Guest Blogger: Marcus Steele

Marcus Steele

This really is a real person. Honest! I’ve decided to invite some guest bloggers–some well known like Fr Rutler and some who are newer to the blogosphere. Marcus Steele is one of the newbies. Marcus was a poster child of success: a Marine Captain and Harrier fighter pilot; an advisor to the largest institutional investors in the world; and budding screenwriter who managed to attract an Academy Award winning producer to his first project. However, on a downward spiral without ever realizing it, his atheistic hubris, empty existence and material failure eventually brought him to the brink. Yet God got in the way. He inspired Marcus to assess his life and seek Him. Thus, his journey of late is one of profound revelation. Using reason and reborn faith, he has discovered the purpose and joy of a Catholic life.

You’ll find Marcus’ blog here. He’s going on to my newly created blogroll.

Here’s Marcus’ post:

Evil and its impact on our world is a reality of this life but to discount, shun or blame God as a result of hasty thinking is a mistake. I suggest intellectual honesty requires more than a glance.

Many people turn their back on God because they can’t reconcile the evil, pain, suffering and general rottenness in the world with an all-powerful, all-loving Deity. I understand. Look at abortion. Day in, day out––about two souls a minute––an industry tantamount to a killing machine delivers babies on a long but little conveyor belt to any number of hands that rip them apart.

How’s that god thing turning out? Smug people have asked me that.

However, if you try and explain abortion et al. as an essential aspect of God’s creation––and here’s where I undoubtedly fail as an amateur apologist––friends look at me as if I’ve been drinking too much of the brain-numbing God Kool-Aid.

Evil is such a perplexing subject. It plays mind games when trying to put it in context. The world is a big place so it always pops up somewhere. Every day. We hear or read about it, some of us have seen it and some of us may have experienced it. However, evil also furtively probes the human landscape looking for weakness and opportunities.

Can we really point to an act and say it’s evil? Or bad luck? Is it fair to call the behavior of a psychopath evil when he’s simply insane? If you’re on the receiving end of vitriolic hate, is that in the realm of evil?

I’ll answer my questions with another. Assume that Satan exists and he’s the author of evil. So what is his primary job description? I would suggest that it’s turning people against God. Moreover, he can do it directly by subjecting them to evil, as in the case of a sadist––perhaps co-opted by the Devil––who repeatedly tortures someone. How often is a victimized, suffering person going to get on their knees and give thanks?

Alternatively, Satan can cast doubt on God’s goodness indirectly. A random July 4th celebratory bullet could kill someone’s mother or hate speech could incite a suicide bombing. In both cases, those left behind to deal with the horror aren’t generally going to be receptive to the concept of infinite, perfect and divine love.

And, of course, there’s war, poverty, hunger, the list is endless. So, is it a surprise that an omnipotent loving God is doubted?

I’ve been asked before if I’ve experienced evil. I’d have to say yes.

What’s interesting to me is that for most of my life I ignored or denied God because other temptations were so time consuming. I was a busy man. Coincidence? Or was Satan working double shifts to keep me away from God?

Here’s the crux. If I reasonably contemplate my physical existence and accept scientific inquiry, it’s clear to me that the universe and everything in it is a result of an intelligent designer. That signifies a Creator. Even one of the foremost atheists in the twentieth century acknowledged the existence of God because the evidence of design was so overwhelming. As he’s admitted, at one time the universe wasn’t. Now it is––compelling evidence of a transcendent causal agent in his view.

Continuing, if I look at the Creator’s plan for man’s salvation as evidenced by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ––the lead actor––virtue/good and sin/evil would have the main supporting roles. Continuing my theatrical analogy, free will would be the underlying motivation as to whether one wears the white hat or the black one.

So, from my perspective, there is a God, there is a plan, and our will is free to choose between God and Satan, good and evil.

As for free will, let’s be clear. If God blocks our freedom––or the serial killer’s freedom––whenever it’s about to be unwisely exercised, are we really free? Thank God I’m free to hit a golf ball with my driver; I’m equally as free to hit my dog over the head with a crowbar.

For some reason of late, evil seems to be as conspicuous as the little girl in red in Schindler’s List. It hasn’t blended in––I see it everywhere.

In Gregory Boyd’s book Letter from a Skeptic, his father asked a number of piercing questions. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is the world full of so much suffering? Is our freedom of will worth the suffering? Why are so many innocents harmed or killed in natural disasters? Why did God create Satan? Is God really all-powerful?

Dr. Boyd’s answers to his father were right on target. “What is the freedom to love or not love unless it is freedom to enrich or harm another?” Or another perspective. “Our earthly temporal lives are but a brief prelude to a life that is going on forever. For a great many this life is indeed filled with nothing more than pain and suffering, but from an eternal perspective, this is only a small part of the whole story.”

As for the pain and suffering in the natural world, Dr. Boyd argues that it’s the “result of evil people, not nature, and that even the pain caused by most natural disasters could be minimized or eliminated if humans were what God created us to be. Take famines, for example. Do you think anyone would ever starve if everyone loved his neighbor as himself?”

The thought that a loving God may have compensatory rewards for those who are caught in the crosshairs of both moral and physical evil is intriguing. What might those be? No one knows, but from my wishful perspective, maybe the pain and suffering is minimized by the intervention of God’s comforting mercy.

Satan, the fallen angel opposed to God, gets the last word from the Catechism. “The power of Satan is, nonetheless, not infinite. He is only a creature, powerful from the fact that he is pure spirit, but still a creature. He can’t prevent the building up of God’s reign. Although Satan may act in the world out of hatred for God and His kingdom in Christ Jesus, and although his action may cause grave injuries—of a spiritual nature and, indirectly, even of a physical nature—to each man and to society, the action is permitted by divine providence which with strength and gentleness guides human and cosmic history. It is a great mystery that providence should permit diabolical activity, but ‘we know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him.’”

The ultimate genius of God, as evidenced by the creation of everything from nothing out of perfect love, would not create an imperfect plan for man’s salvation. Therefore, evil, in all its hideous manifestations, has a role to play in our lives.

Since I trust in God, I embrace His wisdom.

Who am I to pick a bone with the Conductor of the Universe?

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  • Frank King

    Excellent guest blog that tackles tough questions without easy answers. Kudos to Marcus – and to Fr. Longenecker for posting this! I debated an atheist on his assertion that God ‘invented’ evil. Here’s the blow-by-blow account:

  • bright chabala

    Well your questions and answers about God are very important that needs GOD intervene to it but thanks for talking about creation.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    First of all, God didn’t create Satan. God created an angel who turned from God (i.e. toward what is evil since evil/ sin is turning from God). Secondly, for me, the problem of evil is a matter of free will without which there can be no chance for love. Evil is always an option, just as much as love is always an option. Where God comes in is when we are affected by the evil which exists in the world, God who is love has deigned to share that with us, accompany us and abide with us through it. How do I know? God became man and died on the cross…He became sin for our sake.

  • Patricia

    I am so overjoyed to hear from one who’s been on that dark side…and actually used his brain to find Christ.
    Too many judge through ‘feelings’..which are fickle. Some don’t realize that point, ever, in their life time…so we who DO believe pray for those who don’t. God’s Mercy knows no bounds. ~ That ‘sin’ infection, though, I found…IS a feeling. Satan knows how that will always trump the truth of God. Sin feels good! If conscience is not present, much…it’s over ridden by the use of our senses…which are gifts from God. With a well formed
    conscience…sin is hard enough to fight off considering what the world is handing out. Our poor ‘free will’ takes a beating…until we forget it’s there. We can’t know about that unless we are taught about it. Hence, the good parents, perhaps…and the Church. Without good instruction…we could be lost…so..Let Us Pray.

  • Marcus Allen Steele

    Since this is my first time guest blogging on Fr. Longenecker’s site, I’m most appreciative of everyone’s comments. I’m not quite sure why I chose this topic––maybe it’s my extraordinary disappointment with the election in regards to one monumental issue. Abortion. I’ve yet to get my head around the fact that the USA not only supports it (gleefully in some circles) but is so damn cavalier in the murdering of kids. Mind-boggling. But to suggest evil has anything to do with it, well, many on the liberal side are stunned at my proposition.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Marcus, abortion is pure unadultered evil in my view. But, if you want to experience some hope and you’re free, attend the March for Life in January in DC and get there early enough the night before to attend the Mass at the National Shrine. You will see tens of thousands of young pro-life Catholics..

      • Marcus Allen Steele

        I agree Deacon Ed. When I say “proposition,” I’m trying to keep folks in the room and engage them in the concept of evil fueling abortion. I know it is but they don’t see it that way. But if we talk, just maybe minds can be changed.

    • Pattie, RN

      Supporters of abortion and other deeply sinful ways of life cannot recognize abortion as evil, because they believe that there IS NO STANDARD to judge good from bad. Evil is around them like the very air that they breathe……would a fish know anything about life without water? I am sure Satan could not be happier than to have so many souls on his side, when these poor misguided people have no clue what team they have joined forces with. By rejecting the Power and Presence of God, they also reject any notion of Satan…..who is happy to have so many conquests without even a fight.
      Atheists have always argued that they can be moral and good, but they are (deadly) wrong. Without the knowledge of God’s laws and grace, we cannot speak to them of good or evil. All we can do is pray, and do our best to fight off Satan’s attacks on our own souls while we live in this modern Sodom!

  • Kathy

    I have a friend who has turned away from God because he cannot understand why God allows the suffering and torturing of animals. I don’t have an answer for him. If it were human beings he was talking about, I could say that their reward will come in Heaven, but we don’t know about what happens to animals after they die. I wish I had an answer for my friend. This issue bothers me too, but I have chosen to leave it up to God. However, I can appreciate his point.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      You actually have a friend who turned away from God because of the torture of animals. What does this person make of the 50 million innocents slaughtered in abortion JUST IN THE USA ALONE?

      • Kathy

        Sometimes what to you may seem a “small” event affects people’s lives more than the “bigger picture.” Does that make his dilemma any different than others and therefore of less value? You seem to be scolding me. Aren’t you interested in “all” ways people turn away from God because of suffering?

  • Name

    Why do bad things happen to good people?

    None are good but God

  • Theresa

    Thank you for sharing. Regarding your frustrations on the election and the topic of abortion, I too struggle with this issue. We cannot depend on one man sitting in the oval office to change this. The prolife march is a wonderful experience, but if you really want to save lives, go to the abortion clinics or pregnancy centers, offer consolation to the confused pregnant mothers, offer them another way (gently). Most are lost. I know I was and if it was not for the man God sent to me, 14 years ago, with a brochure to take home and reflect on, I would have committed a terrible act to my son and worse my soul. That man does not even know the difference he made, but God sees all and knows all, and sends him my thanks through His grace and mercy. Do not judge the lost mothers, for the know not what they do.