Archive for the ‘Evil’ Category


Why Did God Allow the Tragedy in Newtown?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

In the aftermath of the recent tragedy in Connecticut, the haunting question on everyone’s mind is, “Why?”   I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that question because I have no way of knowing, nor does anyone else.  Even if we could determine why this took place, I’m not sure that it would do any good.  Knowing why it happened cannot and would not assuage our pain or the gut-wrenching agony felt by those closest to the victims.  The real anguish lies in the fact that it happened at all, regardless of any reasons why.  Even if someone could explain it to us, it would never bring back the victims-  that’s the problem.  Nevertheless, we continue to seek answers, so perhaps we do so for other reasons.


When people ask this question in the wake of such tragedy, it seems that they usually do so for one of two reasons:  1) to question God’s existence, or  2) to question God’s fairness or His reasons for allowing it.  With regard to the first, I have explored this question in previous posts, so I will not do so at this time.  With regard to the second question, our limited understanding would not be able to fully grasp the complexity of the reasons why an all-knowing God allowed the kind of evil we witnessed at Sandy Hook.  At best, we can only attempt to understand in a general sense some of the reasons why God permits evil and suffering in our world.  Ever since the tragedy on December 14th, several thought-provoking articles have been written that attempt to explain some of the reasons why God allows suffering in our lives.  Most of the writers have correctly pointed out the ways in which God not only can, but does bring about tremendous good, even out of something so unspeakably evil.  In fact, over the past several days since the Sandy Hook shootings, we have already seen a response of love and compassion so powerful and so far-reaching that countries from around the world have expressed their deepest sympathy and support for the small, otherwise obscure town of Newtown, Connecticut.  While it is true that God will always find a way to bring triumph out of tragedy, I want to offer a slightly different perspective as to why God allows evil and suffering in our world.  The answer may surprise you.


Several years ago, a student said to me, “Right now, somewhere in the Children’s Hospital, there is a child dying of cancer.  If God can do something about it, why doesn’t He?”  I explained to him that I have no way of knowing why God is allowing that child to go through so much suffering.  I then asked him to stop and consider what would happen if God did do something about it.  What if God intervened, resulting in this child being healed and released from the hospital?  Even though this child and those closest to this child would be spared that particular experience of pain and suffering, would the overall problem of evil and suffering in our world go away?  Would our question finally be resolved?  Not at all.  While God’s intervention in that particular case may solve one problem, there would always be other examples of evil and suffering that we could point to and ask why God is not willing to do the same thing for that person as well.  If we follow through with the logic of it, the question that we eventually arrive at is this:  Why doesn’t God eliminate ALL evil from our world?  Why should He allow ANY evil at all?


It sounds simple enough, but here’s the problem- and it’s a big problem.  While we may say that we want God to remove evil from our world, the truth of the matter is that we really don’t-  at least not all of itIn reality, the moment we submit our request for God to rid the world of evil, we immediately begin to pick and choose which evils God should prohibit and which ones He should allow.  On the one hand, we demand that God do away with the evil that offends us.  On the other hand, we somehow expect God to ignore and overlook the evil that we enjoy- the ones that bring us pleasure, that we participate in, and that we try to justify.  We insist that God should stop the evil things that others do, but not the evil things that we do, personally.


When it comes to this whole matter of which evils God should judge and which ones He should leave alone, it should come as no surprise that most of us assume that God’s judgment will pass over us.  We assume that anything we’ve done wrong is not really all that serious.  We certainly wouldn’t characterize anything we’ve done as “evil”.   But lest anyone think that they haven’t done anything worthy of God’s judgment, please keep in mind that the offenses you and I commit are not just against other people- ultimately, they are offenses against God.  It’s equally important to understand that in order to know whether or not an offense is serious, it doesn’t do any good to ask the one who committed the offense (us), we must ask the one who has been offended (God). Above all else, God is absolutely holy, righteous and just.  The offenses we’ve committed against Him that we would consider “trivial” are not trivial to God.  Just as the tiniest speck of blood on a white shirt is noticeable to everyone, all of our offenses become obvious against the background of God’s holiness and absolute perfection.


That being the case, if God were to grant our request to remove all evil from our world right here and right now, He would not do so according to our flawed, arbitrary, ever-changing opinions, it would be according to HIS standard of justice.  If so, then no one-  not me, not you-  no one would be left standing.  Once we understand what it means to say that God is holy, we begin to realize just how serious our state of affairs really is.  Instead of demanding that God rid the world of evil right now, we should be grateful for the fact that He has chosen to do otherwise.  Even though we may not understand the reasons why God allowed the events to unfold at Sandy Hook, we can at least understand in a general sense that God temporarily allows evil in our world because He is restraining His justice for now, thereby demonstrating His incredible patience, mercy and forbearance toward guilty people like you and me that deserve otherwise.


In the end, God will deal with evil once and for all.  Until then, He has done something about the problem of evil by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world.  Through Jesus’ death on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead, God has provided a way for us to be pardoned and acquitted of our offenses against Him if we surrender to Him.  In addition to this, because God was able to bring about tremendous good (resurrection) out of the greatest evil in history (the crucifixion of His Son), we know that we can trust Him to do the same with the tragedy in Newtown.

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There’s A Reason Why We Call It “The PROBLEM Of Evil”

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The people of Arizona as well as the rest of the nation are still numb from the events of January 8th in Tucson when a crazed gunman attempted to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and ended up killing six people, including a nine-year-old girl.  As we struggle to make sense of such wanton cruelty, skeptics will often use such events to justify their unbelief by saying, “THAT’S why I don’t believe in God.  What kind of a God would allow something like that to happen?”  In defense of their unbelief, they will often make the comment that when they look at the world around them, they see a world that is so full of pain, evil, and suffering, there can’t possibly be a God.

Whenever I hear someone make such a comment, I often respond to them by saying, “If I understand you correctly, what I hear you saying is that you see a world that is not the way it ought to be-  that things are not as they should be.  You’re saying that you see a world that is a departure from some ultimate standard of good.  It is a deviation from some original plan or purpose.”  Such statements make perfect sense in light of a Biblical worldview.  They don’t make any sense, given the worldview of  a humanist, evolutionist, or atheist.

When we make the observation that this world is a corrupted version of how things ought to be, we are expressing an idea that is firmly grounded in a Biblical view of history recorded for us in the book of Genesis. The Bible tells us that the world we observe today with all of its pain, suffering, and sorrow is not the world that God created.  At the creation, God brought forth a world that was perfect- no disease, no death, and no suffering.  This original paradise in which he placed the first man and woman was the way God intended it to be.  It was the way things ought to be.  The very fact that we acknowledge the reality of evil in our world is testimony to the fact that God has imprinted upon each of us an intuitive sense of some original plan or purpose from which we have fallen.   Indeed, we have fallen away from that original state of perfection.  The Bible gives us some insight into this when it tells us about the first man and woman rebelling against their Creator, plunging a once-perfect world into darkness, disease, and death.  It is that view of history that seems to make the most sense of our intuitions that this present world is a distortion of what it was originally.

In contrast to this, an evolutionary view of history runs diametrically opposed to our intuitions of a fallen world.  If it really is true that our past history is an unimaginably long process of death, disease, suffering, and survival, then we cannot say that our world is not as it should be.  If evolution is true, then this world of war, famine, disease, and death is precisely the way things are supposed to be.  Even when faced with some tragic event that we would describe as “evil” or “unjust”, an honest and consistent response based on naturalism compels us to put aside all such emotions and dismiss such events as nothing more than “nature simply doing its job”.  After all, in a world where there is no God, in a purely naturalistic, evolutionary world, there can be no such thing as an event that is truly “evil” or “unjust”.  We give up the right to say that what took place is “not supposed to happen”, because in an evolutionary world of death and struggling where only the fittest survive, such events ARE supposed to happen.  Natural selection is supposed to “weed out” the unfit in order to bring about that which is more fit.  On that view, death is not an intruder into our world.  Rather, death must be accepted as a “good” thing, a “beneficial” thing that allegedly drives us “onward and upward” in our evolutionary development.  For those who reject the Bible’s history and explanation for the origin of evil, this evolutionary view is the only other explanation for the problem of evil.  Personally, I find that explanation to be not only terribly inadequate and counterintuitive, it is pathetic.

Quite some time ago, I was invited to hear a gentleman give a presentation on the topic of God and the problem of evil.  As an atheist, he was trying to use the problem of evil as a means by which to deny the existence of God.  Afterward, during the Q&A time, I asked him why he kept referring to “ the problem of evil”.  Puzzled, he just looked at me, waiting for me to explain my comment.  I went on to point out that if it really is true that there is no God and that we are simply the byproducts of some evolutionary process, then it would have made more sense for him to talk about all of the benefits of suffering, disease, and death.  As the discussion came to a close I couldn’t help but think about an observation once made by British author and journalist Malcolm Muggeridge when he said, “We have educated ourselves into imbecility.”    I can only hope that as my atheist friend looks back on our conversation that evening, he will come to the realization that there is a reason why we refer to it as, “the problem of evil”.

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Does the Problem of Evil Disprove God?

Monday, June 14th, 2010

It has been noted by some historians that later in his life Albert Einstein expressed the view, based upon his observations of the universe, that there must be a God Who initially set the universe into motion.  However, those same historians go on to point out that Einstein ended up backing away from a Judeo-Christian concept of God and settled for more of a deistic view of God, similar to a watchmaker who creates the watch, winds it up to get it going, but then walks away, never to be heard from again.  Apparently, one of the biggest reasons that drove Einstein to this conclusion was the problem of evil that he observed in the world.  He could not reconcile in his thinking a “good” God Who would allow evil to exist in His creation.  Similarly, historians who have studied the life of Charles Darwin have pointed out that his quest to find a purely naturalistic explanation for everything, without any reference to a Creator, all began with the death of his beloved daughter, Annie.  These, of course, are only two examples out of countless others who have come to the conclusion that since our world is so full of evil and suffering, there either isn’t a God, or if there is, it cannot be the God of the Bible.  But is that the case?  Does it logically follow that the existence of evil either “disproves” God or is inconsistent with the idea of God’s existence?

On more than one occasion, I’ve had someone say to me, “I can’t believe in God because I see a world that is full of evil and suffering.”  I often respond to them by saying, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds to me as if you’re really saying that when you look around the world, you see a world that is not the way it’s supposed to be- that things are not as they should be.” Of course, such a comment only makes sense if there really IS a way things are supposed to be, referring to some original plan or purpose.  To put it another way, how does one know what evil is unless they know what good is? And how do they know what good is unless there is some objective standard outside of us,  by which to differentiate between the two?  According to C.S. Lewis, this same observation regarding evil was instrumental in leading him out of his atheism.  As he puts it, “(As an atheist) my argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.  But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?  A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

So, as it turns out, rather than disproving God, the question of the problem of evil actually requires God’s existence in order to make any sense.  Without Him, our observations and objections to “the problem of evil” become meaningless and irrelevant.

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Can Atheism Make Sense of the Problem of Evil?

Monday, April 5th, 2010

British philosopher, mathematician, social critic, and atheist Bertrand Russell once commented, “No one can believe in a good God if they’ve sat at the bedside of a dying child.”  Without a doubt, the image that Russell paints with that statement is one that grips all of us emotionally.  It is, of course, one thing to suggest that Christianity cannot adequately explain the problem of evil (which it can, by the way).  It’s quite another thing to offer a better, more plausible explanation based on atheism.  This is a very important point because most people these days act as if Christians are the only ones who have an obligation to respond to the question of evil, but that is not the case at all.  Every one of us has a worldview, and every worldview is equally obligated to address the problem of evil.  Atheism, as a worldview, shares the same responsibility to answer this question or to explain it from their perspective.  In doing so, atheism must be prepared to not only define evil and to explain the origin of evil, but they must also respond to the problem of evil in a way that is consistent with their worldview.

A few years ago, as I was working with some of our high school students, a young lady came up and asked me if there was any scientific evidence that pointed to God’s existence.  As I was responding to her question, another girl disrupted our conversation by coming up to us and saying, “There is no God!  He doesn’t exist!  I believe in science!  I believe in evolution!  I believe in things that I can see and prove!  I don’t believe in some imaginary being called ‘God’!”  She stopped her salvo of comments for a moment, and we just stood there looking at each other in silence.  After a while, she broke her silence by saying something that spoke volumes about why she had come to such a conclusion.  She continued, “A few years ago, my father was sick and I begged God to heal him, but he died anyway.  A couple of years later, my sister was involved in a horrible accident and, once again, I pleaded with God not to let her die, but she died anyway.  That’s when I knew that God was a myth-  He doesn’t exist.  That’s why I believe in evolution instead.”

As I responded to her, I said something that must have shocked her because it was really harsh, but it was intentional because I wanted to make sure that I had her attention-  and I did.  I said to her, “Look, I don’t know why you’re telling me all of this stuff about losing your father and your sister.  I mean, you act as if it’s some big deal or that there’s something actually wrong with what happened to them.  But if what you’re telling me is true- if there is no God, and if evolution is our ‘creator’- it certainly sounds to me as if natural selection did exactly what it’s supposed to do.  After all, isn’t that nature’s job?  Weren’t you about to tell me that natural selection is supposed to ‘weed out’ that which is unfit in order to make room for that which is more fit to survive?  Apparently, neither your father or your sister were fit enough to survive, so nature simply  ‘weeded them out’.”

I waited for a moment to let my words sink in (and prepared to duck, just in case she took a swing at me!)  I then said to her, “To be perfectly honest, I’m actually very, very sorry – deeply sorry- that you lost your father and your sister.  I lost my mother in ‘93 and my father in ‘04 and I still haven’t gotten over it.  I just wanted to make sure that you clearly understood that you cannot have it both ways.  If you’re going to say that there is no God, you cannot say that what happened to your loved ones is ‘bad’, or that it’s ‘wrong’.  You can’t say that it’s ‘tragic’ or that it’s ‘not right’, or ‘unfair’, or ‘unjust’, or that it’s ‘not supposed to happen’, because in a godless universe where evolution is the ultimate reality, that IS what’s supposed to happen.  Death is a good thing- a beneficial thing- because it eliminates the weak, making room for that which is more fit, mentally and physically.  So, in an evolutionary world, there can be so such thing as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ events-  it’s just ‘stuff that happens’.”

That really is the point to all of this.  Given an atheistic worldview, not only is there no objective standard of right or wrong, good or bad, and just or unjust,  it is also devoid of any objective foundation on which to build the idea consistently that life has any real purpose, meaning, or value.  Given that starting point, there can be no significant difference between a natural disaster that wipes out thousands of people, and a guy using heavy equipment to remove an acreage of trees in order to make room for something that is coming along at a later time.  By the way, it’s important to keep in mind that I am NOT claiming that all atheists feel this way.  I’m simply pointing out that, given their atheistic worldview, it would be both hypocritical and inconsistent for them to disagree with my illustration or to object to it.

Atheists such as Bertrand Russell may claim that Christians have nothing worthwhile to say to a dying child.  But then, what would Russell have said to that child under the same circumstances-  Tough luck, kid?  Hey kid, isn’t natural selection great? Too bad for you? That’s just the way it goes?  Life stinks and then you die?  Such answers will never do.  But, like it or not, that is precisely where atheism leads us.

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Where Was God? – Part 3

Monday, March 8th, 2010

This post is Part 3 in the series “Where was God?”. Click here to start with Part 1.

In my last post, I ended by asking the question that is on the minds of so many people today.  “Why does God allow so much evil in our world?  Why doesn’t He remove all of the evil and suffering in our world, right here and now?”  In answering this question, the first thing that we must ask ourselves is what, exactly, would it take for God to remove evil entirely from our world?  What would God have to do in order to eradicate every trace of evil from our midst?  I believe that there are at least two things that we must take into consideration.

First of all, we have to consider the fact that when we suggest that God should remove evil from our world, we usually have in mind  a “wish list” of all of the evils in this world that we, personally, do not like or find offensive.  The problem, of course, is that this “wish list” is something that we’ve come up with, and it always conveniently draws the cut-off line right behind ourselves!  We always want to make sure that we “make the grade”.  So, as it turns out, we expect God to “get rid of all of those pimps, drug dealers, and mass murderers”, yet expect Him to overlook the evil in our own lives.  In other words, we expect God to eliminate all of the evil that we don’t like, but overlook the evil that we do like-  the evil that we personally enjoy, embrace, participate in, revel in, and even the evil that we personally cause.

That brings me to my next point.  If God is truly going to destroy all of the evil in this world, He must necessarily destroy that which is causing it.  So, who would that leave?  No one.  A God Who is perfectly holy and just is not going to use our own flawed, inferior standard to guide Him, but rather, it must be according to His standard.  Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason makes a great point about this.  He asks the question, “If God answered your request to remove all evil by midnight tonight, where would you be at 12:01?”

So, as it turns out, it is precisely because of God’s incredible grace and mercy that He withholds His judgment for now and chooses to temporarily allow evil to exist in our world.  Ultimately, God will destroy evil, but for now He has chosen to deal with evil in His own time and in His own way – through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Cross.

This is, perhaps, the most important point that I will make since I began to address this topic.  In every instance of pain, suffering, sorrow, and tragedy, there is a temptation on our part to imagine that somehow God is distant, detached, uncaring, and unconcerned about human suffering.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Central to Christianity is the concept that God has not distanced Himself from us.  Instead, it tells us that the Creator of the universe committed the supreme act of humility by stepping out of His eternal Kingdom to enter into our broken world as a man, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. This means that rather than distancing Himself from us, God chose to draw close to us by making Himself just as frail, just as weak, just as vulnerable, just as subject to pain, suffering, and sorrow as we are.  He experienced firsthand what is was like to live within the difficulties of family life, perhaps even being taunted as an “illegitimate son, being born out of wedlock”.  He knew what it was like to experience hunger, fatigue, and loneliness.  He was the victim of vicious rumors and He had His closest friends abandon Him when He needed them the most.  Eventually, He was falsely accused of trumped-up charges, underwent several trials unjustly, and was beat within an inch of His life with scourges at the hands of Roman soldiers.  Finally, He underwent the open shame and public humiliation of being crucified on a Cross, in a slow, horrifying, agonizing death.  Make no mistake, God was willing to play by the same rules that we play by.  In her book, “Creed or Chaos?”, Dorothy Sayers put the problem of evil in the proper perspective.  “For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is – limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death – He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine”.

As I said, there is coming a day when God will ultimately destroy evil once and for all.  In the meantime, He wants to use us as His ambassadors, as His hands and feet to this broken, suffering world.  We are to be His agents of mercy to go to Haiti, or to any other part of the world where He can use us to comfort those who are suffering, to bind up the broken-hearted, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and be a father to the fatherless.  In so doing, we will provide the answer, in a tangible way, to those who find themselves asking the question, “Where is God in my time of need?”.

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Where Was God? – Part 2

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

This post is Part 2 in the series “Where was God?”. Click here to read Part 1.

In an earlier post, I was reflecting on the earthquake disaster in Haiti and I pointed out that when such disasters strike, the one question that seems to emerge more than any other is the question, “Where was God?”.  Or, to put it another way, “What was God’s role in all of this?”.  Whenever a tragedy of this magnitude takes place, there will always be those who will ask whether it may have been an act of God’s judgment and they will sometimes make comparisons to, or point to examples of God’s judgment in the Old Testament.  While I, for one, do not wish to assume as much in this case, or to make that connection, I think that it is important enough to take a moment right here to address that issue.  After all, the accounts of God’s judgment in the Old Testament have drawn a tremendous amount of attention and criticism from many of the more notable atheist authors living today who continue to hammer on this point as they seek to “build their case against God”.

It is no secret that the Old Testament does, in fact, record several events where God clearly demonstrated His justice through the destruction of a particular city or group of people.  Not wanting to get too far from the main topic, I will not take time here to specifically address each and every instance.  But let it suffice for now to say that when you get into the details, you begin to realize that in each case, God was justified in what He did and that it was consistent with His nature, knowing that God is perfectly holy, righteous, and just.  That, by the way, is the point that most of God’s critics tend to overlook, either intentionally or unintentionally.  Whenever they ask, “How could a loving God do such a thing?”, they are picking and  choosing which of God’s attributes they like and which ones they don’t like.  While it may sound contradictory to ask how a “loving” God could judge, there is nothing at all contradictory about judgment coming from a God Who is also absolutely holy, righteous, and just.

But even in such unmistakable examples of God’s wrath and justice such as we see in the Old Testament, the question that we really need to consider is this: “Does God, as the Author and Giver of life, have the right to call that life back to Himself as He sees fit to do so?”.  The clear and obvious answer to this is “Yes”.  I think that all of us, even the most ardent skeptic, intuitively knows that this is true.  This is why we often respond to life and death decisions by such comments as, “Who are we to play God?”.  Reality dictates that God does, in fact, have that right and that He will call each and every life back to Himself at some point -  all of us will eventually die.  I find it ironic that even those skeptics who feel that God doesn’t have the right to take life, are oftentimes willing to claim that same right for themselves!  A great example of this was given by Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias as he shared some comments that were made during a Q&A time that followed a lecture that he had just delivered at a major university.  A young lady in the audience had commented earlier about an airline disaster that had occurred, and how “wrong it was” for God to take the lives of those passengers.  Later in the discussion, the same girl was defending her right to take the life of the unborn through an abortion.  Ravi responded to her by rightly pointing out the obvious contradiction between the two statements.  He said to her, “So, when it comes to the taking of a life, when God ‘plays God‘, you’re saying that He doesn’t have that right, yet when you ‘play God‘, you’re saying that you do have that right”.  She gave no response.

Turning our attention back to Haiti, even if we could somehow prove that there was some causal agent other than God that was responsible for the destruction in Haiti, this would only encourage the skeptic to proceed to the next question: “Even if God didn’t cause this event, He obviously allowed it.  Why would God even permit such a thing to happen?”.  Hence, the question, “Where was God?”.  In tackling this question, it’s important to point out that if we are perfectly honest with ourselves we have to admit that deep down inside, the question that we are asking is not just limited to the events in Haiti-  it goes far beyond that.  Ultimately, what we really want to ask is, “Why does God allow ANY evil in our world?”  After all, even if God had spared Haiti such destruction by divine intervention, that still would not be enough to satisfy us, nor would it stop us from asking this question.  We would simply brush that example aside, moving on to an example of some other catastrophe and ask why God didn’t intervene in that situation.  There would always be another example to point to.  As I said, what we really want to know is why God doesn’t remove all evil and suffering from our world, right here and right now.  That is a fair question, so we will take a closer look at it in my next post.

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Where Was God? – Part 1

Monday, February 8th, 2010

As I write this, I’m sitting down at the airport waiting to board a flight.  On my way through the terminal, I passed by a gift shop and stopped momentarily to see what was on the front page of the newspaper today.  The main story continues to be about Haiti and the rescue attempts that continue to be made.  Even though it’s already been a few weeks since the earthquake devastated the island, it continues to dominate the headlines- and rightfully so.  I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must be like to live through such an event or to try and recover from a disaster of that magnitude.  Understandably, events of that sort of power and destruction tend to evoke a whole host of responses, not only from those in the midst of the chaos, but also from those of us watching from the outside.  Among the feelings of despair, fear, confusion, and helplessness, it is almost inevitable that at some point, someone is going to ask the question, “Where was God?”.

As I look back on tragedies of this nature that have occurred in the past, I’m always curious to see the answers that are offered in response to this haunting question.  Oftentimes, well-meaning people will say such things as, “God works in mysterious ways”, or “God is just as grieved as we are”, or “Someday we will understand why this happened”.  Please understand that I’m not trying to be overly critical of those who give such answers, and I have no doubt that their answers are absolutely sincere when they say it.  But while such answers may sound good on the front of a greeting card, I have found that most people find such answers to be empty and dismissive, especially when they are the victims of such devastation.

Even though there are many people who are much more qualified than I am to address this topic, I will, nevertheless, do my best to try and make sense out of all of this.  Trust me, I want answers to this question as much as anyone.  So, with a great deal of humility, I will attempt to provide some answers to this troubling and difficult question.  I want to apologize in advance to those of you who are presently struggling through some sort of devastation in your own life.  I realize that no matter what I say, it is going to seem horribly inadequate  to address your questions.  Sometimes, the very best answer is not some profound, well-reasoned, well-argued response.  The only response that will really help in such times is for the one who is suffering to know that they are loved unconditionally and that someone will be there to listen to them, without interruption, as they pour out their hearts.

Although it may seem unrelated to the topic of the devastation in Haiti, I think that it’s important to begin with some understanding of the problem of evil in general.  Some of the great skeptics of the past have reasoned that if there is a God, and if He is the Creator of all things, then He must have created evil as well.  The reasoning is as follows:  God created everything. Evil is something.  Therefore, God must have created evil.  The problem with this argument lies in the second statement (“Evil is something”).   One of the great Christian thinkers of the past, Saint Augustine suggested that evil is not a “thing” in and of itself,  but rather, it is the absence of something- in this case, it is the absence of good.  I suppose that you could compare evil to “emptiness”.  Emptiness is a very real condition, the absence of something, but emptiness is not a thing in and of itself.  Evil may also be thought of as the privation or corruption of that which is good.  We are reminded of this every time we use words such as “unloving”, “uncaring”, “unkind”, “unjust”, and “immoral”.

So, if evil did not originate with God, then where did it come from?  Evil becomes a possibility whenever and wherever you have free-willed creatures who have the ability to choose.  The Bible tell us in the book of Genesis that God created man with the ability to freely choose to do good.  But the same free will that enables us to freely choose what is right, also allows for at least the possibility that we will misuse our freedom to choose to do otherwise.  Some may argue that perhaps God created evil indirectly by even giving us a free will.  However, it seems to me that giving us a free will only made evil a possibility. It is our freely choosing to do evil that takes a mere possibility and turns it into a reality.  Even so, God apparently felt that in giving us a free will, the benefits far outweighed the risks.  After all, the highest good that is possible is love, and genuine love is only possible and meaningful when someone has the ability to freely choose to love, rather than being forced to do so against their will.

While all of this may tell us something about the problem of evil in general, it doesn’t tell us much about the disaster in Haiti.  After all, in this particular case it wasn’t so much about man’s choices but rather, what was God’s role in all of this?  In my next post, I will continue with this point by examining that question.

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  • In today's world, there is a great deal of confusion when it comes to matters of truth, meaning, morality, our origin, and our destiny. The purpose of Renewed Thoughts is to bring clarity to such issues by examining them in light of a Biblical worldview, using the tools of science, philosophy, and critical thinking.