In a new article over at Christianity Today, Dinesh D’Souza (Christian apologist) gives a very unsatisfying answer to “Why we need earthquakes”. I mean: does this guy think he’s being a good apologist for Christianity? Sometimes it seems like his answers are so weak that it makes his religion look ridiculous.
A fresh way of looking at the problem of natural evil and suffering comes from Rare Earth, a 2003 book by Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee that traces the myriad conditions required for life to exist on any planet. In a sense, the authors—an eminent paleontologist and an astronomer at the University of Washington in Seattle—are discussing the “anthropic principle,” which specifies the degree to which our planet appears fine-tuned for complex life. The concept is often used in Christian apologetics to show that our intelligently designed universe seems to point to an intelligent designer.
Ward and Brownlee ask: Why do natural disasters such as earthquakes, seaquakes, and tsunamis occur? All three are the consequence of plate tectonics, the giant plates that move under the surface of the earth and the ocean floor. Apparently our planet is unique in having plate tectonics. Ward and Brownlee show that without this geological feature, there would be no large mountain ranges or continents.
While natural disasters occasionally wreak havoc, our planet needs plate tectonics to produce the biodiversity that enables complex life to flourish on earth. Without plate tectonics, earth’s land would be submerged to a depth of several thousand feet. Fish might survive in such an environment, but not humans.
Ward and Brownlee’s answer to this is as simple as it is devastating. Such a world could have produced life, but it surely could not have produced creatures like us. Science tells us that our world has all the necessary conditions for species like Homo sapiens to survive and endure… it seems that plate tectonics are, as Ward and Brownlee put it, a “central requirement for life” as we know it.
I think that’s a perfectly good explanation if God existed 4 billion years ago and was completely prevented from interacting with the world at any time since then. What a ridiculously weak explanation. If D’Souza’s God existed, then: (1) God could’ve brought about any form of life that he wanted at any time in history, (2) God could’ve created continents and mountains without the need for plate tectonics, (3) God could’ve “shut off” plate tectonics and earthquakes once human beings were on earth. In essence, D’Souza’s explanation presumes a God who is severely limited; unable to interact with the planet during the past 4 billion years. This is just another “God is all-powerful; except that He’s not all-powerful when that’s inconvenient” explanation.
[Nod to DubunkingChristianity]