A great evil happened today: twenty young children were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
As always, some will respond to an evil action by asking, “How could there be a God?”
I respond to tragedy by asking, “How can there not be a God?” For if there is no God, we cannot describe the shooting of twenty kindergartners as inherently evil. We all recoil at what was done in Newtown, Connecticut this morning, and I am not saying that an atheist does not consider mass murder to be evil. It is just that they can only do so by borrowing the concept of “evil” from theists.
I could not live with a philosophy in which murder, rape, child abuse—and a long list of other horrors—were only considered to be “evil” because we as individuals or as a society do not like them. I understand that we theists have a “problem of evil” when we consider that God is good, and God is all-powerful, and yet evil exists. I am familiar with the solutions to this problem, and know that none of them are completely satisfactory. But non-theists and atheists have a “problem of evil” of their own; one that is also unsolvable. The problem is that if there is no God, then nothing is really “evil,” except by our preferences.
I will stick with the Christian answer—that evil is an intrusion on God’s good creation and that the beginning of the end of evil occurred through a great act of evil (the crucifixion of Christ) that God turned into a great act of his goodness—even though I don’t completely understand how everything ties together. Only in this Gospel (Good News) answer is there hope that one day the “problem of evil” will be a thing of the past.
Grace and Peace