Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Faith And Doubt

While I was at the monastery on Sunday I was involved in a spirited conversation about faith and doubt and good and evil and why bad things happen to good people. Can you be a person of faith and also be full of doubt? Why is there evil in the world? What does God do all day? I know I sometimes think we let God off the hook too easily and too often. Everytime something good happens, we thank God. When something bad happens, however, we usually say "It was God's will" or "It's part of a bigger plan". When I was a boy and you asked the priest or nun something they couldn't answer, they always replied, "It's a mystery". This may come as a shock to some of you but there are times I have wondered if there is a God. If there is a God why is he so often hidden from our lives? Once, in a moment of anger with God, I said, "If you're God, be God! Quit playing hid and seek all the time! Show yourself"! I am familiar with the theological arguments for why there is evil in the world, at least in the Christian tradition. I also have some understanding of what is believed to cause suffering as believed in the Buddhist tradition. It's a little easier for me to understand the potential for evil in the world when I face the potential for evil within myself. In general, I think human beings are wonderful creatures but I also believe that all of us are capable of anything at anytime, be it good or evil. I choose to do good and I believe in the power of love. Human beings, however, have free will and some choose evil and hatred. Of course, on the drive home Sunday when I thought about the question of why there is evil in the world, I also wondered why no one seems to ask the opposite question. Why is there good in the world? What is it that motivates most people to choose good and to live good and loving lives? If we want to question God for his seeming indifference to all the evil in the world, who gets credit for all the good things? All the bad stuff fills the newspapers and cable news networks. The reality is that most of the good in the world goes unreported. Maybe God feels like we sometimes feel at work or school or at home when it seems that none of the good things we do gets noticed and every mistake or oversight is immediately brought to our attention. It the world nothing more than a ant farm sitting on the window sill of God's kitchen? I think not. Just because I don't understand God's ways and what does and what he allows doesn't mean there is no meaning or logic behind the good and bad in the world. I choose to believe there's a purpose to it all. Faith gives me hope and I need hope in a world I do not always understand.

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