Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pt.4 Theodicy, or the Problem of Evil

Theodicy, or the problem of evil seeks to explain why a perfect, loving and just God would allow various tragedies to occur on the face of the earth. I will be using the word tragedy as opposed to evil in some places to discuss this idea. Christianity uses three primary ways to handle these challenges:

1. Divine punishment
2. Divine mystery
3. Demonic activity

1. Divine Punishment is exactly how it sounds: God is punishing a person, place, or thing because of human actions and or disobedience. This what some Christian leaders used to explain the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina back in 2004.

2. Divine Mystery works kind of like this, we don't know why god allowed this tragedy to occur, but we know that all things work together for the good of them who love god, to them who are the called according to his purpose(Romans 8:28). Christian leaders told this to give me comfort when I was dealing with the deaths of my infant sons.

3. Demonic Activity is also exactly like it sounds: Satan and his army of demons have free course to cause tragedy until the end of days. Christian leaders use this approach to explain senseless crimes and loss of life, due to criminal activity.

As I thought more and more about this problem, I began to rethink what I thought about good and evil. I started to see good and evil as relative concepts based on perspective. So I began to look at this idea from the vantage point of animals.

For example: From the perspective of the lion, it's good and necessary to hunt and eat the gazelle. From the perspective of the gazelle, the lion is an evil creature trying to kill and eat me. From a Christian standpoint, folks don't go around talking about how the gazelles being caught was divine punishment from god, due to their disobedience. Neither do they say that demonic activity caused the lions to hunt those speedy African animals. Nor do they say that when a gazelle escapes that god moves in mysterious ways by allowing this one gazelle to survive the massacre of their herd.

When viewing this from the point of the animal kingdom, I began to understand the randomness of nature, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Surviving in this world requires good judgment and lots of luck. I thought about how many ants I stepped on in the course of walking outside in the summer. Due to my feet, countless ants perished, but countless others survived by happenstance. God didn't spare the lives of those ants, or the life of a squirrel that got run over by a car. To the ants and the squirrels that survived, surely those events would be looked at as evil. There was no divine plan for the ants or the squirrels, so why would there be a divine plan for people, since we are also part of the animal kingdom?

The worst part about how Christians deal with tragedy comes when an accident kills nearly every one, but one person survives. They begin to praise god for the one survivor, but what about the fact that he allowed every one else to perish. He could have saved them all, or better yet prevented the accident from happening in the first place.

When I bring up this point, Christians usually run back to the divine mystery defense to explain the tragedy.

The tragedy behind Hurricane Katrina happened because the levees were not maintained and a once in a lifetime storm hit the Gulf Coast during hurricane season.

The tragedy behind my sons deaths occurred because they were premature and their bodies were just not strong enough to survive.

The tragedy behind accidents happen because someone was negligent.

I can no longer accept the idea that god allows tragedies because he has some sort of invisible divine plan. Tragedies happen for various reasons, but god has nothing to do with any of them. 

No comments:

Post a Comment