This is part three in the latest installment of filmmaker Brian Godawa's series "Science and Faith at the Movies." The full paper on Creation can be found here. Godawa, together with filmmaker, Michael Corwin produced the BioLogos video, "Are Science and Faith in Conflict?"
In the last post, Brian began looking at the problem of evil as presented in the film Creation, a biographical film looking at the life of Charles Darwin. Today, he concludes by considering whether death and suffering can be reconciled with a loving God.
Herein lies the fundamental flaw in assuming that death and suffering is contradictory to a loving God’s providential care of creation: it begs the question. Who says God cannot have a morally sufficient reason for why he uses death and suffering to accomplish his purposes?
It is not a logical problem; it is an emotional one. Does not a father have morally sufficient reasons for putting his dog-bitten child through the excruciating pain of rabies shots? That child may suffer horribly, and even wonder why a loving father would impose such an evil upon his child. But what the child does not understand in the present, he will much later when he is healed or is intellectually matured. So, we will never know the fullness of purpose behind suffering and death until we see Him face to face (1Jn 3:2; Rom 8:18-25).
This is clearly not the kind of answer that will satisfy the hubris of those who demand that God meet their criteria of autonomous human reason or he cannot be God. But it is perfectly logical and Biblical. God humbled Job’s complaint for such justification with rhetorical questions that revealed an ignorant humanity with limited, sinful and often faulty understanding of even the most simple elements of the universe. Would not that same God dress down post-Enlightened Darwinian Einsteinian man demanding answers to suffering with such questions as, “Were you there at the Big Bang, or before it? Where were you when I put in place the process by which I created the first cell? Is it by your understanding that the diversity of species exists? Can you create life without suffering? Do you establish fixity and variation? Tell me your unified field theory that binds the four elementary physical forces of nature? Can you make a single quark or gluon or fill the universe with dark matter?”
Unfortunately, the Bible does not divulge God’s purposes for most of our suffering and death. Sometimes, he reveals his good purposes in this life, like he did with Joseph’s suffering as a means to rescue the children of Abraham from starvation (Gen 50:20), or Esther’s sexual slavery as a means to save Israel from genocide (Esther 4:14), or Christ’s suffering as a means to the redemption of the world (Rom 5:18). But for those who struggle over their young child’s leukemia, or the ravages of the modern sex slave trade, or Darfur’s genocide, or even the natural existence of all life based upon mountains of death, it appears to our limited finite and sinful minds as senseless and without purpose. He only gives us the promise that in the end there will be justice, in the end there will be redemption from all pain, in the end all will be put to right -- but he doesn’t explain to our modern scientific minds just how that will be or through what mechanism.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away… and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:1-4)
We must rely upon faith in the Creator God, that if He is the sovereign creator and sustainer of all reality, then we can trust him when he tells us “all things work for the good” even if he does not reveal how this can be so. Faith. Yes, that is the very thing that would anger a mind bent upon demanding all truth be reducible to categories of current human understanding – a limited mind under the delusion of its own limitless grandeur, unconvinced of the nuance of mystery all around him. And I would suggest that is precisely the ultimate act of arrogance; to say that since I can think of no good reason for the death and suffering in this world, then there can be no good reason for death and suffering. Might this not be the ultimate science stopper, an “unbelief of the gaps”? Might this not be the ultimate idolatry: self-deification?
Then Job answered the LORD and said:
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)