No, I don’t. But this presumes that the existence of evil and suffering has established that God does not exist. In reality, all it has shown is that evil and suffering have no explanation that we can figure out. Still, it’s possible that they serve a higher purpose not evident to us. Consequently we cannot treat atheism as an established truth. Not even modern science can claim such a secure status. One of the best arguments for modernscience is that it works, which is to say that it delivers the goods and meets our wants and needs. But this is precisely what I am claiming for religion in a time of evil and suffering. Religion works, which is to say it speaks to human longings and needs in a way that no secular language can. Just as science seems indispensable to make modern life go well, God seems indispensable when life goes badly or when we are staring death in the face.

Pragmatist William James put the matter with characteristic realism: Atheists are like people who live on a frozen lake surrounded by cliffs that offer no means of escape. They know that the ice is melting and the inevitable day is coming when they must plunge ignominiously into the water. This prospect is as meaningless as it is horrifying. The Christian too must endure the chill and the inevitability of death, but his faith enables him to endure them much better. When it comes to suffering, James writes, “Religion makes easy and felicitous what is in any case necessary.” When it comes to death, he adds, Chris- tianity offers at least the prospect of the afterlife and the chance of salvation. “No fact in human nature is more characteristic than its willingness to live on a chance. The existence of chance makes the difference … between a life of which the keynote is resignation and a life of which the keynote is hope.”