The Problem of Free Will
This article discusses the problem of evil in the world. This is not a new thing, Origen (around the year 200) also faced this problem. Both Origen and the author of the article understand God’s omnipotence to make him responsible for evil. They assume God would prevent evil if he could.
“If god could cure cancer and doesn’t, allowing a person to die without pain rather than with it, then god is not anything that could be considered kind. The response is that god must have a reason to look on things like the holocaust or children born with AIDS with indifference.”
This was one of Origen’s concerns as well. Either God had indifference towards us or wasn’t all powerful. However, if one recalls the Catholic emphasis on communion, then one can see a way out of this supposed dilemma. God, in his goodness, does not treat us as things, but rather as people. He gives us liberty to make our own choices and doesn’t constrain us to only following what is best. If we don’t have the option to commit evil, God becomes a tyrant. God is not kind to us basely, but making our lives free from trial, but kind to us in an elevated fashion by giving us autonomy. This is so that we can have authentic communion with God and each other. If I am forced to be altruistic, I am not actually altruistic but a slave — a robot to God’s whims.
Our suffering cries out to God because he mourns with us over our lack of communion with each other and him. Through our most grievous fault we injure others and fail to aid their needs. We are the lack of God’s action in this world, because we are are the body of Christ. “Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself” (Pope St. Gregory the Great). The blame for evil in the world lies squarely at our own feet.
Thanks be to God then, that we can fall at his feet and ask forgiveness for hurting others when we should help. It is not God that needs to beg forgiveness from the unknown prisoner in the image at the top, but those of us who fail to stop such atrocities from happening. I would not be surprised if some Syrians were thinking right now what that prisoner wrote long ago, yet the world looks on and does nothing of substance to promote dialog and end the conflict. Syrians, please forgive us for allowing you to die so needlessly. Please don’t hold our freely willed inaction against God, who desires we use our free will to help you and show solidarity with you.