Is Evil God’s Fault?

Every time there is a violent event like the bombing at the Boston Marathon, there are people who cry out, “How can you tell me that there is a God when things like this can happen?” Interestingly, when someone like the Shoe Bomber is prevented from destroying an airplane full of people over a densely populated area, you do not hear someone cry out, “How can you doubt that God exists when things like this can happen?” People do not jump to the conclusion that God has micro-managed the people involved when evil is prevented, but they quickly and vocally jump to the conclusion that God was either powerless to act when evil succeeds, or else he simply does not exist. Why?

Secularists reject the existence of both God and Satan, calling them ghost stories. Secularists also believe that humans are evolving into morally superior beings, despite evidence that evil is just as prevalent in human society today was it was at the dawn of time.  What’s more, secular thinkers believe that it is possible to write laws against murder that will ultimately prevent murder. They believe that society can design laws which constrain behavior so tightly that murder cannot happen. It is interesting to compare God’s law against murder – Do not murder! – with the bill that recently died in the Senate – a law that required three days to read at any normal speed, a law that constrained all people severely and deprived all people of rights not abused by most people in an attempt to prevent a few people from acquiring a weapon. Secular thinkers fear disorder so much that ending freedom is an acceptable price to suppress evil, yet secular thinkers cannot produce any evidence that any law has ever prevented any person from thinking he could outsmart the people who enforce the law.

Law does not prevent crime.

If law prevented crime, the murder rate in the USA would be zero. There is no place in the world, for that matter, where murder is not a crime. Neither better laws nor better police nor better jails will ever prevent crime. Secular thinkers claim to operate on the basis of reason and the revelations of science. If that is so, why would they believe that the human race is evolving into morally superior beings? If that is so, why is there still murder and mayhem like the bombing at the Boston Marathon?

We humans do need law, and enforcement, and punishment. Laws actually stop some people from doing bad things, because some people fear they will be caught. However, plenty of people believe they are smart enough to elude capture, and those people commit evil deeds with complete confidence that nobody will be able to do anything about it. The same human ego that leads secularists to believe that a better law will stop crime also leads people to believe they are more clever than the enforcers.

Christians do not reject the need for law and enforcement and punishment. Christians do not believe that fear of punishment makes people better moral beings. Christians do believe that there is a force that makes people better moral beings. That force has demonstrably changed the lives of many people. Society is not that force. Law is not that force. Punishment is not that force. The one force that fundamentally transforms human beings is the Holy Spirit. People who receive Christ receive the Holy Spirit, and that power changes them forever.

We all know very well, however, that Christians are both sinful saints and saintly sinners. The story in Acts that describes how two new Christians conspired to pretend to make a sacrificial gift to the church provides evidence that Christians are not perfect. A society made up entirely of Christians still needs a mechanism for administering justice when Satan’s temptations triumph in a Christian’s life.

Christians agree with secular thinkers that human society needs law in order to have any justice or peace in the community. They disagree with secular thinkers that the suppression of God-given human rights is the necessary price for the prevention or cure of evil. Christians look at God’s law in simple words, plain language, and respect for human liberty as a model for human law. Christians advocate for good laws, but object to oppressive laws that pretend to be able to shape society in a way that prevents evil. Society cannot take on a role even God does not assume by trying to create such oppressive societal barriers that evil would be impossible. Everybody, Christian and secularist alike, grieves at something like the Sandy Hook shooting or the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but Christians do not believe that human beings oppressed by more restrictive laws and regulations are any less likely to perpetrate evil than people governed by laws written in plain language that shows respect for the responsible way most people manage freedom.  

Murder is illegal, no matter what weapon is used. When someone commits murder, he should be punished, no matter what weapon is used. Jesus set an even higher standard. He said we should all love our neighbors and love our enemies. That covers pretty much everybody. Jesus’ law is all-inclusive, but it oppresses nobody. We can all be thankful that we have good laws and good law enforcement and even-handed justice. We can also be thankful that our US Constitution prevents the government from following secular thinking to its logical conclusion – a police state where evil is theoretically impossible.

Liberty? or freedom from all evil? Which do you choose?