Friday, December 10, 2010

Free will

I was just reading one of Rachel's blog posts on evil, which is a topic I had tucked away over the last decade, because I couldn't reconcile my thoughts about it.  Since I've had S., I've been thinking about it more and more.  When I hold her and kiss her soft fuzzy cheek, I truly can't fathom how anyone could hurt a baby.

I believe in capital punishment, although I have serious reservations about its use, given the number of wrongly convicted people in prison today.  I believe some people are just "bent", in the words of C.S. Lewis, and we should eliminate them with no remorse, as one would shoot a rabid dog.  Although it doesn't feel as viscerally satisfying, life in prison is likely a crueler punishment than immediate death, so perhaps justice is served in our system after all, at least for those who were accurately convicted.

Where I really struggle is with God.  I read an article in 1996 about a terrible crime committed against a Christian family and it shook my faith to the core.  Why didn't God protect this family?  But that implies that only Christians deserve protection, which doesn't feel right.  The greater question is one so many have wrestled with through the centuries: why does God allow evil to exist at all?  How can a pure being tolerate the existence of such a vicious race?

The answer I've always been given is that evil exists so we may have free will, and that free will matters because God wants us to choose to love him or her (I actually think God may be gender-less and the "Him" may be a patriarchal construct, but that's a different post).  But what kind of deity considers atrocities like the rape of babies and torture of bystanders an acceptable trade-off in order to be loved?  Maybe we should be focusing not on proof of the existence of God, but contemplating what his/her existence and toleration of us suggests about his/her nature. 

Are our hands raised in worship not covered in the blood of innocents?

4 comments:

  1. Yeah, this is a hard one. I doubt that anyone who has seriously contemplated it has come up with a satisfying answer.

    I guess the reason I cling (some days it feels like I am hanging on by the tips of my fingernails) to my faith is because it gives me some sort of hope that someday God will sort out this mess, his creation, and bring justice and issue in a world ruled by love. What the meaning/purpose of it all in the mean time is, though, is quite beyond me.

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  2. This is an amazing and well written post. I struggle with the same thoughts and questions. Especially when it comes down to children getting hurt. I get free will and evil, but shouldn't at the very least children be protected?

    Visiting from the Red Dress Club.

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  3. I certainly don't have the answers but I do believe we can not have the light without the dark and that at some level we all connect with both good and evil. In my opinion and in a paragraph--Its a highly charged subject but I believe we all come into this world with a chosen a path... and sometimes that path--when viewed by others looks atrocious, and often we forget we made a choice and become a victim--our world loves victims.
    What has always helped me is to get back to the point of saying--wow I wonder why I choose that to happen to me? What do I need to learn or know or feel. What direction do I need to go next? In the case of other people (Children included) I am just as supportive as I can be while keeping these questions in mind for both of us-reminding a persons in the throws of life's worst circumstance that they "choice there situation" is never helpful." But loving and supporting them from that perspective-might be.
    Following out path untimely brings us closer to our idea of our God.

    Thought provoking post for an Easter weekend. Thank you.

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  4. I stopped by from TRDC
    Thank you for your well written thought provoking post. I just watched the movie "Apcoalypse" tonight. Couldn't God have saved John and the early Christians from suffering? Yes he obviously could...why didn't He...that answer eludes me.

    God has saved me in this life, it's a personal saving whch has benefited my family and friends but primarily myself. Why did he choose to do that? Why didn't He save me from other suffering? Why doesn't He save my ill friends?

    My faith is blind other than God's word...I know I don't have the answers other than what is written.

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Lend me some sugar!