Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Problem of Evil (The Reason for God part 12)

(I'm reading through Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" and taking my small group through a DVD study based on the book. Over the next few weeks, I'll be blogging about the book, the study, and the discussions occurring in my group.).

The day started out like any other. I rose early from my bed and after taking care of a few things; I headed out the door for a quick early morning trip to the grocery store. As I headed back home and drove out of the store parking lot, I noticed that the traffic was unusually light for rush hour in Miami. I turned on the radio and caught the middle of a broadcast about something unusual. I couldn’t figure out what was happening but the grave tone of the journalist’s voice told me it was serious. Upon returning home and walking in the front door, my roommate, who was normally at work by now, was watching the television, staring in disbelief. I quickly discovered why. Images of the twin towers burning and crumbling to the ground poured from the TV set. I sat in stunned silence, horrified at what was taking place.

The French writer Simone Weil said that only two things can pierce the human soul: beauty and affliction. On September 11th, 2001, the spear of affliction cut deeply into the soul of every American with terrifying force. Like a blast of cold air or a slap in the face, we woke up afresh to the reality that we live in a world full of evil and suffering.

Every person, when confronted with the tragedy of life asks, “Why?” “How can this happen? How can God allow this?” Regardless of one’s belief or lack of belief in a supreme being, God is almost always questioned when we face the problem of evil.

For Christians, the problem of evil is enormously difficult. This, I think, is our most difficult issue to reconcile with belief in God.  Our belief in the truthfulness of the bible creates a difficult dilemma. Both the Bible and our own experience tell us that the world is filled with the presence of evil. But the Bible also tells us three important characteristics about God:

1. God is all knowing.
2. God is all-powerful.
3. God is good.

These three characteristics of God, combined with the reality of evil, create our dilemma. If God is good and loving, then it is reasonable to think that he wants to deliver the creatures he loves from evil and suffering. If God is all knowing, then it is reasonable to believe that he knows how to deliver us from evil and suffering. And if God is all-powerful, it is reasonable to believe that he is able to free us from evil and suffering. Yet each day, we wake up in a world full of acts of evil and awful suffering. If God is really loves us, if he’s all knowing and all-powerful, then why doesn’t he do something?

I'll start unpacking my thoughts and Keller's in my next few posts, but for now, how do you respond to the reality of evil and suffering in our world?  Is this a "defeater" for you regarding the possibility of the existence of God?  If you are a believer, how do you reconcile the tensions I list above? 

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