Friday, October 16, 2009

Theodicy as Evidence of a Theos

I have been studying, in great detail, the question of God's goodness. If God is good, then why is there so much evil and suffering in the world? The common riddle goes something like this: If God is good, He cannot be All-Powerful because He cannot prevent evil and suffering in the world. If God is All-Powerful, He cannot be good because He refused to prevent evil and suffering. God therefore, is either good or All-Powerful, He cannot be both.

I have sat in secular university philosophy classes and listened to this argument. To most Christians, they are left stunned by this predicament. The Bible clearly teaches that God is good and All-Powerful. So how can these two concepts be true if there is so much evil and suffering in the world? The answer goes beyond this post. To begin, the Christian worldview must go back to Genesis 1-3. In chapters 1-2, God created everything and saw that it was good. It was good because it came from He who defines good; God. But in Genesis 3, the Fall took place and destroyed the goodness of the Earth. Death, suffering, evil, violence, natural disasters, and pain are the result of Genesis 3.

But does the problem of theodicy disprove God? Interestingly, even the most hardened atheist are not running to the problem of theodicy as they used to. The world's best known atheist, Richard Dawkins, in his book, The God Delusion, points out that this issue does not necessarily disprove God, it only disproves the goodness of God. Though I disagree with his conclusion, one cannot miss what Dawkins is saying. Evil and suffering does not disprove God.

So, how does such an issue prove God? C.S. Lewis explains in the clearest and most powerful language:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’? . . . What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? . . . Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too – for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies . . . Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. -Lewis, Mere Christianity, 38

Lewis is right. The very idea that we speak of evil and suffering implies that we have an inherit standard of evil and good. Where does this inherit idea come from? Why is murder, death, destruction, violence, abuse, and natural disasters bad? By what standard do we measure these things? Evolution implies (though many naturalists may deny it) that death and suffering brings forth the fruit of evolution. Things improve when the weaker become extinct and die. Death is good. And yet naturally, we are repulsed by this. Evolution morality implies relativism. What is true? What is right? What is moral? Without a Divine standard such questions are determined by culture and opinion polls.

Let us remember Lewis' words. When we see suffering and pain, we ought to weep and mourn, not because God seems non-existent, but because we know that God is present. In a world of pain and sorrows, God reminds us of His standard of good. When we see such pain God is calling us to heal what has been wounded, to fix what has been broken, and to united what has been separated. We do this because that is what God has done for us. Upon the cross Christ took upon Himself our evil and sin. On the cross, Christ fixed what we broke, united what we separated, and healed what we wounded.

But the beauty of the cross isn't just in Christ suffering on our account. The beauty of the cross takes us to the empty tomb. Their is always hope and restoration on the other side of pain, suffering, and evil. Christ conquered and so can we.

No comments: