We see another instance of Harari’s lack of objectivity in the way he deals with the problem of evil (p246). He states the well-worn idea that if we posit free will as the solution, that raises the further question: if God ‘knew in advance‘ (Harari’s words) that the evil would be done why did he create the doer?
I would expect a scholar to present both sides of the argument, not a populist one-sided account as Harari does
But to be objective the author would need to raise the counter-question that if there is no free will, how can there be love and how can there be truth? Again, if everything is predetermined then so is the opinion I have just expressed. In that case it has no validity as a measure of truth – it was predetermined either by chance forces at the Big Bang or by e.g. what I ate for breakfast which dictated my mood. These are age-old problems without easy solutions but I would expect a scholar to present both sides of the argument, not a populist one-sided account as Harari does.
Moreover, in Christian theology God created both time and space, but exists outside them. So the Christian God does not know anything ‘in advance‘ which is a term applicable only to those who live inside the time–space continuum i.e. humanity. The Christian philosopher Boethius saw this first in the sixth century; theologians know it – but apparently Harari doesn’t, and he should.
Ignoring the resurrection
In common with so many, Harari is unable to explain why Christianity ‘took over the mighty Roman Empire‘ (p243) but calls it ‘one of history’s strangest twists‘. So it is, but one explanation that should be considered is the resurrection of Christ which of course would fully account for it – if people would give the idea moment’s thought. But to the best of my knowledge there is no mention of it (even as an influential belief) anywhere in the book.
The standard reason given for such an absence is that ‘such things don’t happen in history: dead men don’t rise.‘ But that, I fear, is logically a hopeless answer. The speaker believes it didn’t happen because they have already presupposed that God is not there to do it. Drop the presupposition, and suddenly the whole situation changes: in the light of that thought it now becomes perfectly feasible that this ‘strange twist‘ was part of the divine purpose. And the funny thing is that unlike other religions, this is precisely where Christianity is most insistent on its historicity. Peter, Paul, the early church in general were convinced that Jesus was alive and they knew as well as we do that dead men are dead – and they knew better than us that us that crucified men are especially dead! The very first Christian sermons (about AD 33) were about the facts of their experience – the resurrection of Jesus – not about morals or religion or the future.
A one-sided view of the Church
Harari is right to highlight the appalling record of human warfare and there is no point trying to excuse the Church from its part in this. I have written at length about this elsewhere, as have far more able people. But do we really think that because everyone in Europe was labelled Catholic or Protestant (‘cuius regio, eius religio‘) that the wars they fought were about religion?
If the Church is cited as a negative influence, why, in a scholarly book, is www.hookupdate.net/de/geek2geek-review its positive influence not also cited?