January 10, 2004

Problem of Evil

The was a story in the newspaper today about a leading paediactric haematologist who left work one day, drove to the Lake District, hid in the back of a disused mineshaft, and committed suicide. He had been missing for six months and his body was recent discovered by hikers.

As best as can be pieced together, the doctor was in a deep depression. His wife noted that although they were regular church-goers, the doctor had begun to doubt his faith. This was apparently because of all the suffering he saw in his young patients.

As I was pondering this story, I thought of various people with whom I have talked whose faith was either severely damaged or non-existent due to the problem of evil and suffering in the world. I realised that people questioning their faith are often asking the wrong question.

The question is not "If there a God, why is there evil in the world?" but rather "If there is man, why is there any good in the world?" Both Christians and non-Christian who have formed their idea of God in a Christian (or post-Christian) society seem to think that they are free to decide what God should and shouldn't do. They set up a straw-god.

You can't create a God in your image and then not believe in Him. What is the point in giving God the attributes you want Him to have, or define them in such a way that suits you, and then become angry and depressed when He doesn't live up to them? No one seems to remember that His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.

The idea that God relates to his creation solely on an individual level is a product of Protestantism. No one wants to take into account that there are consequences because sin entered the world through the rebellion of man. Sin entered the world and death through sin. There is suffering in the world, because man has chosen suffering by choosing evil. Faced with the consequences of those actions, it is now apparently God's job to provide a quick fix.

Posted by david at January 10, 2004 09:05 PM | TrackBack