Somehow, I knew Harper’s answer would be “yes.”
But not only that. The surprisingly brief two-column piece inside draws an explicit parallel between Christians and Nazis. And guess what? Of the two, Christians are worse. We must not even be tolerant of the religious in our midst. If we are, we are evil too.
That’s how bad the anti-religious tone of the left has become. Welcome to the culture wars.
Written by Princeton philosophy professor David Lewis and Columbia philosophy professor Philip Kitcher, the Harper's piece’s argument goes as follows:
God created hell.
Hell is evil.
Therefore, God is evil.
Therefore, anyone who worships (or admires) God is evil.
Let us examine each of these contentions.
“God created hell”—even this much is not clear, at least according to Catholic teaching. Hell is not a place. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called ‘hell.’” Hell is apparently created by the sinner himself, by free will—it is a state of “self-exclusion.”
All evil is from man—a classic Catholic formulation.
“Hell is evil.”—The authors reach this conclusion by first defining evil as “suffering and sin.” Is that definition correct? No. To a Catholic, sin is necessarily evil; but not necessarily suffering. Suffering can be redemptive. Most obviously, the passion of the Christ was and is redemptive, not simply evil. But all suffering can be—it builds soul. After all, if suffering as such is evil, it would follow that ever scolding your child—or even giving your child a flu shot--is an evil deed.
It is not just that suffering, while evil, can sometimes be used for a greater purpose, either. No, something in us actually gives a positive value, at some level, to suffering—we can enjoy playing with a loose tooth, for example, or watching a tragedy or listening to a sad song. Seeing suffering as purely evil is far too simple a view of human experience.
So is missing the possibility that injustice is itself a form of evil—as surely it is. If so, wouldn't it be evil for there not to be a hell for unrepentant sinners?
Lewis and Kircher are even aware of this argument: “Of course, our friends do not see this as divine evil. Instead, they talk of divine justice…” But they do not respond; having originally omitted injustice from their definition of evil, they now simply gloss over it by saying “If Fritz [their imaginary Nazi] is clear about Hitler’s actual deeds, he will tend to use similar locutions.”
This is spurious. Anyone can say anything; this does not make it so. The point is whether Fritz and the Christian are equally right. If they are, killing Jews is as just as killing convicted murderers. I think most of us would see a difference. And if they are, any judge who sentences any criminal is criminal for doing so.
“Therefore, anyone who admires or worships God is evil.” --It is only a personal observation, but I find often that those who give the devil’s counsel end up quickly contradicting themselves. The devil confounds himself by his own words. Lewis and Kircher point out themselves that, if admiring or tolerating an evil God makes Christians evil, it follows that anyone admiring or tolerating Christians must be equally evil. This becomes their argument for suppressing all religion.
But what is left? The only way to ensure one is not doing so, and therefore evil, is to admire and tolerate no one. The authors themselves admit where this leads, without seeming to realize that it discredits their argument: “The only ones to escape [this evil] will be the committed misanthropes. Leaving aside those who find nothing admirable in humanity, everyone will be tainted with divine evil.”
So the only moral stand is to hate everyone?
By their fruits ye shall know them.