In our quest to answer The Big Why Question about suffering and evil, we have already acknowledged that we are upset with the way the world is! Although Gottfriend Leibniz tried to “defend” or “justify” God with what he called “theodicy,” and even went so far as to say that Planet Earth was “the best of all possible worlds,” his efforts fell far short of the mark! The plain fact is that this is not “the best of all possible worlds,” and that is spelled out in Genesis Chapter 3 entitled: “The Temptation and the Fall” (of God’s Creation).
While modern intellectuals, like their ancient forbears, may dismiss the quaint but vivid story of Adam and Eve as nothing but a myth, the psychological, behavioral, and historical truths embodied in this drama cannot be denied or refuted. Human sin is rooted deep within our arrogant desires and foolish susceptibility to deceitful lies promising more than we can manage. And so we end up living in a fallen and broken world where sinful human beings not only cheat and lie, but sometimes torture and murder one another. In addition, our natural world groans/yearns for a future when there are no more tsunamis washing away towns and no more cancer-prone cells becoming as murderous as the worst terrorists.
Philosopher and atheist John Gray observes with amazing honesty: “In comparison with the Genesis myth, the modern myth in which humanity is marching to a better future is mere superstition … The message of Genesis is that in the most vital areas of human life there can be no progress, only an unending struggle with our own nature.”
There can be no progress without God’s help as seen so unmistakably in the twentieth century when instead of the hopes for a scientific “heaven on earth” we witnessed a horrific “hell on earth” created by avowedly Godless Communism and anti-Christian/anti-Jewish Nazism!
Timothy Keller quotes Martin Luther and then adds his own insight:
Martin Luther taught that human nature is in curvatus in se, curved in on itself. We are so instinctively and profoundly self-centered that we don’t believe we are. And this curved-in-ness is a source of a vast amount of the suffering and evil we experience, from the violence and genocides in the headlines down to the reason your marriage is so painful.
In our increasingly secular culture where blatant arrogance and intolerant tolerance are the twin towers of political correctness, we have the ultimate expression of a self-centered and self-ordered existence: selfies. This curved-in-on-itself selfishness breeds only dissatisfaction, disappointment, and even despair and death – which is so clearly revealed throughout the Bible.
The Apostle Paul could be describing today’s culture when he wrote 2,000 years ago about how people’s self-centered and self-indulgent “thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened … claiming to be wise, they became fools … God gave them over to the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity … they exchanged the truth of God for a lie …they are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness … envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice … gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil … unloving and unmerciful” (Rom. 1:21-31).
In spite of such evil, God in the Person of Jesus Christ came into a world and a people gone wrong. He came as a Savior of a creation needing to be re-created or reborn through the one and only antidote for “selfie-ism”: The Ultimate Self-Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ.
In tackling the problem of pain within our fallen world, C.S. Lewis makes this wise observation about how “a new species, never made by God, had sinned itself into existence.” That sinning into a new sinful existence is described this way: “The Fall is simply and solely Disobedience – doing what you have been told not to do: and it results from Pride – from being too big for your boots, forgetting your place, thinking that you are God” (A Preface to “Paradise Lost”). This thought flows right into our third question that we shall examine next time: “Who do we think we are when tempted to second-guess God?”