USA TODAY :Reconciling evil with faith

Michael Novak writes:

The New Yorker (of all magazines) gave a good number of pages early last month to a quite brilliant book reviewer, James Wood, for a long essay on why he could no longer be a Christian. Stories like his are widespread. They usually cite the natural evils that too often crash upon humans  —  in China a stupefying earthquake, in Burma a cyclone, elsewhere tsunami, or tornado, disease, flood, or cruel slow-working famine. They then add the evils that humans inflict upon other humans.

. . . Of course, ceasing to be a Jew or a Christian does not wipe these evils away. They continue. They roar on. The rejection of God does not diminish evil in the world by a whit. In fact, the turn of Russia and Germany from more or less Christian regimes to boastfully atheist regimes did not lessen, but increased, the number of humans who have horribly suffered, by nearly 100 million. Even under atheist interpretations of science, the vast suffering under ferocious competition for survival, for a vastly longer era than was known, far exceeds the evils earlier generations knew.

. . . However that might be, those who suffer most from injustice and oppression seem to find more consolation and dignity in the Jewish/Christian faith than in any other worldview (even socialism). Judaism and Christianity seem very good religions for those who suffer because they bestow on them justice and dignity. The realistic point of Judaism and Christianity is that suffering is a normal part of every human life. Lamentations are a native language. But evil does not mean that God loves us less, or that all is lost, or that good does not win out in the end.

In fact, the poor also delight in the beauties of God’s creation. On balance, even with their acute suffering, the poor also feel blessed. They sense the rapture of sunlight flashing across lake or ocean, and soft breezes at sunset, and the great starry sky.

For Christianity, the interpretive key to this world is the cross  —  the cross on which the Son of God died. For Judaism, it is the long, long exile and pain of the Jewish people. If God has so treated his only son, and also his own people, why should anyone else expect Easy Street? Suffering seeks everybody out. Death certainly does, Christian or not, atheist or not.

Read the entire article. Reconciling evil with faith – Opinion – USATODAY.com

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