If you read this at any point forward in American time, there will have been a recent shooting, sadly enough, so the title will be perpetually relevant.
The recent mass shooting atrocities, like any evil or suffering, need to be understood by religious people in the context of their god. In terms of OmniGod, all-powerful, -knowing and -loving, the shootings are most likely to be answered in the following ways:
- A theodicy such as free will. We, as humans, are given the gift of free will and the good that is entailed with such a good outweighs the bad that comes of it, such as freely choosing with negative consequences. Other theodicies could include soul-building, and there could be multiple theodicies at play simultaneously.
- We deserved the evil that came about. Some kind of retribution from any given ill: homosexuality or deviance of some sort, or lax approaches to rigorous Christianity, are often offered as reasons, but Original Sin could also feature.
- Skeptical Theism: we don’t know the mind of God – there is some reason, though.
Friendly Atheist has documented a few positions recently exhibited. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blamed video games and a lack of forced Christianity, which would fit into both 1) and 2).
Christian author, Eric Metaxas (the sort who conflates gays and paedophiles) blamed the “spirit of the anti-Christ”. His Tweet reasoned as follows:
The spirit of the mass-murder is the spirit of anti-Christ. Instead of pointing fingers at each other & sharing in that foul spirit, let us turn to God in repentance. Can it be that He has allowed this evil so that we will return to Him in prayer & repentance? #jesus #severemercy
This appears to be part of 2) in the context of having moved away from God in lax belief, and being punished/encouraged back to God through this very violent example of bloodlust.
It’s a horrible argument that shows that God uses people instrumentally to achieve an end; in other words, God is a consequentialist and seems to favour this most secular of moralities.
It also adds a fourth option: Satan. God’s nemesis is the cause of such suffering, if you believe in a real and tangible devil-figure.
Of course, as I have amply documented, the Satan thesis is terminally problematic, not least because if God was omnipotent, he could destroy Satan in the click of a finger. But he doesn’t and so it appears that Satan is willed by God and therefore enacting god’s desires in some manner. Satan is God’s middle management executive.
So on and so forth.
- Somehow and for some reason, God allows Satan (a being he knowingly created and over whom he has ultimate control) to cause evil and suffering to exist in the world.
All told, not a single option is attractive. The good ole Problem of Evil really is still a problem.