|Recently, the world has just witnessed a horrific event. Terrorists have plowed planes filled with passengers into the World Trade Center, bringing the complex down. Thousands are dead. Truly, truly awful.|
The question that will inevitably be thought and asked is how could a good God allow this? This can be an honest question, and it is a very natural question.
|I, myself, have been to Auschwitz and Dachau. Evil is not a new phenomena. The existance of evil presents a problem for the theist in general, and the Christian in particular. This problem is as old one that was debated by everyone from Job to Greek philosophers.|
If God is control of everything and is all good, He would not let evil exist. That is the heart of the problem of evil. Some have answered this question by saying that either God doesn't exist or God is not all-powerful. Another answer could be that God is not good.
While the problem of evil seems insurrmountable, after close exammination of this problem and inward reflection after my Holocaust studies, I believe the Problem of evil can be overcome by the existance of evil. That may sound weird, but I firmly believe it.
I plan to go over in a brief and cursory fashion the arguments against the Problem of Evil. Some of them are better than others. I will be coming from a Christian perspective
To argue that God is not good or that God does not exist based off of the existance of evil is self-contradictory. What is our basis for argument? An objective right and wrong.
|When I watch the World Trade Center blowing up and collapsing, my gut tells me that there is an objective right and wrong. And what happened was wrong. I have a God-given conscience. I know deep-down there is a right and wrong. That cannot make any sense unless a good God exists. Look at the pictures on this site and ask yourself what your gut feels. Even if you are happy about the situation, that is a moral judgement. You feel it was good.|
Think on the Problem of Evil's premise for a second. Evil exists. If this is to make any sense, then God exists. But I want to argue against the existance of God! If we assume an objective evil exists, we assume God exists. If we then argue against the existance of God, we are contradicting our first premise.
If you believe that God does not exist, you take away the basis for objective right and wrong. Evil becomes something subjective. If you do that, why are you arguing in the first place?!? Because deep-down you know that there is an objective right and wrong.
I will not get into in-depth now, but to state that God is not sovreign to deny the existance of God in any sense of the word. God would be a god. I think the critique in the above paragraphs would also apply to a god as well. If there is not a transcendant, all-powerful God, how can we say there is an objective right and wrong? A non-sovreign God does not allow for the existance of an objective right and wrong. I would argue again that a non-sovreign God is actually a god. To be honest, this is a moot point. Most want to argue against the Biblical conception of the revealed God, not a handi-capped god.
Now that the groundwork has been laid let's look at some possible reasons that would explain the co-existance of God and evil.
Every car has a dashboard. A bunch of guages that tells the driver the speed, how the engine is doing, how many miles the car has driven. What if your odometer broke? What if your gas guage broke? There would be times the driver would be unaware something was wrong until it was too late.
While running out of gas is unfortunate, what if there were was an even bigger problem each person faces? Hypothetically, let's assume that the universe is broken. Let's assume that humanity, as a whole and individually, is in rebellion towards the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Let's assume that God is holy. Let's assume that the Creator does not put up with rebellion. Let's assume that upon your death, you will face this Creator
Assume one more thing. Assume that everything is peaches and cream until you die and face God and His wrath. Wouldn't you have liked a warning?
Evil is such a warning. It tells us that everything is not quite correct. Something is off. Since we have the sense of right and wrong imprinted in us, we are aware of this situation. Reaping some of the consequences of our rebellion, we then long for a solution.
Scripture makes it abundantly clear that people are not good. "No there is none who is good not even one." This seems a little bit much? Let's think through this clearly
God is our sovreign King. Breaking His law is rebelling against Him, sin. He is infinite in Being, wisdom, and goodness. A crime is more heineous if it is committed against the President or a king than it would be against an average person. If you murder a police officer, this is more heinous than if you killed an average person. Multiply the average crime by infinity, the worth of God. If you see this truth, you can see the heinousness of sin. Now start multiplying these infinities together, because we do not just commit one sin, we sin frequently.
With that said, would you like to ask God for what you deserve? Complaining about God's treatment towards us assumes that we are objects that don't deserve wrath. This is blatantly false. It may hurt our pride, but it is false.
Sinful man assumes that God exists for our benefit, especially in a culture that has been hearing the message of God's grace for over 1,000 years. If He exists, He is a cosmic-bellhop. Nothing is further from the case. But this misconception has a bearing on the current discussion. When calamity comes, we can't seem to hold the false cosmic-bellhop notion of God together with the existance of evil.
Most evangelical Christians today follow the blame-Satan approach. At the time of my writing this is the most common approach in dealing with the World Trade Center attack in relation to the Problem of Evil. Satan did such and such not God. These Christians, although well-meaning, undercut the believer's only basis for security. God is in control. Even if it is Satan, God is in control. Satan must have God's permission.
These well-meaning believers also miss the fact that God has from time to time brought calamity of different peoples. The book of Judges, Ezekial, Jeremiah and so on are replete with God bringing calamity on people, many time His own people, through His providence. It is never capricious, but it has happened. God is not a doting grandfather. He is a holy Lord. This does not mean to undercut His love, primarily shown through Jesus, but we mustn't remove emphasis from His other attributes.
Historically, believers have argued that God wants us to have free-will, so we would not be robots but actually love him. The existance of free-will allows for the possibility of evil.
This argument, in my estimation, is alright. However, Scriptures do not support the modern conception of free will. Our wills are in bondage to sin until God renews our hearts. This argument also does not explain earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
The early believers rejoiced at suffering. Suffering purifies. It makes us look up. It makes us long for Jesus' return. It makes us desire the things of God. It makes us more productive on this earth for His kingdom. We should long for some suffering, because it keeps the body of Christ healthy.
Also, from a more philosophical perspective, we can't see the Big Picture. God can. It is at least plausible that a greater good will come about because of the existance of evil. For instance, because of the World Trade Center attack, people are more aware of terrorism. They are more likely to implement practices that will prevent even greater calamities in the future.
We do not see the big picture. God sees the big picture. It is impossible to conjecture about the nuances of the big picture. Or to argue against God without seeing the big picture.
The non-intellectual answer and the more honest answer is that I do not know all the answers to this question. I may have glimpses, but that is all. And it is easy to write this at a time when I am not suffering. (May God allow me to hold onto faith while I suffer, grounding me in truth now.)
I do know the following: God the Son became man and came down and suffered with humanity for my sins. We do not worship a God far-off, unconcerned about my suffering. We worship a God who has participated in our suffering.
Trust in this God. He will not do you wrong.