I’ll just note a couple of things in passing. The bulk of her response has to do with God’s apparent justice or injustice, evidence for which is, she assumes, exhausted by empirical data. An unjust God, she assumes, would not let an innocent person die, or, for that matter, come to any harm. Well...I know plenty of Christians who don’t believe that anyone is, strictly speaking, innocent (see Genesis 3), not to mention plenty who don’t look for God’s justice in this world, but rather in the next. The assumption that this world can, or ought to, or might, be perfectly just is, I should say, Promethean (which is to say modern--shared by Marxism and some strands of classical liberalism). An alternative is to look for perfect justice only in the City of God, which is not of this world.
I realize that many ordinary folk respond (inconsistently) to horrible events in the way Mac Donald describes--thanking God for saving them and not thinking about others who were lost. But again, Christians are supposed to pray to God that His will be done and aren’t supposed to assume that that will is transparent and fully available to us here and now. This is no easy task. It’s impossible not to be thankful, for example, when you don’t lose or aren’t lost to a loved one after a close call. And it’s hard to find comfort after losing a loved one. We’re so constructed as both to love this world and to look beyond it. (I’m giving a paper that touches on this subject at the upcoming APSA meeting, drawing my inspiration, such as it is, from Tolkien.)
Let me now treat Mac Donald on the anthropological grounds she clearly prefers. Here are two statements she makes. First:
An elementary definition of justice is treating like cases alike and treating unlike cases differently. If a judge has two plaintiffs before him who are each suing for restitution under a contract, and each has met the conditions for restitution, we expect that he would award each plaintiff the remedy that he seeks.
Religious institutions and beliefs are, however, human creations. They grow out of man’s instinct for system and order, as well as out of the desire for life beyond death and a divine intervener in human affairs. Our striving for justice is one of the great human attributes. Far from imitating a divine model, man’s every effort to dispense justice is a battle against the randomness that rules the natural world.
I’ll go along with the rough-and-ready definition of justice (with certain caveats regarding what the relevant considerations are), but I nevertheless regard it as hard, if not altogether impossible, to achieve in this world. Perfect justice requires philosopher-kings whose vision is never clouded by the partiality born of love.
But I’m not sure how she can hold even this definition of justice if she seriously believes that "randomness rules the natural world." In a random natural world, "justice" is a human construct and is humanly imposed. If justice is altogether conventional (not guided by nature, which is, after all, random), then why should it necessarily be proportional in the way she suggests earlier? Why couldn’t "justice" be defined in any way we please--above all, preferring my good to anyone else’s? And in a random world, how would we single out "striving for justice" as "one of the great human attributes," rather than, say, "looking out for number one"? Does Mac Donald really not believe that nature is random? Or is her emphasis on justice evidence of a certain kind of "will to power"? Or of a certain kind of faith?