But Professor Plantinga . . .

A.P.: I suppose your thinking is that it is suffering and sin that make this world less than perfect. But then your question makes sense only if the best possible worlds contain no sin or suffering. And is that true? Maybe the best worlds contain free creatures some of whom sometimes do what is wrong. Indeed, maybe the best worlds contain a scenario very like the Christian story.

Think about it: The first being of the universe, perfect in goodness, power and knowledge, creates free creatures. These free creatures turn their backs on him, rebel against him and get involved in sin and evil. Rather than treat them as some ancient potentate might — e.g., having them boiled in oil — God responds by sending his son into the world to suffer and die so that human beings might once more be in a right relationship to God. God himself undergoes the enormous suffering involved in seeing his son mocked, ridiculed, beaten and crucified. And all this for the sake of these sinful creatures.

I’d say a world in which this story is true would be a truly magnificent possible world. It would be so good that no world could be appreciably better. But then the best worlds contain sin and suffering.

— “Is Atheism Irrational?” Alvin Plantinga interviewed by  Gary Gutting, New York Times 9 February 2014. Online.

But look at this truly magnificent sculpture as it rises in its power from the blood-soaked earth of a world full of suffering — indeed, so full of suffering that it reduces to meaningless triviality any such merely human attribution as “sin.” Before the gaze of the feathered serpent, we are all equal in our godhead. We do not suffer and destroy; we are suffering and destruction themselves.


Having seen the image, then, consider what it demands that you believe:

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, is a very complex god, with many aspects and spheres of influence.

According to an Aztec myth of creation there were four suns (or worlds) before the present one. Each sun was created and destroyed in a different way, and inhabited by a different race of people. Each sun was also presided over by a different deity.

After the destruction of the Fourth Sun, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca created the earth and the heavens by tearing apart the earth monster, Tlaltecuhtli.

-Clara Bezanilla, A Pocket Dictionary of Aztec and Mayan Gods and Goddesses.

Not to believe what this idol tells us about the consequence shining forth from its form is to diminish one’s responsiveness to the universe that has brought us into the idol’s presence. In that presence, not to believe is to reduce oneself to a snickering tourist in Chartres.

So see you at the sacrifice?

Source: http://ancientart.tumblr.com, 1 March 2014.