Theodicy

I am so very tired of this condescending sidestepping of a question: “Why does God allow terrible things to happen?” “Andy that question requires an in-depth philosophical-theological treatment and anything short of that is a cheap shot at religion.” Actually, there is no deep philosophical-theological reason for why God allows terrible things to happen. This may well be the easiest question to answer.

For the sake of argument, let’s suppose I am a Christian. As a Christian I am confronted with this problem: either God kills people with tornadoes or He stands by and watches tornadoes kill people, which, since he is an all-knowing and all-powerful god, is the same thing. God knows very well how terrible it is for seven children to drown in the basement of a school hit by a tornado. Yet he lets them drown. Or he sent a tornado to drown them. I know from my Bible that he caused a flood that killed nearly every living thing on the planet, so I can’t put it past him that he would drown seven children He’s done it before.

He say he loves us – so much so that he sacrificed his own son. Yet he kills some of us and leaves the rest of us with broken hearts. Is it reasonable for me to love a being who kills my children and breaks my heart? Is such a being really worthy of my devotion? Either God is a cruel and terrible god who hates children and breaks hearts and is therefore unworthy of my devotion or there is no god and tornadoes are a natural weather phenomenon and we should build stronger school buildings in the short term and reverse climate change in the long term.

God is like an abusive spouse who claims to love me yet hurts me. Either he must love me and protect me or he must hate me and hurt me. Fortunately, unlike an abusive spouse, God is not real. So His advocates may tell me that I always fall short of His glory, but he cannot really hurt me if I leave Him.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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