How Could God Kill Women and Children

The Problem of Evil is a tricky thing. In my estimation perhaps the greatest single objection to belief in the God of the Bible (of course, understanding evil as such makes an implicit argument for God).  In this video, John Piper attempts to deal with this difficult question. One of the reasons that I like John Piper is his refusal to let God off the hook or make excuses for God – as if God needed these things.  His five minutes here are just enough to get us all to revisit the topic.

Originally posted at Desiring God‘s blog on February 27, 2010.


2 Comments to “How Could God Kill Women and Children”

  1. This is interesting but outside the frame of reference of an old humanistic agnostic like myself. I remember reading one of M. Scott Peck’s books years ago, People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil, where he tackled the subject based a lot on his clinical practice as a therapist and his thought process as a Christian (his claim). A lot of what he wrote I could validate from my own life and some of the people I encountered. At one time I was an inmate of the California Youth Authority and during my mid teen years I actually spent brief times in jails and such. I have met evil people.

    I extracted this from Wikipedia related to M. Scott Peck’s analysis:
    Prominent American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck on the other hand, describes evil as “militant ignorance”[8].The original Judeo-Christian concept of “sin” is as a process that leads us to “miss the mark” and fall short of perfection. Peck argues that while most people are conscious of this at least on some level, those that are evil actively and militantly refuse this consciousness. Peck characterizes evil as a malignant type of self-righteousness which results in a projection of evil onto selected specific innocent victims (often children or other people in relatively powerless positions). Peck considers those he calls evil to be attempting to escape and hide from their own conscience (through self deception) and views this as being quite distinct from the apparent absence of conscience evident in sociopathy.

    According to M. Scott Peck an evil person[8][9]:

    * Is consistently self deceiving, with the intent of avoiding guilt and maintaining a self image of perfection
    * Deceives others as a consequence of their own self deception
    * Projects his or her evils and sins onto very specific targets (scapegoats) while being apparently normal with everyone else (“their insensitivity toward him was selective” (Peck, 1983/1988,p105))
    * Commonly hates with the pretense of love, for the purposes of self deception as much as deception of others
    * Abuses political (emotional) power (“the imposition of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion” (Peck,1978/1992,p298))
    * Maintains a high level of respectability and lies incessantly in order to do so
    * Is consistent in his or her sins. Evil persons are characterized not so much by the magnitude of their sins, but by their consistency (of destructiveness)
    * Is unable to think from the viewpoint of their victim (scapegoat)
    * Has a covert intolerance to criticism and other forms of narcissistic injury

    He also considers certain institutions may be evil, as his discussion of the My Lai Massacre and its attempted coverup illustrate. By this definition, acts of criminal and state terrorism would also be considered evil.

    I have known some people who knew that they were doing evil and made a conscious choice to do so.

    This, to me, is the worst case.

  2. Dmac,

    The problem of evil definitely contains issues of degrees of evil and the gratuity of some evils. There is no doubt that some people are more evil than others, but as a Christian, I would say M. Scott Peck has missed the boat in defining sin from a biblical perspective. The Bible is clear that sin is “missing the mark”, but not first and foremost in consideration of what we think of ourselves or how we relate to other humans, but how we relate to God. The beginning and end of sin is deals with my relationship with God. This is why Romans 3 says “no one is righteous. No, not one! No one seeks after God” with every single human being who ever has, is or ever will live in view, with the one exception of Jesus – who we clearly believes is more than just another human.

    Within the framework of the logical argument, part of the discussion surrounds a definition of evil. I would say the general consensus includes suffering, natural disasters and diseases, as well as moral evils as part of the conversation.

    I will look out for his book.


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