Dr. John Gerstner, my esteemed mentor, certainly had a way of getting my attention and helping me to think more clearly. I still remember when I told him that I thought the problem of evil is irresolvable. Having noted that the best apologists and theologians in church history haven’t answered all the questions raised by the existence of evil in this world, I told him that no one would ever solve the problem on this side of eternity. He turned and rebuked me. “How do you know the problem of evil will never be solved?” he asked. “Perhaps you or another thinker are the one God has appointed to solve this issue.”
With all due respect to Dr. Gerstner, I think he overestimated his students. I haven’t changed my opinion on the problem of evil since that conversation. In the many years I’ve taught philosophy, apologetics, and theology, and in the many conversations I’ve had with hurting people, a full answer to the problem of evil remains elusive. If anything, recent events make the problem seem more acute. In the past year alone, we’ve dealt with terrorists bombing the Boston Marathon as well as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Hurricane Sandy killed nearly 300 people in the Northeastern United States. We could also mention the hundreds of thousands who died in tsunamis in 2004 and 2011. The list is almost endless.