Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The "Real" Problem of Evil

I originally planned to post this on Friday, but in the wake of the school shooting in Connecticut I found myself drained from the news.  I typically don't react in such a way to such news but for some reason I could not bring myself to post.  After sifting through my thoughts I began to realize why.

We have heard of the problem of evil.  As one of the only two good arguments against the existence of God, the existence of evil continues to this day as a stumbling block to Faith.  How can an all-good God exist when there is such suffering in the world?

The logical side of the problem of evil has several answers actually.  In fact according to Aquinas the only way evil can exist in the first place is if God is goodness itself.  The argument from the point of reason is answered in a variety of ways.

The real problem of evil is that the answers are not "satisfactory" when a soul is hurting.  Evil wounds us.  We see the horror, pain and death that evil causes.  It pierces our minds and souls.  We react with sadness, confusion and anger.  However right the reasons may be they are of little comfort when we ache.

That is what evil is though.  Irrational.  Damaging.  We make justifications for it in our own lives even as we know it damages us.  We accept the twisted and irrational framework necessary to do evil.  In our more honest moments, we try to work ourselves out of that evil.

But when confronted with the horror of the shooting in Connecticut, the glamour and rationalizing of evil falls away.  It grieves us.  It confuses us.  It turns a world of reason and order into irrationality and chaos.  The anger, hurt and pain that we feel is another product of that evil.  

This is the way we should react to all evil.  Evil is foreign to this world.  We recognize this when we first encounter it.  We accept it as part of life, but like any invader we'd like to kick it out.

Blinded by pain and anguish, we being to question good.  Is it worth it?  We begin to question God.  Is He there?  Like any powerful emotion the hurt and anger begin to derail our reasoning.

This is not to say the emotion isn't worth something.  It is.  This is how we should react to evil.  Evil SHOULD repulse us.  It SHOULD hurt us.  We should avoid it at all costs.

What we cannot allow it to do is to damage our Faith and reason.  Evil by its very nature is irrational.  And it encourages us to think irrationally.  To allow it to crush our reason is simply to perpetuate evil.

This is the real problem of evil.  Our souls react quite rightly at the horror of evil.  In that grief we can question how such a God could allow such things.  And the explanations appear hollow in the face of our pain.

But given the power of that reaction we can blind ourselves to the truth.  Past the pain and the anger we know what the truth really is.  And the choice presented to us is to embrace or reject the True Comforter.  And like any choice between good and evil, we can choose either the true source of comfort or allow the grief to define us.  This is the choice everyone will face at some point. 

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