(Photos courtesy of Tony Phalen, who lives near the Century 16 theater and recently visited the memorial site)
In the wake of the Aurora theater massacre, we’re left with the same pressing question that humanity has struggled with for millenia: Why?
As the families of the victims turn to church, to prayer, to their friends and support groups, their battle with that question has reached its climax. Why were their children, their husbands, their mothers, their friends and family chosen to die? Did they have to die? If so, why?
A pastor in Aurora struggled with the question on Sunday, and could not answer the question sufficiently: “When our world goes periodically crazy, a flood of questions can come into our minds. The question we all probably struggle with: Why did God allow this? My response is: I don’t know.”
The friends and family members of victims attended the first court session today, in which the murderer of their husbands and wives and brothers and sisters appeared before them in a drunken stupor. They were reportedly “angry at his reaction”, or perhaps lack thereof.
Unfortunately, what the victims’ families will never have is the answer to the pivotal question of “why?”. This is the unfortunate reality we live in. The families of those murdered at Fort Hood will also never understand why. The families of the students shot at Columbine will never learn why. The friends of the employees in the World Trade Center will never learn why.
This event is another piece of evidence that the Problem of Evil is still alive and well today, despite thousands of years of struggling with it and searching for its resolution. I do believe that events like these satisfy the logic behind the Problem of Evil, and that its conclusion is undeniably true.
Before I continue, I should make it known that yes, I am a Christian. I do not attend church — I feel no need to have my actions justified (or absolved) by a group of people whose sole point of reference is a textbook written by flawed humans thousands of years ago.
- If an all-powerful (omnipotent and omniscient) and perfectly good (benevolent) god exists, then evil does not.
- There is evil in the world.
- Therefore, an all-powerful and perfectly good god does not exist.
The actions of a single killer do not, by themselves, prove the Problem of Evil’s accuracy. God’s decision to allow it proves the Problem of Evil’s accuracy. If God were omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, the bastard would have been struck by lightning before he put
on his socks. Period.
A common “resolution” to the Problem of Evil is the nature of free will. Some say that free will is so important to God, so crucial to His design of the universe and His creation, that the nature of evil is worth the souls of those lost in its wake.
I call bullshit.
Free will and the destruction of evil are not mutually exclusive. In other words, God can allow bastards like the Aurora theater killer to choose to kill 12 unarmed people. But an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent God has every right — and possibly a duty — to smite the shit out of such heartless killers before they step into their preferred killing grounds.
Apologists will play the “free will” argument until they’re blue in the face, but it gives God no credit when He is able to do anything at any time. If anything, He comes off as lazy or inattentive.
I am of the opinion that He is either unable or unwilling to aid us. The Framers of the Constitution, I think, would agree with me since they expected no aid from God during the Constitutional convention.
And they would no doubt see Friday’s horrific events as further evidence that we are, ultimately, utterly alone. God may exist — and I believe He does — but he’s not intervening. Who knows, maybe he entered a pact with Satan in which they agreed to not intervene. If that’s the case, it’s pretty clear Satan intervened on Friday and God — still playing by the rules — failed to see the act as a dissolution of the contract. Regardless, it’s up to us to bring impartial justice to those who would harm the innocent.
Unfortunately, we seem to have the same problem as God. We are unable to intercept evil before it can carry out its mission.
I recently read a book on existentialism titled How to be an Existentialist: or How to Get Real, Get a Grip and Stop Making Excuses by Gary Cox. Fantastic read. As it turns out, I’ve subscribed to existentialism my entire life without realizing it. The entire philosophy is based on the notion that we humans have complete free will and are able to choose our own paths in life. We should regret nothing, because it was our choice, our act and nobody else’s. While we’re a slave to time, we still must accept all events and all consequences stemming from our actions.
While existentialism sounds like a dismal philosophy, its intent is actually to improve the lives of those who subscribe to it. In accepting the nature of our universe and accepting that we’ll never know “why”, we can move forward and learn to love life for what it is. So, too, can the families of the victims. In fact, they may find more answers in such a philosophy than they can in the Bible — as I have.
The Aurora theater killer made a choice, and despite what anybody may say, it was not society’s fault or a gun manufacturer’s sin that caused this tragedy. It was the choices carried out by a single, sadistic soul who, apparently, could not even be stopped by God.
Now, in the wake of his actions, we should force him to face the consequences. Because, after all, God has given us the choice and the power to carry it out — mostly because He failed to act, but also because it seems free will should dictate we do so.