Saturday, April 11, 2020

What about children and bone cancer?

So quipped the no-show intellect, Stephen Fry (an actor and comedian...his best role Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster, with Hugh Laurie)

I wondered how to rebut this question. I mean, rebut for the smarty-pants show-off like Fry, but also how to engage with a person in real personal distress.

1. The rebuttal (because it's more fun).

As I pondered this, I realized that I had dealt with it in conversation with an avowed atheist a while back. I had been at a debate between some Christians and members of the Humanist Society and afterwards at afternoon tea got chatting to one of the atheist cheer squad. He was an elderly and quite gentlemanly fellow who asked a question similar to Fry's, but without Fry's braggadocio. It was 'what about children dying?'

I enlarged it and asked him, 'What about anyone dying?, What about old people dying? The problem is death itself. Why do we all face it? It makes life a futile joke, doesn't it? We grow, and work, and achieve a few things, and shortly thereafter, we turn to dust: nothing! on your view.'

He had no response. To put a point on it, I'd say to Fry: "I'll respond to that when you tell my how it fits into your world view." and await the empty blathering of a fool who claims there is no God as he tried to explain the difference between dust in a pile, and dust organized into a human form all sound and fury, achieving nothing.

Then it goes to the basic 5 finger exercise of the story of reality. In this, the pointy bit would be number 2: we reject harmony with God, and so live resolutely in dis-harmony; God respects our choice of life in the sewer, but points to life with him through Christ as being the better option, there for the taking.

2. Discussion with a not-so smarty pants (because it may be more productive)

First I would ask at what age he thinks bone cancer should kick in, or when life should end, and under what circumstances.

Noting that we all die after a life of much pain, sadness, frustration, and disappointment, perhaps an early death is better.

And then, why is death bad, anyway. If our life is merely meaningless bluster of a pile of randomly organized particles with the brain similarly a random accident, what value has any of its cogitations?

Then, while we are at it, I note your implicit criticism of your bowdlerization of God. So where do you get the meta-ethical epistemology that gives you greater insight into evil than anyone else, or is this just your random opinion? And if you are so down on evil, what do you do about the evil in the world, in your own life, indeed, in your innermost being? Nothing, I'll bet, except excuse it, exculpate it, ignore it and deny it...painting the shit box of your life in colours that will only fade and peel off.

3. Fold-back

An assertive questioner will often be at least an unconsidered materialist, believing in evolution. In that case, just advise that in an evolutionary world, the sick and weak die off. That's what's happening here, strengthening the gene pool for subsequent generations. Nothing personal, because in evolution, there is nothing personal, just blind pitiless indifference, to quote Dick Dawkins.

4. In genuine compassion

We are all in this broken world, all we can do is grieve with each other and know that the loss, pain, and suffering are real, because all people have real value.

If the question goes to 'why God', the response might be God has given us this world and we,  collectively have chosen to live away from God. Our suffering is a clarion call for us to be in his family, instead of outside it, and with his family look in hope to the resurrection to live everlasting that all his family will be blessed with, as demonstrated by the resurrection of Christ.

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