Someone reading earlier posts in this blog may say, “I see that a case can be made for saying that the universe is governed by laws, certainly physical laws (like gravity) and even perhaps moral laws (like don’t oppress the poor), but we are a long way from the Christian God. In fact, I don’t think you can ever prove an all-powerful, loving God because, after all, look at the sorry state of the universe!” Let us explore this challenge even if we cannot fully deal with it.
It is an interesting fact that, although no physical thing is able to escape the pull of gravity, which reaches invisibly to the distant stars, yet people do seem to be able to escape the force of moral laws. It may be a law that you should not oppress the poor, but lots of people do this. They commit fraud and theft and murder. We can call this category of problems “sin.” Looking further, we see that the world is a rough place. Animals eat one another to survive. Earthquakes and wildfires cause widespread destruction. Germs and parasites blight millions of lives. We can call this category of problems “evil.” And all lives end in death.
Sin, evil, and death. These are fearsome realities of our world. We struggle against them. We have elaborate systems of justice to detect and punish crime, but crime continues. We spend fortunes to treat disease and parasites, but new diseases appear. We exercise and watch our diets to prolong our lives, but die anyway. Sin, evil, and death are problems we can combat, but never solve.
What can we learn from these bleak reflections? One lesson is that we have many shared intuitions about the defects in our universe. No one applauds when a helpless person is robbed, when a child suffers from malaria, or when a loved one dies. Sin, evil, and death are repellant blights on the world and all good people struggle against them. A second lesson is this. If the world was originally good (as seems to be assumed in mythologies around the world) then something has gone seriously wrong. If the world was made by a good God, then God must surely want to do something about sin, evil, and death.