Tuesday 12th December 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.

Facebook Is ‘Ripping Apart’ Society, Former Executive Warns

Last month, former Facebook president Sean Parker expressed fears over what the social network is “doing to our children’s brains.” It was developed to be addictive, he said, describing Facebook as a “social-validation feedback loop” that exploited weaknesses in the human psyche. Now another…Continue Reading

Pro-life leaders pledge fidelity to Catholic faith, refuse to follow ‘erring pastors’

December 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 30 Catholic pro-life and pro-family leaders, representing 11 countries, have signed a Pledge of Fidelity to the Catholic, declaring their refusal to follow “erring pastors” in the Church today. The leaders announced the pledge…Continue Reading

Please Pray for Dr. Robert Hickson

Over the past couple of years, Maike Hickson has become a very important part of our work here. She has helped us greatly in our coverage of European stories, particularly in the German-language press. She has built relationships with other…Continue Reading

Archbishop Naumann: “If the Church is silent on the destruction of life, we’re being negligent”

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas was recently chosen by his brother bishops to lead the U.S. Catholic Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee of Pro-Life Activities. The 68-year-old native of St. Louis, Missouri, was selected on November 14 by…Continue Reading

LA convent sale controversy ends in favor of archdiocese, Katy Perry

Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 6, 2017 / 12:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This week, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and singer Katy Perry were awarded a joint $10 million sum for punitive damages over a church-owned hilltop property which was illegally…Continue Reading

CDL. BURKE TO OFFER PONTIFICAL MASS AT WISCONSIN SHRINE

LA CROSSE, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Cardinal Raymond Burke will offer Pontifical High Mass on Sunday, December 10. The Mass will be at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at 9:30 a.m. The date of the…Continue Reading

Newly revealed vision of St. Pope John Paul: Islam will invade Europe

Bienno, Italy, November 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews): A close friend of Saint John Paul II has affirmed that the late pope, revealed to have been a mystic, told him that Europe would be invaded by Islam. Speaking to a large group…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan, alumni ‘baffled’ over Notre Dame decision to offer birth control coverage

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, November 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The University of Notre Dame’s recent about-face to provide birth control via its health coverage is baffling, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said. “We rejoiced when Notre Dame united with us in our expression…Continue Reading

Spain’s Catholic Church speaks out against Catalan independence drive

The head of the Catholic Church in Spain has criticised a declaration of independence approved by Catalonia’s regional parliament last month, calling it “serious and disturbing”, a spokesman said Monday. Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, the president of the Spanish bishops’…Continue Reading

Pope sends telegramme of condolence following terror attacks in Egypt

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolence for Friday’s attack on a mosque in Egypt, saying he was “profoundly grieved to learn of the great loss of life caused by the terrorist attacks on Rawda mosque in North…Continue Reading

Can Catholic schools resist the new gender confusion?

Two months ago, parents at Sacred Heart girls’ school in Hammersmith received an unexpected letter. “In recognising Jesus as our teacher through the Gospels,” wrote headteacher Marian Doyle, “the first impulse for us as a Catholic school must be to…Continue Reading

‘Crucified cow’ on display at center of Catholic church, locals outraged Belgium , Catholic , Sacrilege

November 23, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Local Catholics in a Belgian town are outraged as a cruciform cow has been erected as art at the center of a consecrated Catholic church. They are urging the local bishop to have it removed…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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Apple, Google attend China internet conference that promotes control and censorship

December 11, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – CEOs from Google and Apple participated last week in China’s World Internet Conference, bringing what critics called “credibility” to an annual event used by the country’s Communist government to promote a more controlled and censored internet globally. Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook went as far as praising the Communist country during his keynote speech at the conference, saying that China’s vision of cyberspace as promoted by the conference “is a vision…Continue Reading

Pope Francis calls for Lord’s Prayer translation to be changed

Pope Francis has called for the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer to be changed as it implies God leads people into temptation. The line, which is traditionally translated into English as “And lead us not into temptation”, was recently changed in French to say “do not let us enter into temptation.” Currently, the Italian translation is

Archbishop: Politicians who say they’re pro-abortion and a good Catholic must be admonished

KANSAS CITY, Kansas, December 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Politicians who “flaunt” being Catholic while asserting that they are also pro-abortion are guilty of “misleading” other Catholics and must be admonished, said U.S. Archbishop Joseph Naumann in a recent interview. Naumann, who was elected last month by his brother bishops over Cardinal Blase Cupich to be the next head of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life efforts, said that openly pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians are “particularly problematic” for the bishops to…Continue Reading

Denmark aborted all but 4 babies diagnosed with Down syndrome last year

December 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A Danish official is using the four children with Down syndrome who weren’t aborted in Denmark last year to argue that his country’s policy is not to kill everyone with an extra chromosome. Ireland may repeal its Eighth amendment, which protects the human right to life. Pro-life activist Liz McDermott pointed out to the committee on the Eighth Amendment in the House of the Oireachtas that Denmark has an extraordinarily…Continue Reading

Pope Francis urges Trump to respect ‘status quo’ in Jerusalem

Pope Francis has stated his “concern” over US president Donald Trump’s expected decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Pope said he “cannot keep silent” over the “situation that has arisen in recent days”, and called for respect for the “status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the Un

Advertisement(2)

Advent With The English Martyrs

By JAMES MONTI Recently I learned from an English Catholic gentleman that in late October the BBC began airing in England a new television series called Gunpowder dramatizing the historical events surrounding the “Gunpowder Plot” of 1605, a violent plot of a few Catholic extremists arising from the desperate situation of Catholics persecuted under England’s…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic. . . The Supreme Court’s Overturning Of Bad Precedents: Don’t Hold Your Breath

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

By DONALD DeMARCO “I can resist anything but temptation,” quipped Oscar Wilde. His remark is really more humorous than cynical. But it does underscore a truth, namely, that there is some measure of difficulty for all of us in resisting temptation. Even the saints had to wrestle with temptation. “I am delighted with the law…Continue Reading

Our Lady Of Fatima… Apostle Of The Immaculate Heart: The Life Of Lucia Dos Santos

By FR. SEAN CONNOLLY (Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh 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. Part eleven, because of its length, will appear in two separate issues of The Wanderer.) + + +…Continue Reading

Tampa Change-Counseling Ban Faces Legal Challenge

TAMPA, Fla. — Liberty Counsel filed suit in federal court against the city of Tampa for its adoption of Ordinance 2017-47, which prohibits licensed counselors from providing and clients from receiving counseling to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity. The ordinance imposes significant monetary fines on counselors who provide such counseling.…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Is The Pope A Protestant?

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK (Editor’s Note: See also Steve Skojec’s report on page 1 of this week’s issue, particularly the quotations from Dr. John Joy on Magisterial authority.) You know the joke; you’ve probably used it yourself. Someone asks a question and to stress that the answer is a most emphatic “yes,” you respond: “Is the Pope a Catholic?”…Continue Reading

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ…. The Effects Of The Sacrament Of Baptism

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 What does Baptism do, anyway? Isn’t it just a ceremony? No, it is not. The first, primordial effect of Baptism is to give sanctifying grace, a participation in the Life of God Himself: the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the soul of the child or adult being baptized. It is never enough…Continue Reading

Marriage Under The Regime Of Sin

By DON FIER In beginning our consideration of the Sacrament of Marriage last week, it was immediately affirmed that “God Himself is the author of matrimony” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48 § 1). Our Creator inaugurated this noble institution “from the beginning” (Matt. 19:4) when He formed Eve from Adam’s rib in the Garden of Eden on the sixth day…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: One of the most common arguments in favor of abortion is that it should be permitted in cases of rape. Not so, says Rebecca Kiessling, whose mother was raped. The founder and president of Save the 1, Kiessling, in a speech to an international pro-life conference in Peru in November 2017, offered the following reasons against this exception:…Continue Reading

Rejoice Always

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Third Sunday Of Advent (YR B) Readings: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11 1 Thess. 5:16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28 In the second reading today, St. Paul presents us with a huge challenge: Rejoice always. He follows this up by telling to us pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances because this is the will of God…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Blessed Miguel Pro

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Cristero War in Mexico (1926-1929) was one more episode in the universal and eternal conflict between the Catholic Church and secularist governments. The seeds of the conflict were sown at the turn of the century, leading to the enactment of the Mexican constitution in 1917. Then it was enflamed when President Plutarco Elias Calles (president from…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Pope St. Damasus I

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord gave us a very comforting promise in Matt. 16:18 when He said, “And I say to thee: ‘Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.” The Catholic Church has survived the intrigues of numerous antipopes. An antipope is a “false claimant…Continue Reading