In his weekly Press column, Chris Trotter speculates as to why his Christian God allowed Christchurch to suffer a catastrophic earthquake on February 22. Unfortunately instead of displaying the intellectual rigor he regularly exhibits when writing about politics, he resorts to mumbo jumbo.
But its not any old mumbo jumbo. It has to be the right kind of mumbo jumbo. And that isn't the mumbo jumbo of the Dean of Christchurch Cathedral, Peter Beck. He believes in the wrong kind of mumbo jumbo.
Beck's mix of Anglicanism and New Age spiritualism doesn't impress the more conventional Chris Trotter.
Beck has attempted to excuse God's non intervention on February 22 on the grounds that...'we live on a dynamic, creating planet that’s doing its thing', apparently independent of God.
I would argue that if God is not powerful enough to do something about the world’s periodic murderous callousness towards human beings, then in what sense is he a god?
If God is not competent to stop an earthquake or save its victims, then how can it be claimed he had the capability to create an entire world and universe?
But that's not Chris Trotter's argument. He's disputing Beck's portrayal of God. He accuses the good Dean of deifying Mother Nature and that , writes Trotter, puts Beck in breach of his own Christian faith that says there is only God. It's a short skip and a jump from here to condemning all other religions for following the 'wrong' God.
The thorny problem for Chris is he can't bag the good Dean without explaining why his version of God went AWOL on February 22.
Trotter writes that God 'is with us always' but he can't, of course, provide any evidence for this big claim. You'll have to take his word for it. Or not.
But if God is always with us where was he on February 22 and why didn't he have the good manners to prevent that bloody quake?
Trotter's explanation is pure mumbo jumbo. He seems to be resorting to Christian mysticism.
He says he doesn't have to explain God's behaviour on the grounds that God is unexplainable.
Trotter writes that God is 'beyond our questions; beyond our understanding; beyond our judgement.' So there.
This won't do at all. Trotter can't criticise someone else's interpretation of God and then refuse to justify the behaviour of his own version of the man in the sky on the grounds that God is 'beyond our understanding'.
I can understand Chris not wanting to tie himself up in intellectual knots trying to defend God but, really, he's copping out big time.
I think he knows it too because he seeks solace in the work of the Christian apologist CS Lewis.
He quotes Lewis who wrote that God 'is not a pet to be called for and dismissed at our convenience. On the contrary, he is an altogether dangerous being.'
A 'dangerous being'? Well, if God created a dangerous world that inflicts violent and agonizing sufferings arbitrarily on its inhabitants, then he is not 'dangerous' - he is a disgrace. And very nasty.