There's still a need for "that hypothesis".
I got myself in hot water over the question of God's action in the bushfires. I apologise to anyone I may have offended. Unfortunately one reader decided that my comments of late have shown me "as very superior, insenstive and b*tchy". Oh dear.
But here is another question raised by one of my interfaith dialogue partners, which hopefully will take the discussion in a different direction. My friend asks: "I wonder how our atheist and ratinalist freinds would console those who have lost all in the fires?"
I was wondering the same thing the other day while listening to the interview of John Cleary with John Lennox.
Lennox acknowledges that the "problem of pain" is the most significant arguement in the atheistic arsenal against the existence of a good God. And that there isn't really an answer to the problem.
But, as he points out, one thing that is clear is that the rejection of the existence of a good God is not a solution to the problem of pain. In fact, it makes it a darn sight worse, for two reasons. The first is that then the whole notion of justice breaks down. But the second - especially in the context of natural rather than human evil - is that if there is no good and just supreme Being, then not only is pain as senseless as ever, but there is no HOPE that things will ever be better.
Laplace may have famously said "Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothese-la", but at least in the face of the suffering such as we have seen and felt in the last week, "that hypothesis" still seems to serve a positive function.