C OMMAND P ERFORMANCE \god0and0morality| Louis A. Markos Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality, by David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls. Oxford, 2011.
s our political debates become less and less logical and irenic, as they rely more and more on spin, name calling, and a refusal to concede any points to the opposition, Thomas Aquinas’s method of argumenta‐ tion appears increasingly attractive. In his Summa, Aquinas begins each section by listing the reasons against the propo‐ sition he will defend. He even does this for the proposition that God exists (Part I, Question 2, Article 3)—though, significantly, he is only able to identify two rational reasons for denying God’s existence: the ubiquitous presence of pain and suffering and the belief that every‐ thing can be explained by natural processes.
The ever‐mounting controversy over Intelligent Design attests to the latter argument’s still being alive and well. Meanwhile, the prob‐ lem of pain—the argument that human suffering suggests that God is either too powerless to stop it or too apathetic to care to—continues to be the strongest and most frequently‐used argument against the existence of the all‐powerful, all‐loving God of the Bible. New athe‐ ists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have made par‐ ticularly effective use of it in their anti‐theistic crusade. Indeed, they, along with other critics of God (that is, the Judeo‐Christian God), have aggressively pushed the problem of pain from its negative for‐ mulation into its positive. The problem is not just that God allows evil; he actively promotes it when, for example, he commands Abra‐ ham to sacrifice his son Isaac or orders the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites from the Holy Land. 68
Published on Dec 15, 2011