One day I sat on a plane next to a young man, an intelligent college graduate, who told me he believed evil doesn’t exist.
“If there’s no such thing as evil,” I said, “then the Holocaust wasn’t evil. Is that what you believe?”
He grimaced, then finally, stammering, said, “Well, I guess the Holocaust was a mistake.” I suggested to him that in his heart he must know it was something far worse.
Years before Nanci and I had an unforgettable experience at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum. It has 1,500 candles, with mirrors designed to reflect each candle a thousand times, representing the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust. We stood in the darkness hearing the names of individual children read one by one.
That experience remains among the most haunting and unforgettable experiences of my life. We watched sobbing men and women poring through books to find the names of their murdered relatives. What surrounded us cried out for an explanation even bigger than human depravity.
I think often of that young man, the one on the plane who told me he didn’t believe in evil. When I asked him whether the Holocaust was evil, he replied, “I guess it was a mistake.” But his body language betrayed him. It was evil... and he knew it.
One test of a worldview is whether you sometimes have to borrow from another because yours doesn’t work. That’s what this young man had to do. I believe he recognized what he refused to verbalize. Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews because their hatred was so deep that it defied all natural explanation. To admit the Holocaust was evil, he would have to abandon his worldview and borrow the concepts of both human and demonic evil from a worldview he didn’t want to believe.
Like the Holocaust, abortion is an evil so great that words fall short of describing it. At Yad Vashem, I was struck by the number of children who had been killed, because at the time it was the same number killed by abortion in America each of the previous few years. The fact that most of these children haven’t been given names doesn’t diminish their worth. I have stood at memorials for the unborn where parents have given names to their children and written them expressions of love and grief. If we could only hear the names of each of these children whispered to us in the darkness, perhaps we would wake up.
Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg argued that the key to the widespread destruction of the Jewish people was the use of degrading terminology such as “useless eaters” and “garbage,” which blinded society to the fact that real people were being killed. Likewise, abortion-rights advocates have referred to unborn babies as debris, garbage, clumps of cells, and “products of conception.”
The concentration camps of Nazi Germany are a testimony to what happens when people start deciding who has the right to live and who doesn’t. The sign at Auschwitz says, “Never Again.” Yet holocausts have happened again. I hope that someday our country will admit that abortion kills children and will say, “Never Again.”
I recently learned that pro-life advocate Sol Pitchon passed away this month. He served as CEO for New Life Solutions (formally known as The Pregnancy Center of Pinellas County) for 23 years. Under his leadership, it became one of the nation’s most impactful life-affirming ministries. In this video, filmed several years ago, Sol shared his passion for the unborn and the amazing story of how his mother survived a Nazi surgical sterilization attempt during the Holocaust. “I am trying to connect the dots,” Sol said. “Abortion in the United States is our Holocaust.”
For more on the problem of evil and suffering, see Randy’s book If God Is Good. For more on abortion, see his book Pro-Choice or Pro-Life?
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.