Monday 26th June 2017

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

The Problem Of Evil… C.S. Lewis Takes On Bill Maher

May 14, 2017 Frontpage No Comments

Image result for cs lewis

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK

The term “theodicy” was coined by Gottfried Leibniz in 1710 in his “Essay on the goodness of God, the liberty of man and the origin of evil in the world.”
It was his attempt to refute Pierre Bayle’s theory that it was impossible to reconcile the existence of a loving and omnipotent God with the presence of evil and suffering in the world. The medieval scholastics wrestled with the problem as well.
It is the same dilemma that the angry modern atheists — Bill Maher, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins, for example — trot out when they seek to discredit religious belief.
Maher is especially fond of the ploy. He will lean back in his chair on his HBO programs, smirk and mock anyone who prays for help from an “all-good God” when that God permits all the horrors we see in the world: abused children, mass murders, the reports of torture and natural disasters on our nightly newscasts.
He will ridicule people who ask for cures for cancer and family distress, but who go on praying for these things when their misfortunes continue.
He is also fond of belittling the miracles in the Bible, eliciting cheers and laughter from his audience when he asks how anyone in his right mind could take seriously the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and the whale, and Jesus walking on water. How anyone could worship a God who slaughtered the firstborn Egyptian male children, the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the inhabitants of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down.
It is sometimes hard to believe that there is an audience in our time for such simplistic derision of the Bible, yet there appears to be.
The man’s ratings are quite high, even though his diatribes on religion are like listening to a sixth-grade kid mocking the notion of God because space telescopes find no old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud when they explore the universe.
But even if Maher is little more than a snarky wise-guy, the question he asks about the existence God and the presence of evil in the world deserves to be dealt with. Most of us have found ourselves wondering how God could have permitted some horrendous tragedy or injustice in our lives.
It is intriguing to picture what might happen if C.S. Lewis could be brought back to life and persuaded to appear with Maher to discuss the question. Lewis’ reputation as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia might persuade Maher to let him speak his piece for a minute or two.
But my guess is that it would not take long before Maher would cut him off with string of snarling four-letter words. He does that when he comes off badly in a debate, resorting to the tactic favored by beery loudmouths when they sense that the folks at the bar are beginning to chuckle at their muddle-headed logic.
Lewis knew that it was not as simple as the atheists would have us believe; that the presence of evil and injustice in the world does not disprove the existence of an omnipotent and loving God. Quite the contrary. Lewis dealt with the topic in The Joyful Christian, the 1977 collection of his essays published by MacMillan.
(The essay originally appeared in an earlier book by Lewis, Mere Christianity, a collection of radio talks he made on the BBC between 1942 and 1944. MacMillan published that book in 1952. The passages I quote below come from a chapter called “The Rival Conceptions of God,” in Book II “What Christians Believe” of Mere Christianity.)
He notes that many atheists point to the injustice in the world as a proof that God does not exist. But he then asks, where atheists “got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” What are they comparing this universe with when they call it unjust?
“If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak,” he wrote, then why do atheists find themselves “in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet.”
Lewis anticipates the atheist’s objection; he understands they will insist that ideas about justice “are nothing but private ideas of our own.”
But he maintains that response is dodging the question.
The argument against God’s existence “depends upon saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please one’s private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exists — in other words that the whole of reality was senseless,” the atheist is “forced to assume that one part of reality — namely their idea of justice — was full of sense.”
Lewis continues:
“Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”
I submit that Peter Hitchens, the brother of the late atheist Christopher Hitchens, draws the appropriate conclusion.
Atheists think the way they do, writes Hitchens, not because logic and reason lead them to that conclusion, but because they choose not to believe:
“I desire, and therefore choose to believe in one kind of universe, one that has laws and purpose with justice woven into its very fabric.
“The unbeliever desires, and therefore chooses to believe in, a chaotic universe where the dead remain dead and actions have no effect beyond their immediately observable consequences.”
And a universe, I would add, where an individual is free to live his life in pursuit of self-gratification as the reason for being, a life one where sacrifice, duty, and self-denial make no demands upon our moral choices.
That freedom may sound attractive on first hearing.
But it strikes me that Bill Maher lives his life with a sneer on his face more often than with a smile.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Hey Democrats: You Might Win More Elections If You’d Stop Killing Your Voters in the Womb

Democrats keep puzzling about why they are losing so many elections, but they do not seem to want to hear the answer that so many people are giving: abortion. Pro-life advocates — Republican, Democrat, independent and otherwise – have been…Continue Reading

Only Pope Francis can end the ‘apostasy’ his words have caused: Italian monsignor

ROME, Italy, June 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis could stem the “confusion and apostasy” now rampant in the Church among priests and bishops by “correcting” his own “ambiguous and erroneous words and acts,” said an Italian monsignor and former…Continue Reading

New Pontifical Academy of Life Appointee Supports Euthanasia by Starvation

An ethics study group for the Italian Jesuit magazine Aggiornamenti Sociali, headed by Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, a newly appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a theologian of the Northern Italian Theological Faculty of Milan, has joined Italian…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood wants to have a center in Reading High School; you can help stop it

ACTION: Planned Parenthood does not belong in our schools. Contact the Reading School Board at this link. Planned Parenthood is anything but helpful for teenagers, with all the ways the abortion giant has corrupted and confused them through explicit sexual advice,…Continue Reading

Fireworks at U.S. Bishops’ meeting as Francis-appointed Cardinals oppose permanent religious liberty committee

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana, June 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted 132 to 53 today to approve the establishment of a permanent Standing Committee for Religious Liberty. Five bishops abstained from voting. The USCCB formed the Ad Hoc…Continue Reading

What can priests practically do to combat the porn epidemic?

Washington D.C., Jun 14, 2017 / 02:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Online pornography is one of the fastest growing addictions in the United States, on par with cocaine and gambling. Once confined to the pages of a smuggled Playboy magazine, pornography…Continue Reading

Catholic community offers prayer, supplies for London fire victims

London, England, Jun 14, 2017 / 01:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of Westminster offered their prayers and local parishes opened their doors to offer aid and supplies to those affected by a massive fire at an apartment complex…Continue Reading

Ohio tries again to ban abortions after heartbeat begins

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – On Tuesday, two Ohio representatives reintroduced legislation protecting babies with detectable heartbeats from abortion. Last year, Republican Gov. John Kasich vetoed the measure when it came to his desk. The human heart begins…Continue Reading

Abortion clinic loses fight to silence LifeSite, but plans emergency appeal

TORONTO, June 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — LifeSiteNews won a victory in court today by successfully opposing a publication ban on the identities of abortionists targeting a pro-life activist. But the legal battle continues as the Crown in Ontario has signalled…Continue Reading

Incredible Story . . . Winner of ‘Romania’s Got Talent’ is a 14-year-old girl without arms and femurs

June 6, 2017 (Family News) — When she first showed up in front of the cameras at the live show, with her serene sweet face, she looked as a much smaller child. She is a short person because her legs…Continue Reading

Bring Back Christendom

By now you may have come across the controversy spun up over the weekend when Rep. Clay Higgins, the new congressman from Louisiana’s 3rd District, sent an outraged reaction to the London Bridge jihadist attacks over Facebook. The bulk of…Continue Reading

The Organization Every Parent Needs to Know About

Did you know there’s an organization of pediatricians and other child health professionals whose policies likely support your values as Catholic parents and grandparents? The American College of Pediatricians (not to be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics) actually…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Why Cardinal Sarah terrifies his critics

A growing crowd wants Cardinal Robert Sarah’s head on a platter. Open a liberal Catholic periodical and you are likely to find a call for the dismissal of the Guinean cardinal who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship: “It’s past time for [Pope Francis] to replace Cardinal Sarah” (Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter); “New wine might be needed at the Congregation for Divine Worship” (Christopher Lamb, the Tablet); “Curia officials who refuse to get with…Continue Reading

Illinois Catholic bishop decrees no Holy Communion, funerals for same-sex couples

The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Ill., is calling on priests there to deny Holy Communion and even funeral rites to people in same-sex unions unless they show “some signs of repentance” for their relationships before death. The decree by Bishop Thomas Paprocki also said that people “living publicly” in same-sex marriages may not receive the sacrament of confirmation or be admitted to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process by w

Trump’s Nationalism Is Consistent With Catholic Social Doctrine

Leading American bishops have complained about the “harshness” of Trump’s campaign rhetoric and called for an end to deportation of aliens until the “broken” system can be fixed. Yet, despite this opposition from the Church’s hierarchy, Trump won 52% of the Catholic vote (to Hillary’s 45%), a historic margin for a Republican. How to explain this contradiction? Real simple. The laity get it better than the bishops. Trump’s nationalism is fully consistent with Catholic social…Continue Reading

No More Excuses, It’s Time to Defund Planned Parenthood

As the healthcare bill makes its way through whatever the Senate is doing with it, one provision is absolutely non-negotiable: The bill needs to defund the nation’s largest abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. They committed 328,548 abortions last year, which is equal to one of every three abortions in the country. Just because the Hyde Amendment states that taxpayer monies cannot be used to directly fund abortion, it does not prohibit tax dollars from paying for…Continue Reading

Four Cardinals release letter asking to meet Pope about ‘confusion and disorientation’ in Church

fourcards

ROME, June 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Four Cardinals have publicly released their letter to the Pope from April 25, 2017 unsuccessfully asking him for a private audience to discuss “confusion and disorientation” within the Church after the publication of the Pope’s April 2016 Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In the letter Cardinals lament the great division in the Church on basic morality as a result of the pope’s exhortation. “And so it is happening — how painful…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Our Lady Of Fatima: The May Apparition

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles on the one hundredth anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima. Fr. Connolly is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.) + + + 1917 was a tumultuous year that would forever change the face of the world. The…Continue Reading

Atheist Christian Haters Win In Court

NEW YORK — Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented June 20 on a First Amendment case that dealt a blow to religious liberty. The full text follows: + + + For 75 years, Bayview Park, in a Pensacola, Fla., neighborhood, has been home to a large cross. The 1941 wooden cross, erected by a New…Continue Reading

A Long History Of Leftist Hatred

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., who aspired to end his life as a mass murderer of Republican congressmen, was a Donald Trump hater and a Bernie Sanders backer. Like many before him, Hodgkinson was a malevolent man of the hating and hard left. His planned atrocity failed because two Capitol…Continue Reading

An Act Against Secular Leftism’s Top Dogma: Climate Change

By SHAUN KENNEY (Editor’s Note: Shaun Kenney is a former executive director of American Life League, a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia, and an op-ed writer and ghostwriter for various publications and personalities in Washington, D.C.) + + + Finally, President Trump withdrew the United States of America from the Paris…Continue Reading

“Most Courageous” Parish Priest . . . Plans To Start Retired Life As “Hermit Monk” In Maui

By DEXTER DUGGAN A veteran clergyman described by an admirer as “the most courageous priest in our San Diego Diocese” warned at his pre-retirement party that although the priority of Christianity is saving souls, he was hearing more from prelates concerned about earthly matters than religious ones. Fr. Richard Perozich, sometimes involved in news events…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Our Savior And Redeemer… The Ascension And Pentecost

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Those people who believe in the Lutheran myth of “sola Scriptura” have a big problem to solve. They cannot explain the fact that Jesus spent forty days with His apostles, teaching them, reminding them of what He had taught them before, and preparing them for their mission, but there is absolutely nothing written in the…Continue Reading

Acts Of The Penitent — Contrition

By DON FIER As we briefly surveyed the history of the sacrament of Penance last week, we saw that significant changes in its outward form took place over the course of the centuries. In her first years, the Church experienced remarkable growth despite facing great persecution — it was a time of many martyrs. “The early Christians,” explains Dr. Alan…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I have heard it said that homosexual behavior is one of the sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance. Is that true and, if so, what are the others? — T.S., Arizona. A. In Holy Scripture there are four sins in this category, so called because in each case the victims of these sins cried out to the…Continue Reading

Whoever Receives You Receives Me

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a Romans 6:3-4, 8-12 Matt. 10:37-42 In the readings today we hear about our own dignity as Christian persons and also about the way we, as Christian people, are to treat others. We look first at the point of our own dignity. In the second…Continue Reading

The Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum . . . The Wanderer Interviews Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ

By CHRISTOPHER MANION (Editor’s Note: The Wanderer first published this article on Summorum Pontificum on July 19, 2007, and we are reprinting it here in view of the upcoming ten-year anniversary of Pope Benedict’s landmark motu proprio, which allowed priests to say the Traditional Rite of the Mass without asking for permission. (This interview appeared in two parts; we will…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the history of the Church saints have commonly lived at the same time and worked together for the Kingdom of God. Pope St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John of Avila (of the Cross) and St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori and Blessed Gennaro Maria Sarnelli. Blessed Gennaro was…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Francis Regis

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the late 16th century, Calvinism began to make significant advances in the Catholic population of France. More and more Catholics left the faith, or simply stopped going to Mass and practicing their faith. Then God sent a man to the French who preached tirelessly and then spent hours in the confessional, helping the penitents return to…Continue Reading