Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The problem of evil

"I have a very basic philosophical response, and I’ve written on this many other ways. It runs something like this: the philosophical problem is actually far more intense than the skeptic actually thinks it is. The philosophical problem, or the problem of pain, is actually more complex and complicated than the philosopher actually thinks it is when he or she raises the question. . . .

"They raise the question of evil, and I’m telling you, it is more complex than they think it is. Why? Because one must question the questioner. If there’s such a thing as evil, you assume there’s such a thing as good. If you assume there’s such a thing as good, you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. If you assume there’s such a thing as a moral law, you must posit a moral law giver, but that’s whom they are trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there’s not a moral law giver, there’s no moral law. If there’s no moral law, there’s no good. If there’s no good, there’s no evil. What is their question?

"Now you may question the last jump: why do you actually need a moral law giver if you have a moral law? The answer is because the questioner and the issue he or she questions always involve the essential value of a person. That is, you can never talk of morality in abstraction. Persons are implicit to the question and the object of the question. In a nutshell, positing a moral law without a moral law giver would be equivalent to raising the question of evil without a questioner. So you cannot have a moral law unless the moral law itself is intrinsically woven into personhood, which means it demands an intrinsically worthy person if the moral law itself is valued. And that person can only be God.

"Second, the question is not only more complex philosophically; the question’s more complex experientially. You see, most people end in despair not from disappointment through pain but disappointment with pleasure. The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate—and it has let you down. That’s the reality. Oscar Wilde once suggested, “There is no passion that we cannot feel, no pleasure that we may not gratify, and we can choose the time of our initiation and the time of our freedom.” He was the quintessential hedonist, yet he confessed that “desire at the end was a malady, madness, or both.” He said that he had become numb to feeling; he’d lost the capacity to feel pleasure. At the end of his life, he sent for a minister and admitted that only Christ was big enough to forgive his sin. This was the definitive man on sensuality. Thus, the question is far more complex philosophically and experientially."

~Ravi Zacharias, Our Disappointments Matter to God, 2007. Adapted from a message by Ravi Zacharias based in part upon a chapter from his most recent book, The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives (Zondervan: 2007).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Crossroads

"And the Lord said: My people, when you stood at the crossroads, I told you, Follow the road your ancestors took, and you will find peace."

--Jeremiah 6:16

Friday, October 5, 2007

Just finished reading: The Inner Voice of Love

I just finished reading The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom by Henry J. M. Nouwen. I recommend it.