Books on Science and Religion #2: Victor Stenger and Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe

Books on Science and Religion #2: Victor Stenger and Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe

SRFRIBERG-4a-WbNature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Nature is God’s Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world.

Bahá’u’lláh

 

June 8, 2014

The modern discussion of the relationship between science and religion – which I take to have begun in the 1990s with the revival of academic and intellectual interest in religion and in the belief in God – can be characterized as having three phases. In the first phase, the growing popularity of books by academics such as Ian Barbour, John Polkinghorne and the like, along with concerted efforts by the Templeton Foundation and other organizations, revived the popularity and intellectual respectability of the study of science and religion. The topic has continually grown more popular at universities, in the press, and among the general public.

The second phase can be taken as the emergence of New Atheism, which started with the 2004 release of The End of Faith, Sam Harris’s impassioned attack against religion inspired by al-Qaeda’s September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center. The End of Faith was followed by Richard Dawkins’ enormously successful The God Delusion (2006), Daniel Dennett’s and Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomena (2006), and Christopher Hitchen’s polemical God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007).

We are now well into the third phase of the discussion – a phase of widespread dialogue with a growing number of participants that is increasingly international. A significant consequence of this discussion is a growing interest in the histories of science, religion, philosophy, and ideas. Another consequence is the concern to escape from the older parochial view of history as what took place in Europe and ancient Greece.

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Bayonne Train Station

What is becoming clear from this discussion is that science, religion, philosophy, technology, politics, and economics are intertwined with each other. At a given time and place, more often than not there is a variety of different ways of thinking about the relationship between science and religion. Often, some are opposed to religion in the name of philosophy or science – or vice versa. And, there are some who support philosophy and science in the name of religion or vice versa, and there are almost always philosophical, political, technological, and economic angles of all degrees mixed in that have to be taken into consideration. (Yes, it depends on whether or not you mean science in a narrow technical modern sense or or whether you mean it a broader more universal sense. See the definition of science in Wikipedia.)

It is into this enormously active and intellectually fertile environment that Victor Stenger’s God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion was released in 2012. Before we look at what he says, lets find out about who he is by looking as his first book – published long before new atheism came on the scene.

Victor Stenger and Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe

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Bayonne, New Jersey

Victor Stenger was born in 1935 in a working-class neighborhood in the gritty industrial port city of Bayonne, New Jersey to immigrant parents from Lithuania and Hungary. After studying electrical engineering in Newark, New Jersey, he moved west to Los Angeles, getting a Ph.D. in physics (1963). He then moved further west to the University of Hawaii and served as a professor of physics until his retirement in 2000. His specialty was particle physics.

He started writing on science and religion – taking an atheistic slant – well before the new atheists entered the field. His first book – Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe – was published in 1988 and followed by eleven further volumes. In Not by Design, Stenger establishes his style and his approach. He writes as an authority on physics and physics-related issues, is dismissive of religion and its views – but interested in it to a point of preoccupation, is very distrustful of philosophical interpretation or scientific speculation – but again interested in it to a point of preoccupation, and focuses on offering what he feels to be simple, logical, and above all, scientific interpretation of issues often considered to be religious or philosophical.

For example, writing about the origins of the universe, he says:

The origin of the universe is really not a theological or philosophical question, any more than the motion of the planets or the operation of a steam engine. The universe is a real place composed of observable bodies galaxies, stars, living beings, atoms—which are the proper objects of scientific study. The origin of this universe is a scientific issue, specifically a question of physics. (Stenger, Victor J. Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe. Prometheus Books, (1988), p. 8).

Now, the view that the only valid answers to questions about origins of the universe – or of other questions like the purpose of life – is known as scientism. The very accomplished philosopher of science and atheist Massimo Pigliucci defines scientism in the following way:

Not by Design

Scientism here is defined as a totalizing attitude that regards science as the ultimate standard and arbiter of all interesting questions; or alternatively that seeks to expand the very definition and scope of science to encompass all aspects of human knowledge and understanding. (Pigliucci, M., (2013). New Atheism and the scientistic turn in the atheism movement. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 37:142-153.)

Clearly, Stenger embraces scientism. About such things as paradigms drawn from modern scientific findings, Stenger recommends wariness and conservatism:

I do not, however, recommend many of the other books on bookstore shelves, which assert the authority of modern physics in support of fashionable new world news or paradigms about humankind and nature. The revolution of twentieth-century physics, resulting in the overthrow of much of Newtonian classical physics, did not go quite as far as many writers claim. (Stenger, ibid, p. 10)

Clearly, he is not comfortable with speculation or even some of the consequence of quantum mechanics.

He has a simple recipe for rationality:

Rationality is nothing more than the use of clear thinking, critical analysis, and logic. Being logical simply means using words in the way that they are defined. … What can be the value of fuzzy thinking, or the use of words in ways inconsistent with their definition? I believe there must be a rational basis for all human endeavor; not just science but art, music, politics, religion, and any other social or cultural activity. (Stenger, ibid, p. 9-10)

Of course, this raises all kinds of questions. Who gets to define the meaning of words that we use? Who gets to define what is and what isn’t fuzzy thinking? Stenger seems to assume, here and elsewhere, that he is the one – because of his experience as a physicist – who gets to decide.

Stenger also embraces reductionism, the idea that all phenomena are ultimately reducible to the laws of physics (or to atoms and the void, as he argues in God and the Atom, his most recent book). Even the most abstruse questions – he emphasizes – can be satisfactorily explained by reductionistic methods.

VicStengerVictor Stenger, Activist

After writing Not by Design, Stenger became extraordinarily active in the modern American secular humanist and atheistic movements. In addition to writing eleven additional books – many of which have been embraced enthusiastically in atheistic circles – he has been president of and/or a member of multiple humanist societies and has published in numerous skeptical periodicals. He has been a tireless speaker on secular humanism and the author of an impressive series of blogs – nearly 80 of them – on Huffington Post.

I take Stenger to be representative of the rank and file of the American humanist and the modern atheism movements, much more so than superstar thinkers like Dawkins, Dennett, or Harris. And while Stenger lacks the brilliance and intellectual sparkle that gives those thinkers their outsize impact, he is more representative of the movement at its base while at the same time saying in plain language what the superstars have embellished.

Next

In the next blog, we will consider Victor Stenger’s God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion.

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This is the 2nd in a series of blogs on the modern science and religion literature. The author, Stephen Friberg, is a Bahá’í living in Mountain View, California. A research physicist by training, he wrote Religion and Evolution Reconciled: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Comments on Evolution with Courosh Mehanian. He worked in Japan for 10 years before joining the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley.

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17 thoughts on “Books on Science and Religion #2: Victor Stenger and Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe

  1. Several years ago, I bought Stenger’s book God – The Failed Hypothesis, I was wondering if he can give me some proof of atheism, to convert me back to the atheism of my childhood. Well, he failed to do that, though he did give a very good proof that a God who is totally omnipotent and still totally good, cannot exist, since how could such a God allow all the evil, like earthquakes, diseases etc., so many tragedies? So my current thinking is that if God exists, he or she is surely not omnipotent.

    1. The existence of “evil” in the world is not a proof that God is not omnipotent. If God’s omnipotence meant that He kept up from every making any mistakes or making poor choices, what chance would we have to learn, evolve, and become human?

      Earthquakes aren’t evil. They’re the way the earth evolves. If there’s an earthquake and people die, it may be a disaster, but it’s not evil. If an earthquake strikes and people die and other people triple the price of bottled water or gasoline because they know that people will be desperate, that’s evil.

      When someone falls jumps off a cliff and breaks a leg, that’s not evil; it’s the law of gravity operating just the way it’s supposed to. The fault for the broken leg doesn’t lie with the law of gravity, but with someone foolish enough to break that law.

      Now, consider the most great laws: Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Look around at the world. The world is the way it is because we rather consistently break both of those laws.

      1. I guess it depends on how one defines the word ‘evil’. I understand the argument from having free will, that God might want us to make mistakes or even evil acts, and judge us accordingly.
        But people usually don’t die because of the evil act of somebody else. By far most deaths are due to how nature works. Some of it is due to natural disasters, like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes etc. But most deaths are due to diseases, some caused by organisms like viruses, bacteria, or protozoa, and some due to mutations or the aging process, like most cancers, heart disease, diabetes.
        So what do you think, why did God design nature to cause so many tragedies? Like my parents died slow painful deaths due to cancers. How can a good and omnipotent God allow such tragedies? Even some little children die slow painful deaths. Surely that is not due to their sins, they were little children. Such tragedy for them and their parents.
        And my parents were, while not perfect, still, decent and caring people. Did they deserve slow painful death due to cancer?
        Or do any babies deserve slow painful deaths due to cancer or something else?
        I would figure if God were good but also omnipotent, he or she would have prevented such tragedies.

        1. Sorry, I worded the second sentence wrong. I meant to say ‘that God might allow us to make mistakes or even evil acts, and judge us accordingly’. I did not mean to suggest God wants us to act evil.

        2. I don’t think God “designed” nature to cause tragedies. I think He set a system of natural laws in place that we, in our determination to harness or even overcome nature (and our frequent hubris in the face thereof), sometimes collide with. Take tornadoes, for example. I grew up with them. I can’t imagine why any city in tornado alley would NOT have shelters in every home or at least every school and public building. But they don’t have them. I can’t imagine why there would be skyscrapers in a city standing in the middle of said Alley. But there are. We continue to build mobile home parks in areas we know are prone to tornadoes. Why? Because we’re short-sighted, among other things.

          It is not natural for us to fly. But we’ve used the power conferred on us by our rational souls to invent a means of doing what birds do by nature. Plane crashes are a result of that. Does it mean we should stop flying? I don’t think so. But I do think it means we should never forget that we don’t fly because our animal nature is to fly.

          You wrote: “I would figure if God were good but also omnipotent, he or she would have prevented such tragedies.”

          Why? Why would a just, kind, loving Parent keep a child from making mistakes? Knowing momentary defeat? Feeling pain? It’s those reverses in our physical lives that cause us to grow and to appreciate our lives and the people in them. It’s not a matter of deserving calamity or happiness. According to Bahá’u’lláh, God doesn’t really work that way. Everything that befalls us here is for our spiritual, personal growth and development.

          Bahá’u’lláh and Abdu’l-Bahá both talk about that in a variety of contexts. Abdu’l-Bahá likens the reverses in our earthly lives to the pruning done by a gardener that cause the tree to bear fruit. Bahá’u’lláh reminds us that this physical existence is not all there is. That, to paraphrase CS Lewis, we are souls; we have bodies.

          “O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.” – Bahá’u’lláh (Gleanings CLIII)

          When I look back at my own life, it’s hard to detangle the “tragedies” from the bounties. I lost my father to heart failure when I was 15, but when I look back‚ though my grief was intense and threw me into PTSD that lasted for years, I realize that saying “I wish God had not permitted him to die” might mean I would not have found the Bahá’í Faith when I did, or married my husband, or had the three children that I’ve had and love so dearly.

          The way I look at it, there are calamities caused by the interaction of different parts of creation and the confluence or collision of natural laws. We have the choice to turn them into tragedies through greed, apathy, or even cruelty. Or we can accept that God can and will cause some good to come out of every ill—no matter how badly we screw up. Sometimes those calamities can end in blessings. Which, I think, depends on how we react to them.

          “O SON OF MAN! Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us.” – Hidden Words

          1. God will cause some good to come out of every ill? My parents died of cancer about 20 years ago, and I still don’t see much good that has come out of those two tragedies.

        3. I thought I’d share Charles Darwin’s take on tragedy. I think he puts it most succinctly: “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      2. You forgot that metaphysical evil is a third category of evil separate from natural and moral.

        Gnosticism is a good example of the concept of metaphysical evil. This world (physical universe) was created by an evil insane Demiurge. Humans are divine spirits trapped in said world. The world is an evil purposely created prison. Humans being are divine spirits, emanated from the Monad (really complex cosmology here), trapped in an evil world prison. All suffering, ignorance, and strife are the results of this. The world is a copy of the Pleroma (again I had to summarize all the complexity of Gnositicism into a summary), but made out of vastly different materia.

        Thus, to summarize anything that the world has that the Pleroma (Gnostic perfect world) wouldn’t have, is evil or metaphysical evil to be specific.

        To summarize creation, Monad emanates dozens of Aeons and a Pleroma. Later on, in an inversion of the fight against chaos themes of most mythology this one gives a fight agianst order, by having the Demiurge create order (read tyranny) and that not being a good thing.

        1. OK, religions also provide metaphysical evil. Of course it is not just in Gnosticism, we can see in Christianity Satan and his evil demons, or in Islam Satan and his many evil jinn. Of course in Islam some jinn are good. So then many jinn are really fallen jinn, just like Christianity has fallen angels. Of course Satan and his fallen angels or his jinn are said to be responsible for a lot of evil. And I can’t disprove their existence, it could be that some Demiurge or Satan or demons or evil gods or whatever could exist. But since I can’t prove their existence, then I can’t prove whether metaphysical evil is real or not. It might all be just fiction. And after all, even the existence of metaphysical good could be fiction. So I remain an agnostic.

    2. Hi Tom:

      I’ve never been able to understand the argument from evil. It just never connected emotionally or logically with me. Can I share the reasons for my doubts and mental meanderings? Maybe you can point me to a better understanding.

      My feelings tell me that there are always bad things.

      And logically, I know that people will die, cars will crash, wars will cause untold misery – just look at the waste of lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt.

      It just the facts.The real world – and history, philosophy, theology, great novels, evolution, the world’s great religions, our own natures, other people’s natures – establishes it incontrovertibly as a part of reality. The point is to change it, not to not accept it.

      So, counterfactual arguments like the argument from evil strike me very weak. To deny the reality of this real world – even if for a thought experiment – strikes me as escapism. Its almost like drugs. How could an argument that doesn’t make any sense – that doesn’t acknowledge the facts of life – establish anything that makes sense about the omnipotence, or lack of it, of God?

      So, what about suffering? My mom suffered 25 years from clinical depression – the uncurable kind – and suicide is rampant almost everywhere – almost every week, someone steps in front of a train going to or from San Francisco. And random gun-play in Oakland kills dozens of people a year, mainly children. Clearly suffering is also part of reality. So, why does God allow this to happen? (And the logical or reasoned answer is that it does happen, so hypotheticals based on the view that it shouldn’t happen are counter to what we know about reality).

      My feeling is that we should learn about God – and what is meant my omnipotence – and the purpose of life from reality. If we create an image of God or the purpose of life in our head, and find that reality doesn’t square with that image, then we need to upgrade that image (as the computer guys say). (And we should try to figure out how to back away from a world awash in guns.)

      I’ve always been impressed by Buddhism and its answers to these questions, but they are the same answers as found in all religions. Suffering is an illusion, and we are here to escape from the world of illusion. And, yes, we die. And when we do, all the great religions teach, we unshackle from pains and burdens of the body and this world. Prepare for it, they say. Don’t just live for now. And then work to make the world a better, safer, saner place. Find prevention for and cures for cancer, for depression.

      The Baha’i writings emphasis that the path to a complete understanding of God is blocked – God is greater than we are and all that we can understand are those things at our level of reality. And so, when we say God is omnipotent (or the all-powerful) we are taking something we can understand – potency, power – and affirming that God is the most potent and the most powerful (as opposed to impotent and powerless). But without understanding what it really means. Its only with spiritual growth and access to wisdom that we edge closer to an fuller understanding.

      It a relief – and a good start for thinking together on it – to be able to put down what were once vague thoughts lurking in my mind!

      Stephen

      1. Of course I don’t just live for now. I do hope a lot that there might be a better life after death waiting for us, not just atheist-like extinction, or what would be worse, some hell.
        But I can’t just hope for that, I do have to live in this life for now. And I see tragedies are so common. Like your mother suffered from depression, also my mother suffered from depression. Though at least she did not try to commit suicide until she was dying of cancer, and was no longer helped by medicine against pain. So she overdosed on that medicine to commit suicide, it was not quite enough, she woke up from the coma, wanted to get up and then died of a heart attack. I was devastated, I had read of near death experiences, where people who tried suicide often report having been in some hell. I worried if my mom might be in hell for that suicide attempt. Soon after her death I developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Surely at least in part because of my worries of what my mom might be experiencing after death. At least I got a little comfort in seeing that some religions promise that hell is only temporary. But still, many believers in the main religion around me, Christianity, believe in permanent suffering in hell, and especially for an unbeliever like my mom was. Not a pretty image.
        So anyway, you promise that one day we might be able to cure all cancers, all depression. But that is likely to be very far in the future. In the meanwhile people suffer from depression, or die painful deaths from cancer or other diseases, and naturally a person like me wonders how, if there is a good omnipotent God, why doesn’t he or she prevent such tragedies from happening. Omnipotent means God would have the ability to prevent such tragedies, to cure a cancer or depression or whatever immediately. Yet it does not happen. So naturally I end up concluding that if some God or gods exist, then this God or these gods cannot be omnipotent. Maybe God can cure a cancer here or there, but cannot go around the world curing all cancers, too much work for God.

        1. I’m with Stephen. I’ve never understood the argument against God’s omnipotence on the basis of “evil” existing in the world. For one thing, a whole lot of things get lumped under the Evil Umbrella. Cancer, hurricanes, human greed, human cruelty and on and on.

          I have to object to this. Cancer isn’t evil, hurricanes aren’t evil. The appearance of thousands of refugee children at our borders isn’t evil. Evil is in the conditions that caused their parents to send them north in the first place. Evil is the Americans who painted up bright signs and shouted “No Vacancy!” and turned back busloads of children short of the facility they were to be housed in. Evil is in the politicians and pundits who djinned up fear and loathing by convincing people those kids are disease-ridden and dangerous.

          In short, WE are responsible for the evil in the world and passing the buck to God is, to me, an act of irresponsible cowardice on our part. Some religious people skirt their responsibility for evil by saying, “The Devil made me do it”. Some atheists skirt responsibility by saying, “Religion makes good people do bad things.” Both of these positions are indefensible.

          Bahá’ís do not believe in either a hell or a Devil as popularly taught in some sects of older faith traditions. The Bahá’í writings make it clear that Hell is what we make of it. It is a place (figuratively speaking) that we build for ourselves to inhabit. It is, reality, remoteness from God and it lasts as long as we allow it to last. God, Bahá’u’lláh says, is closer to us than our life’s vein, it is we who keep ourselves distant.

          Bahá’u’lláh refers to the Devil as the “evil whisperer in men’s breasts”, but He’s not talking about an external force that stands outside and whispers through a chink in the fence. He’s talking about our own lower natures. So, to be clear, WE are the source of evil. It is our animal nature that gives us the capacity for evil; it is our rational soul that gives us the capacity to know the difference between good and evil and to choose which we will do.

          Natural disasters—whether widespread or specific to an individual—are just that: calamities that occur for a variety of reasons having to do with the way laws of physics and biology intersect with human will. And in that intersection, even natural calamities are preventable simply using the tools God gave us to recognize the problems and solve them.

          Example: If we pollute parts of the planet with certain substances, people living near those areas will experience diseases such as cancers or asthma. What causes those conditions to exist? Human ignorance, apathy, greed, short-sightedness, etc.

          Could God infuse us with perfections? Yes. But what would be the point? One of the reasons that the sectarian Christian scenario by which God reaches down and ends the earth, cleans it all up and sends the “good” to heaven and the ‘bad” to hell makes no sense to me in context with what the Bible actually teaches is that the whole point of the Genesis story was that we lacked obedience. In what way does fixing stuff for us address that? Jesus, too, in His various sermons is clear that what God desires of us is obedience to His commandment, which is: Love each other. What will we have learned if God just magically fixes everything for us? Nothing.

          God’s will for humanity, as expressed in all the holy books I’ve read, is that we learn what it is to be human. Learning requires struggle and adversity. It is how we handle those things that determines what kind of people we ultimately become. We are not automatons, but that is what we would be if God simply instilled in us certainty about everything and created lives for us that were perfect in every way. We would not be people; we would be puppets.

          1. http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0EFCB22DFCD4F2E7

            Qualia Soup gives a whole humanistic summary of morality in its three part Youtube series. Humans have feelings, thoughts, selves, and societies that all contribute to both good and evil. While one of the tape uses the example of the virtue and vice spectrum of the Bible, the spectrum can be used for any scripture or any book at all. Morality can be determined by reason alone which is a quite Deist position for a Humanist Youtube channel to take. Humanists unlike Atheists do tend to be relatively more neutral on thins like God and religion. Both good and evil can be explained by science and naturalism thought making a divine explanation superfluous. A first cause blind watchmaker would have nothing to do with the universe and leave it to use reason to work all it’s problems out. God and it’s existence has absolutely no bearing on issues of the problem of evil and morality either way.

            Back to contemporary issues, I do support open borders for example. From a human rights perspective, free migration may be seen to complement Article 13 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. American bioethicist Jacob M. Appel has argued that “treating human beings differently, simply because they were born on the opposite side of a national boundary,” is inherently unethical. According to Appel, such “birthrights” are only defensible if they serve “useful and meaningful social purposes” (such as inheritance rights, which encourage mothers and fathers to work and save for their children), but the “birthright of nationality” does not do so. Economist and writer Philippe Legrain argues that the countries of the world need migration to help global trade and reduce the occurrence of regional wars.

            Examples
            Schengen Area (European nations who share an open border) Associated with the EU, but several non EU members are party to this while several EU members have opted out as well
            British Isles Common Travel Agreement
            Union State (Russia and Belarus) A Russian copy of the Schengen Area above but with former Soviet States and all of Eurasia in the plans, but only two countries so far
            Treaty of Peace and Fellowship (India and Nepal)
            Union of South American Nations (South America)
            Trans Tasman Travel Agreement with New Zealand Realm (Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, and Niue)

            The current Libertarian Party (US) Platform states that Libertarians are prepared to welcome refugees, and the LP works against discriminatory policies. In addition it states that a free market requires the free movement of both capital and labor across borders. The platform does allow for control over the entry of people who pose a credible threat to security, health, or property. Older Libertarian Party (US) Platform stances were more pro-open borders. The 2004 Platform called for “the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, the abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol, and a declaration of full amnesty for all people who have entered the country illegally”. A number of present-day libertarians argue for open borders or for radically expanded and liberalized immigration drawing on primarily libertarian arguments. These include George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan, Michael Huemer Donald Boudreaux, Alex Nowrasteh, Walter Block, Ken Schoolland, Will Wilkinson, David R. Henderson, and others.

          2. Stephen Kent Gray, you want open borders? That might not be so terrible here in the US, we would simply be overrun by immigrants from Latin America, and become a predominantly Spanish speaking but still predominantly Christian country. And with Christianity being much milder in modern times compared to medieval times, no problem.
            But if Europe had open borders, it would soon become a predominantly Muslim continent. They already have problems with all the Muslim immigrants. And then with Europe becoming predominantly Muslim, they would see similar problems like they have in Egypt for example, where anyone daring to criticize Islam is prosecuted for blasphemy, as has just happened to a Coptic teacher just a few days ago. Even though Egypt is no longer ruled by Muslim Brotherhood. It is still terrible there for Christians. Maybe you don’t care about Europe, not having been born there, unlike me, born in Prague, but still you should consider that in Europe we have most of our main allies.

          3. Maya, learning requires struggle and adversity? Why? What did my parents learn from cancer, besides that cancer is hell on earth? Why not God just creating us and letting us learn all about nature, while we are protected from earthquakes, cancers, and other misfortunes? I am not calling on God to create people omniscient, we can learn, but why learn that some misfortunes are hell on earth? You object to having hell after death, but you don’t object to hell on earth.

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