Critics of organized Christian religion—for our purposes, let’s call it a belief in a Christian God that is characterized by routine communal worship—often revert to the same repetitive arguments and age-old critiques repeated one generation after another.
Those without faith share the same doubt, and believers in God are expected to provide all of the answers and disprove all of the doubters out there. We are therefore afforded the daunting task of calming the storm and of meeting criticism with a limitless stream of information and understanding. That stark reality is also amplified by the steady rise of atheism and decline in Christian worship, especially among youth.
The questions are everywhere: if there is a God, then why is there so much violence in our world? Why is there so much death and destruction? If He is there, then why must we be susceptible to terrible tragedies on our shores? Why does this all continue to happen? Surely, the God Above did not intend for things to be this way. Humankind is supposed to be created by Him and in His image, constructed on the holy foundation of love and togetherness, respect and everlasting peace—the moral example of Jesus Christ paving the way for all human beings on this Earth, regardless of social standing, skin color, and so on. Well then if so, then why do we fall short at times?
The critics shift the debate in that direction. The doubters point to the shortcomings, the negatives, the death and the destruction as some sort of indication that God isn’t actually there. Their logic is pretty clear: this supposed God wouldn’t oversee a human race with so many flaws and deficits in character; that a world with so much bad present and not nearly enough good He wouldn’t create. This supposed God could never create a world, ripe with sin and an endless stream of wrongdoing.
If He is perfect, then why wouldn’t His creation exhibit such perfection? It makes no sense, they say. These critics argue that a tragedy—whether it be in America or around the world—demonstrates that there is no such divine being. Alas, they demonstrate a shallow understanding, establishing an argument rooted in emotion rather than a deeper and more thorough thought process.
To sin is human nature. We are imperfect creatures too often ruled by our passions and basest desires, instead of reason and faith in the divine. God shrewdly intended for us to be so, understanding—in His infinite wisdom—that imperfection brings about teaching and learning and that the ability to respond and react to an adverse situation is important.
Imperfection enables us to identify a mistake, determine a plan of action, and respond with conviction. Because we do wrong, we are able to do right; because we sin, we are able to atone for our mistakes and correct them in the long run and bring us somewhat closer to perfection.
I am a sinner, but I may strive to be a saint. You are imperfect, but you may strive for perfection. We do wrong, but we may strive to do right. I will never be perfect, and neither will you. But, we may strive Even if we fall short, our distinctly human nature allows us to respond, change and correct over the long haul. God created an imperfect world as a way of teaching. He created a little bit of bad, so that we may recognize the good and move ever closer in that direction. Imperfection allows for a proper measuring stick, and the Divine knew this in the beginning.
The critics of religion argue that the violence in this world—the death and the destruction, the immense tragedies, the endless flow of violence—point to the dearth of the Divine and the absence of a God Above. But, all of the criticism to organized religion is centered on the bad, and yet it’s this presence of bad that often brings out the goodness in the individual, in the community, in the nation. The tragedy receives the coverage, but what about the instances of a community rallying together as one and uniting in that tragedy’s wake? What about neighbors helping out neighbors, offering condolences and a comfortable shoulder to cry on? The bad tends to unearth the good—it’s made apparent, especially when it otherwise wouldn’t be there.
The worst of mankind often stirs up the very best hours, days and months down the road. The terrorist attack on Sept. 11 may unite a nation, whose citizens come together in the name of hearty nationalism and a distinctly American togetherness, for weeks to come.
By no means am I condoning such a tragedy, but it may be beneficial to look beyond the desecration and search for some tangible answers—in order to get to the bottom of God’s reasoning.
An adverse situation may be bad in the short run, but the consequences may not necessarily be so down the road. Neighborly love and understanding may sprout from a tragedy—we must remember that, even when the going gets tough.
But, why not look at the same situation in a different light? Instead of blaming the God Above, there’s always the path of gratitude and thankfulness—appreciation that the good isn’t bad and that the bad isn’t worse.
That is my understanding, at least, as a devout Roman Catholic with a firm belief in the Divine. The critics question my belief by casting negativity into my life, into your life, into all of our lives.
But such are the workings of God. Why? To make us better as human beings; to point toward righteousness and steer us in that direction. He made me and you, and He made us flawed so that we may strive for more—that we may strive for being better.
I am a sinner, but I may strive to be a saint. And so may you.
But, it requires us to change our outlook and look at the same adverse situations in an entirely different way and we must show gratitude, for the good isn’t bad and the bad could be worse. Remember that, and be grateful that He is watching over us.
Let us strive, for He allows us to do just that.
—Luka Ladan ‘15 is a political science major.