Sophisticated Theology: a graphic demonstration

Ridicule is a great weapon against Sophisticated Theology™. Today’s SMBC (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal), by Zach Weiner, takes up the nagging problem of theodicy, and offers a solution to evil that’s not much dumber than what I’ve seen in the theology books.


The last two panels are fantastic.

h/t: James A.


  1. Barry Lyons
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    As Sam Harris notes somewhere in “Letter to a Christian Nation” (and this is a light paraphrase), the history of theology is the history of bookish men parsing a collective delusion.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of (quoting from memory): “Insanity is the ability to draw fine distinctions between different kinds of nonsense.”

  2. GM
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      You can’t see it, but that ill clad professor uses special pleating.

  3. Posted December 27, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Just recently, I came across this passage by Christopher New in a paper called ‘Antitheism: a Reflection’:

    “Why is there no sustained tradition of argument concerning the existence of a supreme (omniscient and omnipotent) being who is perfectly evil, as there is about one who is perfectly good? Arguments which are reflections of the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments, and arguments based on personal experience or the occurrence of antimiracles (harmful events not explicable by science) could have provided at least as good grounds for belief in such a being (ie for antitheism) as their originals in fact provide for theism. An imaginary encyclopedia entry, in which fictional antitheistic arguments and thinkers are presented, illustrates this point. The reason for the nonexistence of a tradition of antitheism seems therefore to be that it is merely emotionally, not that it is rationally, less inviting than theism.”

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

      I wouldn’t call that antitheism as much as satanism.

    • Tulse
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      The Gnostic arguments about the evil Demiurge, the creator of the material world, are similar in spirit to those above.

    • Chris
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      Stephen Law has been putting forward arguments like this as his “evil god challenge”, including in debate with everyones favourite apologist for mass murder, (provided it’s divinely sanctioned of course), William Laine Craig.

      • Posted December 28, 2012 at 5:18 am | Permalink

        While Law’s argument makes sense to a rational mind it doesn’t work on the religious, precisely because the religious make stuff up to explain away any discomforting arguments or facts.

        The general approach is to offer something we and the theists agree is ridiculous: fairies, FSM, etc., and we then point out that seeing as God and this ridiculous alternative have the same evidence and argument going for them (i.e. none), it is equally possible that both are true or false and there’s no way of making the distinction, and therefore they should give up their naive belief in God just as they don’t believe in fairies or the FSM. Unfortunately the response is generally that while fairies and the FSM are indeed ridiculous God is not. Point missed entirely. End of argument.

  4. threeflangedjavis
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why people put forth this argument against the existence of God. It proves nothing. If I were a theist I’d just pull out the ‘who knows why?’ card. Just because we can’t conceive of a reason, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. It’s a form of argument from ignorance and it plays into the hands of theists because it’s just another mind game about Dog rather than a direct challenge for proof of his existence or reasons for belief.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      But their answer is what proves nothing, see for example Callum’s comment above. So it is a weak point in anybody’s book.

      Conversely, the problem of evil is observable.

  5. Posted December 27, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    The poor kid’s erroneous premise acceptance is typical of most of us.

    • pete d
      Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Which premise is erroneus and why?

  6. jose
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    That’s nonsense. The problem of evil was long resolved by the Dalish – it’s the Dread Wolf‘s fault.

    What? It’s got as much support as everything a sophisticated theologian can say.

  7. Barry Lyons
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Faith and “prayer” (otherwise known as silently talking to yourself), lead us, say the theologians, to revelations about the world. There are no revelations. There are only discoveries.

  8. Posted December 28, 2012 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful description of religious side-step reasoning. If it sounds weird and nonsensical then of course it proves that God exists. What I can’t understand is that they put door stop salesmen in prison if they try to con the customer. My mother-in-law was a very devout catholic and subscribed heavily to collections. When her husband was dying she prayed, the priest prayed, along with the congregation. Did it work? No, he died as doctors predicted. Did they give her a shoddy goods refund? No chance.

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