Showing posts with label Evil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evil. Show all posts

Friday, July 21, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: Ranking Evil

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

History has produced some seriously wicked people. On one level, that’s irrelevant: the comparative gravity or triviality of a man’s sins, as we assess them, makes him no more and no less subject to judgment than any human being born of Adam’s stock. Naturally speaking, we are all hell-bound and desperately in need of Christ.

Tom: That said, some of the people on this list have done incredible damage to the world and to their fellow men and women. Larry Taunton’s team ranked them 1-10. You may or may not agree.

What do you think of the list, Immanuel Can? Does it show a sense of perspective?

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Contemplating Evil

The most popular course in the Religion and Culture department of one Canadian university is a course titled “Evil and Its Symbols”. It’s the one course where there never seems to be enough room to fit all the applicants. One student quipped that the homework assignment was probably “Go home and do evil.”

Maybe not. But people sure are fascinated with the topic. Why evil exists is a challenge for any Christian to explain; perhaps the biggest. Still, two things bear remembering right away: firstly, that to say that it’s a challenge does not mean that the challenge cannot be met, and secondly, that to explain the existence of evil is not a challenge unique to Christians or even to theists more generally — it’s equally necessary for atheists. Not only that, but it’s a lot harder for them.

Let me justify those statements a bit further in a moment; but first, let me set the stage for today’s post.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Infants, Innocence and Ignorance

“Be infants in evil ...”

“We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] designs.”

In the first instance, Paul appears to be suggesting that Christians in the churches of Corinth were better off the less they knew about evil. Perhaps naivety has its benefits. In the second, the same apostle writes to the very same Christians that “we” — which I take to mean Paul and Timothy, authors of the letter and fellow workers in Christ — are familiar with the manipulations and schemes Satan uses to pit Christian against Christian. That implies a bit of inside knowledge about the way in which evil works, or at very least basic pattern recognition.

Is Paul suggesting there are two different standards of understanding about evil: one for experienced Christian workers and another for the average Joe and Jane in the pews? Or possibly Paul is just being inconsistent ...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Ranking Evil

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Contemplating Evil

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Quote of the Day (27)

It was Epicurus who first posed this famous paradox around 350 BC:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?”

At least we think it was Epicurus. Some believe the lines were misattributed to him by later philosophers like David Hume. But it hardly matters who said them and when: the fact is that men have struggled to explain suffering as long as men have been thinking about their place in the universe, and this particular formulation is one of the ways they have attempted to deal with the question.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Commentariat Speaks (5)

One feature of this election cycle that will stick with me is the Christian reaction to revelations of venality and outright criminality in the lives of public figures.

Sure, a few expect it. I’m afraid I’m among them. While mildly disappointed, we are rarely surprised. We shake our heads and carry on, thinking “There they go again” and “There is nothing new under the sun”.

But a large number of believers — whether because they are low-information voters or just good-hearted souls — have such difficulty processing the facts that they lag behind even uber-liberal actress Susan Sarandon, who concedes that the Democratic National Committee is “completely corrupt”.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Contemplating Evil

The most current version of this post is available here.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Inbox: How Can God Allow Evil?

A reader emails a thought on a post earlier this week:
“There’s more to be said on this subject: What would a situation look like in which human beings were fallen, but creation itself was not? Or what would a situation look like wherein evil type 1 (human evil) would be present but evil type 2 (i.e. ‘natural’ evils like earthquakes and cancer) were not possible?
Consider this:
A fallen humanity plus a protected creation means that while the knowledge of good and evil exists, only good can be actualized. It means a condition of ability-to-choose exists for humanity, but no ability-to-act-on-choice. Humanity can dream evil, but never put it into action; therefore, no actual freedom or choice is created, but humanity is constituted as inwardly wicked. Furthermore, since there would exist a permanent disconnect between inner nature and external action, it becomes questionable how a) sin could become recognized for what it is, and b) how salvation would be possible, since all we know about it suggests it is constituted by external events actualized within the world itself. Would humanity then be caught in a permanent condition of sin, with no remedy? Perhaps. But what is abundantly clear is that there would be no genuine ‘choice’ between good and evil, between God and sin, since no person could ever act upon such an inward impulse. 
If this is right, then a fallen humanity necessitates also a fallen creation — since humanity must have a place in which to actualize its choices and a stage upon which the drama of redemption can be set. And if having sin be recognized as sin, and if having a stage that is flawed in such ways as to allow for that all-important drama to take place entails a few instances of chaotic evil, a few earthquakes or cases of cancer, is that really surprising?”