As a Christian it pains me to see such evil in the world. It hurts worse to see atrocities committed in the name of a religion. Many atheists share my feelings and have even become militant against all forms of religion because of it. They claim that there is no way religion can possibly be true if it causes such needless pain and suffering in the world. I want to take a few moments to discuss evil, justice, and forgiveness in the context of the events from a decade ago within both the Christian and atheist worldviews.
Atheism has no place for evil or good to even exist on an ultimate level. The worst that atheism can say about the events of 9/11 is that "organisms are no longer breathing". Atheism does not support the value of human life beyond what another person places on it. If I were to say that "no person who was killed had any value, and I am indifferent to the whole thing," my opinion would be just as "right" or "good" as someone who lost a loved one and would passionately disagree. In reality, though, most sane people would recognize that my "opinion" would be atrocious, insensitive, evil, and even wrong. Even atheists would be outraged at such a callous statement.
In atheism the only ground for good or evil is in the person or society. One person or society may posit that one this is good, while another posit that it is evil. There is no way to break the tie. There is no grounds that one can actually call what happened ten years ago "evil".
Only theism offers a solid foundation for establishing what is truly "good" and "evil". Christian theism, specifically, holds that all people are created in the Image of God, thus possess intrinsic value. According to atheism, there is no difference between a common house fly and a human that gives it intrinsic value. In Christianity the events of 9/11 can be condemned as truly evil acts. In atheism the events of 9/11 can be opined as being "evil", yet they can also be opined as being "good". Only does Christianity have available what we know to be true about reality.
Atheism also holds that there is no life after death; there will be no judgment for evil acts in this life. If a person commits a crime, then commits suicide, punishment is escaped. The family of the victims of 9/11 have no hope of ever receiving justice if atheism is true. The killing of Usama bin Laden is only one death...for approximately 3000 lives? Atheism has no grounds to say that it is not. Since atheism cannot ground value or evil, it cannot justify the pursuit of justice. The fact that bin Laden was killed was just a coincidence that anyone can call whatever they wish...so can the events of 9/11 be labeled what fancies any person.
Atheism believes that mourning is simply a foundationless psychological process that humans must perform to move on with our purposeless lives. Moving on may include the search for revenge, but due to the death of those responsible, it will never be realized.
Christianity states that such evils (that it has a foundation to determine) will be punished. Justice will be served. Those who lost their loved ones may mourn the loss of a person of the highest true value, who also had purpose. They may then raise their heads in confidence that the next step (justice) is in the hands of One who is capable and will execute it regardless of the current biological status of those responsible.We need not feel compelled to seek "justice" or revenge. We can continue to fulfill our life's purpose without such a compulsion to weigh us down.
Finally, many people wish to move on by offering forgiveness to the perpetrators. Many recognize that this would be the "high road" option compared to seeking revenge. Atheism is indifferent to such a distinction. Christianity not only encourages the offer of forgiveness to help us resume completing our purpose in life after such an evil tragedy, but it sets the standard for it.
Christianity holds that every person is inferior (sinful) when compared to a perfect God, and even the slightest blemish prevents us from being in His presence. The Christian God is a God of justice, but is also a God of forgiveness. His justice was satisfied by Jesus Christ's death on the cross; His mercy and forgiveness are offered by Jesus Christ's death on the cross. In order for forgiveness to take effect, it must not only be offered, but also accepted. If we wish to be in the presence of and have a personal relationship with the ultimate Essence of good, justice, and mercy, we must accept the offer of His forgiveness; otherwise we will face His justice in the absence of His forgiveness.
All those who were responsible for the events of 9/11 and did not accept God's offer of forgiveness will face His justice, for their sin, on their own. If you were hurt by the events of 9/11, I encourage you to accept Christ's sacrifice, so that you may receive forgiveness, and have a foundation and assurance that you do not have to seek revenge to satisfy justice. In Christ, we have a model of forgiveness that we may lean on to help us continue to fulfill the purpose that God has given our lives, in the face of such evil in the world.
Recommended Reading Regarding The 9/11 Attacks
- Resources on the Problem of Evil
- The Two Ground Zeros
- My 9/11 Memorial: Christianity Offers Authentic Hope In The Face Of Suffering
- 9-11, Jihad, and The Christian
- If God, Why Evil?
- Ground Zero: Why truth matters for preventing another 9/11-style attack
- Remembering 9/11: A Young Californian’s Perspective
- The Need for Moral Choices and Consequences
- 9/11: Where Is God During a Catastrophe?"
- Evil’s Three Faces and a Christian Response
- Suffering and the Cross of Christ
- 9/11: Are We All Moral Monsters?
- Do All Roads (and Flights) Lead to God?
- Where Was God on 9-11? A response to Rabbi Kushner
- Where Was God on 9/11?
- Did God Allow the Attacks on 9/11 for a “Greater Good”?
- Ground Zero
- America After 9/11: Is Religion Evil?
- 9/11: Full Cognitive Meltdown and Its Fallout
- From Ground Zero to Ten Years Later
- On September 11th, 2001 harmless things became fearful
- 9/11: Where Is God During A Catastrophe?
- Christianity and 9/11: Guilt by Association?