Humanists Stingy, Public Theologian Claims

The debate on theodicy continues. In the SMH, Linda Morris elicits “qualified opinions”. This has to rank as a cheap shot, surely:

After all, why is it, ponders Alan Nichols, acting director of Public Theology for the Evangelical Alliance of Australia, that religious organisations are always among the first and most proactive to offer aid, if this was not evidence of God acting through his followers? “I don’t see humanists establishing aid missions, providing money for drug rehabilitation, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.”

Elsewhere in the SMH, Julia Baird has some interesting reflections on science, faith, doubt, uncertainty, intuition and love.

I very much like what Julia writes here:

G.K. Chesterton once wrote that the difference between the poet and the mathematician was that the poet merely tried to get his head into the clouds while the mathematician tried to get the clouds into his head – and it was his head that split. A theology of conflict, which assumes to know the the mind of God, at a time of immense suffering, seems to me to be a split head.

All we can continue to do is defiantly believe – whether it is that animals have feelings, infants have souls, love can last forever, miracles occur, God is love. That the true expression of the face of God in the midst of horror is to stubbornly, and consistently, care for each other

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Geoff  Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“I don’t see humanists establishing aid missions, providing money for drug rehabilitation, alcohol abuse and domestic violence.”

That’s possibly because he’s incredibly ignorant – religiosity frequently acts as a barrier to clear perception. A few humanist-heavy orgs that spring to mind in aid mission delivery include the Red Cross, CARE, Medecins sans Frontieres, the Australian Army, RAAF, RAN and the federal and state agencies and NGO’s that provide said services on a continuing basis.

2022 years ago

The Center for Inquiry has a tsunami relief programme:

2022 years ago

“the mathematician tried to get the clouds into his head – and it was his head that split”.

I’m sorry, but what on Earth is that supposed to mean? That mathematics can tell us nothing about the world? That poetry provides a ‘truer’ understanding of the universe?

‘Reasonable’ religious types like Julia Baird don’t bother me too much – when pushed, as now, they’ll admit there’s no basis for their beliefs, except that it ‘feels right’ and similar squishy sentiments – but I’m buggered if the rest of us should applaud how ‘stubbornly’ they hold to them in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Alan Nichols is another matter. Evangelicals like this bigot should be loudly and aggressively attacked every time they raise their heads. Geoff’s got the right idea.

2022 years ago

I read Julia’s piece as being for science, a touch agnostic and turning Chesterson’s words against the religous. The sentiments in Chesterson’s poem are commonly held. That is science tends to a reductionist view of nature which takes all the beauty away. I findthe opposite. That fact that I know stars are giant balls a gas does not in any way diminish the beauty of the night sky in the country. I understand the physics but the aesthetics and wonder remain.

2022 years ago

I have actually found a study of science *increases* my awe and wonder at the natural world, not decreases it.

2022 years ago

And the many bodies Geoff’s mentioned tend to offer their help without any strings attached, unlike many evangelical groups, who often seem to leverage their assistance for recruitment opportunities as well. (As I’ve personally seen in the aftermath of one killer hurricane.)

“..if this was not evidence of God acting through his followers?”

If yer gonna talk about such an interventist deity, it does also raise the question about why the tragedy happned in the first place…

2022 years ago

The other religious leaders quoted in Linda Morris’s article aren’t any better than Alan Nichols or Phillip Jensen.

The Buddhist, the Venerable Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, says “The message for survivors is it is due to their own past positive deeds that allows them to live…” In other words, all the others deserved to die.

According to Keysar Trad, “an adviser to Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, the senior imam of Lakemba Mosque,” ” we would have no evidence at our hands to permit any of us to blame this disaster on God. What may be attributed to God would be the miraculous stories of survival and rescue.” In other words, bad stuff isn’t God’s fault, but the good stuff – why, that’s all down to God!

Actually, righteous people recognise that the tsunami can be blamed on my evil neighbour Mr Vaughn, and that the gloal outpouring of compassion and generosity is simply the working out of my ever-merciful spirit in the world. Well it makes as much sense, doesn’t it?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I think Julia’s got it just right. Her position and the one I’ve articulated (poorly) in comments on the theodicy thread are very close. I’ll have a go at some point at trying to systematise and better express what I’m on about.