Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Japan Disaster: Seeking Answers

As I discussed in the last blog, the suffering of the Japanese people raises the perennial question of how a good God could stand by and let enormous suffering like this continue. In fact, why does God allow suffering at all, if He is powerful enough to terminate it?

Bertrand Russell, the most cynical of British philosophers, put the matter baldly. If God is powerful enough to stop suffering and He doesn’t, He can’t be good. If he is good, but allows suffering to continue, He can’t be all-powerful. “From this argument,” Russell claims, “there is no escape.” (Unpopular Essays). God can’t be both good and omnipotent.

C. S. Lewis, before his conversion to Christianity, believed in the common wisdom that God could not exist on the basis of the cold emptiness of the universe, and that the world’s “creatures cause pain by being born, and live by inflicting pain, and in pain they mostly die.” (The Problem of Pain)

But Lewis came to recognise that this position poses a specific problem. “If the universe is so bad, or even half so bad, how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?”

Christianity maintains that God is good, and His creation is good, But humankind, in seeking a rebellious independence from Him, messed it up. Ian, in response said, among other things, “I think that this devastation, as horrific as it is, reminds us of the fallen world in desperate need of redemption.”

It is also a symptom of that Fall. In my blog Thursday February 24: Christchurch: Why Me? I show how Scripture supports the idea that our sinfulness pollutes and defiles the ground, destabilising the planet from its original operating specifications.

I have also given some more thought to the general problem of suffering on the Inscribe Writers’ blogsite

But grinding of the Japanese tectonic plates certainly pictures “creation . . . groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” waiting to “be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21 and 22).

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