As the nation is watching the reverberations of the tragedy that happened yesterday in Newtown, Connecticut, many, both theists and atheist alike, have been asking an obvious question: where was God? However, this is not the question they are asking; the actual question is this: if God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, why didn’t he intervene to save the lives of those children and adults who were brutally massacred yesterday? Is God impotent to effect situations and persons in this world? Does he just not care? If he was present, yesterday, why didn’t he do something? These questions are all legitimate and deserving of an answer, but I am going to focus somewhat on the second question: if God is omnipotent, why didn’t he stop this?
This afternoon, I saw on a Facebook this quotation: “it’s troubling to me that people are motivated by a belief in a god that can take its ball and go home, even when it’s supposed to be omnipresent.” The assumption here is that if God were there, he would have or should have done something. However, I think that this is a false assumption. Here’s why: if God created us as free creatures with a will and responsibility for the choices that we make, his intervention would thereby take the responsibility away from us for our actions. To be a free creature means the right to choose the bad or the good. We cannot take only one of these things from God and not the other. The price for us being free creatures is that we now have to live with the terrible decisions that we make and also the terrible decisions that others around us make which affect us. A person making a terrible decision, such as that young man yesterday deciding to shoot and kill numerous children and adults, is the result of us living in a world where we can make free choices.
God didn’t “take his ball and go home”, as the person on Facebook suggests. He was still there. He was sustaining the universe. And I am sure that he too stands in horror at the actions of this young man. So the question becomes not “Where was God?” but rather “How can we help troubled people like this young man?” and prevent these things from happening.
We all grieve with those who lost loved ones yesterday. We grieve that one young man felt so hopeless that the only way he felt he could cope was to kill innocent persons. We grieve that we live in a fallen world. But we also know that God grieves with us. We can take solace that Jesus Christ wept over his friend Lazarus and the son of the widow on the road. God knows our plight and he is ever with us to bring comfort and solace.