The danger in my last post is that atheists will say, “OK fair enough, Steve Landsburg was a little off in his joke about Catholics. But c’mon, the 30,000-foot view is still fine: It’s absurd when religious people ‘praise God’ for miraculous cures. Why doesn’t He cure everybody, why pick and choose? And c’mon, what hubris to think that an omnipotent, omniscient Being is going to alter the course of the universe based on a few slogans uttered by a slug on a tiny speck of dust in the Milky Way.”
I did a decent job summarizing some standard atheist points in the above, right? OK notice:
==> Once again there is a contradiction. On the one hand, God is being criticized for not answering everyone’s prayers. Yet, on the other hand, God is being criticized for answering anyone’s prayers. Thus, the atheists seem to be OK with a God who would cure 0% of human misery, or 100%, but not an intermediate amount. Is this outcome because (a) it’s inconceivable an omniscient Being might have a good reason for picking a percentage in between those two extremes, or because (b) the atheists advancing these simultaneous objections don’t believe in a God at all, and so aren’t really thinking it through very hard to imagine what the existence of a God would imply? I vote for the latter.
==> Try using Steve’s technique when it comes to human benefactors. For example, suppose I say that my Uncle Fred is a really swell guy, because every year he gets thousands of letters from people explaining their need for financial assistance, and he sends total contributions of $500,000 to hundreds of people each year, helping them pay for medical treatment, start a new business, move their relatives here from abroad, etc. Then a critic says, “Let me get this straight. Your Uncle Fred still has some money left over, right? So he routinely denies people help, even though on the margin it wouldn’t really change his lifestyle to answer a few more of those letters. Further, if I understand the situation, he only sends money to people who officially suck up to him. And you expect me to agree that this guy is worthy of admiration? Huh?!”
I hope we can all agree that such a critic would be way out of line. Isn’t it interesting then that we afford less courtesy and benefit of the doubt to a stipulated Creator of the universe, than to my stipulated Uncle Fred?