The Right Opinion

The Problem of Evil

By William Murchison · Dec. 18, 2012

The notion of the president as comforter-in-chief fits snugly with the notion of political “solutions” – e.g., gun control – to essentially moral and theological problems – e.g., schoolhouse massacres.

In a well-meant message of consolation delivered Sunday at Newtown, President Obama declared that “These tragedies must end. And to end them we must change.” He again used the word “change,” in gainsaying the idea that America does enough to protect its children. “We are not doing enough,” said the president, “and we will have to change.”

“Change” what, exactly? That would be the question, wouldn't it? Change the laws? By instituting really tough, really meaningful gun control, whatever “meaningful” means in a nation that constitutionally protects the right to own and carry weapons? Possibly we could put a cop (with arms-carrying authority) in every school; on every bike path, every street corner. We've yet to hear the details.

No doubt we should forebear ridicule when the actuating factor behind the President's call is a massacre of the innocents, Herod-style: stomach-churning testimony to - to what? Long-standing apathy toward gun control? More like longer-standing apathy, I suggest, to the presence and power of rampant evil in a world disposed to see every ill as curable, at least in part, through regulation or legislation.

It might be nice if that were the case. It is not by a country mile the case. The problem of evil actions – to which we seem half-acclimated in this progressive century of ours – precedes the invention of firearms. I could say it goes back to whatever Cain used on Abel: possibly just his non-controlled, non-regulated fingers. This is assuming the ill-fated pair in Genesis 4:8 excite recognition in our fast-secularizing world, where problems and solutions alike turn out to be present-embedded and human-made. The heavens, for growing numbers of us, hold only the stars.

Yet if humans are everything (as modern people grow more and more convinced), how come we can't get things right? Can't we just talk things over? Pass the right laws? Multiply the number of law-enforcing agencies and agents? What is the matter with us? Something old? Something inborn?

The desire of humans to have their own way, irrespective of ancient obligations to a Creator God, seems to be old as the hills. Theology calls it sin, and theologians over the centuries have labored to analyze and prescribe for it: not opposing laws whose aim is preventing preventable outbreaks of it, preferring this addition, nonetheless – repentance and amendment of life.

Would that approach have prevented the Newtown massacre? The killer was just plain crazy, wasn't he? Likely so. Madness, meaning lack of reason, would seem just one more piece of evidence as to how much disorder afflicts a race – the human one – in love with its supposed ability to plan everything, control everything.

That task, especially when backed by science, seems easy enough – until the restraints expected of our sophisticated era fail to work, and small, dear, generous, wonderful children succumb to armed cruelty: just as humans, old and young, have succumbed throughout history to the worst that fellow humans can do to them.

Could it not be – maybe? conceivably? – that politics and consolatory speeches and clever laws need a foundation of realism, one which acknowledges human affairs as the huge mess they are: too big, too inexplicable for the combined power of president and Congress to “change”?

Just a few days lie between Christmas and us. It was around this time, we hear, that the Son of God came to our rescue – not to perfect everything at that precise moment, but to invite repentance and amendment of life, before offering his own life as a sacrifice. Don't believe a word of it? The alternative is to believe another act of Congress will bring us finally to that gun-controlled paradise where the evil, the murderous and the frankly loony embrace the pure of heart. It might happen in heaven. I wouldn't count too much on watching as politicians throw open the gates.

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9 Comments

sfj in Alabama said:

I imagine obummer is sincere. You see, he believes he is god and has all of the answers. What is so pathetic to me is that most voters (probably non-voters as well) believe it as well. We are in trouble in this country - lots of trouble.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

"I wouldn't count too much on watching as politicians throw open the gates."

Uhhhhhhh ... would that be the gates to the concentration camp (oops I mean relocation camps) or the doors to the crematoria ovens?
Like I stated yesterday, "if they take all the guns away from private ownership, knowing the penchant of government for mass execution of those they deem "Enemies of the State", it no longer is a matter of if ... it becomes a matter of when!"

We have entierly too many dummies here in the US of A that place implicit trust in the gummint.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM

READY4ACHANGE in ILLINOIS said:

I can barely stand to watch Obama on the TV, but when I could stomach a second or two, I found it interesting that he was reading from a TELEPROMPTER - not giving a heartfelt statement to these poor people! Really?? A TELEPROMPTER?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

What type of country would we have if private ownership of guns are taken away? A nation of lawlessness because we couldn't afford enough law enforcement to keep the criminals at bay. We don't do a good job at it now and it will surely get worse when the criminals know there is no threat to them when breaking into someone's house. The worst crime in this country takes place where gun control is the strictest. Should I say Chicago or D.C.?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

JAC in Texas replied:

I know this is an overused cliche, but "When seconds count, the police are minutes away." I hate to use cliches, but sorry, it fits.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1:52 PM

CJ Walsh in New Hampshire said:

the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, circa 45 AD, "Quemadmoeum gladuis neminem occidit, occidentis telum est." (A sword is never a killer, it is a tool in the killer's hands.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM

CJ Walsh in New Hampshire said:

the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, circa 45 AD, "Quemadmoeum gladuis neminem occidit, occidentis telum est." (A sword is never a killer, it is a tool in the killer's hands.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Bill in Texas said:

I am wondering when not just the citizenry of this country, but more so our leadership (loosely used) will finally realize the truth in the words "Guns don't kill people, People kill people."

A gun, loaded or not, is nothing more than metal, plastic, paint, and possibly copper, brass, and powder. Sitting on a table, it doesn't kill, hurt, main, or injure.

I hurt and mourn with all how have experienced these shootings and more so with those in CT since my oldest started kindergarden this year, I also know that it wasn't the guns that killed all of them. A gun needs a person using it.

It also reminds me that China had a similar incident with a man using a knife on the same day. Gun or knife? What was used doesn't matter, both are USED to take a life. Deal with the WHO that used them to do so.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

"Change" what, exactly?" Not change, but eliminate the foolish no guns in schools, churches, etc. laws. We have established criminals and madmen safe zone. Last week there was a shooting in a mall in Oregon. A person in the mall with a concealed handgun stopped it without firing a shot, their were people in the background, so he could not shoot safely. The sight of the gun was enough to have the nut case flee and remove himself from the gene pool. How come this is not mentioned on the communist news network, ABC, NBC, CBS, NY Slimes (oops Times), etc?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:26 PM