Re: [asa] Dawkins new book

From: Ted Davis <>
Date: Fri Oct 23 2009 - 12:42:43 EDT

>>> "Dehler, Bernie" <> 10/23/2009 12:27 PM >>> writes:

There's an atheist book club meetup that I will likely join, and they are reviewing Dawkin's latest book "The Greatest Show on Earth." I glanced at the book the other day. I think most of it looks like evidence for evolution (what's new?), but I did notice an interesting section on theodicy. (And yes, it looked like it may be shallow in not bringing forth and quoting the best arguments from the critics.)

Anyways, Dawkins mentioned that for believers, there's a thing called 'the problem of evil.' He says 'they even have a name for it- theodicy.' At first I thought that was kind of patronizing to say 'they even have a name for it' then as I thought about it more I realized that theodicy was something only that God believers have to deal with. I know that is obvious, but it wasn't that clear in my mind before, esp. from seeing it from the other side now (not as a Christian).


Ted responds abruptly. Hold the phone, Bernie. There is nothing "obvious" about this, unless you simply fail to think about it for more than a moment or two. The existence of suffering and evil causes great problems for all of us, including atheists. I mean great intellectual problems, not only emotional or existential problems. For the kind of atheist that Dawkins represents (there are other types of atheism that I am not including), there simply is no such thing as "good" and "evil," "right" and "wrong." There is no such thing. Therefore, we have no moral obligation (please reread these three words half a dozen times before continuing) to do anything about suffering and what believers call "evil." None. That, I venture to say, Bernie, is "the problem of evil" in another, equally serious form: for Dawkins, it's a problem that there is no category of "evil" at all. Therefore, there is no obligation to respond morally to it. A lot of unpleasant things happening doe!
 s not create a moral obligation to do something. That's a problem, Bernie. A big one.


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Received on Fri Oct 23 12:43:28 2009

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