Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Evil in God's world

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis photo of the moon behind a pine tree in my back yard was taken - some would say appropriately - on Halloween. The skies were slightly foggy, but I could still see the stars, the moon was about 1/2 full and the temperature was warm. The wind was blowing slightly, just enough to make the dying leaves on the trees rattle. I don't celebrate Halloween - there's too much attached to it for me, and as a Christian I oppose much of what it stands for. But how do we define evil? What do we call it? My last paper at Regent is an exploration of that and similar questions.

Right now, I am in the preliminary stages of studying theodicy, which can be defined as defending God in the face of evil. It's kind of like when people ask "how can a loving God allow little children to die in (pick one, Indonesia, Pakistan, Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc)."

The argument comes down to if God is all-powerful, how can all this bad stuff happen. The real question seems to be how can God allow evil to be perpetrated in His world if He is Almighty? Is it that He is not good? That He gets some kind of pleasure out of sufferings?

Or is He indifferent - this is what the Deists argue - that God made the watch, started it and then left it to run on its own.

Or maybe He is not all-powerful; perhaps He doesn't control everything.

So far I keep running into a couple of terms that everybody seems to be using.

Natural evil - the bad stuff (earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, floods, etc) that happen in the earth. Some of what I have seen says that this is the result of (a) living in a broken world; (b) man's inhumanity to man by building houses on earthquake fault lines or shacks near the ocean; (c) the direct action of the devil.

Moral evil - the bad things that men do to one another - killing, raping, looting, shooting, burning, cheating them out of their money, etc. These are the things that are under our control. Stuff that we don't have to do, but choose to do.

Religious evil - this one seems to come up occasionally. This is the bad stuff that we do towards God - which includes ignoring Him, denying Him, worshipping someone or something other than him, and the bad things we do in His name - think Jihadists or those who shoot abortion doctors as an example.

As I said, I have just begun to explore this stuff. But it's a lot more serious that spooks and candy.

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