Benjamin Wiker wrote a powerful theodicy in response to the Problem of Evil a while back, which I thought would be appropriate to post following the Haiti disaster…
“…if we were all suddenly given the power to eliminate evil and make the universe right again, each in accordance with his or her own list [of what truly qualifies as evil], we would very quickly end up in a chaotic and destructive free-for-all far worse than the condition we were trying to escape. The only way to avoid such chaos would be to lay aside all our differing opinions and figure out exactly what things are evil.
But here we run into yet another problem. Not only are we confused about what is evil. We are also unaware of how much of a problem evil is; that is, we don’t truly see how deep and pervasive are the evils that actually afflict us.
Imagine the following: We, bemoaning all the evil in the world, cry out that we cannot believe God exists. No sooner has the conclusion escaped our lips than God abruptly appears. Of course, being God, He is not only all-powerful and so can remove all the evils, but He is all-knowing and so can see all the evils.
“Do you wish me to remove all the evil from the world?” God asks.
“Yes! Yes! Please do!” we cry.
“All the evil?” He asks again, leaning forward and looking straight through our eyes and into our hidden depths.
Well, we don’t really know about all the evil, do we? We begin rummaging around nervously within. Oh dear! Unkind words, unfulfilled promises, nagging resentments, and a thousand other failures in everyday charity. Sins of our youth, sins yet to be committed, sins of omission. The new clothes, new car, theater tickets, baubles, and toys we bought even while we knew that the money could have saved a thousand lives or made the poverty of a thousand more lives bearable. Even more frightening, what of the sins hidden even from us?
“All the evil?” He repeats yet a third time.
Under the omniscient gaze, we are made rather keenly aware that somehow all the evil in the world is not out there, and that we hadn’t really considered, in our cry of the heart, the evil within the very heart that cries. The problem with suddenly getting rid of all evil is that (at least in this imaginative exercise) we are making such a request to an all-powerful, all-knowing Being, and hence we’re likely to be caught in the very dragnet that we bid God to cast. This is all the more frightening given that we are often oblivious to the faults in ourselves that others find so painfully obvious.
In attending to omniscience, we’ve stumbled upon an oft-neglected aspect of the problem of evil. We generally focus on the problem of evil as if it were merely a problem of power. That is, we look to the heavens and cry, “Why don’t you do something?” or we look dejectedly down at the earth, shake our heads, and mutter, “If there were a God, he would have done something about this. And you wonder why I’m an atheist!”
But the problem of evil is not one that could be solved by power alone. Power exercised in the elimination of evil devoid of the penetrating knowledge that can accurately identify evil, root and branch, is either chaotic or ineffective. It is chaotic if it is governed by confusion about what is evil; it is ineffective if it does not get to the hidden roots of evil.
Again, we see the necessity of God insofar as we have discovered the necessity for divine wisdom. As we have seen, our disagreements about evil can only be settled by determining what things actually are evil. But that would take a divine-like mind, a mind that adheres unerringly to truth by its very nature and is not swayed by the passion-driven storms of human partiality. Further, we must admit that evil must be eliminated at the very roots, and for this, once again, we will need an omniscient being who won’t let us hide the evils within us, evils that would have to be eliminated if the world is to receive more than an ineffective whitewashing…”
Reminds me of this quote:
The line that divides Good and Evil runs not between nations or parties or physical armies, but right down the middle of every human soul.