Monday, February 1, 2016

God and the Holocaust

The recent obituary of a prominent Jewish theologian and scholar included the challenge of reconciling the horrors of the Holocaust with belief in God.  It described how the "utter evil of the Holocaust" compelled not only Jews, but others, to re-consider and re-assess the meaning and contribution of the Enlightenment (the 18th century philosophical movement dominating European thought) which included the concepts of liberty, reason and tolerance.

It interests me that in attempting this reconciliation, the criticism is directed at the Enlightenment philosophy in general - critiquing the philosophy, but with a continued belief in God.  Attempts to reconcile earthly horrors with the existence of a God continue.  In other words, all explanations of great tragedies must be explained in the presence of the "incontrovertible fact" of the existence of a God.  The possibility that such tragedies contravene this "fact" is never a consideration.

Are there not times to reconsider certain "supposed facts" (i.e. a God) when they seem to not correspond with observed facts?  The monstrosity that was the Holocaust is such an observed fact (and of course there have been many others).  It is certainly easier to explain such human horrors in the absence of an all powerful and loving deity than it is to accept such a deity's existence.  These human catastrophes beggar the acceptance of and belief in a deity.

"Once-accepted facts" (e.g. a flat world, an earth-centered universe) disappear with the discovery of "new facts."  Can a God-fact continue in the face of the real fact of The Holocaust and the continuation and constancy of human terror and slaughter. The answer seems to be - "Absolutely!!"  But  a great deal of upside-down reasoning and rationalization is required, don't you think?.