Cats, Baths, and Evil: Why Not Having an Answer Doesn’t Mean There Isn’t One

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This picture was literally taken as I wrote this.

A few months ago my wife and I adopted a stray kitten who we have named Harvey. As a cat lover I was thrilled, and Harvey really has turned out to be an awesome cat.

Over the span of the past few months, my wife and I have given Harvey a couple of baths. As most cats do, Harvey hates them. Being a cat, he has absolutely no idea as to why he occasionally has to endure this torture.

Why his perfect, loving, and wonderfully attractive owners would do such a terrible thing.

So he just meows (though its more of a mix between a howl and a groan) and claws until he realizes he can’t get out. Then he just sits there until we are finished.

Undoubtedly from his perspective, there is not a single good reason for this.

But the only reason we give him a bath is for his good. It isn’t because Christina and I enjoy it. We do it for his cleanliness, and to keep him from being stuck with fleas. Though he has no idea why he needs a bath; he needs a bath!

One of my favorite authors and pastors, Tim Keller, whom I probably quote too much, has written and spoken many times on the idea that just because we may have no idea why God allows certain things to happen, it does not mean there isn’t a good reason. In chapter 2 of his book The Reason for God Keller writes,

“Tucked away within the assertion that the world is filled with pointless evil is a hidden premise, namely, that if evil appears pointless to me, then it must be pointless… Just because you can’t see or imagine a good reason why God might allow something to happen doesn’t mean there can’t be one. Again we see lurking within supposedly hard-nosed skepticism an enormous faith in one’s own cognitive faculties. If our minds can’t plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can’t be any! This is blind faith of a high order…

With time and perspective most of us can see good reasons for at least some of the tragedy and pain that occurs in life. Why couldn’t it be possible that, from God’s vantage point, there are good reasons for all of them?”

If God is an all-knowing being, how absurd and arrogant is it for us to assume that in our infinitely more finite minds than God, that if we can’t think of a good reason for something to happen, then there simply can’t be one.

We may have no idea why God allows certain things to happen, but that in no way means there isn’t a good reason. Harvey will never understand why he needs a bath, but there are good reasons why he does.

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