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This page is designed for the answering of questions you might have about Hinduism or Christianity, or the relationship between these two world views.  View Translations in Telugu.

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Q: Why cruel things happening in world?
A: I will answer your two questions together as a composite of one question.
The first question you ask is a common question men ask. Suffering and cruelty bring much pain to us. I cannot give you an exhaustive answer, as volumes have been written on this topic and in pursuit of this answer.
The one thing that no one would dispute is that men do have choices. There are times when these choices are limited; there are times when these choices give consequences that are both favorable and unfavorable. But few people would dispute that men have choices. I mean this in the every daily moment sense and in the ‘good and evil’ sense. We have a choice to speak kindly or without regard to someone else, we have a choice to excel in a pursuit or to be lazy, we have a choice to tell the truth or to disguise the truth. And these choices are daily affairs; they are not just a sudden and singular choice of one point in life or rare occurrences; they are a continual part of life as human beings. These choices can be made uneven and test a person in the sense of what is right and wrong or good and evil. A person could threaten another that if they reveal a secret of some evil they have done, they will bring evil upon this person. One person’s choice to evil will influence another person to evil as well. If one man kills another man, his brother is tempted to bring vengeance and to kill in return. I say this to make it clear that the choices for good and evil are not always even choices. There are consequences to our choices and it may even be that to choose what is right or good will bring us trouble or suffering. I think this is a fair way of stating the reality of the world we live in.
The reasons given for this state of affairs among men are typically: 1) God set things up this way and the responsibility for evil rests with God 2) God set these things up this way and the responsibility for evil rests with men 3) there is no God and good and evil are merely cultural ideas that are not long-lasting or real. I believe the answer is in the second reason given. However, we must deal with a few of the other possibilities before we rest with this one.
If there is no God, then who is to say what is good and evil? In one generation, men hunt and kill whales, in the next they mount boats and campaigns to save the whales. In one generation, men kill and shoot wolves as predators, in the next, they band together to protect the wolves. In one generation men hunt each other and collect the heads of other men, in the next generation, they outlaw this as murder. In one generation women are not seen as having any independent existence apart from their husband, in the next, they are given political autonomy. In this view, the morals and choices of good and evil are not measured against which generation has chosen rightly, against any standard, but this change is used to make the case that there really is no such thing as evil or cruelty. These are said to be merely inventions of the culture and of the mind. Ultimately, says this view, since mankind will eventually disappear, this planet will cease, all that will remain is dust and space (perhaps not even this), morals and evil are not real. This materialistic view is very common in certain places now. If there is no God, then there is no one to judge good and evil, if there is eventually a point where even mankind ceases to exist and all there will be is dust and space, then even man’s judgments of good and evil will evaporate and are meaningless.
The third possibility listed is that men have choices, but the ultimate responsibility for evil lies with God. The reasoning for this is that God knew in advance that men would choose evil—at least some men would. Knowing this, and giving men the choice to do evil is essentially opening the door to evil and allowing it. They would say that this is therefore the place for the responsibility for evil and cruelty.
The second answer I listed is that God did give choice to men—to do evil or good, and the final resting place for the responsibility of this evil lies with men. This view makes a difference between offering the choice of good and evil, and the actual choice to do evil. It does seem that every time evil happens, it can be traced to men, with few exceptions. In this view, the choice of men to do evil has infected the world with evil. The choice for good and evil remains, but the world is now no longer innocent and pure. Men seem to always be involved in some form of evil to some degree. I.e. some men are more evil than others, some less; some often evil, some rarely. Even the good man seems to have participated in some form of evil. His goodness is a relative goodness—he may not have committed murder, but he has spoken angry words against his brother. It seems that the choice still remains. A relatively good man can still choose evil and a relatively evil man can still choose good. Even things like famines that seem to have a sense of evil about them are not really a result of something beyond men. We have come to the realization that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone with a lot left over. The problem is the control of the food and the hording of food, the unwillingness to share, the selling of food that would save some people lives for a profit , etc. Why would not one man, seeing his neighbor suffering from lack of food, give to his neighbor? Even where some form of suffering comes from a seeming natural cause, the real evil seems to be that men will not love one another and instead will look for their own gain and profit at the expense of others,-- or simply be content to be apathetic. However, evil seems still very unjust in some circumstances in that it seems to be able to operate without consequence. I just recently heard of a young woman who disappeared in Mumbai and was found 5 days later by the railroad tracks murdered. She had been taken and raped and murdered. The ones who have done this have not been brought to justice. That this kind of evil is left unpunished seems to add insult to the injury of this terrible evil. This is where the Bible asserts that there is a coming final day in which God will judge every man that has ever existed—that men do not cease to exist when their bodies die, but that they have souls which will be judged. God who knows all things will reveal every secret, no person will be able to hire a lawyer or bribe the judge—every deed will be made known, every thought brought into the light. This idea is clearly outlined in the Bible as the final destiny of every man and woman. The idea that someone “gets away with evil” is merely an appearance. They are allowed in this world to choose evil and the consequences visited upon others is allowed. But that they will get away with what is done will not be true on the final day. This is the reason that every man ought to seek God now. For it will not be only the exceedingly evil men who will be brought to justice, but every person will under the same judicial demand. The measure will not be, “Have you been mostly good?” The measure will be righteousness and justice in every sense of the words. This is the reason that God should be sought and mercy pleaded by every man now. This is the reason that men ought to seek to do what is right now. It is not that doing right brings gain in this world, but that doing right is wise—given the coming day of the Lord.
This would be bad news for every man unless God has offered every man an option of forgiveness and mercy. The Bible says this is what God has indeed done. He has acted in history to provide the grounds for forgiveness by coming to this planet in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ was unjustly executed by wicked men—yet he permitted this in that he came intentionally to die for men and to carry upon himself the burden and penalty of our sins. In this way, God remains just by judging the sins of men, and yet can offer them forgiveness by placing the just penalty for sin on His own Son. All that remains is to trust God for this act and to walk in forgiveness towards others. For those who accept this gift from God, the last day will still reveal all the misdeeds they have committed or omitted. Yet, if they have walked in genuine humility and a desire to be right with God and trust in his forgiveness, then they will find mercy.
I hope this helps to give a short survey of the three major responses to good and evil, and the Christian view of the resolution of the issue of the existence of cruelty and evil.

- Wyatt Robertson

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