I write this in response to a few of the points Dr. William Sutton made in his letter to the editor in the October 20 issue of the Eastern Progress. I am no professor, but I can see a few problems with Dr. Sutton’s line of argument.
First, Dr. Sutton asks, if this universe is too complicated to come into existence by itself, then how is it possible for a Creator to come into existence by himself or herself or itself? In response, let me point out something: It IS possible that our complicated universe came into existence by itself. The only problem is that we have no verifiable data suggesting that anything has EVER come into existence by itself. Therefore, while we can believe that the universe spontaneously came into existence, but requires faith, just as believing that God created the universe requires faith.
Second, Dr. Sutton makes an argument of volition, asking how it is possible that a good Deity could make a world with bad things in it. This is a common argument, and has been answered before times (notably by Timothy Keller in his book, The Reason for God). In short, if there is a God, he has a plan, and it makes sense that if there is a God we would not fully understand that plan. Unwilling to believe in anything that you cannot fully understand? Then you had better discard your faith in gravity and the human mind.
Third, Dr. Sutton takes issue with sin. What bad things exist in our planet are simply the result of evolutionary development, where survival of the fittest is the law of nature. The problem with this statement is that if we truly believed and practiced it, it would remove all guilt over wrongdoing and eliminate cause for punishment of what we consider to be wrong actions. The petty thief will say, “The bad things I did are simply the result of evolutionary development.” The judgmental, screaming, Christian hypocrite will say, “I am following the law of nature; do not blame me.” The rapist can defend himself by pointing to similar actions in the natural world and titling his actions “survival of the fittest.” Worst of all, if we accept Dr. Sutton’s statement, we will have precious little by which to say they are wrong.
In addition, Dr. Sutton is mistaken when he says, “The only so-called sinners that Jesus confronts are a few misbehaving women and some old men.” This is far from the truth. In Matthew 5, Jesus says virtually every man on the planet has committed adultery and murder. Jesus took a whip to those who were using the temple as a place to do dishonest business. Clearly, Jesus believed in sin. Unless He had, his message of repentance and change would make no sense. Repentance from what? Why change if nothing is wrong?
Finally, I want to call all students and professors of the Eastern community to refrain from statements such as “no reasonable person can make a good defense of (insert that with which you disagree here).” First of all, such statements are a logical fallacy, the “ad hominem” fallacy. The point is, such statements don’t further an argument logically. Additionally, it is eminently evident that there are apparently reasonable people who believe vastly different things. Just because one of their beliefs seems incomprehensible to you does not mean that they are not reasonable. Attack the argument, not the person making it. This is a basic tenet of debate and critical thinking in general.
Willis D. Weatherford IV
Committee on Committees Chair