Reflections on the Sandy Hook School ShootingMarch 15, 2013
Nearly three months have passed since the school shooting in Sandy Hook. We have experienced in that event what would be blasphemy to call it anything other than "evil". A man entered an elementary school, and began a massacre that shattered the lives of 20 families and ended the lives of 20 children, who he executed with a high-powered rifle at close range and killing adults who tried to stop the carnage. Then he took his own life.
If what this man did is just a social construct or an evolutionary bi-product of genes and environment, it does not do justice to call it just "evil." I mean objective evil, evil beyond the opinion and critics of conservatives or liberals. If this life is all there is, then I can say categorically that he did get away with murder!! He got what he wanted.
But if the atheists are wrong, then his life is just beginning and as Kant argued, justice is waiting.
This event drew me to tears and anger.
The question for me is, is this really evil--I mean really evil that transcends cultures? If so, then on what ground can I call this evil, was it just a "going against humanity" or "from our genes?" Or is it something more profound? It does not make me question the existence of God, because to assume an absolute evil, is to assume an absolute. I have read and researched the atheistic and other views of evil and they are so empty of existential and logical impact.
C.S. Lewis in his masterpiece, Mere Christianity wrote:
"Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe is a price worth paying for free will—[then] . . . it is worth paying."
In one of the greatest works of Russian literature, Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, the atheist, Ivan argues with his priest brother Alyosha, about God and evil, and ends his debate with the following challenge:
"One can hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I challenge your answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature—that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.”
“No, I wouldn’t consent,” said Alyosha softly....
Most scholars end the quote there. But lets keep reading....context is everything in books.
"Tell me, and tell the truth."
"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.
And can you admit the idea that men for whom you are building it would agree to accept their happiness on the foundation of the unexpiated blood of a little victim? And accepting it would remain happy for ever?"
"No, I can't admit it. Brother," said Alyosha suddenly, with flashing eyes, "you said just now, is there a being in the whole world who would have the right to forgive and could forgive? But there is a Being and He can forgive everything, all and for all, because He gave His innocent blood for all and everything. You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built the edifice, and it is to Him they cry aloud, 'Thou art just, O Lord, for Thy ways are revealed!'
"Ah! the One without sin and His blood! No, I have not forgotten Him; on the contrary I've been wondering all the time how it was you did not bring Him in before, for usually all arguments on your side put Him in the foreground."
Alyosha’s answer to suffering is the man from Nazareth, Jesus—the God man. Ivan asks, "that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance—and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions?" ...On this edifice the Architect, God the Father is building all history...that child, that innocent one who suffers so all of history and heaven can be built upon it, who is that innocent one? "You have forgotten Him, and on Him is built the edifice . . ." This Him, is the God man, the one who had flies buzzing over his bleeding brow, the one who wept at his friend’s tomb, the one who holds the stars in his nail pierced hands, that is Jesus.
Ivan concludes with poetically profound thoughts that many theists today can learn from :
"I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world's finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they've shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened."
Continue to pray for the dear families that lost their precious children. I write this with a deep sense of loss for I have two little ones--but with a hope that their tears will be avenged and their pain will vanish like a pitiful mirage in the light of His glory and grace.
- Khaldoun Aziz Sweis, PhD
Adjunct Professor of Apologetics