Andrew Sullivan just finished up an ongoing discussion about theodicy, the question of God’s righteousness (theos=God, dikeo=make righteous). As posed by the philosophers: if God is both all-powerful and all-good, why does evil exist? The series of posts got of responses from readers, but I thought this one to be particularly articulate, especially in light of my post here, which sparked a nice little discussion in the comments section. Money quote:
One final point: it is very easy to constantly question a positive vision that someone else puts forward. The non-Christian, the non-theist, can ask question after question about the Christian response to the theodicy problem. But none of your correspondents have give their own account that I find persuasive (in most cases, they give no account of evil). The advantage of the Christian account, so far as I can tell, is that it actually calls evil what it is, and seeks to put it in a larger framework that redeems it. What is evil for the Darwinist? Simply an externality of the struggle of the fittest? For all the pretensions of science, and all their discounting of the mythical understanding of man, do they really expect us to believe that thousands upon thousands of years of evolution — that is, making us fit for this world, adapting to this world — ends in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (or Auschwitz)? If you question the scientist, or the atheist, or sarcastic agnostic who doesn’t like Jerry Falwell, I think they would have some problems too. Maybe, ultimately, they simply think evil is a non-sense word. Fine. But after the 20th century I find this the least plausible answer of all.
Bingo. If word evil is ultimately, objectively meaningless, then ethics must be as well. Do we really want to deal with the consequences of saying that Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Auschwitz weren’t good or evil, but just were?