Flew’s Question

Now it often seems to people who are not religious as if there was no conceivable event or series of events the occurrence of which would be admitted by sophisticated religious people to be a sufficient reason for conceding “There wasn’t a God after all” or “God does not really love us then.” Someone tells us that God loves us as a father loves his children. We are reassured. But then we see a child dying of inoperable can- cer of the throat. His earthly father is driven frantic in his efforts to help, but his Heavenly Father shows no obvious sign of concern. Some qualification is made— God’s love is “not merely human love” or it is “an inscrutable love,” perhaps—and we realize that such offerings are quite compatible with the truth of the assertion that “God loves us as a father (but, of course . . .).” We are reassured again. But then per- haps we ask: what is this assurance of God’s (appropriately qualified) love worth, what is this apparent guarantee really a guarantee against? Just what would have to happen not merely (morally and wrongly) to tempt us but also (logically and rightly) to entitle us to say “God does not love us” or even “God does not exist“?3

How would you answer Flew’s question? If the answer to Flew’s question were that nothing could entitle us to say this, as Flew suggests, then would this show that religious positions like this are self-sealing? That they are empty? Why or why not?

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