The fundamental conundrum

J. M. Tyree takes on a bash of ID Malevolent Design: ID in Intelligent Design isn’t just bad science, it’s bad religion (The Revealer 05nv03) that brings in the age old problem of understanding evil.

Self-defeating and incoherent, Intelligent Design is worse than useless, not only as science but also, one imagines, for religious folks who might be attempting to understand God by working backwards from the world as their body of evidence. Inevitably, one begins to wonder more about cluster munitions than bombardier beetles, and the old problem of evil slips in. If He exists, why does God allow evil? Even if you can explain why God designed cancer and HIV, which is no easy task, you are still left with His role in world events from Darfur to Baghdad and New Orleans. Far from being examples of Intelligent Design that reinforce the Christian message, aren’t these kinds of meditations precisely the reasons that many people lose their faith?

While this diverges from the current point of the ID debate (does ID belong in public school science teaching?), it does show how debate can spread and how the destruction of ideas can be a tactic of debate.

The key to this argument, a reduction to the absurd, is that of how people try to understand religion. Tyree points out that teleological arguments have been around for thousands of years. These are the ‘why are we here?’ and ‘who am I?’ questioning being answered with logic and reason. The results of the effort don’t work well.

There are some religions that, essentially, do not have a supreme being because of this logical problem of finding a reason for evil. Other religions have many superior beings acting like super chieftans to try to gain an understanding for evil. The Judeo-Christian based religions, especially Christians with their Holy Trinity, have their own struggle in understanding an omnipotent yet limited supreme being.

We want things we can get a handle on, that we can see and experience directly. Intangibles can make us uncomfortable. Yet, as we can see in the charismatic power of some leaders or in the faith of the truly born again Christian, it is the intangibles that move mountains.

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