Tuesday, January 29, 2013

David Attenborough's problem with evil

Someone says: ‘I believe a God of infinite mercy created every single species and the Lord looks after us and all the animals.’ Well, what about that little African boy, five years old, sitting on the banks of a river, and he’s got a worm in his eye that’s going to turn him blind in three years? Did this God that you talk about actually design this worm and say: ‘I’ll put it in this boy’s eye?’ To suggest that God specifically created a worm to torture small African children is blasphemy as far as I can see.

(Metro interview with David Attenborough, 29 January 2013)

This is what I wanted to say to David Attenborough on my commute this morning:

1. I don't know how God can be both loving and sovereign over that African boy's plight*.

2. This is how I know that he must be:

  • God the Father has always loved God the Son. From eternity past and without change he has been pouring his love out on his Son and he always will. That is who God is and if he ceased to do that he would cease to be who he is - God the Father.
  • God the Father sent his Son to die in agony, abandoned by his friends and abandoned (but still loved) by the Father he had spent eternity with.
  • God the Father did not do that because he loved someone or something more than his Son. He did it to glorify (John 17:1) and bring joy (Heb 12:2) to his Son who loved his world and his church.

So God's love and God's bringing humans to places of suffering are not incompatible. We've seen that in Jesus of Nazerth, the Son of God. Therefore, it is rational (in the same way that empircal science is rational) to believe God when he promises us that:

  • He has always loved us;
  • He has planned for us all to suffer and die; and
  • He does that because he wants to bring us joy and glory.

* can someone help me remember where I read a quote somewhere recently? It said something like: "we can argue whether God permitted, allowed, purposed, or caused something, but the fact is 'God...'". Dorothy Sayers maybe?

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