God, Afghanistan, and the question of evil

As the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan continues, we hear more stories of the evil of the Taliban.  Police being executed in the streets, "rape gangs" going door to door, taking girls as young as 12 from their homes to be used as sex slaves for the soldiers.  Even relief organizations working in the region are warning of an increase in attacks on Christians across the nation, saying anyone who is identified as a Christian could be killed for his faith or seriously persecuted. 

Clamoring to escape evil they know is coming.

In fact, fear of the evils of the Taliban is so great that people were literally clinging to the outside of airplanes and falling to their deaths rather than live under the terror of the Islamic emirate.

As these horrific stories unfold, I am hearing more and more people say things like "Why would God allow this?," or "How can a loving God allow this kind of evil to be unchecked?"  Indeed, this made me think long and hard about this moral and theological quandary.  Throughout history, the debate of God's goodness has been held in light of the evil that seemingly is allowed to exist.  Even in the recent film The Suicide Squad, the villain the Thinker, when faced with the evil he has brought about, says, "If God existed, wouldn't this be proof that he wasn't good at all?"

In Epicurus's trilemma, he says the following. 

If God is unable to prevent evil, then he is not all-powerful. If God is not willing to prevent evil, then he is not all-good. If God is both willing and able to prevent evil, then why does evil exist?

As a Christian, I ask myself this a lot: why does God allow evil?  Is it because of free will?  Is it to push forward a greater plan?  And frankly, I don't have a great answer to these questions.  However, the one question that must be asked is this, do we really want God to intervene and stop evil? 

Many of you likely have been exposed to the global sensation that is Doctor Who, a television program about a "Time Lord" known as the Doctor, who is immortal and travels forward and backward in time and the universe helping people.  It's a fun show, albeit one that does dip its toe into moral and ethical issues that are often debated.

In most of the show, we are showing a fun-loving and caring Doctor; however, in one episode, we are shown a different side, a punitive one.  The episode's villain says this after his defeat:

He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing. The fury of the Time Lord. And then we discovered why. Why this Doctor who had fought with gods and demons, why he'd run away from us and hidden. He was being kind.

This episode showed that, yes, the Doctor was kind and loving, but when he was faced with a malignant and aggressive evil, he had no choice but to act and act ruthlessly to put it down.  This example of an all-powerful being acting to eliminate evil made me ask: would we want God to be actively involved in our world and stopping evil?

It's popular to say that God is all love and focus on his redemptive side, and while, yes, God wants to redeem and save all, we can't throw out God's other attributes — the God who said, "Vengeance is mine," who flooded the world, who cast Satan out of heaven.  God is both redemptive and punitive. 

Like a judge, God hands out both mercy and justice, bound to eternal law.  If God were actively present in our world, combating and stopping evil, it would not be a very pleasant sight.  God is a being of pure good, and thus, he cannot suffer any evil in his presence (hence the reason for Jesus as our mediator).

Like how the Doctor when presented with a titanic evil, was forced to obliterate it from existence, in much the same way, God, if actively in our world, would be forced to obliterate all evil.  I then wonder: if this were to happen, how much of our world would be left?

So when people ask me, "How can a loving God allow this to happen?" I respond that perhaps he is being kind.

Byron Lafayette is a journalist and author. He currently serves as Editor in Chief for Viral Hare, follow him on Twitter @ByronLafayette.

Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.

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