Monday, January 27, 2020

Evil Must Be Seen With Respect to the Goals Of God

Image result for john piippo evil
Battling evil in Monroe
The intellectual, academic atheist usually objects to the existence of God on the basis of evil in the world. By "evil" is meant "pointless suffering," or "gratuitous suffering." 

Gratuitous suffering is suffering that is not needed to either bring about a greater good, or prevent an equal or greater evil from happening.

The evidential (or probableistic) argument from evil reasons that, 

1. Much pointless suffering exists.
2. Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God probably does not exist.

Why not? Because such a God would not allow gratuitous suffering; i.e., suffering that has no point to it.

William Lane Craig says this particular objection to God's existence is not difficult to respond to. Craig writes, 

"Since the problem is being presented as an internal problem for the Christian theist, there is nothing illicit about the Christian theist’s availing himself of all the resources of his worldview in answering the objection." (In Chad Meister, God and the Problem of Evil: Five ViewsKindle Locations 873-875.) 

PAY ATTENTION TO THIS. The Christian theist approaches this as an intra-worldview issue. We assume the truth of this worldview, and then answer within the worldview. This is appropriate, since the objection is that our worldview is incoherent. It's not. For example, God's goal is that we know and love him, now and for all eternity. With this in mind, we can agree with the apostle Paul that our present sufferings, as hard as they are, cannot be compared to the glory revealed to us in eternity.

BTW - every worldview has intra-issues. For example, the atheist-as-philosophical naturalist must make sense of free will. That's a problem for an atheist, but not for a Christian theist.

The reason some think the argument from evil is so powerful is that they assume if God exists, then the goal for human life is happiness. Following John Hick's "soul-making defense" against the argument from evil, the atheist assumes that God's role is to provide a comfortable environment for his human pets. 

"But," writes Craig, "We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se but the knowledge of God— which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment." (Ib., Kindle Locations 879-880)

Many evils that happen may be pointless with respect to the goal of human happiness. But they may not be pointless with respect to a deeper knowledge of God.

"Because God’s ultimate goal for humanity is the knowledge of himself— which alone can bring eternal happiness to creatures— history cannot be seen in its true perspective apart from considerations pertinent to the kingdom of God." (Ib., 882-883)

My first two books are...

Praying: Reflection on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)

I am now writing...

Technology and Spiritual Formation

How God Changes the Human Heart: A Phenomenology of Spiritual Transformation