Monday, October 22, 2007


This morning I have been reading and contemplating the problem of evil. Roughly stated it is as follows:

1) God is all powerful
2) God is all knowing
3) God is good
4) Evil exists

Statements 1-4 seem to be logically incompatible, for if 1-3 are true then my first expectation would be that 4 is false. Life testifies to the truth of 4, and strongly so. Thus, it seems that at least 1, 2, or 3 must be false, for if 1 is false God just couldn’t have prevented evil; if 2 is false God just couldn’t have foreseen evil to avoid it or didn’t know how to do so; if 3 is false then there is no reason for God to avoid evil since he is not necessarily opposed to it.

In all honesty, it is quite simple to fix the apparent logical inconsistency presented in 1-4. One way is to simply re-define the terms. The simplest example of this is to define “good” as whatever God wills, allows, and does, and “evil” as whatever we happen to dislike. This way God can ordain what we may call “evil” but can still be good. This fixes the logical inconsistency or propositions 1-4.

Still, it does not resolve the question of whether or not this “solution” aligns to what is in fact reality, and something inside me screams that it does not. I hate evil, not because I define it as “that which I hate” but because it is something much more severe than this and therefore worthy of my hatred.

In fact, the solution proposed above renders the terms “good” and “evil” meaningless, and this is not livable. I cannot stop myself or any other human from acting as if some things are truly evil and some things are truly good.

Another way to solve the apparent logical inconsistency of propositions 1-4 is to simply remove God from the equation (propositions 1-3). You are then left only with the proposition “evil exists” which now has nothing to contradict. This has been the response of many to this issue, and the problem of evil has traditionally been held as a major support for Atheism (though more recent debate has made this not so much the case).

The problem here is that if you remove God from reality, then you have no standard for ethics or morality and once again “good” and “evil” lose their meaning. (CS Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, explains why this is so in a very concise and understandable way.) As mentioned before, this is not livable.

I go in cycles with this and other great questions of life. I wrestle with mystery until I come to the point where I realize there are some things I will never understand and I let it go. I lay it down and walk away.

However, this cannot last long. I am inescapably human, and as such I am compelled, or rather forced, to make choices as time pushes me through life. These choices have consequences based on the reality that surrounds me, and I am pressed to contemplate that reality to deeper degrees depending on the gravity and complexity of any decision. I may not question the nature of God when I am buying a cup of coffee, but I sure as hell do when those in my family die of cancer, or when I have loved and lost, or when I must choose between seeking my own peace and prosperity or sacrificing it to serve God or others.

Whatever reality is, this is part of it.

Note: This blog is the first in what will be on ongoing series titled “We Are Living It Right Now.” This series will address deeper topics and issues in life in as honest a way as I know how. The title of the series comes from my song “Stand” which is a call to contemplate and live life with both eyes open and at times with both fist clenched.


Blogger Callie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Callie said...

Beau- It relieves me to know someone out there is grappling with this. I know some good books if you are interested. Keep persevering in your pursuit of truth!

7:19 AM  

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