Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Question of Evil

Recently I had a startling conversation with a young man who lamented that all but four of his friends are atheists. "Why are they atheists?" I asked.  His answer was along these lines: they aren’t really atheists so much as searching for God without realizing it. They look at the world and all its evil, and they question how any God, if there is such a being, can let such things happen. Isn’t God supposed to be both good and all-powerful? 

Those are serious questions, and they deserve an answer.

Most of us, I think, would struggle with this complex question. But I do like what C. S. Lewis wrote in his short book The Case for Christianity:

“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they've got to be free.

“Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently, He thought it worth the risk. (...) If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will -that is, for making a real world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings- then we may take it it is worth paying.”

We as a rational creatures have a duty to ask the tough questions, but one thing we can’t do is to say that there can’t be a God because people are so bad.  People make choices, and those choices can lead to either good things or bad things. We shouldn’t want it any other way, for otherwise we would be machines in a dystopian world of Stepford wives who are unable to choose to love. Love freely chosen is the only love that matters.

1 comment:

  1. The same God who gives me the freedom to lose my car keys also gives me the freedom to hate my neighbor. Made in his image, I can make choices. Growing in his image, I can make good choices.