Over a dozen students gathered in the Fireside Lounge to discuss both the Church’s teachings on suffering and how to defend them in the Veritas Society’s first On Guard seminar Wednesday, Sept. 18.
“On Guard Seminars: A Reply to the Modern World” is an 8-week apologetics program that seeks to educate students and prepare them to defend their faith. Each week, students tackle a different issue, discussing both the opponent’s argument and the Catholic response. This week, the group looked at one of the most difficult questions raised against the Church: the problem of suffering.
After watching a video in which atheist Stephen Fry argued that God could not be all–good, all–knowing and all–powerful in a world where evil exists, students divided into two groups to discuss the argument. Students brought up the difference between physical and moral evil, as well as the seeming contradiction between the proclamation of a good world and the reality that bad things, such as dangerous insects, exist in nature.
“The Catholic premise is that God created the world good, and then through human action, it fell,” freshman Elijah Kim said. “You have to be able to say there was a fall in order to address this problem.” The group discussed ways to bridge the gap between a Catholic and an atheist who doesn’t believe in the fall, suggesting as one the beauty that can be found in nature.
Students discussed the atheist presupposition that gratuitous evil — evil from which no good can come — is the only kind and agreed that this assumption is incorrect. They pointed out that humans are not omniscient and cannot really prove that no good is coming from an evil.
The difficulty of proving that an ultimate good exists drew more discussion, as well as the fact that evil is the absence of good rather than its own entity.
The seminar concluded with “elevator talks” in which two participants had to defend the Church’s position in a very short amount of time, as if they were talking to someone on an elevator.
“It helped me understand all the different perspectives,” freshman Alanna Wills said. “I liked the point [about the importance of] bringing it back to the human connection.”
The next On Guard seminar will be Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m., during which students will discuss biblical inerrancy.