MR. DERBYSHIRE DEMANDS “evidence” of God and Heaven (“Heavens to Betsy,” TAS, June 2012), but since there is plenty of evidence what he really seems to want is proof. Well, proof he will not get, but of course he can offer no proof either. And, as I say, there is plenty of evidence.
Consider, to give just the most obvious example, the Gospels, not to mention the rest of the New Testament and the Old. Now, you can attack their veracity, just as a lawyer in court can attack the veracity of some document, but you cannot say that it is not evidence. And their veracity actually holds up rather well, by the way.
Mr. Derbyshire also attacks C.S. Lewis, but offers little besides name-calling, and with that limited to Lewis’s mythic and poetic children’s stories, not his more forthright apologetics. Of these, Mr. Derbyshire apparently started to read, but never finished, only one.
And of the latter, Mr. Derbyshire says only—in response to Lewis’s famous liar-lunatic-lord trilemma—that perhaps Jesus was just “mistaken.” Now here again, Lewis did not purport to offer proof, but only a way of evaluating the evidence. And it is, pace Mr. Derbyshire, quite persuasive. To think (mistakenly) that one is God is not like thinking (mistakenly) that it is Tuesday instead of Wednesday-it is the kind of mistake that only lunatics make.
Mr. Derbyshire, poor soul, is trying very hard not to believe. So as Mr. Lewis said, he risks God concluding for him, “Very well—THY will be done,” and thus to Hell rather than to Heaven with him. Why run such a risk? Why not follow his fellow mathematician Blaise Pascal, and choose instead to cultivate one’s faith rather than try so hard not to? There is much more to win than to lose.
– Roger Clegg, Fairfax, Virginia
John Derbyshire replies:
I AM OBLIGED to Mr. Clegg for his attention to my piece. I should like to offer him some satisfaction, but alas, in between submitting that article and seeing Mr. Clegg’s response, I was directed by a friend to the book Mere Odinism by Cnut Snorri Leifsson. I found C.S. Leifsson’s arguments entirely convincing, and am now a devoted worshipper of the Æsir and Vanir.
I urge Mr. Clegg to abandon the false, womanish, and oriental religion of Yahweh and embrace the true European faith of Odinism. I hope he will do so; I hope, after our earthly dissolution, we shall meet together in Freyja’s fields, and quaff many a jug of mead together with the heroes of Valhalla, as scop and gleeman regale us with heroic ballads of our ancestors. Now THAT’S a heaven!
I ought to tell him further that I have changed my name in honor of my new confession and should henceforth be known as Johan Bloodaxe.
I WAS READING through the John Fund article, “The One Percenters’ Fortress City,” in the June issue and lingered over the striking photo on page 59. The sunlit aerial shot was a view to the south over the White House and beyond it the Washington Monument, all as expected, and then, to the east, the Lincoln Memorial. Whoa! To the EAST?
– Scot McConachie, Des Plaines, IL
Managing editor Kyle Peterson replies:
IT’S SIMPLE ECONOMICS. If one job is created by a young ne’er-do-well or Occupy Wall Street protester (but I repeat myself) throwing a cinderblock through a Citibank plate-glass window, think how many jobs would be created by rearranging D.C.’s massive stoneworks.
The project actually began quietly—though in earnest—early last year. The National Mall now runs north to south, and the Pentagon has been relocated to Maryland. Workers say the job will be complete once the White House and FDR memorial stand cheek by jowl atop Capitol Hill.