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October 07, 2013

The Theodicy of Narnia

An intriguing idea: Creating a fictional world to illustrate your concept of god necessarily invites unflattering comparisons to the real world. Repost: The Theodicy of Narnia
Why did Jewel (actually, why did Lewis) feel the need to reassure Jill in this way? Presumably, it was because Narnia was created by Aslan, and it wouldn’t speak highly of Aslan if he created a world that was constantly in turmoil and at war. It would, indeed, cast considerable doubt on Aslan’s benevolence if the world which he created with his divine power turned out to contain continual death, suffering and strife; a world where justice was not always done, where the evil frequently ruled over the good, where most lives were full of pain and want, and where tragedy struck capriciously and randomly. It would cast considerable doubt on Aslan’s presumed omnipotence if he could not plan a world that would turn out the way he wanted (he described his intention in the first book, The Magician’s Nephew, to make Narnia a “kindly land”); and it would cast even more doubt on his goodness if he did not want it to turn out well. But now comes the obvious point which, in his fantasy-writing mode, seems not to have occurred to Lewis: Narnia may not have been such a place, but our world is. Our world does contain near-constant warfare, death and suffering. Our world is a place where the good do not always triumph and where the innocent often suffer needlessly. Our world is a place where tragedy often strikes without warning or reason. If it would have led us to doubt Aslan had he created such a world, is it not the logical conclusion from Lewis’ very own words that the sorry state of our world should lead us to doubt God and to consider seriously the possibility that he does not exist? And is it not a further conclusion that, when Christian apologists assert the compatibility of God’s existence and evil, we should seriously consider whether they even believe their own arguments, or whether they’re simply employing them insincerely to defend a belief to which they already have a preconceived and non-rational attachment?

August 27, 2013

Measles outbreak linked to faith-healing Texas megachurch

Lying to people about the efficacy of medicine is a special kind of evil. Measles Outbreak Linked To Texas Megachurch Whose Pastor Has Spread Myths About Vaccines | ThinkProgress
The current measles outbreak in Texas — which has sickened at least 21 people in the northern part of the state — has been linked to a megachurch that encourages faith healing. The Eagle Mountain International Church has a relatively high population of unvaccinated congregants, which allowed the highly-contagious virus to spread rapidly among them. Texas’ state epidemiologist reported this week that he has traced the origins of the outbreak, which first emerged about two weeks ago. After a man became sick with measles while traveling to Indonesia, he passed the infection to the other attendees at the megachurch — which repeatedly attracts over a thousand people each Sunday — when he returned home. Measles spread to the congregation, the staff, and a daycare center on church property. Even though the Texas county where the church is located has an overall vaccination rate of about 98 percent, state officials note that Eagle Mountain International Church includes a “pocket” of people who aren’t vaccinated. The children who contracted measles there are homeschooled, so their parents haven’t been required by state law to get them their measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. That’s likely because senior pastor Terri Pearsons has expressed unfounded skepticism about vaccines in the past, repeating the widely debunked conspiracy theory that they can lead to autism.