The problem of theodicy has long bedeviled religion.  You can trace it to the time religion was invented.  Perhaps only science – most recently, evolution – has vexed theologians more.  Having a God that is omnipotent, omniscient and good doesn’t work well when you impose those qualities on one Being.  How can evil exist in a world that God created is a dilemma for all thinking deists. The hurricanes that hit New Orleans and Houston and the tsunamis that plague the eastern part of the world (yeah, I realize that our east and west navigational signposts are European-imposed).  Natural disasters result in innocent lives lost, businesses of righteous people destroyed and not only the wicked suffer. Often it is children who endure the most ache.  They cannot be accused of a sin that warrants draconian, irreversible and unteachable punishment.   Maybe humans can argue that the bombs and other lethal projectiles that they direct must account for innocent lives lost due to collateral damage, but God, as defined by the triple definition of theists, can’t.

Three answers are offered, with variations in each category.  None of these explanations with any serious thought, provide any kind of solace or makes sense.  I reject entirely the answer that God’s plans are beyond human understanding, not because I elevate our comprehension, but because it has to make sense to us.  Such solutions - as the famous answer recorded in the Bible given to Job, or that we only see the back of the tapestry analogy - has never offered consolation to the question, “Why me?”.  Never has, never will.

The first approach tells us that God wants to send us a message.  My response to that – as one famous and somewhat witty response as to why the Jews and other groups were brutally massacred during the Holocaust – is: “May you rot in hell.”  Am I a better, more noble Jew because my grandparents and uncles and aunts perished in the Holocaust, or because my parents suffered degradation and physical abuse during those years? What lessons do we learn from natural disasters, other than taking care of our planet better and having better warning systems?  All of these are scientific and environmental issues, not moral ones.  There are lessons that the science of plate tectonics teaches about earthquakes, it is not God.

The second approach is to blame someone.  Not us, of course.  It is always someone else’s fault. After the Lisbon earthquake of 1775 and the fires that engulfed the city, heretics were hanged for inviting God’s wrath.  New Orleans was hit by a devastating hurricane, according to a Christian televangelist, because it permits gays to live openly.  Basically, the argument is that we are good, but when Divine punishment arrives, it is the fault of others. 

The third approach tries to keep God out of the equation.   It argues that God (and we) are guiltless.    God doesn’t have the power to change Nature or He is still in the “process” of developing the necessary skills to rule correctly. But if God is the Creator of this planet, He should be able to control all its functions.  When I built something that goes awry, I destroy it.  I would expect God to do the same. 

Perhaps the lesson of evil is simple: Avoid religion like the plague.  Organized religion is especially heinous.  You have only humankind to depend on.  If religion can have meaning at all it must mean – as all religious saints have emphasized – that we must have mercy on all sentient beings.  That would include Syrians, African immigrants, and Arabs.   We may not like some of these groups -they may have intentions of harming us, even – but we need to show human concern for them. Pain is pain, misery is misery and enslavement is slavery – regardless of the sufferer.

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