Why argue about evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I ultimately think the problem of evil is a failure. The logical problem has been solved as even most atheistic scholars in the field will admit, but that doesn’t stop the more emotional forms about certain kinds of evil being allowed. One of the big objections I have with this is that it doesn’t really deal with the theistic or historical arguments which still stand regardless. From a practical standpoint, it eliminates the cause of hope in the face of the evil while still allowing the evil to stand. Hardly a win.
That being said, I have noticed too often that evil is more of an excuse. This past weekend, I was engaged in a debate with someone where evil came up and the objection of children being molested by Catholic priests. I agree this is a real problem and needs to be addressed. However, I asked him that if that was a concern of his if he condemned the public school system as well. I was told that was a red herring, but how could it be? If we’re talking about suffering children, public schools have the same problem. In reality, public schools are more dangerous. Now if children suffering through sexual abuse is the issue, it should be easy to say, “I agree. We also have a problem in the public school and that needs to be taken care of.” Instead, as you can imagine, it isn’t.
Most of us have an idea that a man is not measured by his words. If you want to know where someone stands on an issue, you don’t look at just their words. You look at their actions. Consider the case of Charles Blondin. It’s a true story that he put a rope across Niagara and walked across with an audience watching. Crowds would gather and one time, he came with a wheelbarrow.
“Do you believe I can cross this pushing a wheelbarrow?”
“Do you think I could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow?”
“Who wants to climb in?”
No one did then, although later Blondin’s manager did.
That’s an extreme example, but you could apply it to several other cases. I have a phobia of water. If I tell you that I am now convinced that water is safe, yet I hesitate to get into a swimming pool, you have reason to disbelieve my words. You can say all you want to that flying is safe, but if you refuse to get on that plane, then we can question if you really believe your data.
We do this in philosophy too. If someone says morality is relative and then complains about evil, we see an inconsistency. I find it amazing that the people who are often the ones to complain the most about evil in the world of evil in the Bible, are also the ones who state that morality is relative. You can’t have it both ways.
So what do you do with someone who says that they don’t understand why God allows XYZ evil, but then they go and do nothing about that evil? I infer from that, that they don’t really care about that evil. They care about using that evil as an argument against God. Note, this is assuming an evil you can do something about no matter how small. A Jewish person can do nothing about the holocaust that happened decades ago.
You see, the problem of evil isn’t just a problem for Christians. It’s one for everyone. Everyone has to give an answer for evil. This is also the case with Christians on other issues. You want to complain about abortion? Do what you can to end it. You want to complain about redefining marriage? If you’re single, treat marriage as holy and don’t have sex with anyone until you’re married and if you are married, treat your own marriage seriously. Do you care about sex trafficking? Then at least avoid pornography which encourages that. Do you care about the poor? Then give of y our own resources. The government has a horrid record of helping the poor.
From now on then, I think one of my approaches with skeptics will be to ask them what they’re doing about evil. I should also be willing to accept it if they ask me the same question back. This doesn’t mean we don’t answer the problem of evil, but I want to see if the skeptic really cares about the evil, or if he just wants to use evil to attack Christianity not caring about the victims.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)