August 06, 2013

Musing on the problem of evil

I'm editing a book that considers atheistic arguments against God. And one of the big arguments marshaled against the Christian conception of God is the problem of moral evil. And a key part of the discussion has to do with envisioning God's rationale in creating a world in which such evil and suffering can and do occur. Doesn't that evil sit squarely on God's lap. It is an important argument, one which Christian thinkers far better than I have engaged over the centuries. But one aspect of it struck me today. The assumption here is that life is self-evidently not worth living. In order for the argument to hold up, that God was fundamentally and culpably wrong to create a world like ours, and thus, God is either evil/weak or not there at all, the underlying assumption must hold up, that all of our lives are not worth living, that someone is at fault that a life such as ours exists in the first place. Now I grant that far too many people live lives of inexplicable suffering, and it is a far-too-common occurrence that people despair of life itself (I don't see this feeble reflection as answering the questions surrounding moral evil), but isn't it true that most people love and enjoy life and fight to keep it. And doesn't that undermine a basic but unstated premise in the argument? I certainly agree with the atheist to the extent that there are many things in our world that can and must be called evil. But I contest that the existence of evil categorically disproves the existence of God. So much more could (and, granted, must) be said, but just a random thought for the day.