But God as a "standard of perfection" does not imply Christianity. Christianity is, at its core the "bizarre" (yes, Marc himself uses that word) notion that God/Jesus "became sin", became absolutely imperfect, and then by dying, destroyed sin, destroyed imperfection. But God, being outside of time, did not destroy sin in the time-bound world; the world where sin, and therefore suffering, must be outside time. God does not wish to force us to this world without suffering, but by instantiating Himself in the person of Jesus into the time-bound material world gives us the option to enter the world without suffering after death. Marc spins an interesting story, but it problems, both internal and external, render it entirely unconvincing to the atheist.
Some of the internal problems are apparent in Marc's responses to objections to his points. The most obvious is his treatment to the objection that if
God is the fullness of perfection, and that to say that our universe is sinful — or imperfect — is to say that our universe is lacking total union with God, why then, would Perfection allow our imperfection? If God is all-powerful, surely he could forever stop us from sinning, and thus from ever suffering? Is he so cruel as to allow us to suffer, children to die, etc.?Marc answers with the free-will cliche:
We are allowed to sin — and thus to suffer — because God loves us. If we could not refuse him, the fullness of perfection, we would be puppets attached to his celestial fingers. We could not not love God. But love, to be love, must be freely given. Perfection is meaningless if we have not the choice of imperfection. We are granted, in love, the opportunity to sin.This response must be counted at best as controversial, rather than as decisive. Furthermore, Marc sets up his answer a little tendentiously, reverting to a more superficial definition of suffering as simple pain, physical or emotional; He "allows us to suffer" and allows "children to die." But the objection is not why God created pain, but how a perfect God could create an imperfect world. To create is to resolve an imperfection: how could a perfect being create anything? Marc's answer is entirely unsatisfying.
This crucial flaw notwithstanding, Marc does not give us any reason to actually believe his story. He gives us a version of the Politician's Fallacy: we need an answer to the problem of suffering, this is an answer to the problem, therefore this is the correct answer to the problem. But why should we believe his answer? Even if we must need to look to supernatural teleological, why should Marc's "bizarre" and paradoxical story be the correct one? According to the title, Marc wants to explain Christianity to atheists, but succeeds only in describing an especially weird, counter-intuitive, narrative that we cannot distinguish from pure fiction. We atheists are made of sterner stuff, he won't freak us out, but he fails to explain Christianity in a way that makes us see it as anything but fiction.
This indistinguishable-from-fictional narrative also appears on a specifically Catholic blog. Marc makes no effort to connect this narrative with Catholicism. How do we get popes and priests from an imperfect world. Remember, atheists are not really concerned with the metaphysical issues about God; those have been largely settled... in our favor. Instead, we are mainly concerned with religious justifications of worldly authority. Nothing in Marc's essay connects with any church, much less the Catholic church.
Finally, Marc's basic premise, that religion starts out from the necessity of finding the "purpose of suffering" is tendentious and objectionable. First, Marc is assuming his premise: if we must find purpose, we must, by definition, be looking for a teleological cause, the cause in a conscious mind. Since at least some suffering does not come from human minds, there must be at least a non-human teleology underlying suffering. Marc simply assumes that anyone who has experienced pain will look to a teleological cause: "(If you don’t believe [suffering needs an answer], develop leukemia, have a close family member die, and then try being content with not having any answers, meaning, or purpose." But of course, many atheists have experienced pain and loss, and whatever discontent we might feel, many do not see the lack of teleological meaning or purpose relevant. We have an answer: In a natural, indifferent, world of only physical law, shit really does just happen. If that's an answer Marc doesn't like, well, when did our opinions about the truth matter as to its truthfulness. If you fall off a cliff, you may not like it that your body accelerates towards the center of the Earth at ~10m/s2, but you'll go splat at the bottom nonetheless. I don't need to find any purpose to suffering, so Marc's argument is a non-starter.
When someone makes their infantile fiction my business, I will call it just that: an infantile fiction to comfort themselves in a largely hostile material universe entirely indifferent to human happiness. But it really isn't any of my business; what do I care what story you need to tell yourself to get up in the morning? Why do you need my validation or approval? Especially when I'm just not going to give it to you, regardless of the effort you've put in to make it appear logically consistent. What I am concerned about is religious people's demands for political, economic, and social privilege. If you're not at least trying to justify your privilege, I'm just not interested.