January 3, 2005

Death Comes to the Archbishop's Theology

The Archbiship of Canterbury says his faith has been shaken by the scale of the tsunami:
The Asian tsunami disaster should make all Christians question the existence of God, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes in The Telegraph today.

In a deeply personal and candid article, he says "it would be wrong" if faith were not "upset" by the catastrophe which has already claimed more than 150,000 lives.

HT to Instapundit, who links to a comment at Samizdata:

Unless we are nothing more that meat puppets dancing to a pre-ordained celestial script (which is certainly not Anglican doctrine), the fact we make use of our free will and thereby make decisions that result in us dying in a certain manner (such as, for example, deciding that we will live in a coastal community in southern Asia) neither proves nor disproves anything about the existence of God.

Now I have no doubt that the Archbishop is well aware of those arguments and is just indulging in the usual Anglican tradition of fogging issues whilst sounding concerned and looking earnest as an alternative to clearly articulating easy to understand (and thereby easy to attack) positions based on long established doctrines.

But then the current Archbishop is a strange bird and the things in which he has 'faith' suggests to me that placing too much stock in his judgement is faith misplaced.

Theodicy (whether God is just) is, of course, an old issue. This guy makes a living as a professional Christian. You think he'd have heard of the Black Death, the bombing of London, or the Holocaust, or visited a children's cancer ward, and thought this question through before today. He's supposed to teach the faithful, not undermine their faith. Sharing his own spiritual journey might make sense as a teaching device in the right context, as in "Lord I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9: 24) The Archishop's comment, however, doesn't seem like teaching, but more like an abdication.

Samizdata also fisks the good cleric's more robust faith in, of all weak reeds, the United Nations. Skeptic that I am, if I had to choose, I'd prefer to have faith in God than in the Cartel of Tyrants. That's a house built on sand (East River mud, actually, which is worse).

Update: Partial correction to this story here.

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