Good Reason

It's okay to be wrong. It's not okay to stay wrong.

A new one

Well, I thought I’d heard all the excuses for why an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god allows horrible things to happen to children. But here’s another: The victims must have done something to deserve it.

It happened in this clip from ‘The Atheist Experience’. The hosts, Matt and Tracie, are discussing god’s continuing non-intervention in child sexual abuse, with caller ‘Shane’.

Tracie starts off with a bracing observation, which has already been made into a meme:

And then?

Shane begins his response by saying, “First of all, you portray that little girl as someone who’s innocent, she’s just as evil as you.” Dillahunty then cuts off the call and spits, “Good-bye, you piece of s**t.”

Here’s the clip.

That’s right; according to this caller, if a child gets raped, we shouldn’t automatically assume that she didn’t deserve it.

But really, isn’t this just the standard answer for Old Testament genocide? The Israelites (allegedly) wiped out entire tribes, and when I’ve pointed this out, Christians have told me something like, well, we don’t know that the Canaanites didn’t deserve it. Richard Dawkins has refused to debate William Lane Craig for this very reason.

It’s a new rhetorical low for the religious: blaming innocent victims for the awful things that people do to them, instead of blaming an (allegedly) all-good and all-powerful god for his tendency to watch and do nothing. Once someone decides that’s acceptable, there’s nowhere else you can go. They’re morally gone.


  1. What the heck? That's awful. Just thinking that a child could DESERVE sexual abuse makes my skin crawl. What the fucking fuck. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  2. On the issue of blaming the victim, whatever happened to our own Danny Nalliah?

  3. [sleepyramble]
    It's possible that you (and Matt and Tracie) are thinking of something too specific. Wouldn't the caller just have meant that since we all partake of _original sin_, we're all fair game for whatever evil wants to find us. So what happened to the child in the case considered is what we'd all get if God pushed our just deserts our way. Fortunately he doesn't … most of the time.
    So I've tried to be as charitable to Shane as possible, but all I've done here is provide a reductio ad disgustandum of the notion of original sin. I think the syllogism goes like this:
    * Life is suffering for all of us, from birth (the Buddha also sang this cheerful note)
    * Suffering is God's punishment (Old Testament stuff?)
    * God punishes sinfulness (Old Testament again)
    * THEREFORE We must all be congenitally sinful.
    When we're close enough to the singularity to make a decent god, I trust its going to say: I didn't make this mess, but since I'm here, I'm here to help. And it will intervene.

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