CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Yes Evil Really Does Exist – and Goodness Too

Sep 16, 2016

G. K. Chesterton once remarked that “Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” Every day we see decisive evidence of the reality of sin and evil, and sometimes it is just too horrific to even contemplate.

But we also find acts of human kindness and self-sacrifice that can also leave us speechless. In times of war we certainly see courageous self-sacrifice, but in peace time we also find this. In terms of making sense of all this, it seems to me that the Judeo-Christian worldview offers the best and most plausible explanation of both great goodness and great evil.

Because we are image bearers of a good and loving God, we too can reflect some of this goodness and love even as fallen human beings. But because we are fallen and sinful, we are also capable of appalling evil and depravity. Examples of both can easily be come by in the daily news.

Therefore let me illustrate a case of each, first with a brief story of human kindness and generosity. This is a somewhat older story, but I just came upon it today:

When 90-year-old Florida resident Arnold Abbott said following his arrest on Sunday that police couldn’t stop him from feeding the homeless, he apparently meant it. Abbott was charged again on Wednesday night for violating a new city law in Ft. Lauderdale that essentially prevents people from feeding the homeless. “I expected it” he said in a Sun Sentinel report. “At least this time they let us feed people first.”
Officers lingered in the area for about 45 minutes during which time Abbott and volunteers with the Love Thy Neighbor charity he founded handed out more than 100 plates of hot chicken stew, pasta, cheesy potatoes and fruit salad to homeless men and women. If he’s found guilty of violating city ordinance laws — his second in a week — he faces 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. Abbott said he’s prepared to go to jail over his efforts. “Why do I keep doing this?” he asked rhetorically. “Because these are my people and they deserve to be fed.”

Bless you sir. But in contrast to this there is a recent series of reports out of America discussing one of the most diabolical and deplorable cases of evil you will ever come across. I draw upon three news items from the Albuquerque Journal from August and September of this year. Let me simply quote from the three (warning, graphic content):

martensIt’s a crime that has left the community reeling in disbelief. What, people wondered, could be worse than a mother accused of standing by as her boyfriend and another woman drugged, raped and killed her 10-year-old daughter? But on Thursday, court records detailed even more of the unimaginable.
Officers arrived at the Northwest Albuquerque apartment near Golf Course and Irving around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and found a cloud of smoke wafting from the bathroom. Young Victoria Martens’ dismembered body was burning in the bathtub, half-wrapped in a blanket. Parts of her body were found in a plastic bag in a laundry hamper, and the floor of her bedroom was stained with blood.
Three people, including the girl’s mother, are accused in the killing. Victoria’s mother, Michelle Martens, 35, faces multiple charges including child abuse resulting in great bodily harm or death, along with her new boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, 31, and his cousin Jessica Kelley, 31, who had just been released from prison. Both Martens and Gonzales told investigators they met only about a month ago on a dating website. Gonzales told reporters and police that he wasn’t involved in the crime, putting the blame on Kelley.
But Martens told investigators that she watched as Gonzales and Kelley injected Victoria with methamphetamine “to calm her down” so they could both sexually assault her. She said Gonzales then strangled her and Kelley stabbed her.
The two of them dismembered the girl’s body, according to Martens’ statement to police. “This homicide is the most gruesome act of evil I have ever seen in my career,” said Police Chief Gorden Eden. It’s “a complete disregard of human life and betrayal by a mother.”
Albuquerque police spokesman Tanner Tixier choked up as he said the girl’s body was so mutilated that investigators are not sure how she died. They believe she died either from the strangulation or stab wounds, but are waiting for an autopsy to be completed.

 

The scene Wednesday morning in apartment number 808 of the Arroyo Villas complex was like something out of a horror movie. A man and a woman had allegedly drugged a little girl, then raped, killed and dismembered her. Most would expect the girl’s mother to fight with everything she had to save her daughter. But Michelle Martens, according to her own reported account to police, is not that kind of mother.
In her statement to police, it appears that Martens wanted to watch as her boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, 31, and his cousin Jessica Kelley, 31, raped her 10-year-old daughter Victoria Martens before killing her and trying to dispose of her body. A detective detailed Martens’ account in a criminal complaint filed against Kelley, who had been hospitalized for two days after she jumped from a balcony of the northwest Albuquerque apartment trying to flee from officers. She was transferred to jail Friday morning.
In the complaint, Martens, 35, told police that she watched Gonzales and Kelley sexually assault Victoria for her own “sexual gratification” after the pair had injected the girl with methamphetamine. “… Michelle stood by and watched as Fabian strangled (Victoria),” a detective wrote in the complaint. “Michelle then watched as Jessica stabbed (Victoria) in the torso with a knife.”

 

Nearly a dozen search warrants obtained by the Journal offer new details about alleged repeated abuse by Michelle Martens, above, of her daughter. The violent sexual attack that ended Victoria Martens’ life apparently was not the first time she was raped. The 10-year-old’s mother, Michelle Martens, told police she had allowed other men to sexually assault her daughter and said she had sought out the men online and at work. She told police she had set up encounters with at least three. One of them was a co-worker. Two others she met online, including Fabian Gonzales, 31. He was to be the last.
That’s because Gonzales is accused, along with Martens and Gonzales’ cousin, Jessica Kelley, of killing and dismembering the little girl in one of the most gruesome crimes in Albuquerque history. Martens, 35, told police she didn’t do it for the money. She set up the sexual assaults because she enjoyed watching. Martens’ statement to police is included in nearly a dozen search warrants obtained by the Journal. Investigators sought DNA evidence from the suspects, as well as multiple electronic devices and a camcorder they believed may have been used for sexual exploitation of children….
Martens said she watched Kelley hold Victoria down while Gonzales raped and strangled her. Kelley then stabbed her, and she and Gonzales dismembered her body and set her on fire in the bathtub, according to the court records. Witnesses said that around 4:30 a.m., Martens and Gonzales went to neighbors and said they had been attacked by Kelley. Martens said her daughter was still in the apartment. Neighbors called police, who found the grisly scene.
Investigators are looking into whether Martens ever videotaped or photographed the sexual assaults. They seized a camcorder and nine minidiscs, five smartphones, a thumb drive, iPod, cellphone, tablet and Kindle. “In my training and experience, those who are interested in the sexual exploitation of children are also interested in exploiting images of children for sexual gratification,” an officer wrote in one of the search warrant affidavits.

This is so shocking and hard to digest. It is really too damning and numbing for words. There certainly is no way one can pretend that evil does not exist in the world after reading accounts like that. Yes there is a malevolent spiritual being known as the devil, yes there is such a thing as evil, and yes sinful people can do really horrific things.

The atheist account of both evil and goodness just does not cut it here. Recall the famous words of Richard Dawkins on such matters as an example:

Theologians worry away at the ‘problem of evil’ and a related ‘problem of suffering.’ … On the contrary, if the universe were just electrons and selfish genes, meaningless tragedies… are exactly what we should expect, along with equally meaningless good fortune. Such a universe would be neither evil nor good in intention. It would manifest no intentions of any kind. In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. As that unhappy poet A.E. Housman put it: ‘For Nature, heartless, witless Nature. Will neither care nor know.’ DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

In other words, ‘Crap just happens, so get used to it’. Sorry, that neither explains anything nor gives us any moral closure. The biblical worldview does both however. It accounts for such great acts of evil, and it also reminds us that we live in a moral universe with moral laws given to us by a moral law giver. All wrong will be judged and properly dealt with.

Read the comments from concerned readers under these three news items: these folks are rightly outraged and many are demanding swift action and reprisals. Many said these three should be killed instantly and they should rot in hell. I can feel their burning anger and sense of justice on this.

But the Christian seeks to do two things here. He does indeed pray for justice, and life imprisonment in this world is certainly part of it, but there will be eternal judgment as well to be faced. However, as hard as it may be, we also pray for these three individuals who have committed such hideous crimes.

We pray that even with their hardened hearts they might see that God still exists, and there is a way out of their hellish world via faith and repentance. Yes, it is hard to pray for the Hitlers and Stalins of this world, and for these three people. But that we must do.

We seek God’s mercy, but we also rejoice in his just justice. And in the face of such horrendous evil, sometimes the only thing we can pray is, “Come quickly Lord Jesus”.

m.nydailynews.com/news/national/man-90-arrested-week-feeding-homeless-article-1.2002790
www.abqjournal.com/833205/new-details-released-in-10-year-old-girls-gruesome-slaying.html?utm_source=abqjournal.com&utm_medium=related+posts+-+crime&utm_campaign=related+posts
www.abqjournal.com/834022/third-suspect-in-10-year-old-girls-killing-arrives-at-county-jail.html?utm_source=abqjournal.com&utm_medium=related+posts+-+crime&utm_campaign=related+posts
www.abqjournal.com/844611/victorias-nightmare-began-before-fatal-night.html

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9 Responses to Yes Evil Really Does Exist – and Goodness Too

  • Thanks for the good news as well as the horrendous. It gives hope in our despair.

  • Hard to imagine that her mother could set up and enjoy such heinous crimes. Then again, in a world that encourages and happily pays for mothers to abort their defenceless unborn children, then anything is possible.

    Come Lord Jesus.

  • The two extremes cannot be further apart. As in Matthew 24:12 …The love of many shall wax cold. No loving mother could bear her child to endure any sort of pain, let one the depravity this poor child endured.Perilous times where people are “without natural affection”. Timothy 3

  • Only a person immersed in the Godless world that Dawkins describes above could sink to such remorseless depravity as to get sexual pleasure from the group sexual murder of her own daughter. The mother is enslaved by the power of the Evil One, the Counterfeiter. We pray to be delivered from evil and we pray for the soul of her daughter, sacrificed for the sexual pleasure of the mother who betrayed her and should have been the one above all others she could trust.

  • Thanks guys. BTW, I was going to offer a brief editorial comment on the first story (the good news story) but decided it might not fit well there. But let me do so here. The reason for this law in Florida and in other places is in part to seek to deter homelessness. In this conservatives would agree in principle – at least partially. When governments subsidise something, you get more of it. The welfare state can easily create dependency and thus exacerbate and increase the problem. Individuals and aid groups can also do the same. So it is a mixed bag here. We want to help the poor, but we do not want to create more of the poor by helping to create an entitlement mentality, etc. So we can applaud the man for caring at least, even if we may differ on the best way to deal with poverty and homelessness.

  • I’ve read Dawkin’s statement a number of times and we Christians should be thankful for what he has said (and published). He describes quite brilliantly where an atheist worldview leads to, honestly and succinctly. I know that he has received a lot of flack from fellow materialist atheists for being so honest and blunt- but it is ultimately, the result of rejecting God. And in their rejection of God, Paul reminds us in Romans 1:26 that rejecting God will result in behaviours such as this. We have a reason to give for evil, the secular world doesn’t and cannot explain it. Nietzsche new all too well of the results of “killing”God and expressed it in his “Parable of the Madman”.

  • If Dawkins’ view was correct we would not need the complexity of the human brain and psyche. The natural selection criteria to reproduce, find food and not become food are solved and optimized by organisms many orders of magnitude simpler than human beings. We have the ability to understand right and wrong and justice and complex moral issues because God wants us to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him. There is absolutely no other reason why we would be as complex as we are and have functionality that pushes the limits of what is possible through physical means. Scientists know that human beings are not in fact particularly good at simple survival and the natural evidence demonstrates this clearly.

    As far as good and evil are concerned, these are not metaphysical substances that can be balanced in some sort of yin/yang fashion as some philosophers would have us believe. There is only one good and that is God in His entirety and evil is anything that is destructive. This is why our world is subject to decay and entropy because this is what happens when you are separated from God. This is why this existence was created the way it is; so we would know of destruction and evil and appreciate God and what is good, creative and bountiful and choose appropriately.

  • You are right that an atheistic society is not consistent in applying its logical theory. Everyone judges good and evil when things are done to them personally. But moral relativism allows people to not care when others have evil done to them because theoretically there is no absolute right and wrong.

    While the horrifying news you shared (I admit I could not read it all) is such a clear sign of obvious demonic evil, people ignore it as being on the fringes and they justify that it doesn’t really talk to our human condition or use it to justify how good they are. Sadly to hold this view, everyday victims of less extreme but still obviously evil violence are ignored because they don’t fit our belief that people are generally good.

    Unfortunately we are moving further to people believing in good and evil again, just where these definitions are reversed and good and evil is based on whether you profess the ‘good’ (actually evil) views and has nothing to do with how you actually treat people.

    Yes I believe people can show real love, but I really believe (1 John 4:7) ‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God.’ So when a Christian or non-Christuan shows true love, it is coming from God.

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