How Do We Explain Evil?

Why Evil:Zacharias

Guilty of Guilt

2011-0087 Cinematheque Wild Strawberries Poster

In a haunting dream sequence in Ingmar Bergman’s film Wild Strawberries, an old professor is arraigned before the bar of justice. When he asks the charge, the judge replies, “You are guilty of guilt.”

“Is that serious?” the professor asks.

“Very serious,” says the judge.

But that is all that is said on the subject of guilt. In a universe where God is dead, people are not guilty of violating a moral law; they are only guilty of guilt, and this is very serious, for nothing can be done about it. If one had sinned, there might be atonement. If one had broken a law, the lawmaker might forgive the criminal. But if one is only guilty of guilt, there is no way to solve the very personal problem.

And that states the case for a nihilist, for no one can avoid acting as if moral values exist and as if there is some bar of justice that measures guilt by objective standards. But there is a bar of justice, and we are left, not in sin, but in guilt. Very serious, indeed.

–James W. Sire,
The Universe Next Door

The Polemic Shot In the Foot

Ravi Zacharias 4

by Ravi Zacharias

Some time ago I was speaking at a university in England, when a rather exasperated person in the audience made his attack upon God.

“There cannot possibly be a God,” he said, “with all the evil and suffering that exists in the world!”

I asked, “When you say there is such a thing as evil, are you not assuming that there is such a thing as good?”

“Of course,” he retorted.

“But when you assume there is such a thing as good, are you not also assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to distinguish between good and evil?”

“I suppose so,” came the hesitant and much softer reply.

“If, then, there is a moral law,” I said, “you must also posit a moral lawgiver. But that is who you are trying to disprove and not prove. If there is no transcendent moral law giver, there is no absolute moral law. If there is no moral law, there really is no good. If there is no good there is no evil. I am not sure what your question is!”

There was silence and then he said, “What, then, am I asking you?”

He was visibly jolted that at the heart of his question lay an assumption that contradicted his own conclusion.

You see friends, the skeptic not only has to give an answer to his or her own question, but also has to justify the question itself. And even as the laughter subsided I reminded him that his question was indeed reasonable, but that his question justified my assumption that this was a moral universe. For if God is not the author of life, neither good nor bad are
meaningful terms.

This seems to constantly elude the critic who thinks that by raising the question of evil, a trap has been sprung to destroy theism. When in fact, the very raising of the question ensnares the skeptic who raised the question. A hidden assumption comes into the open. Moreover, as C. S. Lewis reminds us, the moment we acknowledge something as being “better”, we are committing ourselves to an objective point of reference.

The disorienting reality to those who raise the problem of evil is that the Christian can be consistent when he or she talks about the problem of evil, while the skeptic is hard-pressed to respond to the question of good in an amoral universe. In short, the problem of evil is not solved by doing away with the existence of God; the problem of evil and suffering must be
resolved while keeping God in the picture.

Copyright 2000 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)

Is it Worth the Search?

searching-1Despite all denials of truth as a category, people still hunger for it and the real question that haunts us is not whether truth exists, but whether it is worth it at all.

On August 7, 1961, a twenty-six year old Soviet cosmonaut named Gherman Titov became the second Soviet to orbit the earth and return safely. Some time later he recounted his experience while speaking at the World’s Fair. In triumphalistic tones Titov declared that on his excursion into space, he looked for God but didn’t find him. Someone humorously quipped, “Had he stepped out of his spacecraft, he certainly would have.” Titov, of course, had moved beyond the discipline of technological gain to draw theological blood. One great step for science became an immensely greater leap in philosophy.

earth_rise_over_moon-nasaYears later on Christmas day, 1968, three American astronauts were the first human beings to go around the “dark” side of the moon. They saw earth rise over the horizon of the moon draped in a beauteous mixture of blue and white, garlanded by the glistening light of the sun against the black void of space. Captured by the awe of the moment, they echoed the only words that seemed fitting. Those words were from the first line of the bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”

Two similar experiences of awe and splendor, yielding two diametrically opposed conclusions. These two incidents carried off into space the most debated question on earth: Does God exist? The answer to that question has a greater bearing on your life than anything else. Personal and national destinies are inextricably bound to this issue. Our entire human frame of moral reference is determined by whether or not God exists. Our purpose in life is determined by that, whether we are here by design or whether we are the accidental collocation of atoms. Who we are and why we exist logically flows from the question of God’s existence.

imgThe question, therefore, is not whether the pursuit of truth is worth it or not, but that it is the only thing that is ultimately worth it. Winston Churchill said the most valuable thing in the world is the truth; so valuable that it has often been barricaded by a bodyguard of lies. But we might ask, “What’s wrong with a lie?” For one, we would think it is morally wrong, would we not? But how can we be morally wrong unless this is a moral universe? And how can this be a moral universe unless it is created by God? The intelligibility in this universe and the immense capacity of the moral law.

What is more, we don’t have to go into outer space to find him. He comes to you in your inner space, the inner space of your life. Jesus said, “if any man comes to me, I will in no wise cast him out.” In knowing Him, you find truth and life. That is worth it.

–Ravi Zacharias,
Copyright (p)(c) 2000 Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries (RZIM)

Materialism cannot account for morality

Morality…if there isn’t any God to issue commandments to us, then why think that we have any moral duties? On the atheistic view, human being don’t seem to have any moral obligations to one another. For example, in the animal kingdom, if lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra but it doesn’t murder the zebra. If a great white shark copulates forcibly with a female, it forcibly copulates with the female, but it doesn’t rape the female, for there is no moral dimension to these actions. None of these things is prohibited or commanded; they are neither forbidden nor obligatory. So if God doesn’t exist, why think that we have any moral obligations? Who or what imposes such prohibitions or obligations upon us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why moral duties would be anything more than the illusory by-products of social and parental conditioning.

. . . If there isn’t any moral law giver then there isn’t any moral law that imposes itself upon us.

–William Lane Craig