Part 2 Looking at the problem of evil according to the movie Sophie’s Choice

The problem of evil, as an assault against the Christian faith, can be dramatically portrayed with a dialogue from the movie “Sophie’s Choice.”  It is an account of a Polish woman in a concentration camp whose decision changed her life forever.  Near the end of the film, Sophie (played by Meryl Streep) recounts the tragic incident to a friend: “I was arrested.  My children were sent with me to Auschwitz.  When the train arrived at Auschwitz, the Germans made their selection, who would live and who would die.”

Sophie spoke slowly, watching the details in her mind, the train, the children, the darkness of night, the German officer.

You may keep one your children; the other must go.

Do you mean I have to choose?  I can’t choose.

You are a Pole not a Jew.  That gives you a privilege, a choice.

I can’t choose, I can’t

Choose or I’ll send them both away.

 

“Jon, my little boy, was sent to the children’s camp,” Sophie said quietly.  “And my little girl Eva was sent to Crematorium II.” She sighed and wiped her eyes.  “She was exterminated.”

She then said, “I knew that Christ had turned His face away from me, and that only a Jesus who no longer cared for me could kill those people I loved.” The tears spilled silently down Sophie’s face[1].

In the face this tragedy, what could we say to Sophie?  For Sophie, it would be better to approach her from the emotional problem of evil; to counsel with her, to cry with her, to show mercy and try to help her through the deep seated issues she was dealing with.  Intellectual answers won’t do.

Yet, there are skeptics who say this sort of out-of-control evil makes it impossible for people to believe in God. They say, how can your Christian God allow such evil?  Others who believe in God look to heaven and ask why does God allow this sort of thing?

The intellectual problem of evil is a problem for all belief systems.  No worldview can escape having to answer the problem of evil.  Each belief system must respond to questions such as these: What is evil?  Why does evil exist?  What accounts for the existence of evil?  And then, how can we live in the presence of evil?

I will equip you to answer questions such as these.  I firmly believe the best answers come from the Christian perspective and I will use Christianity as my basis for giving answers to the problem of evil.  These will come in two forms, offensive and defensive.  On offense I will enable you to find the weaknesses in two other popular belief systems.  Defensively, I will show you how to make sense of evil from the Christian perspective.  I will also answer a common objection that comes up in conversations around the water cooler or at family gatherings.

The two others belief systems will be atheism and pantheism.  I will show the major weaknesses each of these worldviews have in answering the problem of evil.  A worldview is a system of belief; it is how we view the world.  Everyone has a worldview.  Everyone believes something about the world and uses that belief system to try to make sense of the world around him or her.

As a Christian I believe we are to give honest answers to the problem of evil but we must demand others to defend their beliefs.  This is where we can go on the offensive.  If they struggle to answer this difficult problem it makes our job of defending a little easier.  Atheism and pantheism use the problem of evil to take dead aim at Christianity and yet they think they’re off the hook and it’s our problem; this is where we can turn the tables.

Go to Part 3 here


[1] “Evil, Suffering, & the Goodness of God” ©1999 Gregory Koukl Stand to Reason, www.str.org

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