“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Problem of Evil

The Victory of God
The Cross and the Resurrection as an Answer to the Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is a problem for everyone. Different worldviews may face different problems in reconciling their claims with the existence of evil, but all must face the troublesome fact: evil exists. We need to take a step back and look at reality for what it is. The fact that there is great pain and suffering in the world should trouble us. Its mere existence should unsettle us. Why? Because we know that it is wrong – we know that something is not right. There is (obviously) something perverted and horrible about suffering. And yet, here it is, a problem we all must face in the search for truth, and in our lives.

Some would deny that there is a problem – they would say that evil does not exist, that nothing is absolutely wrong. There is no objective moral standard. This is clearly false. We know that evil is real because we see it with our hearts just as we see the world with our eyes. Just as we conclude that the world exists objectively and absolutely because we see it, we conclude that evil (and consequently good as well) exists objectively and absolutely because we see it (that is, it really does exist and is not just a delusion of our thoughts or emotions). The heart directs us towards truth as well as the mind, and anyone can see quite clearly with the heart that there is a moral reality. We perceive it to be real, and therefore it is real. One cannot look at the horrors and hatred that mark human history and deny the existence of evil. A person who denies evil is either ignorant of reality or “out of his heart” in the same way that we say someone is out of their mind – they are denying something as plain as logic. Take a look at the holocaust. Take a look at wars throughout history, at the events of the 20th century, and at conditions across the globe today.

NOTE: Some have suggested that it would be inconsistent for God to stop every bullet before it hits a person or prevent every natural disaster from killing people – one would not expect a God of order to be constantly fighting against the forces of nature which he designed. But it seems to me that this approach avoids the main issue: it takes a fallen world filled with evil for granted. The real question is: why would a good God have created such a world in the first place, knowing what it would be like? It may be that the possibility of evil is inherent to any world, as C. S. Lewis argues in The Problem of Pain; that is not, however, an argument I will rely on here.
Another approach to the problem of evil is to break down incidents of suffering and treat them individually, looking for an explanation or redemptive purpose to each. For example, one of my professors said that out of the eight worst events in his life, he has, over time, come to see good things result from five of them. (Although we may not see it in every case, God does nothing without a purpose. I believe that in heaven we will look back and see our broken and pain-filled lives in a new redemptive light, seeing the purpose in each event that could not be seen before.) While we may find some specific incidents where evil circumstances lead to a greater good here and now in peoples’ lives, we should not expect to see this all the time, and there are many evils, like genocide, that could not be “justified” in any way by pointing to a greater good that they achieve. A better approach, I think, is to treat all evil and suffering together – to look at the whole reality of a fallen world and search for a larger and deeper meaning behind it, a meaning and purpose that may not be at all apparent in the events of our daily lives.

1 comment:

  1. Like you said everything happens for a certain purpose God wants it to be. Even if God cannot touch our will he will find a way to put us back to the right way even if we made mistakes by our own decisions or will. At times, we misinterpret the fact that God can actually do things possibly by his will yet because he loves us and gave us the will to decide, he would just be there to let us realize that what we did was wrong and bring us back to his own hands. that makes consequences and circumstances plays its roles. If what we did was right we will reap the positive outcomes along with the blessings but if we decide even if we know it is wrong thus we always fail. Nevertheless, we must lay our plans to him and let him do his will for us. Prayers will be answered by yes, no and wait so if we think our prayers are not answered then that means either it's not for good or there is better plan than what we think is best.

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