NOTE: It's been a week since the horrendous shooting at a Colorado movie theater during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Being only an hour away from the theater, Axis has felt the weight of this tragedy and our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families. Please note that we are not posting this to take advantage of the deadly situation -- this blog is simply us processing a very dark night close to home.
Last night a group of us went to see The Dark Knight Rises, and it lived up to the hype. Not only was it epic and full of amazing cinematography, but it also raised some great questions about who can be a hero and if God exists. At the same time, however, even in the excitement of seeing the movie, we couldn't help but think of what it would have been like to be sitting in that theatre in Aurora when a real gunman walked in. In movies, we see people dying, and although it can be sad, we know it's fake. But in Aurora, a gun battle on the screen turned into a shoot-out in real life.
The shooting that left 12 people dead has been called evil, chilling, and crazy, as it should be. Which brings up a good question: why do we pay money to be entertained on a screen by something that in real life is evil? Should we go and see movies like The Dark Knight Rises or The Hunger Games -- movies that are full of bloodshed, bad men, suffering, and pain?
The biggest question that has surfaced as a result of the shootings, and we even see this referenced in the movie, is the problem of evil and suffering. If God exists, then why does evil and suffering exist?
David Hume presented an argument against the existence of God that goes like this: "Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?" In other words, "Is God willing to prevent James Holmes from killing people in a packed movie theatre, but not able? Then he is weak. Is God able to prevent James Holmes from killing people in a packed movie theatre, but not willing? Then God is evil. Is God both able and willing to prevent James Holmes from killing people in a packed movie theatre? Then why didn't he stop him -- why does evil exist?
Although this is not a response that will make us feel better, the Christian Worldview has a very logical and consistent explanation for the existence of evil.
- Mankind was created in the image of God and was meant to live in relationship with God, creation, and each other.
- Robots, like Siri, can’t love and can’t therefore live in real relationships. Love requires a choice – and where there’s a choice there’s the opportunity to choose poorly.
- We (the human race) chose poorly. We rejected God, and brought pain and suffering into the world.
- Praise God, that our bad choice is not the end of the story! Jesus came, and died for all sin.
- The best news: one day evil will be destroyed!
Does this make us feel better about the evil actions of James Holmes? No! It doesn’t make the victims come back or their families whole again. But it is comforting to know that we have a God who suffers with us.
At Axis, we would define maximum evil as “gratuitous evil against innocents.” Picture Timothy McVeigh and the fact that he parked a car bomb near the daycare of a government building. What he did is the epitome of maximum evil. But who was the most innocent person in the history of the world? Jesus. Jesus took maximum evil upon himself to bring redemption and restoration. So we may not feel better about the Oklahoma City Bombing, September 11, 2001, or the Aurora Theater Massacre, but at least we can find confidence in the fact that we serve a God who suffers with us. And we can get excited because in the end, evil is destroyed.
But there is still one question that we haven’t answered yet, and that’s whether or not we should see a movie that entertains us with content that in real life would be considered evil. What do you think? You may comment below…
Whether or not you decide to see The Dark Knight Rises there is still a point worth considering, it’s not good enough to go to a movie and only be entertained. We need to grapple and engage with what we are seeing on the screen, testing to see if the ideas we are hearing are true, and thinking about the big issues of life. If you do see the movie, you should be confronted with one of the biggest questions that every individual on Earth has to deal with in their life – if God is good and all-powerful, why does evil exist? And if you’re a Christian, hopefully you have a reason for the hope that you confess.