A couple of things caught my attention on the web today.

Firstly, Norman Geras at normblog comments on comments on the BBC’s God on Trial. He is unhappy with what Justin Thacker has to say about people of faith responding to massive suffering and injustice:

even though they may not be able to explain why God would allow this particular event to occur, they know that the God who on countless other occasions has demonstrated his love and compassion must have a reason. (Justin Thacker)

According to Geras, this is to believe in a God…

…who reconciles the faithful to an acceptance of human barbarism, gives them the satisfaction of knowing that He has a reason for allowing it, justifies it indeed by reference to some ‘greater good’.

Such theological solutions to the problem of suffering  offend Geras’ unbelieving intuitions. He is an atheist, but seems to think that if there was a God, He wouldn’t be that kind of God.

I think I agree. In an attempt to understand and maintain the sovereignty of God we speak of God ‘allowing’ events that we deem to be evil or otherwise negative. But this so easily places quite a high level of complicit agency onto God. If God allowed a genocide for the ‘greater good’, then would we have been acting against God’s interests to stop it? Do Gods actions becoming telling in their absence?

Perhaps God has deliberately tied his own hands, maybe as a condition of us having free will. I think I prefer that to the ‘It’s all part of a bigger plan’ solution. (I’m not ashamed to say my journey of faith is a journey of questions).

Then I saw this light hearted piece on the LHC at Cern (that’s the huge piece of science kit being turned on Wednesday).

Leo Hickman considers the the possibility of the LCH bringing our solar system to a swift and unfortunate end by accidentally creating an apocalyptic black hole. Apparently there a few doomsayers who are actually a little worried this might happen. Then Hickman asks:

How would religion fit into this end-of-the-world scenario? … Would people flock to their nearest church, mosque, synagogue or temple seeking salvation? Or would people feel abandoned by their god(s)?

Now, I don’t think the LHC will bring the end of the world. This isn’t because of sceintifc assurance, but because (if I’m honest) the thought of it is so outrageous that I can’t imagine seriously holding it as a belief.

But my question is, would God intervene to stop the end of the world if it was triggered by a hapless scientist in circumstances outside of His intentions?. Or would he allow it to happen in accordance with our having free will?  Or would He allow it as part of  the ‘greater good’ (which would then imply it was in line with His intentions)? Perhaps such a Douglas Adams ending would be the best way for us all to go.

Answers on a postcard/thesis.