Evil and Suffering: a Reflection Right After the Paris Attack

Paris after attack (taken from NPR)
Paris after attack (taken from NPR)

On Nov 13, 2015, the Paris attack shocked the whole world. As of now, there were 129 dead, 352 injured, 7 terrorists killed. Very likely, the number is still surging.

ISIS claimed responsibility of this terrorist attack.

And what’s more, there were then terrorist attacks the next day in Kenya and Lebanon.

These two days, there have been a lot of debates and discussions about religions, particularly radical religious ideologies. Christianity is pulled into the discussion as it is a monotheistic religion like Islam. To some people, Christianity is like Islam. Although not all theists are terrorists, they argue it is the religions that give rise to terrorism and other disasters. And a lot of Christians, even the good one, question about the goodness, mercy, justice, righteousness, omnipotence, omniscience… of God…

This is the hardest, yet the most down-to-earth, apologetic question to answer. But, from the normative perspective, this is well discussed:

  • Evil and suffering are the consequences of the curse to human and the Creation due to the Fall of Men. The original Creation was good.
  • Evil is the work from Satan, although God allows it.
  • Even the most righteous man, Jesus, had to suffer in order to finish the work of redemption.
  • Suffering can be a way for our personal growth, while it can also ruin our faith.
  • Whichever eschatological view one takes, after the Second Coming, the Creation will be renewed. There will be no tears in the New Heaven and New Earth.

However, the teaching from the normative perspective can sometimes be a stumbling block because it does not necessarily convey grace and empathy. The problem of suffering is highly situational and existential, in a way that people are struggling with those points above. C. S. Lewis wrote the difficult-to-read The Problem of Pain  that rationally discussed about pain and suffering, but then a touching The Grief Observed after the death of his wife. I have seen good suffering Christians asking the same questions that the non-Christians are asking when attacking God.

  • T. Keller, “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism”, Riverhead Books (2009). [Amazon]
  • R. Zacharias, V. Vitale, “Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense”, FaithWords (2015). [Amazon]
  • K.-Y. Ho, “BirdView (7) – Terrorism, Polarization, and Social Influences”, WordPress (2015). [WordPress]

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