Thursday, December 18, 2008

NT Wright's problem with evil.

I'm reading NT Wright's book Evil and the Justice of God (the first, and perhaps last, book of his I've picked up) and having only just started the second chapter I'm already irritated and unimpressed with the book, the author and his reasoning. Perhaps he is a brilliant man with sharp theological insights, but so far in this book he has proved to be pedestrian and his arguments crude.

He unfortunately lets his opposition to the Iraq war get him worked up enough to make large and unjustifiable leaps of logic. He glibly pronounces that dropping bombs indiscriminately on Iraq and Afghanistan in response to the events of September 11th will not solve evil. Yes, I'm serious. He claims that things we haven't done will not accomplish what no one has said we are trying to do. Here, I'll quote him.
"Lashing out at those you perceive to be 'evil' in the hope of dealing with the problem—dropping copious bombs on Iraq or Afghanistan because of September 11—is in fact the practical counterpart of those philosophical theories that purport to 'solve' the problem of evil."
He later goes on to say (in the same paragraph) that "the thousands of innocents who died in Iraq and Afghanistan" are part of the cost of such a "'solution'". The implication being, from the larger quotation above, that the US and its allies were the ones slaughtering the innocent in a quixotic crusade against evil. He also compares the US actions to Auschwitz for good measure. (page 28)

After reading this, I'm surprised that anyone takes him seriously at all. The idea that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were merely knee-jerk reactions to September 11 is patently false. That the US is responsible for thousands of innocent deaths in either country is ridiculous and a libel. Finally, to compare any of the inadvertent deaths of innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan as being on par with the deliberate attempt at genocide by the Nazis is outrageous.

I was going to go on to criticise his "nuanced" view of evil and the rest of the book as I read through it, but my stomach is turning enough already and I don't think there's a need. I might not even finish the book, which is unusual for me, especially since it's only 165 pages or so.

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