I recently listened to this debate on the perennial “Does God exist?” question between Peter Kreeft and Micheal Tooley.
Of course, the big issue for Tooley was the existence of evil in the world. How can there be a God (in the sense of all powerful, all knowing and all good) if bad things happen in the world?
Personally, I have never really thought much of this argument against God, even though Kreeft concedes that it is the most persuasive. I have a difficulty, for instance, in seeing the catastrophic tsunami of a few years back as “evil” in the same sense that the abuse of a child is “evil” or the fact that thousands die in the world every day of hunger when there is plenty of food to go around as “evil”. The latter two examples are caused by human decision and action (or the lack of it). This, I think, is true evil, evil which has its source in the free will of human beings which is itself a good. The former, on the other hand, is a “natural” disaster, a disaster which came about because we live on a planet that is just a thin solid crust of land floating on a ball of molten metals. Yet were our world not “constructed thus”, many other goods (such as a most fundamental good, the magnetic field of the earth) would not be able to exist.
Listening to the debate, I was put in mind of a novel by Anne Rice, Memnoch the Devil. While written before her 1998 reversion to Catholicism, this book struggles with the question of evil – and interestingly it is the Devil himself who accuses God of being “a monster” when he sees that that death and decay have a “natural” place in what at first appears to be a magical, marvelous, flawless creation. He reacts in anger against God, accusing God of being evil, and hence his rebellion against God. It is an interesting take on the old question.
So I was interested to read two articles on the First Things Blog just recently, which you might also find interesting.