That's what we secular humanists, agnostics and atheists have been researching, perhaps all our lives. This morning, there were some answers. But, of course, not the answer. Mystical subjects such as prayer can't have a definitive answer.
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse presented the last talk in the Catastrophe Series sponsored at St. Philip's in the Hill Episcopal Church, Tucson, Arizona. Each week there had been a different perspective on the bad things, natural and man-made, which happen to human being. Among those were the points of view of a scientist, a psychologist and representatives of diverse faiths or lack of any such as atheism.
Rev. Hesse looked at catastrophe primarily through the response of prayer. A sort of Renaissance figure, she is also adept in disciplines ranging from horse training to yoga. Much of what she learned about power of prayer she assimilated as a hospital chaplain.
"Prayer changes something," is that she told the audience. Among what changes for her is that "it softens my heart." In that new state, she can then ease her own suffering and help what others are going through.
One way of assisting is by simply being a presence or a compassionate witness. Human beings are there for those in the hospital. They show up. They also listen.
The takeaway from the Catastrophe series at St. Philip's in the Hills might be this: Forget trying to figure out the mystery of what might be called "evil." Instead, plow your energy into helping human beings, including yourself, get through it. If we do that, maybe we can emerge with wisdom and strength.