The Argument from evil and

The Argument from evil and a Meaningful Life

I have never heard anyone deny the existence of God on the basis of the death of Socrates, the death of Christ, or the martyrdom of Christians. As far as I can tell, to do so is psychologically impossible- one can utter words like “how can God exist when St. Polycarp is burned, or St. Therese of the Little flower dies from tuberculosis?” But to say so carries no force within the mind- the words are unpursuasive and produce no assent. Such statements, in other words, are absurd. I take this absurdity as a given.

The argument from evil, then, can only produce assent when the evil is not viewed in union to a Christian life, or a virtuous life. No one questions the existence of God when confronted with the great evils that befell Socrates, or Christ, or Cato, or The Little Flower. It is not simply the case that the evils that befell these persons cannot be harmonized with the argument from evil- their deaths even seem to contest or deny the argument from evil. These evils are too bound up with meaningfulness, with a sense of order, with glory- what are they, even, being both so manifestly evil and so manifestly a cause of glory in the lives in which they occured?

Evil is not a sufficient cause or occasion for the argument from evil. The only sufficient cause is a particular kind of evil: a human life that is viewed apart from meaning. May no evil befalling me give one occasion to doubt the existence of God.

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