An Ancient Theodicy

The following is the third in a series of writings which I have composed previously. It was written in November 2004. It has been slightly edited to maintain privacy.

I have listened to a local easy listening music radio station operated by a small private business college for more than a dozen years. Each weekday, they present a short segment by one of the producers in which he presents some various thoughts of the day. Sometimes they are philosophical, sometimes they are humorous, sometimes they are civic, and sometimes they are religious. Today's was religious or, more accurately, anti-atheistic. The basic story he presented can be found at Snopes Urban Legends, though I must acknowledge that he did not falsely identify the student as Albert Einstein. In response to today's commentary, I sent the following e-mail:

Mr. (name removed),

I am writing in reference to your commentary of 19 November 2004, the story of the atheist professor and the Christian student who silences him with an ancient theodicy that this professor has somehow never encountered in his lifetime.

If anyone thinks that he has solved the problem of evil by such philosophical legerdemain, then he is greatly mistaken. Anyone who believes that the existence of murder, rape, theft, and disease-causing bacteria can be dissolved by defining them as “the absence of good” is not being intellectually honest but is rather seeking a cheap defense of his religious beliefs. It supposedly answers the Epicurean paradox by challenging the fourth proposition, that evil exists, but it is only satisfactory to those who will accept any answer rather than consider the idea that he is mistaken in his religious beliefs. Further, if he thinks he has found some brilliant new insight, then he is badly in need of religious, philosophical, and historical education. To the best of my knowledge, this response first appeared in the famous Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo circa 397 CE.

Occasionally the student in the story you told is falsely identified as Albert Einstein. I was pleased that you presented it without this baseless lie; admittedly, it would have not have been dishonesty on your part if you had done so, but it would have been gullible and irresponsible.

I respect everyone's right to believe or disbelieve. I spent the first twenty-five years of my life as a devout Catholic Christian before I faced my fears, questioned my reasons for believing, and realized that my belief in the divinity of Christ was an untenable tradition I had been taught since my youth. My point is that I know what it is like on both sides of the fence.

Here is my bottomline: I resent and protest your depiction of an atheist professor as an ignorant buffoon. If you want to promote Christianity or even criticize non-theism, I have no objections whatsoever. I consider unfair mockery, however, to be outside the realm of good taste and respectfulness for even a privately owned radio station. I have been a faithful listener of (station removed) for more than half of my short life and never have I been as displeased as I am today.

With Utmost Sincerity,
(name removed)
No response was ever received.


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