Philip Braham,

Thanks for the link. I had a look at your article. You appear to have been shaken from your naturalistic worldview because of a happy coincidence, when a friend showed up to drive you home just as you were about to wait for a long time to take the bus.

The problem with that alternative view, that there are no coincidences and that all events happen for a reason rather than being accidents or effects of indifferent causes is that you also have to explain all the times folks waited for a long time for a bus and their friends didn’t show up. Are you better than them, more deserving of divine assistance? You have to explain also all the suffering that happens to innocent people. You have to explain the children that die, the natural disasters, the diseases, and so on and so on.

Theology is like playing tennis without a net, so you can posit devils and demons and freewill and push the problem back as far as you like, without ever really answering why a benevolent God would create such things in the first place. Even if you have a theodicy that makes sense to you, the simpler and thus more likely explanation of natural suffering will be the nontheistic, naturalistic one. Granted, I think we need to be pragmatic about our ultimate explanations, but there are pragmatic reasons to reject even feel-good types of theism. For example, those types of theism foster narcissism, rather like self-centered consumerism.

Alas, there are ridiculous belief systems. I don’t think it does anyone any favour to respect their beliefs on principle of political correctness. That is indeed a trait of the new atheists, to ridicule that which is ridiculous and unworthy of being respected, instead of pretending there’s nothing preposterous about religion.

I’m an equal opportunity satirist, though. I ridicule many, many aspects of secular culture. See, for example, the satirical news articles I wrote on my blog. Humour is often illuminating. That’s not to say we should ridicule the believers themselves, but humour can demonstrate we understand what’s really going on — not the bullying type of humour, which you often find in right-wing circles, but the self-deprecating kind. Everything without exception is funny when looked at the right way.

Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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