We live in a universe governed by law (D&C 88:36-38,
42-45). This knowledge assures us that God's works are rational
and just. It also means, however, that we are subject to impersonal forces
operating on a cosmic scale, indifferent to our individual concerns or
tragedies. Despite our faith in God's grace and guidance, much of what
happens to us happens by chance—the random results of laws of probability
and other natural laws by which the cosmos is organized.
Our tradition tells us that there are laws to which even God is subject,
laws which are simply conditions of the uncreated reality in which all
intelligences have always existed (D&C 93:29;
Abr. 3:18). This is a universe in which God may be helpless to
do anything but weep at our suffering (Moses 7:28).
Terrible as this vision is, it comes to us alongside a vision of hope:
a tremendous network of Gods, angels, and other servants of the light
who labor on countless worlds to resist evil and bring happiness to their
For centuries, philosophers and theologians have debated the question:
Why would an all-
loving, all-powerful God permit evil or suffering? LDS teachings about
eternal law sidestep that question. Like reality itself, evil and suffering
simply are. Speculating about their cosmic origin is pointless. Our task,
rather, is to join God in alleviating suffering wherever we can and mourning
with those whose suffering we are powerless to prevent (Mosiah
18:8-9; Moses 7:41).
B. H. Roberts: Good
and evil then, in Latter-day Saint philosophy, are not created things.
Both are eternal, just as duration is, and space. They are as old
as law—old as truth, old as this eternal universe. Intelligences
must adjust themselves to these eternal existences; this, the measure
of their duty.
|A Comprehensive History
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1930), 2:404
|John A. Widtsoe: It
must be admitted at once that the mind of man can know God only
in part. One thing seems clear, however, that the Lord who is a
part of the universe, in common with all other parts of the universe
is subject to eternal universal laws.
|A Rational Theology
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1937), 24-25
Lowell L. Bennion:
God did not create man in a complete and ultimate sense of the word.
God "found" intelligence and the elements already in existence.
He took what he had, what was available, and proceeded from that
point to create or organize man and, out of his great love and wisdom,
to do everything possible for him. God is, therefore, not completely
responsible for man and the universe in which man lives. Man, too,
is responsible because of his eternal and free nature.
|An Introduction to the
Gospel (Salt Lake City: Deseret Sunday School Union Board, 1955),
Eugene England: God allows evil because there is much of it he can't prevent or
do away with. Therefore, like a human, he weeps. . . . My belief
in a weeping God who can't solve our pain and problems or promise
to make everything all right in the end, who calls us to live with
him in a tragic universe, makes life at times very difficult. .
. . [On] the innumerable occasions when my weeping God does not
intervene, . . . at such times God seems too limited, too finite,
too powerless in his weeping. It is a tragedy to believe in such
a God; it would be a tragedy to lose such an understanding of him.
|"The Weeping God of
Mormonism," Dialogue 35, no. 1 (Spring 2002), 64, 80