Q: Why does God allow evil in the world?
Answer: Perhaps you are thinking that the all-powerful God could wipe away all evil. Believers of God accept his power, but this question remains for many people. Augustine did not want to attribute evil to God so he declared that evil did not exist. It was just the absence of good much like darkness is the absence of light.
To simplify a complex topic in a short column, I will classify disastrous weather as a natural evil and most human-made evils as moral evils. To start the discussion, I turn to the world that God created. Genesis 1:1-5 presents the dual nature of the creation of darkness and light. “In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was in total darkness. Then God commanded, ‘Let there be light’ — and light appeared. Then he separated the light from the darkness, and he named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” We move from this scripture of contrasting elements and acknowledge that religious dualism is not Biblical.
The concept of dualism maintains two equally strong forces of good and evil. Some people believe that God and Satan are in a constant struggle, but the Bible reveals God as the powerful source of eternal goodness. Satan operates in the world because God allows the force of evil to exist. The Bible speaks about Satan as a fallen angel who tempts humans, but will eventually lose to God’s power.
Free will is cited as the source of moral evil. Humans can choose to stay with God or succumb to moral evil. We were created by goodness and given our innocent natures. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and lost their innocence; therefore, we feel the struggle of good and evil in our nature.
In our everyday existence, we feel the darkness of natural disasters, devastating illnesses, and moral evil; and we hope for solutions to bring the contrasting morning light of goodness.
Since it is close to impossible to comprehend the complexity of evil, perhaps we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps, we should ask, “How do we cope with evil?” We cannot explain fully the forces of nature that are harmful, but we can cope by trying to preserve God’s creation with environmental conservation. We do not know all the answers to devastating illnesses, but we can support those who use their God-given brain power to cure the sick.
Evil acts are abundant, but we can chose good over evil. Also, we can help others make good choices. We can be faithful to the messages from our sacred texts. The paths to eternal goodness are clearly marked.
We need to recognize the celebrations of this season. This past Sunday night was the beginning of the eight days of Hanukkah, the festival of lights, which includes blessings and the lighting of the menorah. Hanukkah started over two thousand years ago. The Jewish people were oppressed by Emperor Antiochus IV. This Emperor defiled the temple and outlawed their religion.
A small group of Jewish warriors defeated the Greek army and reclaimed the Temple. The people wanted to light the menorah, but they only had enough untainted oil for one night. A miracle occurred, and the oil lasted for eight days and nights. The lighting of the menorah is a re-dedication celebration and a remembrance of God’s miracles.
This meaningful cerebration continues in the face of many tragedies. We cannot forget the recent shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue. We are saddened by this act of hatred against those people whose peaceful worship was shattered. We must be able to live and worship without fear. We must make our country a better, safer place.
The Christian Advent season started last Sunday and will last until Christmas Day. Many Christian churches will display a circle of four candles representing the four Sundays before Christmas. The fifth candle in the center is called the Christ candle and will be lit on Christmas Day. Advent means a “coming.” Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus as the first coming, and they joyfully anticipate his second coming. The words of this song reveal the joy that these two events will bring. “O come, O come, Emmanuel, until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice!”
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8