Las Vegas and federal officials are still searching for a motive behind the worst mass shooting in U.S. history that occurred on Sunday, when 64-year-old Nevada resident Stephen Paddock killed at least 59 people and injured 527 others.
Megachurch Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, has meanwhile noted that at times such as this, many people question why God would allow so much evil, if He is both all good and all powerful.
The shooter’s brother, Eric Paddock, who earlier said that his family was “dumbfounded” by the news of the shooting, which took place on the Las Vegas Strip, has since described him as a “multi-millionaire real estate investor” and a retired accountant, who was also a heavy gambler.
Sky News reports that the suspect lived in a two-bedroom house in the retirement desert community of Mesquite, and had a second home near Reno. Both homes were apparently worth more than $700,000 in total.
Although police found 23 guns in his hotel room, as well as “in excess of” 19 firearms and explosives at his Nevada home, Eric Paddock has claimed that his brother was “not an avid gun guy at all.”
What is more, he said that he had “no religious affiliation, no political affiliation” that he was aware of.
The brother further revealed that their father was Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, a convict who remained on the FBI’s most wanted list for eight years after escaping from prison in 1969, where he was serving a 20-year sentence for a string of robberies.
The Islamic State terror group separately claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday, describing him as one of their soldiers.
The terror group provided no evidence for its claim, however, and the FBI has said that they have found no evidence that Paddock was linked to international terrorist groups.
Mina al-Lami, who monitors jihadist groups for BBC News, added that another problem with IS’ story is that Paddock appears to have taken his own life before police could reach him at the Las Vegas hotel, from where he carried out the shooting.
IS soldiers, on the other hand, are known to carry out suicide bombings or die in shootouts.
Laura Dugan, professor of criminology at the University of Maryland, told Reuters that Paddock’s age makes him a rare case when it comes to mass shooters.
“Most shooters are fairly young,” Dugan said. “Right now with this particular case, it’s baffling. Why would a guy in his 60s who seems to be well off go and do a thing like that?”
Laurie wrote on Facebook Monday that the problem of suffering is a difficult one for Christians to tackle.
The pastor suggested that people who question God’s goodness for allowing evil “are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness.”
“But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe?” he positioned.
“God isn’t good just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His Words or actions. God is good because He says He is!” he wrote.
He continued: “You see, God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character — and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character. So God is good. Period.”
As for why God allows evil, Laurie pointed out that Adam and Eve were created innocent, but chose to sin.
“The point to keep in mind here is that humanity — not God — is responsible for sin,” Laurie wrote.
The pastor said that God gave people free will, which means that humans are capable of both sin and of love.
“You and I can choose to love God. And if we’re realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice,” he wrote.
Laurie admitted, however, that it is difficult to answer why God allows bad things to happen to good, or godly people.
“There are times I just don’t know why God does or does not do certain things. I, like you, am mystified by a lot of it,” he wrote.
He urged people to prepare for suffering, warning that they are either coming out of a storm, or heading into one.
“Events like this remind us that life is short and eternity is real and very close. This is why all of us should always be ready to stand before God,” he concluded.
“And the only way to be ready is by having put your faith in Jesus Christ.”