Last week, members of the Pomona-Pitzer Intervarsity Christian Fellowship invited their peers to grapple with the idea that a loving and benevolent God could possibly co-exist with the widespread suffering and turmoil present in the world today.
Interactive stations placed around campus served to place this topic on students' radar, and the week culminated with a talkdelivered by Claremont McKenna Professor of Philosophy Stephen Davis, titled “If God is so good, why is there so much suffering in the world?”
“We wanted to put on this event because it's an important question that many people have,”said Lorraine Harry, a former Intervarsity staff member and wife of current leader Chris Harry. “I hope that the people who came found the lecture stimulating and helpful and that they will be spurred to seek more answers to their questions.”
The fellowship decided to tackle this topic because they feel that it hinders many people from believing in God, Harry added.
Professor Davis,an ordained minister who received a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D from Claremont Graduate University, returned from his sabbatical to speak at the event. Davis is well-versed in the topic of God and suffering, having written both books and articles addressing the question in philosophical and theological terms.
“I was honored to be asked,” he said. “It is a difficult problem, and I think that everyone who is a Christian wrestles with it.”
In his lecture, Davis argued against the logical problem of evil, which states that a good and omniscient God could not co-exist with evil. He maintained that God chose to give people free will regarding morally significant decisions, thus accepting the risk that humans may choose to do wrong.
In addition, Professor Davis explained that the fact that we are aware that the world is not the way it should be, suggests that there is a way the world ought to be. This, he argued, implies that there must have been an original design plan, which connotes a designer—“God.”
Professor Davis also gave the Christian theological perspective concerning the end times. Christians believe that Jesus will bring justice and an end to all suffering upon his return. The perfect eternity that is to come, Davis said, will far outweigh the current evil and suffering of this world.
The event was attended by roughly 50 Claremont Colleges students and professors of diverse religious backgrounds.
“There are a lot of questions that I still have,” Jackie Ching PO ‘13 said. “Coming to this presentation raised some questions that I need to think about and that I will keep in the back of my head.”
The Intervarsity staff leaders expressed that they hope to host more interactive stations in the future, as well as put on more lectures dealing with questions about Christianity.