grayling has to say.  Coincidentally, just earlier today I listened to him being interviewed on The Humanist Hour podcast.  You might enjoy it as well, Joan.

Thanks, Carl. I like his voice and the quality of his thinking, gentle while straightforward. 

Yet another disgusting attempt at rationalizing the presence of natural evil in our universe. The fact that he also mentions free will is funny, given that science more and more shows us that there is no such thing as free will. The whole basis on which religion stands can't be defended or reconciled with science. Religion and science are polar opposites.

That this is the case seems to escape the apologists and theists. They keep trying to justify their believes, obviously failing whenever they try. Yet one would expect them to realize their failure and attempt another venue, their presupposition doesn't allow them to do so, as this would mean having to let go of their irrational idea of god. 

I feel pity for those who honestly believe in this nonsense of personal gods.

I think "disgusting" is an appropriate word for propagating this kind of nonsense. I have a cousin who is married to a lutheran minister and she constantly reports her depression, fatigue, headaches and nightmares. I think his principles wear very poorly on her, and she doesn't recognize the cause. She blames herself and tries harder. So, yes, "pity" is a good word. I feel so badly for her because she is one remarkable woman.  

Apologists also claim that all moral and natural evil in the world is the result of the sin of Eve and Adam, that their act corrupted nature itself. It's all simply ridiculous. The doctrines of God's omnipotence and omniscience are mutually incompatible, and in either case those attributes would logically place the blame with God. I do not believe it possible for a rational man/woman to believe in a God (god[s]).

This is absolutely correct. Even if we believe that free will was possible in our universe, the fact that god supposedly created Adam and Even with the mere ability to defy him puts responsibility on god. Why is that? Because God is supposedly omnipotent and omniscience, thus aware of all possible consequences of his actions and able to do anything about any consequence he would wish to avoid.

Planting ignorant and curious humans next to a tree full of yummy fruits is the least responsible thing to do. It's like a parent leaving a child in a room with a platter of the most delicious cake and say "I'm going now. Do not eat the cake!". And then punishing the child for the rest of his life, as well as his children and children's children for the simple act of not being able to resist temptation of creamy goodness...

Religion is a joke to anyone who thinks about it from an unbiased and rational perspective.

Maybe I'm as dense as a leftover Xmas fruitcake found in the back of the fridge in June, but just what in the heck is "natural evil" when referring to seismic, weather, and geologic events? I wasn't aware we could suddenly attribute bad intent to an earthquake, an erupting volcano, a tornado, flood waters, etc. While these are "natural" events in the sense of results of active geologic and atmospheric forces and the relation between these forces, I've never been aware that we can actually attribute any level of mens rea to a landslide cause by excessive rain. True, the results of these natural events can cause great suffering and hardship to humans.  But since when do we attribute some sort of motive to a cold front hitting a warm front, thereby causing a tornado, which destroys crops, homes, businesses and people?

I don't perceive natural events as being either "good" or "evil." Humans perceive the events as being beneficial or detrimental, but that's our subjective perspective. They are neither. They just are. 

I'm just reporting what many apologists call natural disasters. They refer to them as natural evils, brought about in nature by original sin. I've even heard many apologists claim that before Adam and Eve sinned, roses had no thorns, bees had no stingers, there were no poisonous insects or bugs, and lions and all other of today's carnivores ate grass. They claim there were no earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and the like. It's all ridiculous, but what do you expect from people who see agency in everything ?

Apologists base this assertion in part on Romans 8:19-22: 


"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

For we know that the whole creation (i.e., the entire universe) groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now".



I've got to admit that "natural evil" is a new one on me. Never heard the phrase before. In the context of "Da Sky Boss" using lightening, storms, etc., to smite someone, yes. But even in that context, earthquakes and floods were just a tool of Big Daddy in the clouds. Like any other tool, they were neither good nor evil. Just another method of wreaking havoc on his pet ant farm - us.

I say it is just a form of expression. Of course nature does not have intent. But we can subjectively interpret something as being evil from our perspective. Something that, unconscious or not, can cause great harm and destruction to us or our kind, can be considered evil from our perspective. In a way, evil is only possible from the perspective of a conscious observer. Just like time does not really exist, is merely an interpretation of the sequencing events taking place within our universe and being observed by our limited sensory perception.

I believe Einstein basically said that space and time are one and the same. Distance (spreading of space) equals time.

That is correct. And this is also why time as we perceive it, is more an illusion than a reflection of reality :) It is a way for our minds to cope with the intrinsic weirdness of our universe. There are great documentaries about time. They are truly mind boggling




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