Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The value of resolving the intellectual problem of evil

I've heard a lot of stories about people who lost their faith because of some personal tragedy in their own lives. I know people personally who rejected God for that reason. I'm always a little bit taken aback when this happens to Christians. Were they unaware that bad things happen in the world? Did they not know about medieval tortures like the brazen bull? If those tragedies didn't disprove God, then why does their own tragedy disprove God? Did they not think about these things before hand?

Now I realize that a personal tragedy has an impact on you in a way that abstract or remote tragedies don't. But the difference is primarily emotional, not intellectual. That's why I think everybody should resolve the problem of evil intellectually long before tragedy hits. That way, you aren't taken off guard. You aren't shocked to find that God must not care about you after all. Your emotions will not have full control over how you view God.

Tragedy hit my own family several years ago. When it did, I reminded myself that I had worked out the problem of evil, and that what happened to us did not disprove God. I leaned on that, and I kept my faith because of it. I didn't have to think about what God's reasons could possibly be for allowing it to happen right in the middle of being upset. That's the worst time to try to work out the problem of evil.

So I really wish people would think about this problem before tragedy hits so they aren't taken off guard when it does. And I wish they would teach these things to each other. And don't think just about things like, "How can there be a good God if there is torture and rape in the world?" Also ask yourself, "How can there be a good God if I or somebody I loved were tortured and raped?" After resolving the logical problem, ask yourself how your point of view ought to be any different if something awful happened to you. Once you have that worked out, then when you're in the situation, you're a lot less likely to become an atheist or a God-hater.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Winners and losers in history

I remember a long time ago having a conversation on a message board about how "history is written by the winners." This statement was brought up in an attempt to undermine history, which I thought was a mistake because it assumed that losers can write accurate history, but winners can't.

I was thinking about that this morning when it occurred to me that one needs to adopt the opposite point of view in order to warn people not to be "on the wrong side of history." This warning about not being on the wrong side of history assumes that winners are always in the moral right, and losers are in the moral wrong.

Why think either of these things? Why be suspicious of history just because it was written by winners? And why be suspicious of a moral point of view just because it's held by losers?

I don't think anybody should worry about being on the wrong side of history. To worry about such a thing is to presuppose that morality is grounded in the whims of cultural fads. But if you think morality is an objective thing, and especially if you think it's grounded in God, then it shouldn't concern you in the least whether you might some day be on the wrong side of history.

It isn't even true that winners always write history. History is written by people who look at multiple sources--some by the winners and some by the losers. Almost all of the information we have about the first Jewish revolt against Rome comes from the losers, for example.