One of the passengers who died when her hijacked plane slammed into the Pentagon was Barbara Olson, an author and the wife of Solicitor General Theodore Olson.
I've only met Ted Olson once. We were in the waiting area to go onto a CNN show. Barbara Olson was being interviewed at the moment and was doing her usual terrific job. I said to Mr. Olson, "She's very good." He replied, "Yes, she is."
And now she is dead. As are thousands of other wives and husbands, mothers and fathers.
Any killing of innocent people becomes also an attack on God. Any temporary triumph of evil becomes part of what philosophers call the problem of evil: If God is both all-good and all-powerful, then He should not allow cruelty and terror to exist.
The theory of evolution gained popularity not because of scientific evidence but because it appeared to explain the existence of so much cruelty in the world. One Darwinist asked why "the queens of a particular species of parasitic ant have only one remarkable adaptation, a serrated appendage which they use to saw off the head of the host queen."
Why would an all-good God design an ant with a built-in saw for cutting off the head of a rival? Why would an all-good God design people with such built-in hatred that their goal in life is to saw off the twin towers of New York, killing the innocent and themselves in the process?
For more about the attempt of some Darwinists to believe in a nice god who would not get his hands dirty through active involvement in a gritty world, read Cornelius Hunter's excellent Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Brazos Press, 2001). But for more about why terrible things happen, read chapter three of Genesis, where God projects a tragic future for mankind because of man's original sin.
Some 19th-century thinkers explained evil by suggesting that God is all-powerful but semi-nasty, sometimes gaining pleasure out of torturing his creatures. Others saw God as all-good but semi-tough, watching helplessly as the wild stallion He had made bucked out of control.
The Christian answer was and is different. People and creation are not what they once were and will someday be again. But in the meantime, we should expect mean times.
Since creation has been groaning under sin, why should we expect niceness, either in the natural world or in manmade Manhattan? But since Christ came to earth to suffer and die for us, and redeem us, we have hope. Since He was resurrected, millions or billions more shall be.
On our 911 day, creation groaned as thousands died because of sin: not their personal sin, we must hasten to say. Jesus once was asked about a news story concerning a collapsing tower: "Those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?" He answered, "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
Unless we repent, we will perish at the hands of an all-powerful God who is also all-good, which means He is holy and hates sin. We need to pray for God's mercy but also that we will think more of God's holiness.
If we did we would, through God's grace, turn away from our obsession with what Francis Schaeffer called "personal peace and affluence." We would do what is right, even when it hurts. We would protect human life, no matter how small.
Instead of comforting ourselves with thoughts of a Social Security lockbox, we would realize that the only true security lies in God's mercy. Instead of pampering ourselves, we would show love for poorer and weaker neighbors.
We should also pay attention to one key difference between the collapse of the Tower of Siloam 2,000 years ago and the collapse of the Twin Towers. The 911 attack was an act of international war-and in chapter nine of Genesis God states, "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."
We are not dealing with cowards. It takes a kind of bravery to take over airplanes and commit suicide with them. It will take bravery on our part to keep the 911 murderers from murdering again.
They want to murder Americans and Israelis. They want to murder fellow Muslims who do not agree with their twisting of the Koran. They murdered Barbara Olson and thousands more. They hope to murder millions. We must stop them.