“If there is a God, and this God is so powerful and loved everybody all the time, then why doesn’t this god prevent the unnecessary suffering of our lives?” Thomas James Oord, philosopher, theologian, scholar of multi-disciplinary studies presented this question and five answers to put restless minds at ease.
On Thursday, March 3 in Russ Hall, Oord gave his ideas on why he believes God has not intervened in issues concerning genuine and unnecessary evil. Oord stated that evil events often make it difficult to believe a powerful and loving god exists but that just because God hasn’t intervened doesn’t mean He doesn’t want to.
The free will argument was also a part of his presentation and how free will does not explain unintentional accidents where people lose lives. Oord gave examples like cancer and sexual assault and that people have written to him explaining their problems and wanting to know why God has not used his power to lessen the pain.
His five solutions were “God can’t stop evil singlehandedly. God is affected by evil and suffers with us. God heals to the extent possible. God squeezes good from evil. And God calls us to join the work to defeat evil.” Oord explained his ideas that God is present everywhere and very perceptive, so he always feels people’s pain and that because God gave everyone and everything free will that he can’t prevent the evil that they do to each other. In claiming that there are things God simply cannot do, he also emphasizes that one can believe this and still know God as “almighty”; a word he said he likes to use in relation to God.
Students like Blazee Stahl and Baylee Payne, freshmen, were at the presentation because of an extra credit opportunity.
“Believe it or not, I was going into it thinking that it was not going to be that good, but I ended up really liking the whole thing,” Stahl said. She liked seeing what Oord’s views were and his perspective on a controversial topic.
Payne liked how Oord’s perspective on heaven and hell showed how forgiving God is.
“God forgives all and to hear Oord’s point of view just affirmed my beliefs,” Payne said.
Others like Joey Pogue, professor of communication, attended for personal curiosity.
“I’m very interested in spirituality, faith, religion,” Pogue said. “When I saw that he was both a theologian and philosopher it attracted me because I think people that study a range of things are grappling with existence like me, so I wanted to see what he had to say.”
One of his favorite parts was when he said that God can’t do certain things because Pogue said it puts into perspective that part of God that can’t engage in evil. Pogue also attended the event because he believes that presentations such as this should have a place in the community.
“Every time we can bring something on campus that sheds light on our humanity and the struggles we are having, I think that’s very valuable,” Pogue said. “We’re human and it’s difficult to understand who we are but it’s imperative that we try.”