Faith/Spirituality Forum: The Problem of Evil

The Problem of Evil QUESTION from Dave on July 18, 2002 Hello,
I've been reading several positions regarding the Problem of Evil issue, most recently Plantinga's. Basically, it is concluded that evil is a logical consequence of free will, where free will is necessary for moral good. He also concludes that the evil inspires goodness, so that good is always present in greater quantity than evil. For example, 9/11 may have painfully murdered thousands, but it (hopefully) encouraged millions of families to more conciously appreciate their loved ones and re-dedicate their lives to what is truly important. For many scenarios of evil, this reasoning seems to work. But, there are areas where I would ask for guidance.
I've always found it difficult to accept the moral goodness of some Old Testament laws - that swearing, disobeying one's parents, and such required the death penalty. But, if that wasn't bad enough, the deaths were to be carried out in a cruel and unusual fashion, as with stoning. I try to apply the 9/11 logic above, but it doesn't compute for me in these cases because we are talking about God's Law, rather than the will of terrorist lunatics.
Then, I thought perhaps it's because Jesus was sacrificed that allowed a less violent Law, but in that case I wonder why mankind had to wait millenia for this increased humaneness in the Law. Just as Eve took that bite, Christ could have miraculously appeared in the flesh and sacrificed himself to the evil serpent's poison. Wouldn't his earlier sacrifice have reduced subsequent evil and pain in the world?
(Finally, I found a sentence that ended in a question mark!)
Given that God is ineffable, and inscrutable, and incomprehensible, etc. - it doesn't seem like there is much hope for solving theological mysteries. But, wrestling with these problems is difficult when resigned to mystery. It seems one has to choose between faith and rationality.
Thanks for your thoughts on this matter.
Dave
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 22, 2002 Dear Dave:
I can appreciate your quandry in these matters.
I just answered a question that was similar. You might want to view that answer. It was on the question the Old testament from Lilia Bodino.
On the problem of suffering and of evil there are also two books I would HIGHLY recommend.
1) Making Sense Out of Suffering, by Peter Kreeft = Click Here
2) Arise Out of Darkness:When Life Doesn't Make Sense, by Father Benedict Groeschel = Click Here

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