Sent to the Boston Globe on 2006-06-05
Jeff Jacoby, in his fawning endorsement of Pope Benedict's comments at Auschwitz, propagates two of Benedict's errors and then tosses in another in his June 4 Op-ed, "The Silence of God".
Jacoby and Benedict blame anti-Semitism on "hostility toward God-based ethics". Since the overwhelming majority of anti-Semites are Christians or Moslems who believe in the same god that Jews do, this is at best a ludicrous claim.
Jacoby and Benedict also blame Nazism, in part, on "the rule of man." But democratic government, based on the rule, and inherent value, of man, is about as far from Nazism as one can get. Conversely, the Nazis worked closely with Christian organizations whenever it was convenient. There were a lot of things wrong with Nazism, but atheism wasn't one of them.
Despite their repeated conflation of "God" with "good", the problem of evil remains, so Jacoby rushes to Benedict's defense with the chestnut that human atrocities are a necessary price of God's gift of free will. But free will has never been an all-or-nothing thing; our free will is limited by our abilities and our personalities. Any god worthy of the title could have given us plenty of free will within whatever constraints he wished to impose.
Jacoby and Benedict resort to all this sophistry because each denies, for his own reasons, the obvious answer to why God was silent during the Holocaust, in the Gulag, and everywhere else people have behaved badly: God wasn't there, and God isn't here.
The sooner we can accept this fact, the sooner we can stop fighting over which flavor of which god wants us to do what, and we can start working together to make the most of all of our time here on our little planet.Jon Dreyer