Monday, October 27, 2008

The Problem of Evil

It is the problem of problems, isn't it? Even approaching it in a blog post is probably, for me, complete folly. Huge subject. Infinite God. Pooh-brained me. However, circumstances in the lives of friends and conversations with several others who are struggling to make sense of this deep mystery has caused me to think anew. An author who always helps me think, Peter Kreeft, entered our home again last week, this time in the form of his book Three Philosophies of Life.

The entire chapter, Job: Life as Suffering, is wonderful but here is a short passage which ever so concisely, eloquently, reasonably, and triumphantly helps to clear my fog:

"When Saint Thomas Aquinas stated in the Summa the problem of evil as one of the two objections to the existence of God, he remembered what many philosophers forget: that the solution, God's solution, is concrete, not abstract; dramatic, not schematic; an event in time, not a timeless truth. Saint Thomas stated the problem as follows:

"'God' means infinite goodness. But if one of two contraries is infinite, the other is totally destroyed. Yet evil exists [and is not destroyed]. Therefore God [infinite goodness] does not exist."

And he answered it as follows:

"As Augustine says, Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil."

(my insert) "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.: Romans 8:28 ESV

In other words, life, like Job, is like a fairy tale. To get to live happily ever after, you have to go through the dung heap. Evil is only temporary; good is eternal. Once again, in a word, "wait".

But wait in faith. Jesus told Martha, before he raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, "Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God." Seeing is not believing. but believing is seeing, eventually. Job does not wait patiently, but he waits. Job's faith is not sunny and serene, but it is faith. It is not without doubts. (Indeed , his doubts came from his faith. When faith is full, it is open and can include doubts; when it is weak it cannot tolerate doubts.) But Job remains a hero of faith. He waits in faith, and he sees the glory of God. He is blessed in the very waiting, in the dung, in the agony, and he is doubly blessed in the finding, in the end." (pp. 75, 76)

1 comment:

naturgesetz said...

Just found this from your comment on College Jay's blog. Well put!