Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Before Even Asking About God and Evil

Inevitably, talk about atheism gives rise to questions about God and evil, specifically "If God exists, why does evil exist?"

First, a correction: If God exists, then why does He allow evil to exist? This is the real question that we want to ask, not "why does evil exist?" Implicitly, we are accusing God of allowing unjust suffering and victimization. We question His motives for such allowance. We question his benevolence. We question whether he has the ability to intervene. Some of us even surmise that evil exists because God is evil Himself. For those of you who have gone beyond implicit to explict accusations, congrats for moving onto what I call ignorant pontificating.

Why didn't God stop the Holocaust? Why doesn't he stop rape? Why doesn't he stop murder? We also might as well ask why God doesn't stop gangsta rap, corporate theft, cheating on tests.
While we're asking, why doesn't God stop abortion and human cloning? (If you think that's different, I want to know why. Will you defend those things, pulling out pragmatic rationalizations and preach about rights and Moreauean cures?)

What about the husband who just needs a little action on the side? Why didn't God turn him off? In the end, some if not all of us will at some point identify and sympathize with a perpetrator and even defend his/her act of evil. There goes our credibility.

Bottom line, arbitrary human indignation cannot demand that God do something to right what we particularly think is a wrong, precisely because we are endemically fickle. Humans are walking contradictions, spreading our ignorant pontificating about ultimate justice but wanting to exempt ourselves from it. We have lost all credibility to rage against evil or to accuse God of anything. Remember, in this world, one man's racism is another man's right to free speech.

In the Christian perspective, we will see God's intervention but at His appointed time and on His terms, not ours. I could say that it all began with Jesus on a cross, but then you might not tolerate an "unjust" raking of your conscience over the coals to think about the evil in your own life, and wonder why God doesn't stop me.

I have one: Why doesn't God strike all atheists dead? That would certainly remove all doubt and doubters concerning His existence.


Christian Women with Brains said...

I've been struggling with this one, too, until I realized how arrogant it was to assume that God would fix everything that hurt in my life! I've had a lot of losses in the past three months and I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself. Why couldn't God just fix things? I know He's powerful enough. And, in my own wisdom, I think He should! (Try that for arrogance.)

But then, if He fixed everything here, what would be the point of heaven? I mean, He's promised already to do it, to fix my hurts, right? Only just not at this moment.

“See, the homea of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Rev. 21:4-5

Maybe He doesn't remove everything just to make heaven that much sweeter . . .

Letitia (The Damsel) said...


Thanks for your comment! I am glad you could reflect personally on this post, as hastily as I put it up. Being on fire doesn't necessarily mean I'm exactly consise or articulate. My DH has said I should follow this up with a formal rendering of the logic. I'll get to it when I can.

There are too many "what ifs" involed in such a conversation as this. Bottom line is that we can never know that circumstances will be better if God intervenes in the things that we find unjust. The saying that no man is an island is true. What happens in our favor may be seen as a disadvantage to another person. We truly ask for things of God in ignorance, to spare our feelings rather than to make things ultimately better.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not being cavalier about this at all. I fully realize that everything my life and lifestyle is built on right now could be pulled out and destroyed tomorrow and I know I would be pleading for God to reverse time and put everything back the way it is now. But I have no idea what God has for me but through the road of pain.

99.9% of me says that I don't care about the light at the end of the tunnel if that means the pain of loss. But then, my life is not my own, and I am so not in control. And it's a good thing too.