I can't imagine anything more painful for a person than the loss of one's child, and so I won't pretend that I can adequately express the horror of the savage murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
When such tragedies occur, most of us engage in sober reflection about the preciousness of life and especially of our own loved ones. As much as we hurt for the families who lost children at the hands of this murderer, we thank God our children are safe.
But we know it can happen to any parent; these victims did absolutely nothing to provoke this wanton act of evil.
How could an all-powerful, all-loving God permit such horrors to occur? Indeed, isn't the prevalence of evil in the world a major reason so many people through the years have rejected the notion of a personal God altogether?
Isn't it why St. Augustine flirted with Manichaeism and its idea of the duality of good and evil? Isn't it why a few of our founding fathers latched on to belief in a deistic god who created the universe and human beings but then abandoned them to fend for themselves without any further intervention in history? Manichaeism, Deism, and even Eastern religions don't seem to present as severe a conundrum concerning the problem of evil.
Without question, apparent intellectual obstacles sometimes mask the greater root causes of our doubt, chiefly human pride and human sin, but I am convinced that intellectual doubts about evil and suffering are a genuine impediment to faith for some.
How terrible it would be for a tragic occurrence such as Sandy Hook to undermine people's faith at the very time they most desperately need it.
In my spiritual journey, I've discovered, ironically, that certain questions that used to haunt me with doubt now serve to reinforce and even bolster my Christian faith.
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