Evil and God

I’ve been mulling this post on the problem of evil. What powerful questions — why doesn’t God stop suffering? How could an all-powerful God allow things like the Holocaust, or other terrible examples of free will run amok?  Indeed, what kind of God would set in motion 4 billion years of evolution, a system that produces so many imperfections, like thousands of babies born with horrible, even killing defects?
I have no answers for these questions. I do know that there is one  overlooked — how is it that evil, far from crushing the faith of people who endure it, seems instead to inspire some of the most amazing acts of faith we know? Here, for instance, just two recent stories, The Other Side of Hate  and The Wronged Man, both by Andrew Corsello (and printed in, of all places, GQ), chronicling how faith inspires incredible strength, and even love, in the face of evil.
Moving away from God for a moment, what evolutionary purpose does evil serve? I know Darwin hated the stomach-turning cruelty of the natural world, though I do not ascribe to the idea that wasps have feelings and are deliberately malevolent. But what about evil people? Do they have a better chance of passing on their genes? What studies I know suggest that in contrast, religious communities and practices seem to encourage survival.

The question of evil should trouble Christians and indeed, all people of faith. But I think it’s a bit much to say “if I were God, there would be no evil, and I cannot abide a God that allows it.” I may not like the lesson of Job, cited at the end of this review, and I do not like the seeming reality of a God that sometimes seems indifferent, at best, to evil. But I cannot discount the power of faith to overcome evil, to inspire good, to lift humans to a higher state.  I only hope I have such faith when faced with evil myself.

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