Over at the other blog, it’s time for this week’s installment of our chapter-by-chapter look at William Lane Craig’s apologetics manual, On Guard.
Craig deals with the problem of suffering by assuming that it’s not really an intellectual problem, since he can imagine the possibility that God might be working under some set of unknown constraints. He may not have any grounds (other than wishful thinking) for supposing this to be true, but as long as he can claim that atheists are unable to prove the contrary, he considers the intellectual argument a non-problem for God.
That leaves what he calls “the emotional problem of suffering.” It’s a bit misnamed, because the problem isn’t our response to suffering. Suffering is evil, and people should have a negative reaction to it. When you see one person suffering, and you know that someone else can help them and simply refuses to do so, without any justification for their refusal, then moral outrage is an entirely appropriate. When Craig tells us that God has the power to relieve suffering, and deliberately chooses not to help, and when he defends this behavior by the excuse that we can’t know for certain that God does not have some secret justification, then that’s Craig’s problem, not ours.
Craig doesn’t really offer a good response to that. Instead, he presents us with a choice selection of emotional rationalizations for suffering. And to be fair, these are not uniquely Christian rationalizations, except to the extent that they apply Christian labels to the higher power or powers that are supposed to be punishing us and/or preparing us for some higher calling. What’s interesting is that Craig declares that “the emotional problem” of suffering is more significant than “the intellectual problem,” and needs a correspondingly more significant answer. But if that’s the case, why does he give it such poor ones?
Continue reading at Evangelical Realism.