*** DEBUG END ***

Evidence of evil

19 April 2013

THE problem of suffering is one that often confronts Christians. No answer can be cut and dried: questioners look for flaws in the arguments, of which there are bound to be many, or insincerity, which, at least, is easier to avoid. There is evidence, however, that another question is coming to the fore: the problem of evil. The arbitrary nature of the threats from Pyongyang, combined, perhaps, with a sketchy grasp of geography that places North Korea nearer than it is, has awakened a degree of anxiety, especially among young people unfamiliar with the nuclear shadow that hung over the world in the 1960s and '70s. The Boston bombings on Monday have brought this incomprehensible threat nearer to home. The intention to kill and maim innocent bystanders, who had no foreknowledge of the bomber's grievances, nor could have contributed to them in any way, lends this act the air of a generalised evil.

If more evidence of inhumanity were needed, it was found in a shipwreck in the Philippines that damaged a stretch of protected coral reef. The ship, from China, was found to contain ten tonnes of frozen pangolin, the result of widespread poaching and slaughter of thousands of pangolin (often called scaly anteaters). Trade in the Asian species of pangolin has been illegal since 2002, and the sailors who survived the wreck face up to six years imprisonment. Their cargo is an example of disregard for the survival of this beautiful and now rare creature, simply because its meat is prized in China, and its scales, although merely keratin, are believed to have medicinal qualities. The pangolin's survival technique, curling itself into an impregnable ball, is useless against a human predator.

The definition of evil is complex and elusive, but here is one of its roots: a disregard for the consequences of satisfying one's desires, particularly when this harms the innocent, whether human or insectivore. The carefulness with which God regards his creation, which is the definition of good, is the opposite: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." Even when the examples are distant - North Korea, Boston, the Philippines - they should prompt a response: a greater carefulness for the world and its creatures.

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Train-a-Priest Fund 2022 Appeal

Please consider a donation to TAP Africa this year. Every penny you can give goes to ordinands in Africa who face financial difficulty, to support them as they complete their training. 

Donate online

Read more about this year's appeal

Forthcoming Events

24 May 2022
Disability and Church: Intersectionality
A joint webinar from HeartEdge and Church Times.

2 July 2022
Bringing Down the Mighty: Church, Theology and Structural Injustice
With Anthony Reddie, Azariah France-Williams, Mariama Ifode-Blease, Luke Larner, Will Moore, Stewart Rapley and Victoria Turner.

More events

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)