“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of evil people, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”
Why Does God Allow Evil & Suffering?
by Mark Karapetyan
The reality of evil and suffering is perhaps the greatest challenge all humans struggle with all over the world. At times, even the brightest thinkers are baffled by the seeming contradiction between the existence of a powerful God and the fact of evil. The “problem of pain and suffering,” as the well-known Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, once called it, is “atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.”
It seems as if evil and suffering are unavoidable and part of our reality we live in. How true are the words of a philosopher who once said that “people around the world have either suffered, are suffering right now, or will suffer in the near future.” Just look at the world today, the entire planet is engulfed in total chaos. More than two billion people are homeless, hungry, and poor. Every year millions die from cancer and other fatal diseases; many more die from accidents, serious crimes and natural disasters. Where is God? If He really exists, why doesn’t He once and for all put an end to the problem of pain and suffering?
In this short study, I am going to address the intellectual side of evil, pain, and suffering-the side that’s often called the “intellectual problem of evil.”
What is Evil?
There have been many arguments used to accuse God of being the creator of evil. Here is an example:
- God is the creator of everything that exists.
- Evil exists.
- Therefore, God is the creator of evil.
At first glance, this argument appears to be logically sound. But are the premises true? I believe the problem with this argument is the second premise, that evil exists. It is very crucial for us to understand that God did not create evil. He is not responsible for the wars, the crimes, the oppression, or even the natural disasters that cause people to suffer. Do you know why? Because if God created evil, then He is not infinitely good, and if evil exists despite of God, then God is not the creator of everything in the universe which makes Him not all powerful.
Therefore, we can conclude that evil is NOT a created thing. In fact, evil is not a thing at all. It is a lack in a thing. A hole in your shirt, for example, is not a thing; without the shirt, the hole cannot exist. Rust is not a thing; without a piece of metal, rust can’t exist. Similarly, evil is not a thing, without good evil, can’t exist. Evil is actually a good thing turned badly just like rust is good metal turned bad. As Christian philosopher J. P. Moreland has noted: “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”
Does the Existence of Evil Disapprove God?
Atheists, skeptics, and other critics argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering. They assume that the existence of evil disproves the existence of God…but is that so?
I remember once when I was speaking on the topic of ‘evil and suffering’, an angry atheist raised his hand for a question and stated: “Your God does not exist because if He did, then there would be no evil, pain, and suffering in this world. It’s logical; a powerful God would not allow evil, pain, or suffering. Evil, pain, and suffering exist. Therefore, God doesn’t exist. What do you say now?”
“I say this” I answered. “A good mom doesn’t allow her son to suffer and feel pain. A mom takes her son to the dentist to feel pain and suffering. The son feels pain and suffering. Therefore, mom doesn’t exist. It’s logical, what do you say now?”
The atheist smiled and accused me of “playing with words” to make my point.
In all honesty, I wasn’t playing with words at all. I was only trying to show the atheist how absurd his argument was. I firmly believe that evil proves the existence of God, and here’s why:
We would not be able to know evil if there was no good. There would be no good if there was no God. Because there is evil, there has to be a God; and because there is good there must be a God that defines what is good. Without a good God, it is impossible for good to exist. Where would it come from? Evolution? What’s the chemical makeup of happiness? Better yet, how can we scientifically obtain good ?
It is undeniable that God exists. He created the entire universe, including us; humans. God didn’t create programmed robots; He created humans with free will to choose as they wish. Because humans have free will to choose, they are free to choose good or evil. Imagine a world where humans have no choice but to choose good? How’s that free will when they can’t freely choose? Sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it?
Love = free will. You cannot have love, without the freedom of the will. If you love someone, you let them freely choose how to live their lives. You let them freely chose to accept or deny you. The phrase “free will” means that we are created with minds with which we independently think, analyze, draw conclusions, and make choices. If all choices resulted in good, there would be no moral choices.
Free will however, comes at a cost. Because humans can freely choose, they can also freely choose to do evil. They are free to reject God, kill, rape, lie, and steal. If God stops evil every time, how are humans exercising their free will? If God intervenes every time you choose to do evil, how is He letting you freely choose?
God is infinitely loving and just. If He doesn’t allow people to choose evil, then He is only partially loving. Remember, total love = total free will. If He loves humans, He MUST let them freely choose.
The problem is that we humans almost always choose evil over good. A knife on your kitchen table is not evil. When does it become evil? The moment you freely choose to stab someone with it. A gun in your bedroom closet is not evil. The moment you freely choose to use it to shoot and kill, then it becomes evil.
Ironically, we freely choose to go to wars, and then wonder why innocent civilians die. We freely choose to transport oil in giant tankers, and then are outraged when sea life dies because of massive oil spills. We freely choose to build houses right by giant volcanic mountains, and then question where God is when hot lava liquefies every living thing in its path. We freely choose to kill, rape, and steal, and then wonder why there is so much pain and suffering in this world.
The reason God doesn’t stop any person from ever doing anything they want to do is that doing so would necessarily mean violating that person’s free will… and that’s something that God will not do.
Without evil, there would be no free will. Without free will, we would be machines, and life as we know it would be impossible. Do machines have character, soul, or personality? Machines can’t experience joy, anticipation or pleasure. They aren’t creative, spontaneous, or inquisitive. They have no relationships, no sense of priorities and can’t make plans for the future and experience the satisfaction of accomplishment. They do not have free will.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived an old man with his only son. One morning a wild white horse walked to the old man’s courtyard and started munching on the grass. The old man and his son fell in love with the beautiful white horse, and decided to keep it.
The next day, the old man’s neighbors came and congratulated him. “What a lucky man you are neighbor, out of nowhere a gorgeous horse shows up and decides to stay with you” they expressed.
“Thank you friends, I guess I am a very lucky” the old man answered.
Several months passed. One evening while riding, the old man’s only son fell off the horse and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to the old man and said, ”we are very sorry to hear about the painful accident. What an unlucky man you are. Out of all the boys in town, your son is the only one that fell off the horse and broke his leg.”
With a deep voice and a sad look on his face, the old man replied “thank you friends…I guess I am very unlucky.”
Three weeks later, a war broke out in that far, far away land. The officials in the military went around town recruiting young boys to join the army to fight in the war. When the officials arrived at the old man’s house, they refused to take the young boy because he had a broken leg and could not fight. So they moved on to the next house.
The following morning, the old man’s neighbors came to him and said, “What a lucky man you are. The wild white horse saved your son’s life. All of our sons joined the army, but not your son.”
With tears in his eyes, the old man joyfully replied, “I guess I am very lucky. I thought a broken leg was very tragic, but a tragedy actually saved my son from imminent death.”
In one series of events, the old man and his neighbors didn’t know what lied ahead. In a single chain of episodes, the old man and his neighbors didn’t know what the future held. In many ways, we are very much like the characters in this story. Instead of wondering and complaining about why God allows evil and suffering, why don’t you wait until you meet God face to face, and then find out why He allowed you to suffer a broken leg?
If God allowed His only Son to suffer for a grander cause, what makes you think He will not do the same with you? There is no reason to assume that God cannot have a purpose for evil that results in good. A powerful God that can create the entire universe out of nothing can easily turn evil into good. Just ask Paul of Tarsus!
Remember that we all live in a fallen and a broken world. Jesus said that “the sun rises on the evil and on the good.” The laws of nature DO NOT discriminate against race, age, sex, or gender. They equally apply to all humans regardless of how good or evil they are.
Finally, next time someone asks you “why doesn’t God stop evil?” Ask them: “Should God start with them first?”
“To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”
APOLOGETICS - ARTICLES AND INFORMATION
- What is Apologetics?
- The Lost Truth
- Logic & Reasoning
- Truth & Reality
- Does God Exist?
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Design Argument
- The Moral Argument
- Who is Jesus?
- Satan’s Wish!
- God’s Dilemma!
- Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?
- Does God Answer Prayers?
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Was Noah's Flood Real?
- Are Miracles Possible?
- The Apostle Peter
- Does Archaeology Support The Bible?
- Science & The Bible
- How Can Jesus be the only Way to Heaven?
- Don’t All World Religions Teach the Same Thing?
- Undesigned Coincidences
- Are All Men Created Equal?
- Is the Bible Really the Word of God?
- Amazing Bible Facts
- The Blind Atheists
- Jesus Meets Einstein
- Did the Gospel Writers Tell the Truth?
- The Evolution Fairytale
- The Day Common Sense Died!
- The Philosophy of Jesus
- The Report (Part 1)
- The Report (Part 2)
- Are All Religions True?
- Are There Contradictions in the Bible?
- Are All Religions True?
- Why Does God Allow Evil & Suffering?
- Bible Prophecy
- New Age Christianity
- The Wager
- When God Cried
- What Happened to America?
- Don’t All Good People Go to Heaven?
- Jesus at the United Nations
- False Teachers
- The Conference
- Jesus & the Woman at the Well
- The Day You face God
- Was Jesus Really Crucified?
- The Blind & the King
- Is Jesus God?
- The Meaning of Life
- Hero & the Fake
- The Insanity of Pluralism
- Who is God?
- The Tree of Good & Evil
- The Confused Agnostic
- Lazarus Come Forth!
- When God Seems Silent
- Case #1101
- The Proposal
- The Prayer
- Roman Catholicism
- Jesus Meets the Pope
- First Century Jesus
- The Patterns of False Religions
- Timid Christianity
- The Foolishness of Life without God
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