Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Dishonesty, Ignorance, and Evil in the Bible

Truth is a Man

noah-drunk One reason I find Christianity believable is the hypocrisy, stupidity, dishonesty, ignorance, and evil in the Bible.

Take, for instance, those remarkable individuals who made it into the spiritual “hall-of-fame” in Hebrews 11:4-38.  A list of some of the most important saints who ever lived; individuals God worked through to accomplish incredible things; individuals whose lives were built on faith.  Yet, every one of them were hypocrites–that is, their lives did not always match up to the values they cherished most.

Consider Noah, one of the only men to remain faithful to God in his lifetime–“humanities last hope”.  After the flood, whilst in the primordial stages of building a new civilization, he gets wasted and exposes himself to his sons (Genesis 9:20-23).  Or take Abraham, for example, who, out of fear, led a king to believe his wife was actually his sister; thus allowing the king to take his wife into his harem (see Genesis…

View original post 716 more words


A Hope Beyond Cynicism or, the Resurrection and Evisceration of Nihilism

Icon of the Resurrection

Icon of the Resurrection

It is in the fashion of the times for popular television scientists, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, to explain how science is leaving little room for God’s existence while in the same breath stating that we humans are insignificant, and that it is good we realize this. Such scientists do not seemingly see the irony in their thinking: Materialism, which believes in a large, yet finite universe, teaches that humans are insignificant, while Christianity, which believes in an infinite, incomprehensible God, teaches that humans are significant.

Such pondering tends towards materialistic pantheism, that we are great because we are made of dead stars. We are all physically connected to each other and to the universe we see. While true, what real moral impact is there in this statement? The CEO is connected to his poor worker because both are composed of atoms, but what of it? Stating such a scientific truth may seem deep and profound, but it is no more profound than saying the earth rotates around the sun or that one apple plus another apple equals two apples; all are mere statements of fact, nothing more.

These modern anti-philosophers – men who decry philosophy, yet act as philosophers – act as though they are speaking deeply by saying there is no purpose to life, but we are to act as if purpose exists. These English-speaking scientists think they have broken new ground, while blindly waving away the cigarette smoke from the French who have been here for quite some time. As in true historical fashion the English follow the trends of the French, claim it as their own, and the French are left cursing the ignoble English all the while denouncing the English rendition of French fashion. The philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus already struggled with a materialistic worldview leading to no purpose. Of course, in following true European fashion, the French must surrender the origins of their fashion to Germany (with Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Hegel, and others). The Germans, in turn, would bashfully admit that their existential and materialistic heritage was stolen from the Rome they sacked, mostly from Lucretius. Yet, the Romans would have to admit that their philosophy came from the conquered Greeks, from the Epicurean teachings. Our modern scientists who think they are quite progressive in their atheistic existentialism would be dismayed to discover that they are not moving forward, but backward to a theory that is older than the Christianity they so detest.

Facing the dark emptiness of the universe is nothing new; it is not something modern science has forced us to undertake. Facing the darkness of this world, facing a life without God, is something that humanity has seemingly always faced. Atheism is not the result of Darwin’s theory of evolution and advances in science; rather, atheism is the result of man’s rebellion culminating in wanting not only to be like God, but also to erase Him from our very existence. Even the Psalms speaks of the foolishness of those who deny God’s existence, but it acknowledges that such people exist. The idea that the world we live in is all that exists is as ancient as religion itself. Neil deGrasse Tyson has discovered nothing new, but has stumbled upon an ancient conundrum.

Even St. Paul recognized the issue of nihilism, that is, on the purposelessness of life. What makes Christianity so distinct is that we acknowledge that this life actually is without a purpose. We recognize that this world is truly empty and pointless. The difference, however, is we can explain why this is the case and why it need not be the case. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is quite adamant about the importance of the Resurrection, stating that without the resurrection of Christ and of our own bodies, there is no point to this life. He goes so far as to say that if there is no physical resurrection then there is no point to living like a Christian, that we should “eat and drink” for tomorrow we may die.

Within Christianity, we do not disagree that if God does not exist, this life is pointless. We go even further – much to the dismay of our Theistic co-belligerents – to say that even if God does exist, without the resurrection there is still no point to this life. We can claim to drink in the fullness of this life, to milk the enjoyable sap from every second we exist, but in the end we are simply fooling ourselves. If there is no resurrection, then we are hapless souls wandering a desert who happen upon an oasis only to discover it is a mirage. The soothing shade and cold water were quite convincing, but in the end it was nothing more than sand. All the while, the vultures fly overhead, awaiting our inevitable end.

Without a resurrection, there is no meaning to this life and we fool ourselves if we think otherwise. We may pretend that our meanderings have meaning, that it somehow matters that we are physically connected to ancient stars, but in the end, we still cease to be. Those who remembered us will cease to be. 4.5 billion years from now the sun will swallow up the earth as entropy takes its full effect and all that we have ever known will burn up. Everything we work toward, all our struggles, our happiness, and history will wash away like a sandcastle at high tide.

Yet, there is hope that reaches beyond the cynicism of nihilism. That hope is found in Christ, who has given meaning and purpose to all things that exist. That hope stems from His resurrection. In a poetic paradox that only God could accomplish, the emptiness of the tomb besieges the nothingness of nihilism, and this emptiness is full of so much that it simply wipes away the nothingness. When Christ hung on a cross and was placed in a tomb, nihilism reigned supreme. The shrouded Jesus faced the pointlessness of this life as He lay dead in the tomb. Yet, the death could not hold Him, for death is the absence of hope and Christ is Hope. As the darkness consumed Jesus, it choked on Light Himself, and unable to contain this Light surrendered to Him. The hopelessness of this world could not contain the Hope for the world.

The resurrection provides real hope and real meaning to this world rather than the empty platitudes of scientific existentialism. The resurrection acknowledges that in our physical body we are certainly linked to dead stars, but in the entirety of our being we are linked to the living God. When we die, what we have done will have meaning because it will reverberate and ripple into eternity. When one dies we sing “Memory Eternal” not just because it is a beautiful sentiment, but also because it is the truth; one is remembered eternally by the Eternal One. Only in the resurrection, where life continues for eternity, can there be any meaning to this present life. The more we learn about the universe and its vast expanse, the more we ought to turn to its Creator in order to find the meaning for all things


Retributive Justice vs Reconciliatory Justice or: Why Sheriff Joe Arpio isn’t Someone We Should Admire

pink sheriffThis post is meant for those of the Christian mindset, which is why its reasoning is more theological than philosophical. However, a good natural law argument can be made as well, mostly that all humans are worthy of being treated with dignity.

There’s a meme making its way around Facebook talking about Sheriff Joe Arpio and his harsh method of delivering justice to his inmates. The picture (seen above) it accompanied with a list of what Sheriff Arpio has done while the sheriff for his county. He’s made his prisoners wear pink, work in chain gangs, pay for their meals, and the like. In addition to that, to save taxpayer money, he’s opened up a tent city wherein prisoners have to live despite the harsh desert heat.

When faced with criticism, he has responded with, “These criminals are paying a debt they owe to society.” And there is a bit of truth to such a statement; after all, our modern penal system is simply a way for a criminal to further his education in being a criminal. County jails tend to be a criminal’s college, state penitentiaries tend to be graduate work, and federal penitentiaries tend to be post-graduate. Thus, perhaps it’s good that we look at reforming our system.

Sheriff Arpio, however, goes too far. The problem is he’s practicing retributive justice (eye for an eye), which does nothing for the criminal or for the victim. It may give us an emotional feeling of justice, but it’s not actually justice. Ignoring the drug users who are mixed in the group (and I fail to see why anyone who uses drugs should ever be imprisoned or fined above being put in rehab), let us assume that someone is a violent criminal. He broke into the home, beat up the owners, and stole some property. How is him sitting in a tent in the desert beneficial to the owners or beneficial to the criminal? Retributive justice gives us the sense of justice, but isn’t justice because it accomplishes nothing.

It would make more sense to have him do labor (though not necessarily hard labor) that at the same time teaches him a skill he can use once he is released from prison. The wages he earns while imprisoned can be given to his victims as a way to reconcile himself with those he harmed. At the same time, we should do what we can to reform him. In this way, we have concerned ourselves with the victims first to ensure they receive a just compensation for what they lost and what they endured, but equally we have concerned ourselves with the welfare of the criminal. This is reconciliatory justice. It’s actual justice because it seeks to bring a criminal – who is a criminal because he abandoned the norms of society – back into society to be a productive member. It actually accomplishes something while also aiding the victim.

People would raise three questions to the idea of reconciliatory justice. The first is why should we concern ourselves with the welfare of the criminal at all. After all, he violated the public trust and the Common Good, so why should we concern ourselves with his well being when he did not concern himself with our well being? The answer to such a question is that despite what the criminal has done, he is still made in the image of God and is therefore worthy of dignity and respect. Just because he has failed to show such dignity and respect to other image-bearers does not grant us the right to treat him as such; though clichéd, it is true that two wrongs do not make a right. Being in the image of God means that the criminal deserves some semblance of respect and dignity, which is what Sheriff Joe Arpio removes from his inmates. They are forced to live outside in the heat and subjected to harsh conditions; this is not something worthy of God’s image.

The second question raised would be how we could promise that criminals could be reformed when it seems that most criminals don’t want to be reformed. The argument that accompanies this question is that most criminals don’t want to reform, after all, most of them return to prison within a few years of being released. My answer to this is that such a question and argument betrays a type of fatalism, or genetic determinism. Some people are just born (or conditioned) to be criminals and there’s nothing we can do to change them. There is no hope for redemption for them. But such an argument flies in the face of the Gospel, which teaches that all people can come to Christ, despite their backgrounds. If anyone can come to Christ, then certainly anyone can also be morally reformed from a criminal past. If we believe that criminals cannot be reformed, then why don’t we make the punishment for every crime the death penalty? Everything from simple thievery to tax evasion to selling drugs to murder should all be punishable by death. If the criminal cannot be reformed, or if we think it’s unlikely that he’ll be reformed, then why not just kill him? Perhaps we’re afraid that this would result in many innocent people being killed, so then let’s make all sentences life-sentences without the eligibility for parole. Whether you are caught stealing a stick of gum or murdering someone, you end up with a life sentence.

Such an idea is, of course, absurd and no rational person would ever endorse it. We endorse graduated sentencing based on the crime in part because we believe that the less severe the crime, the less likely the person will return to it. Deep down we hope that people can be reformed, but the way we have established our system completely prevents true reform from occurring. We allow our prisoners to leave without any skills to make it in the real world and then our society attaches a stigma to these criminals so they cannot acquire a job. Is it any wonder that we get repeat offenders?

As a side note, I do understand that there are some criminals who are mentally ill or simply refuse to be reformed. But there is no way these people constitute the majority of people within our penal institution. Such committed criminals could certainly remain in prison for the rest of their lives, with us always trying to reform them, but not releasing them for fear they will strike again. This is actually humane and dignified both to their potential victims (in that we protect the victims) and to the criminal, as it protects him from further violating God’s image within him by harming others. However, forcing someone who is capable and willing to reform into a life sentence or a harsh sentence and not giving him the chance to reform is inhumane and undignified because it gives him no hope for redemption.

The final question one could ask would be why should taxpayers have to pay for the criminal’s reform. How is it that someone commits a crime and then it becomes the taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for his crime? The reason is quite simply that we want a better society, and sometimes we as a whole have to pay for a better society. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, so obviously the status quo isn’t working. We need something new, and any program that upholds the dignity of God’s image in people and seeks to bring that image to the forefront in their character is worth the payment. If we were able to reform our criminals, especially if we get them at a younger age, to where they become productive members of society, then our society would be stronger and better. The taxpayer money then becomes an investment, as a stronger society leads to a stronger economy, which leads to more money for the taxpayer.

More importantly, however, many of these criminals come from impoverished areas of the country. Were to we work to reconcile these criminals, by teaching them virtue while imprisoned as well as helping them find a skillset to help them on the “outside,” perhaps when they moved back into these impoverished areas they could help to make a difference. They could open up their own businesses or work with the ones already in the community to hopefully strengthen that community. While the ideal would never be achieved, it is still good to work towards the ideal so that we’ll be left better off than we currently are.

Ultimately, we need to remember the parable of the unforgiving debtor (Matthew 18:21-35). In this parable, a man ends up owing a great sum of money to someone (ten thousand talents, and one talent would be worth somewhere around $800,000) and promised to work to pay the debt off. The debtor had pity on the servant and forgave him his debt. This servant then turned around and demanded someone in debt to him by 100 denarii (a denarii was a day’s pay for most laborers, or about $60 if we go off minimum wage and an 8 hour day). The servant refused to forgive the debt of the man owing him 100 denarii and had the man thrown in prison.

We must never forget that through God’s reconciliatory justice, our debts have been forgiven. He has helped to reform us from our sins, though we were in debt to Him. The crimes these criminals commit, while ranging from petty to heinous, indebt these criminals to society, their debt is miniscule when compared to the debt we each owe to God. If He can find it within His capacity to forgive us our debt and work to reconcile us, certainly we as a society can do the same to our criminals. While imprisonment is necessary, what we do while the criminal is imprisoned makes all the difference. And making them endure hard labor while living in harsh conditions, while not giving them any skills to survive or training in virtue, without attempting to reform them, makes us the ungrateful servants of God.

The Paradox of Humanity

IMG_0026A continuous trend in the history of philosophy has been deciding whether or not humans are entirely good or entirely evil. Some philosophers believed that we are basically good, but are corrupted either due to society, family, lack of family, lack of society, a bourgeois lifestyle, or so on. Other philosophers believed that humans are basically evil, but will act “good” when it works to our advantage, that we’re really selfish and so no true altruism exists. Recently there have been philosophers who say there is no good or evil, that humans have acts and simply exist.

Christianity has traditionally held that humans are paradoxically good and evil. It’s not that we’re mostly good or mostly evil, it’s that each individual chooses which direction he will take. Throughout the history of Christianity there have been some extremes, even some so extreme that it steps into the shallow waters of heresy. Some, such as the Pelagians, taught that humans were good and could live perfect lives. Others, such as extreme Calvinists, teach that humans are evil from the moment of conception and can choose to do no good in any sense of the word (any act of good was determined by God). Yet, at its core, Christianity teaches that humans are good, but fallen creatures.

In short, we are a paradox; we are both good and evil. We are capable of bringing about immense good in the lives of others in the most mundane of ways. Whether it be from thousands of Reddit users sending letters to a terminally ill man with down’s syndrome to a New York City police officer buying shoes for a homeless man, we can inspire hope with the smallest of things. Even if our actions don’t make national news, we can impact people’s lives with what we do. For some, it’s as simple as having a smile and being friendly to someone who’s had a rough day. As a people, we are capable of accomplishing great things.

Yet, we are equally capable of doing atrocious things. Yesterday, an insane man murdered multiple people, the majority of whom were children. What is sad is that while this event is tragic, it pales in comparison to the millions who are murdered around the globe each day by their brothers. Whether it be through forced starvation because of an evil dictator or through a vicious civil war who’s purpose has long been forgotten, millions are killed each day. But the evil is compounded by the indifference of the entire world. We care about the shooting of these children because it is a horrible thing and happened in what was supposed to be a “safe area.” Yet, where are the television cameras for the inner-city 6 year old who witnesses rape, drug use, gang beatings, and shootings as a way of life? Or why haven’t we seen outrage over the United States’ predator drone strikes wherein hundreds of children have been killed? It is one thing for an insane man to walk into a school and mercilessly shoot down the innocent, but it’s another when hundreds of insane men launch a taxpayer funded missile at foreign children all in the name of patriotism. Both acts are insane, but we have made one socially acceptable. While capable of great good, we are capable of great evil, most often through our apathy.

We are a people that built the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, beautiful gardens, and incredible architecture that has withstood the test of time. Within a century, we created vehicles to get us from one spot to another, took these vehicles to the sky, perfected them, and eventually took them to the moon. At the same time, we created new ways of killing each other, we opened Pandora’s Box with nuclear warfare (and it seems inevitable that it will occur, killing billions), and took our creations and used them to destroy the earth.

Are we basically good? If so, then how do we explain yesterday’s actions? Perhaps we can give the shooter a cop out by saying something snapped. But then how do we explain the mass neurosis of a society that ignores the pain of those around them? If we are basically good, then our existence should be basically good as well. We shouldn’t see the crime, the war, the troubles in this world. Yet we do see them.

Are we basically evil? If so, then how do we explain the outpouring of sympathy towards the victims in Connecticut? The root of all evil is the desire for autonomy, which manifests itself first in narcissism. All acts of evil occur out of narcissism, thus empathy and altruism are completely incompatible with evil. Yet, here we are feeling empathy towards the victims. All the time we see acts of altruism where benefactor gets nothing out of his act of kindness. If we are basically evil, we shouldn’t see altruism or empathy or anything good. All that is good should be an accident.

Why is it that we are a paradox? Why is it that, on a universal scale, we’re capable of good and evil? Why is it that, on an individual level, we can always find dirt even on the best people? Why do we seem to be great and insignificant? This, in my opinion, has been the source of existential angst in the past one hundred years; once we did away with the Christian answer to this question, we were forced to face this question again. Facing the question caused angst, leading to apathy towards the question (after all, it’s much easier to be entertained) or, alternatively, to deducing the question to scientific explanations. Both attempts have been a failure, even if the apologists for each approach have yet to realize their failure.

We are a paradox because we are in the image of God, but not in His likeness. We are in the image of God in that we have a conscience, can rationally choose good or evil, and we have the freedom to choose good or evil. But we are not in His likeness in that our wills are turned away from Him and we do not always desire to choose what is good. We act like God in that we reason, but we act nothing like God in that we sin. We are all children of God, made in His image, but we have run away and are lost in a cold and unforgiving world. We are capable of good because God is still our Father, but we are capable of evil because we have left His house. In walking away from God we are left with nothing and so we try to fill that nothing with anything. But in the pursuit of anything, we will do horrible things to achieve it, because our goal is not love, it is not holiness, it is not mercy, it is not grace; when we pursue a chief end other than God, we pursue something of our own creation, meaning we pursue our pride. The pursuit of pride, the desire for autonomy, is the root of all evil.

Yet, in a plot twist that would make Christopher Nolan blush, the paradoxical Trinitarian God sent His Son into our world, to paradoxically remain fully God while also being fully human, all so He could fix the paradox that is us (yes, a paradox within a paradox within a paradox). The irony is that we are a paradox out of rebellion, but one that can be fixed; God is a paradox to us by His nature, and one we will never solve (because He is above us). The paradox that is man is the cause of our pain, but the paradox that is God is the solvent. By taking on human nature, Christ eradicated evil from it and showed us the way back to wholeness and fulfillment. The goal of following Christ is to become less of a contradiction, to abandon evil and to follow the good.

We are a paradox, but we don’t have to be. By growing in Christ, we can accomplish so much more. We can tap into the image of God, but also become more like Him.

A Prayer for the Broken Heart of Connecticut (12/14/2012)

IMG_0261Lord, please have mercy

Our world is so dissonant

What do we make of atrocity

The insane claims the life of the innocent


Into Your hands we commit their tiny souls

As we are left and our tears swell

And their lives we extol

Accept them Father for they have endured Hell


For those left behind we give to Thee

Show grace to those with empty rooms

They face unopened presents under a cold tree

Let their pain be what You assume


Lives snuffed out at a madman’s whim

A debate over the gun will tear us apart

We can pass laws against a weapon so grim

But can we interdict the hate of our heart


A mother and father cry over their loss

We can only wonder if Thou cares

Yet, for a promise made on a cross

We await our swords to be ploughshares


A last plea bring them to Your embrace

Let them run in the fields of love

Allow us not to fight but live in grace

And give us peace from above


Lives cut so short on this December day

Futures removed from mankind’s fraternity

But in hope we can always pray

That they remain in your memory for eternity


A Southern Baptist and a Lesbian Couple Walk into a Bar…(Part II)

After my friend told me his story, I started thinking about how we approach the world. The one passage I keep coming back to is John 12:47, the famous, “I did not come into the world to judge the world, but to save the world.” The context around this passage is what’s most fascinating because it deals with salvation; in other words, John 12:47 and its surrounding context seemingly tell us that Christ doesn’t judge sinners, He merely lets them engage in the natural consequences of sin.

But the deeper view is that everyone knows we’re sinners, everyone knows they sin. Only the most ardent of narcissists would deny they are sinners. To function in society we have to acknowledge that we’re sinners; anytime we apologize, admit a mistake, try to change our lives for the better, or feel bad about something we did (have a conscience), we’re acknowledging that we sin. What good would it have done if Christ simply came into the world to harp on and on about how we were lost? He didn’t need to do so because deep down we know we’re lost.

The world already knows it’s in darkness. Every religion and philosophy that has existed has acknowledged that we’re in darkness. Even the ones that deny sin or deny darkness always say that the only problem we have is that we think we have a problem; thus, in denying that we have an overall problem, they still acknowledge we have a problem. Prior to verse 47 Jesus says He came into the world to be light, so that whoever believes in Him will not remain in darkness. Think about that for a second; Christ is the light to our dark world. Why do we need to convince people they are in darkness? Just show them the light and they’ll realize it all on their own.

Imagine people born in a cave. Their entire lives they roam in darkness, so they don’t understand what true light is. While walking along they come along pockets of light from holes in the roof of the cave, holes that allow a little light to come in, but they still never experience true light. They only experience enough light to know they’re in some form of darkness. What is needed, then, is not to convince them that they’re in the dark or explain that there is a light, but to show them that there is a light. Once they see the light and experience the light, they are then left with the choice to accept the light or to remain in darkness.

I say all of this to point out that many Christians, conservative evangelicals in particular, would feel uneasy with my friend’s approach to the lesbian couple. After all, he didn’t tell them they were going to Hell, he didn’t tell them they were sinners lost without hope, he didn’t emphasize their sin. He didn’t treat them as any well-trained Christian would treat them. Yet, if we look to the example of Christ and how He dealt with sinners, I have to wonder where modern evangelicals get this idea we must emphasize that we are sinners.

My friend pointed out the woman at the well and the adulterous woman. In both instances, Jesus confronts two people stuck in sin. While he recognizes that they are in darkness, He doesn’t perform some Socratic dialogue with them until they come to the conclusion that they are lost without God and need to repent. Rather, He reveals who He is to them, He reveals Himself as the true light. By doing so, by seeing the true light, they automatically recognize they are in darkness.

The problem, at least as I see it, is that we’re too focused on saying the right things. We’re attempting to get people to intellectually accept Christ when they haven’t seen Christ put into action. But if Christ came to show us the light, then shouldn’t we do the same? Certainly words are involved, but there has to be content behind those words. And what speaks louder – going on and on about how someone is engaged in a sin, or loving the person and demonstrating Christ to them, to the point that your light reveals their darkness?

We should also remember that if Christ didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, then we are in no position to do so either. We are in no position to look someone square in the eyes and say, “Yeah, you’re going to Hell” because we just don’t know. If Christ does not condemn the world, then how can we?

This is not to say that we can’t speak out against sin, especially when that sin is extremely destructive to both individuals and society as a whole. It doesn’t mean that we can’t talk to people about their sin – but it does mean we need to put sin in its proper context when dealing with those outside the body of Christ. Rather than going on and on about how fallen we are – something Christ never does in the Gospels (not on an individual level) – we should bring to light a person’s sin by being the true light they are seeking after. We don’t use the light to point out how dark it is in a room, we use the light to eradicate the darkness entirely.

The Failure of Greater Good Theodicies

For whatever reason, I find the study of evil to be quite fascinating. Perhaps this is because I see it as the greatest obstacle to an acceptance of theism. After all, if God is all good and all-powerful, why does evil exist?

Rather than offering up my own theodicy (which is a theory I’m working on, something that will take a while to develop), I wanted to point out what I see as a problem in the traditionally “Greater Good” theodicies.

For the unfamiliar, a Greater Good Theodicy (GGT) teaches that God will allow an evil if and only if He can use it to bring about a greater good. The problem is many GGT theodicies end up saying that all evil is allowed because God wants to bring about a greater good.

Were I an atheist, I’d simply point out that, logically following, the greater the evil the greater the good; therefore, why isn’t this world full of more evil? If all evil begets a greater good, then perhaps God could allow 1 in 3 children to die of cancer, which would cause people to become scientists to discover a cure for cancer, which would help all humans. Were I an atheist, I could pick apart the logical problems with GGT.

However, as a Christian I can point to some bigger problems with GGT and show how it’s highly inconsistent with what we believe about God. For instance, let’s assume that God allows an evil to occur because it brings about a bigger good; this would mean that God is a consequentialist, possibly a Utilitarian, meaning He doesn’t really care about you.

If God knows that the death of a child will somehow lead to a cure for a deadly disease and He allows it, that means that He allowed the death of one person for the “greater good.” He allowed a child to suffer and die a horrendous death simply because He wanted us to discover the cure. Of course, this is the same God who spoke audibly to the ancient prophets and this is the same God who is infinite in knowledge; surely He could find some way to allow the child to live, have us develop the cure, and not rob us of our free will. Yet, according to GGT there is not another way, which just seems cruel.

In such a situation, it means that God used the child as a means to an end. Such a view inherently contradicts the view that God is love. If God is love and He is infinite in His love, and if God is personal, then it’s a contradiction to say that God will use us as means to an end, showing little concern as to what happens to us. While God will use us to accomplish a goal, He doesn’t use us as means; rather, we become co-workers with God or adversaries against God. Either way, we’re active participants where our involvement matters to God, not simply pawns that He moves across a chessboard in order to win a game.

And this is why, as a Christian, I must reject the GGT. I must say that, in fact, gratuitous evil does exist. I must say that, it’s true, some evil happens without a greater good to counteract it. Some might point to Romans 8:28, but I would point out that (1) it says this only happens for those who love God and (2) it only says that God turns evil into good for those that love Him; Paul doesn’t say that God turns this into a good that is greater than evil.

In the end, then, we must rethink our theodicy when it comes to the evidential argument for evil. We cannot rely on the GGT because, while logically coherent in itself, it becomes illogical when applied to Christian beliefs as it contradicts our view of God.

I would advocate everyone to look at Bruce Little’s Creation-Order Theodicy as a possible solution, though I believe (as he states in his book) that there is a lot of work required to shape up his theory. For those curious, that is where my studying is heading.