Thursday, March 24, 2011

If God, Why Evil?

Earthquakes. Tsunamis. War. Murder. Kidnapping.
One doesn’t have to look hard to find bad news. It seems to be oozing into every fiber of society on a grand scale. The heartbreak in Japan, the killing of innocent citizens in Libya, the abortion clinic down the street...evil has many faces and can leave us asking the Question of the Ages: “Why?”
Although Believers have hope in the midst of tragedies, we still find ourselves lacking sufficient answers when the world—or our neighbor—asks, “Where is God? Doesn’t he care?”
If-God-Why-Evil-Norman-Geisler-189x300.jpgWe may even ask such questions ourselves. 

Dr. Norman Geisler’s new book, If God, Why Evil? seeks to answer this seemingly elusive and age-old question.
Defining evil and laying out the common arguments from atheists and agnostics, Dr. Geisler explains the dichotomy of how it is that evil exists with permission from the omnipotent and all-good God of the Universe. If God, Why Evil? gives sound answers, taking apart our common questions and objections and exposing the logical end to such arguments. Using clear, common examples in conjunction with scripture, Dr. Geisler clears up many misconceptions about the existence and operation of evil. 
For instance, he explains that evil is not merely the opposite of good. The fact is, evil cannot exist without there being good. 
Moths can corrupt a woolen sweater, but holes do not exist in themselves. They exist only in other things. Again, a totally moth-eaten garment has ceased to exist. Evil is a real corruption, but it is not a real thing (substance).” (pg. 20)

Such useful explanations, along with scripture defining God, sin, evil etc. are liberally used throughout this practical book. Some of issues discussed throughout this 167 page  easy-read are: The views, nature and origin of evil, The persistence and purpose of evil, miracles and evil, and even eternal evil (aka hell). The complexity of evil is dissected in a user-friendly way, helping the reader grasp issues that normally trip them up.
The end of the book also contains three appendixes that deal with some deeper--yet related--issues, including a biblical critique of the popular book The Shack. Although written as a fiction book, the underlying (and mistaken) views of God are seeping into modern theology which in turn causes a watered down understanding of God’s holiness and his nature, leading to misconceptions about evil itself. 
If God, Why Evil? is available from Bethany House publishers, and sells for $14.99. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of the contents.

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.