"And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?
Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Chap. XVIII
When evil happens, we question about everything from the goodness of God to the goodness of man. Death happens, but death is supposed to only happen when you're 85 and living in a retirement community in Florida, right? It is not easy to deal with pain, suffering, and evil. It's all around us though, so we have no choice but to recognize it and deal with it. The first question is always why. Why an elementary school? Why the killing of innocent children of all people? The questions remarkable, for the most part, appeal to some sense of justice, both an injustice of the lives that were taken and a desire for justice to be brought on the individual who committed this act of evil.
This appeal to justice is natural, within our conscious being, and demonstrates the fact that this world cannot be operating like it should, there is something wrong.
CS Lewis spoke on the conflict between Justice and Mercy, saying the following on our desire to see people brought to justice or to put another way, kept from injustice. He said that 'if evil is present, pain at recognition of this evil, a kind of knowledge, is relatively good; for the alternative is that the soul should be ignorant of the evil, or ignorant that the evil is contrary to its nature, 'either of which', is manifestly bad. Or to put another way, We don't want to believe that the killing of innocent children is natural and also want to believe that retributive punishment on the person responsible will happen. We're not ignorant that evil is contrary to our nature at least when it comes to evil so obvious as school shootings at an elementary school.
A summary below with a couple links on the topic of evil and suffering.
Americans tonight are facing more tragic evidence of cultural implosion. Please pray. This story is heart-breaking, and still developing. “There’s been a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut,” reports CNN. “20 children, six adults and the shooter are dead, police say. Below are the latest updates as they come to us or you can read our story of the Connecticut school shooting….Police did not discharge their weapons at any time when responding at the school, police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. However, he could not confirm whether the suspected shooter — who died at the scene — killed himself, saying that would have to be determined by the medical examiner.”
“Twenty-seven people, including 20 children, were killed Friday when a gunman clad in black military gear opened fire inside his mother’s kindergarten class at a Connecticut elementary school,” reports Fox News. “The shooter, who sources identified as Adam Lanza, 20, gunned down his mother and her entire class at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., according to sources. Lanza was found dead inside the school, according to officials. Eighteen of the children and six more adults were dead at the school and two more children died later, according to Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance. Vance would not confirm the shooter’s name, and earlier in the day there were conflicting reports over the gunman’s identity. Law enforcement sources told FoxNews.com the shooter was Lanza. His brother, Ryan Lanza, 24, was in custody, but it was not sure if he faced charges. ‘It is not a simplistic scene,’ Vance told reporters. An official with knowledge of the situation said the shooter was armed with a .223-caliber rifle. Four weapons in total were recovered from the scene. The motive is not yet known.”
A practical application from a site by apologist Ravi Zacharias:
“There cannot possibly be a God,” he said, “with all the evil and suffering that exists in the world!”
I asked, “When you say there is such a thing as evil, are you not assuming that there is such a thing as good?”
“Of course,” he retorted.
“But when you assume there is such a thing as good, are you not also assuming that there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to distinguish between good and evil?”
“I suppose so,” came the hesitant and much softer reply.
“If, then, there is a moral law,” I said, “you must also posit a moral law giver. But that is who you are trying to disprove and not prove. If there is no transcendent moral law giver, there is no absolute moral law. If there is no moral law, there really is no good. If there is no good there is no evil. I am not sure what your question is!”
There was silence and then he said, “What, then, am I asking you?