Blog # 303 The Question of Evil
For several weeks now I have been hoping to get this blog composed and published. I had many insights that came and went that seemed helpful to me in my response to the reality of evil in the world, but when I sat down at the computer they would seem less attractive and go away. Another day would pass, and then a week of days without Blog # 303. Reflecting about this for the past couple of days I think I have come up with a root cause, background, or primary reason for my difficulty. I had been asking many questions about the nature and existence of evil, and as the process of addressing them continued, more and more questions would come. A single answer to all of them would always come into focus in my mind. Here is that answer : GOD !
I was becoming more and more secure in my choice of that answer and convinced of its validiy as the only response I would ever need or could imagine that would ever be available to me or to anyone who would be sincerely seeking the answer to a question about the existence of evil of any kind in our experience of creation.
The only problem I had, and I think this was a primary root of my difficulty in getting started on this blog, was the simple logical fact that for anyone else other than myself to buy into that single answer, we would have to start with the same basic meaning or identity we give to the word God . This is not to say that people other than myself who did not have the same meaning and identity I give to 'my' God would not be capable of having a differenet answer to the question of evil that would seem valid and adequate for them even if it were to be their response would be to say there is no just and all-loving God.
The single God in whom I believe and proclaim as the answer to all questions regarding evil in creation is the sole Creator of all that exists, revealed by Jesus in the Blessed Trinity as Father, Word, and Sprit . In making a statement like that, I keep myself fully aware that in consequence of our natural limiations and God's infinity, all we say and think in reference to God is always by way of analogy, this being something like saying the picture of a man on a dollar bill is George Washington. It is true and not true at the same time in a different way in each case.
I believe and make my own all the Catholic Church solemnly teaches with regard to the the identity of God as infinitely good, all-knowing,all-powerful, all-loving, ever-present, with the Eternal Word incarnate as one of us in Jesus.
If we were looking for someone to blame for the existence of evil in creation, that would be easier to do in the case of willful sin and the evil of pain suffering and death that exist as the result and in consequence of sin. The sinner is to be blamed. But even here with God identified as the sole creator of all that exists, God shares a responsibility not only for the existence of sin but for the results and consequences of sin as well. I refrain from blaming God here in the light of God's warning us of the need to avoid temptation leading to sin and also of God's promise of the grace we need to overcome it. Nevertheless, the God whom I know and love does not back away from some responsibility for everything that exists, good or evil from our limited point of view.
A far more difficult universal aspect of the question of evil comes with the case of infants, young children and other innocent people who are victims of natural disasters such as hurricanes,tornadoes, erupting volcanoes, mass murders, train wrecks, and all of us who have lived, or ever will live, suffer, and die. Death is not only one among the many human physical emotional and spiritual evils we can and do experience but is easily seen as the greatest of all and the one we all have to face. It seems, then, our primary interest and need in addressng the question of evil is to realize we are not seeking an answer to a question that affects some of us but all of us, and therefore is applicable to all evil and to all people. From this we can see how we are addressing the question whether or not it is adequate and sufficient to have God as the single answer to all the questions that come to us in the process of forming our response to evil. We begin with evil seen and experienced as evil ,and move through other questions to the point where there is no longer a prolem of evil , to die and to suffer are not altogether bad, and there is no need or room for further questions once we understand and experience total love.
Here are a few samples of the questions I have used in coming to the conclusion God is the answer to all and any questions we might have as individuals and as a community of world-wide human creatures. What is the nature of evil? Why is one thing or experience evil and another thing or experience
good? Is there any identifiable thing or experience that is absolutely or totally evil? Can we identify a purpose or usefulness of any kind for evil? Could someone who does not believe in a personal God discover a purpose or usefulness for evil? Can we discover relationships between repairing evil and forgiving offenses we experience?
I'll leave for another blog some significant references from the Bible that helped me see the truth that claims God is the ultimate answer to questions we might have with regard to the meaning and purpose of suffering, and particularly of death.