William Bell has responded to my open letter about his blog in which he mentioned the Shroud of Turin and got my attention. To the other things I said about him, I must add that he is gracious and astute (and by-the-way he is 12 not 13). As for the suspicion on my part and from from others that perhaps his Atheism was connected to his belief in evolution, he responds:
I believe that evolution and faith are compatible, my atheism did not come from evolution but from other topics (for an elaboration on that look at my page on Quotes and Miscellaneous.
And at Quotes and Miscellaneous we find:
I do my best in my posts not to talk much about religion, so here is my section on my personal beliefs, I am an atheist, and I do not believe in any god or deity. I have come to this opinion for reasons such as the problem of evil, accurately described by Epicurus:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? – Epicurus
Is the problem of evil really accurately described by Epicurus? Some think so, some do not. Philosophers and theologians have struggled with Epicurus. In doing so they have filled libraries, including the Vatican Library and the libraries of major universities, with thousands of treatises and books. William, you and I will not solve it here. The great saints of Christian scholarship, Irenaeus, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther and Alvin Plantinga have not been able to solve it. The great philosophers, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Russell have not been able to solve it. Nor modern pundits. Richard Dawkins didn’t solve it either, though he thinks he has. More temperate, more thoughtful Atheists point this out. Writes Atheist pundit Mark Wallace, I think accurately (though his latest book is excellent):
Whilst wrapping himself [=Dawkins] in the banner of reason and humanity, he’s become a frothing-at-the-mouth, bigoted zealot who is an embarrassment to his cause. He has more in common with the medieval people who flayed themselves and burned innocent people at the stake in the name of Christ than he does with the vast majority of casual, polite atheists in modern Britain.
Dr. Michael Ruse, a prominent Atheist philosopher of biology and a powerful witness in preventing the teaching of creationism in our schools (McLean v. Arkansas) has said that Dawkin’s crazy claims made him embarrassed to be an atheist. In one case, he wrote:
Dawkins is a man truly out of his depth. Does he honestly think that no philosopher or theologian has ever thought of or worried about the infinite regress of the cosmological argument?
or . . . for that matter, from extended context of Ruse’s writings, does Dawkins honestly think that no philosopher or theologian has ever thought of or worried about the problem of evil.
I tend to prefer the argument that evil is the price of free will. C. S. Lewis, a brilliant mind, like you, and a convert from Atheism to Anglican Christianity at the age of 15, wrote:
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?… Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies.
We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set up in it the sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them.
Well, I certainly enjoyed the exchange. Thanks for writing your Response To An Open Letter. Keep up the good work.
BTW: can you provide a citation or reference regarding Baima Bollone’s work on Lanciano? Several people have suggested that he did not, himself, do any experimenting on Lanciano.