It has been my contention that no world-view, whether theistic or non, can skate on this issue. No philosophy, no theology, has integrity if it ignores this elephant in the room, the problem posed by suffering and evil. Today, as I view dump trucks discharging their faceless, nameless loads into mass graves, I am sometimes amazed at the indifference of some believers who claim this huge affront to faith does not faze them. The comment threads on this site are littered with such cavalier dismissals. Many other believers are guilty of a greater atrocity, blaming the victims of tragic disasters for exciting the Posieden-like anger of a vindictive God. Still others take the easier hand-in-the-sand mentality: what I don’t think about can’t threaten me!
Lisa Miller, Religion Editor at Newsweek, commenting on the suffering in Haiti, has raised the question again in her column, Why God Hates Haiti, The frustrating theology of suffering. Read it. Ask the hard questions.
Some Christians react defensively when I call them to consider the problem of evil. They perceive me as attacking their faith. Of course, they are correct. A faith which does not take into account the horrors of evil and suffering ought to be attacked. But my purpose is never to destroy faith. Rather, I seek to build faith that is rational, robust, reality-based. Arriving at such a faith may involve a good deal of illusion dismantling. Is it worth the risk? For some, such an examination may result in the complete crumbling of faith, as it did for Bart Ehrman. It is my experience, however, that most Christians who engage is this perilous work of critical thinking, asking the hard questions, emerge on the other side with a faith that is more vibrant, more reliable, more defensible. For me, it is the only kind of faith worth possessing.