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above: ruin of the the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, which was destroyed by the atomic blast on Aug. 6, 1945. It is now commonly called the Genbaku Dome, and is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan (Suicasmo/Wikimedia)

Polemics & Exchanges

Evil That Good May Come

I am surprised that in your generally conservative and pro-Christian magazine not one of the four articles debating the pros and cons of dropping the Bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 2020 Chronicles) presents the orthodox Christian evaluation of that literally earth-shattering decision.

Indeed, that orthodox position is not even addressed by your authors. It evades their radar screens as totally as ‘Enola Gay’ did those of the Japanese. One of the four, C. Jay Engel, does indeed argue (in “The Tragedy of the Atomic Bomb”) that the bombings were unethical, but only on the grounds that their bad effects outweighed the good. Mr. Engel argues that Japan was already effectively defeated, and that the war could have been speedily ended by negotiating a conditional surrender that satisfied American requirements without inflicting further massive killings and lasting injuries on Japanese noncombatants.

However, the orthodox Christian verdict has to be that this slaughter of large civilian populations was an intrinsically evil act. It should therefore have been discerned as morally unjustifiable even prior to any cost-benefit calculus, such as trying to estimate which option would eventually result in a greater or lesser loss of life. Indeed, the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can be seen as a textbook example of violating the biblical teaching that we may never “do evil that good may come” (Romans 3:8)—popularly...

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