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The problem of evil – questions and activities

Michele Frankeni  |  27 February 2019

Read Why does God allow drought? in the Autumn 2019 edition of Australian Catholics and take part in the following questions and activities.

Questions

Miriam Stewart’s community is reeling from the effects of a prolonged drought. This has caused her to question why a God of light and good has let such ‘evils’ into the world. Consider her questions. Do you agree with her or not? Why?

  1. Is a drought about bettering humanity?
  2. Is it punishment for sins?
  3. Is it about free will?
  4. What other evils are there in the world?
  5. Considering these other evils, do your answers remain the same?
  6. What does the Vatican say about evils? Does this help in your understanding?

Activities

So many books and movies are based on the good/hero versus evil/villain. In small groups, discuss favourite movies and books that have the hero versus villain as the main themes. It can be anything from superhero movies to The Hunger Games.

Identify the heroes and the villains. Discuss what is the appeal of the hero? What is the appeal of the villain? Why do stories and games about pitting the forces of good and evil have universal appeal?

  1. Draw or create a figure that represents ‘goodness’. What is it about that figure that demonstrates goodness? Is it how they look or how they act? Do others in your class recognise ‘goodness’ from your drawing. How?
  2. Alternatively, in small groups enact a scene from a movie or a book that highlights the difference between good and evil. As a class discuss why that particular scene was chosen. Does everyone agree on the message of that particular scene.
  3. Think of another evil that exists in the world – for example war, or poverty. Write an article similar to Miriam’s, exploring how the various responses to the problem of evil (ie. ‘the ultimate betterment of humanity’, ‘punishment for our sins’, or ‘the result of free will’) might apply to that issue. Write a script for (or film for yourself) a short video introducing the ‘problem of evil’ in the case that you’ve looked at.
  4. Set up an interview with God exploring the question – ‘Why does an all powerful God allow evil in the world?’. One student will can play the interviewer, and the other student plays God. Brainstorm some interesting questions and scenarios, and consider how God might respond when presented with them. Perform the interview for the class, or create a video or podcast to share more widely.

For younger students

Teachers read or summarise Why does God allow drought? Discuss with your students about how sometimes obstacles can cause you to lose sight of God.

Talk about what these obstacles can be. Perhaps it’s something you’ve done, or it may be something external, such as a natural disaster.

Fog up a mirror by breathing on it. Point out that the water vapour from your breath condensed on the mirror, clouding your reflected image. Explain that in the same way, temptations or obstacles can obscure our vision of God’s grace in our lives and make decisions more difficult.

 

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