Everyone who has ever given even a moment’s thought to theology has been gripped by a philosophical problem that has bedeviled theologians for millennia — the problem of evil. It’s been years since we wrote a serious post about that subject — see Charles Darwin, Francisco Ayala, and the Problem of Evil, followed by Francisco Ayala on “Darwin’s Gift to Religion”.
Since then we’ve written Kirk Cameron & the Problem of Evil, but like everything else involving Cameron, it was really about the problem of Cameron’s idiocy. The issue came up again in Answers in Genesis vs. Intelligent Design. AIG claimed that the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design has no answer to the problem of evil, but the bible does — evil is our fault because of sin, of course.
Today we have an opportunity to revisit this topic, thanks to the Drool-o-tron™. It alerted us with its blaring sirens and flashing lights, which compelled us to look at the blinking letters of its wall display — they said WorldNetDaily (WND). As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post.
The faithful device had locked our computer onto this article: The big question about God. It’s written by a frequent contributor to WND, Greg Laurie, whom they describe as “the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America.” We know you’re eager to learn what he says, so here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us. The rev begins by stating the problem:
When it comes to questions about God, there is one that always seems to top the list: If God is so good and loving, then why does He allow evil? Why does He allow injustice, tragedy and other things?
Then he criticizes the question:
By asking, “If God is all good, then why does he [fill in the blank]?” we are, for all practical purposes, the ones who determine what is good and what is not good. When we ask that question, what we are really saying is that God is not all-good, implying that if he were all good, then he wouldn’t allow those things. The premise is that we decide whether God is good or not. So when did we become the moral center of the universe? And who are we to say that God is good or that God is not good?
Yeah — who are we — mere humans! — to decide what is good? Your humble Curmudgeon is no bible scholar, but even we are aware of two famous incidents in scripture where mere men did indeed seem to know good from evil, to the point where they questioned whether God was good. There was the long argument between Abraham and God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham objected to God’s announcement that He intended to exterminate the population of those cities, and he told God that it would be unjust to kill the good along with the rest. And what of Moses’ reaction when God announced His intention to exterminate the Hebrews because of the golden calf incident? Moses argued with God and won the argument. The Good Book even tells us, in Exodus 32:14 (King James version, of course):
And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Regardless of what the bible says, the rev declares that it’s wrong for us to even try to think about such things. If you didn’t understand his words which we quoted before, he goes on to make his position absolutely clear:
God is good because he says he is good. Some may argue that this is circular reasoning, but remember, we are talking about God. We have to go to the highest authority possible, which is God. God is good because he says that he is.
Nothing wrong with circular reasoning — not when one is dealing with theology. The rev doesn’t mention it, but he’s discussing Socrates’ Euthyphro dilemma — “Is what is moral commanded by the gods because it is moral, or is it moral because it is commanded by the gods?” The rev obviously prefers the latter alternative. He then says the same thing two or three more times, just in case you didn’t already understand his position. Finally, he moves on to something slightly different:
Let’s come back to the question Why does God allow evil? It is a valid question to ask. Why do we see the things in the world that we see? It’s because human beings were created with something called a free will.
Then he gives us what you’ve been expecting:
Originally, the first humans had it pretty good in the Garden of Eden. Adam was living in a veritable paradise. His basic job responsibilities were to enjoy all that God had made, to walk in fellowship with God, to think of some clever names for the animals and to spend time with his wife, Eve. How good is that?
Of course, Adam and Eve were attracted to the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, and they ate it. Then sin entered the world. If they had not sinned, the curse of sin would not have come into the world. And if the curse of sin had not come into the world, then we would not have the problems we have in our world today.
So the rev has given us two different answers to the problem of evil: (1) How dare you try to decide what’s good — that’s God’s decision; and (2) it’s all the fault of Adam & Eve. Nothing very original here. Oh, wait — here’s something we haven’t encountered before:
So why should we be held responsible for what some guy named Adam did so long ago? Here is the answer: If you or I had been living in the Garden of Eden, we would have done the same thing. Adam just did what any of us would have done.
Got that? It’s not even Adam & Eve’s fault — it’s your fault too because we’re all scum! Isn’t theology wonderful? Let’s read on:
Why did God make it that way? Why didn’t he make it so there wasn’t any temptation or evil? Wouldn’t everything have been great? Yes, and we essentially would have been robots. We would have loved God because we were programmed to love God, and we would have done what God wanted us to do because we had no other choice. Instead, God gave us free will.
Don’t blame God. Yes, he created you, but it’s your choice to be the wretch that you are.
We can only handle a limited amount of this stuff, so we’re going to skip several paragraphs. This is the rev’s conclusion:
Why does God allow evil? Here is the short answer: I don’t know. But God can take the horrible things that happen in this world and turn them around for good. Christians, and Christians alone, have the hope that one day when we die, all of our questions will be answered. All of our tears will be dried. All of our pain will be gone. There will be no more suffering and no more sickness. There is a better day coming. That is what we hope for.
We trust, dear reader, that it’s all perfectly clear now, and all of your questions have been answered. There’s no need to thank us. We are pleased to perform this Curmudgeonly service.
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