When the Sun Won’t Rise Pt.1

Some of you expecting a blog much sooner from me, probably assumed that my first post was going to be my last. The delay is a result of my hesitancy to write on anything other than the topic of Japan.  I pondered if it was wise for me to even approach the tragedy, or the accompanying questions of “why?” or “what’s next?”  I am not a pastor, nor philosopher, nor teacher. Take these words with a grain of salt. Silence is sometimes the better option, but I will attempt to choose my words wisely and hopefully write something worthwhile.

For many, including myself, Japan has been imprinted on our hearts and minds. It has been nearly six days since the earthquake and tsunami struck, but it appears that we haven’t fully realized the devastation that took, and is still taking place. As an abundance of pictures are displayed, the horrors seem all the more real, and in our globalized society, close. I’ve found that the news has become too difficult to view as we witness yet another natural disaster decimate a people.

It gets to the point, where watching a girl’s body go limp from shock and loss becomes too much to bear from our living rooms. Not a month ago we were seeing people crying in New Zealand, a little earlier Chile, and just over a year ago Haiti. The pictures of the atomic-bomb like devastation are haunting, but watching the survivors emotionally torn apart utterly heart-breaking

It is in times like these when we ask God, if we believe in God, “how can this happen?”  This question is the emotional voicing of the ever disturbing and perplexing “Problem of Evil/Pain.” The reason that this issue is more difficult than say, a theistic or atheistic argument on free will vs. either divine, biological, or psychological hard determinism is that everyone at some point must stare pain in its eyes. While most of us do not go around wondering if the Trenta coffee we just purchased was of our own volition or not, we all face pain regardless of our worldview. The Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, and Hindu all have to deal with loss of some sort. As a result, the undeniable reality and physical manifestation of the problem, make a simple or even complex philosophical answer unhelpful. We even run into the danger of making light of the situation.

I am not trying to diminish what philosophers do. On the contrary, I believe that work on this topic is vitally important, but not enough in of itself. This is because the “real” answer might not be helpful one its own. The answer to the Problem of Evil is not necessarily a solution. If the atheist is right in saying that we live in a random disastrous world, we are still left with the same problem. If the Christian asserts that God has a greater ultimate good in store, we are still left facing the problem and are in danger of belittling a the severity of a tragedy. This idea is akin to that of a doctor telling a patient that his or her pain is the result of a tumor that may be malignant. The diagnosis, while important, is not helpful on its own. What is important is that the problem is treated and the patient made well.[1]

At this point, you might think that I am merely towing the middle of the road to appease any theistic or atheistic readers. I can guarantee you that I have satisfied neither at this point, nor is it my intention to present a surface-level postmodern idea that would present nothing of value. I believe that I am ultimately working with a Biblical response very similar to that of NT Wright’s as his works are fresh on my mind. I will expound upon this in part 2.

[1] Unlike the “Problem of Evil,” all parties involved agree upon the diagnosis and the correct answer is known. I will assert that proper diagnosis is vitally important to treating a disease.   Like a physical or cancerous tumor, the “correct” philosophical diagnosis may not be easy to hear and is useless when presented alone. I admit that the metaphor has problems and I will flush it out at more length and fix the errors at another date.


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