Heather Mac Donald has made it her business to complain about theological impositions upon the conservative movement of late. After a go-round with Michael Novak, she just wants us Christian types to know that the faith is quite unreasonable given the bad things that happen to good people in this world.
Well, thank you, Voltaire. The Christians, Jews, etc. may as well hang it up.
Mac Donald can’t understand how there can be a God when people die and suffer, not only from the actions of other people, but also because of natural catastrophes. God looks like a very delinquent daddy in her eyes. The idea is less ridiculous than thinking there is no God at all.
There are many problems with Mac Donald’s approach. For example, if it is the case that there is a God and He is essentially infinite compared to our finitude, then it stands to reason that we would not be able to fully comprehend Him and why His universe acts as it does. Mac Donald can’t understand God and thus writes him off. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist and doesn’t have reasons we cannot currently comprehend. “Who has known the mind of God and who has been his counselor?”
She can then say, yes, but it’s simpler to think he doesn’t exist and that we are in contention with the apparent randomness of natural events. It isn’t that simple, though. Mac Donald is a conservative with very definite ideas about freedom, justice, etc. Where do those ideas come from? She seems to expect that we would be persuaded to do things that are right and to abstain from things that are wrong. If there is no God, why care about any of that? Why not dismiss it all as sentimentality, find a group of intelligent and strong fellow travelers, and impose our own vision of self-gratification on others unable to resist?
She complains that someone kills a conversation when they say God wants something. But is it any different to say Justice requires it? She would complain about the first, but not the second. Why? The truth is that saying God wants something is not so different from saying Justice requires something. You can still argue. You can dispute the theology, the reasoning, the evidence, etc. just as you do with any other debate.
In short, there is no great imposition on the unbeliever when the believer enters the debate. Christianity, at least, almost always reasons from evidence rather than brute revelation. The parts that are brute revelation, like that every person matters and enjoys an equality before God, is not the part anyone should want us to give up or stop bringing up.