Monday, September 3, 2007

The problem of evil, pain and suffering (part II)

I'm picking up from where I left off on yesterday's discussion about Albrecht Einstein's primary hurdle in accepting the Christian God as an all good and all powerful God. As stated yesterday, what tripped Einstein up was his view that all humans are programmed to do whatever it is they do, by natural forces. Such a view must naturally conclude that God, and not man, is responsible for the evil that befalls us. Further extrapolation led Einstein to conclude that, "In giving out punishments and rewards, he (God) would to a certain extent be passing judgment on himself, how can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to him?"

So, since evil, pain and suffering are the hurdle that Einstein tripped over, and indeed are still the hurdles that many who refuse to accept the Bible as the inerrant word of God and Jesus as the one true way to salvation, still trip over, let's examine the problems with this faulty conclusion. The problem, as Einstein saw it, stated in simple terms is: if God is both all-good and all-powerful, He wouldn't allow evil and suffering to exist in His creation. Yet evil and suffering do exist. Therefore, either God is not all-good (which is why He tolerates evil), or He is not all powerful (which is why He is powerless to get rid of evil, even though He wants to).

Only the Biblical explanation of this apparent contradiction is consistent with both reason and human experience, for it alone tells us how God can be God, and yet not be responsible for evil. Scripture teaches that God is good and that He created a universe that was "very good." It also teaches that the universe is now marred by evil, death, and suffering. Logically then, the only way to reconcile these two statements without denying any element in them is to recognize that there must be a source of sin outside of God. God being good, created a perfect world. One of the things that God chose to do in making humans and angels intelligent beings is to give them the freedom to choose. They had the freedom to obey God or to turn away from him. To turn away from God, the source of all goodness, is to create the antithesis to good, which is evil. Evil does not exist independently, nor was it created by God. Evil is created by sin.

The decision to sin was made in the spirit realm by Satan and other angels, sin then entered our world through the free moral choices made by the first human beings, Adam and Eve. From that point on, according to the word of God, the plague of sin has spread through all of history because of the free moral choices humans continue to make. Freedom means that we are not trapped in an endless chain of cause and effect, as determinists like Einstein believe. In making moral choices, we are initiating a genuinely new chain of cause and effect. When we acknowledge this, we can resolve the apparent contradiction we began with: God is all good, and He created a perfect and good world; but one of the perfect things He made was humans and angels as free moral agents, and they have freely chosen to do wrong. Sin is the entry point to the problem of evil, pain and suffering, but God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy had a plan to counteract the effects of sin. Come back tomorrow and we'll examine that plan.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Joseph!!! How very much like you lately to celebrate other people's birthdays and completely ignore any mention of yours! I bless the day you were born...