On believing in God after Auschwitz (part 2 of 2)
|August 16, 2012||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
In addition to (a) the fundamental goodness of life for so many of us and (b) God’s final justice on the Nazis and on all unrepentant sinners, and (c) the fact that Hitler was not allowed to win, we may also consider (d), the obvious fact that the Holocaust was directly related to modern science and technology.
If the Nazis had not had that technology the Holocaust could not have occurred. If the Nazis had had to rely on spears, swords, and so on, they could have perpetrated horrific massacres like those of the Mongols, but there would have been no Holocaust. So, should God have created people incapable of scientific experiment and technological development? We could thus have remained forever at a primitive level – or maybe he could have allowed us to reach a certain higher level, such as that available at the time of Christ, and stopped us there.
Few will blame God for creating us with minds to think, develop, explore, and invent – and it is no accident that modern science originated out of a Christian cultural background and nowhere else. All of the founding giants of modern Western science believed there was a God. Viewing the cosmos as the creation of a personal God, by the way, did not stifle but on the contrary stimulated scientific exploration. Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton and many others did not say “ God created the world – let’s devote ourselves to prayer and bible study because religious people don’t need to think about physical reality.” On the contrary, they reasoned “God created the world – now let’s see how it works.”
So, God is allowed to create human beings capable of development and progress. Should he then constantly intervene so that all of our new insights and inventions could be used only in good ways but never in bad? So that barbed wire could be used to fence in cattle, but not in people? So that railroads and airplanes could be used only for peaceful and beneficial purposes, but not for evil ones? There are many problems with a scenario in which God has to constantly intervene to prevent us from carrying out our evil tendencies – but why would God create a world with evil in it at all? Why not just skip the whole problem by creating people as good?
In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve as good, without sin or evil, and placed them in a good world of surpassing beauty. In the end, in the kingdom of heaven, those who are permitted to attain to that blessed state will find a new heavens and a new earth in which no unclean thing will be permitted. Possibly, and again I go beyond scripture here, the new creation will have familiar geographical features such as mountains, rivers, and so on, and living creatures such as birds, fish, animals, trees, butterflies, and flowers.
In the meantime, if God has decided to allow a situation to continue after the fall of Adam and Eve from innocence, a situation in which we are not forced to be good because there is no other alternative, but in which we can reject God, hate, lie, steal, kill, and commit countless errors if we so choose – then he, as God, is allowed to do that. We must conform to what God has done, and not criticize him for failing to create a world according to our expectations.
Parenthetically, atheists are fond of telling us about all of the wonderful benefits we have received from science, with its “prodigious power of prediction and performance” – but what about the many disadvantages, harms, and evils made possible by science? Didn’t science give us napalm? Nuclear weapons? Pollution? Abortion? That is really pathetic, and dishonest as well, to boast of the many good things the human mind has found, but blame God for the bad ones. And many scientists and university-educated people cheerfully lend themselves to evil projects without moral qualms.
God has given us a world in which we are not forced to be good because we are unable to do otherwise. But, in the end, when Christ appears and final justice is fully done on all, with mercy for the believing and repentant, and wrath for the disbelieving and disobedient, then it will be seen that our complaints and questionings were misguided – not that we are forbidden to express our fears, doubts, and unbelief. Job did this, even to the extent of finding fault with God, and was praised for it; but in the end we need faith in God. This is not a blind leap, or a denial of evidence, but an awareness of spiritual realities hidden from those who do not want to see them.
The terrible fact of Auschwitz should destroy forever the secular liberal fantasy of man as being essentially good (and would destroy it, if people could face facts honestly). It also destroys, or should destroy, the pathetic and ridiculous fantasy of civilization as continuing and unending progress. It does not affect the existence of a God who is real, and present, for all who come to him in the manner he has ordained.