Why talk about the vet and the problem of evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
So I wrote about Shiro this week because it does leave me thinking about the problem of evil. One story I thought of was a story about a farmer who wasn’t a believer and his family went to church one Christmas. He saw some birds outside in the cold and thought they would die so he would try to get them in his barn.
He goes out and tries to motion them to come in the barn lest they die, but he doesn’t have any luck. He then thinks about how much easier it would be if he could become a bird himself and then show the birds the rest of the way to come into the barn. It’s at that point he hears the church bells ring for Christmas and understands the incarnation.
It’s a good story, but is it accurate. Paul tells us to imitate him as he imitates Christ, but when we see Christ coming, we don’t see Him talking as if the reason He came was this. He showed us how to be good, but He doesn’t seem to say that’s why He came. He came to bring the kingdom.
When Christ comes, He really says very little about the problem of evil. I can only think of two times specifically. The first is in Luke where some people talk to him about the people whom Pilate mixed their own blood with their sacrifices. Jesus also brings up the Tower of Siloam falling on eighteen people and killing them and telling the people none of these people were worse sinners than anyone else in the city, but they need to repent lest they perish.
The second is in John 9 when the disciples and Jesus meet the man born blind. He is asked who sinned that this man was born blind. Jesus says that it wasn’t because anyone in particular sinned, but so that God’s glory might be displayed in his life. The whole chapter and story then revolves around God healing the man and how the religious elite responded.
Absent from any of this is an explanation for the evil in the first place. Jesus never even begins to move in that direction. Jesus doesn’t tend to get into the why of the suffering when it happens. He just deals with the problem.
So as I thought about taking Shiro to the vet, I thought also about if only I could speak kitty for the time and tell Shiro why this is happening. However, after awhile, it occurred to me that that might not be any good. Does a cat have the capacity to understand human thinking like that? I am pretty much saying that I want my cat to become a human and cease to be a cat.
Kind of defeats the purpose.
Is our wishing to understand evil this side of eternity that much different? God could explain things to me hypothetically about the suffering in my own life, but would I really understand it. Could the answer be so complex that it would be beyond me?
There’s a Woody Allen skit in a play or a movie where he and his wife are discussing their son who is coming for a visit and is an atheist and the wife says she wants Woody to explain the Nazis to him. He says something along the lines of “Explain the Nazis? I don’t even understand the microwave!” It’s funny, but it’s accurate. We can all think of some area in this life that makes no sense to us.
But we’ve convinced ourselves that we would understand the answer. Why else do we ask for one? Could it be we aren’t given one not because there isn’t one or God doesn’t care, or could it be that we wouldn’t understand it. If the distance between me and a cat is this great, how much greater between us and an infinite God?
Maybe the goal is not to understand evil. Maybe it’s just to trust in the evil. Right now, my cat is on good terms with me again. Last night I came home and all was back to normal. Now if I pick him up again and start carrying him outside of my room, he’ll know what’s going on again and resist it, but eventually, he will just choose to trust again. After all, if he lives in fear of me forever, what does he gain? If we live thinking God is out to get us everyday, what do we gain? After all, if He really is, we’re not changing anything by that. We can’t stop Him.
Ultimately, I’ve never really found evil to be a convincing argument against God, but I know some have. My suggestion here is that perhaps the wrong answer is being looked for. I encourage people to look at the positive evidences for the existing of God and for the resurrection. If those are true, there is an explanation for evil. You don’t have to know it. Maybe you couldn’t.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)