Friday, July 20, 2012

If there is a God, why is there evil?

Agnostics ask: If God is all-powerful and all loving, then why does He permit evil and suffering in the world? Another agnostic asked, If there is a God, why is there evil? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there so much needless suffering in the world, from natural disasters and such? Why would a loving God do this? Numerous and various answers have been given but permanently settling the issue is impossible because so many of our answers raise further questions. Nevertheless, the lack of ability to answer the question perfectly does not mean that we cannot offer solutions. Of course, I do not assume to be able to answer these questions definitively, but I can offer some solutions.
I will begin by saying let us first consider the meaning of the word “evil”.  
What is evil?
Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary, as does the analysis of its root motives and causes; however, evil is commonly associated with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, disobeying the commandments of God or gods or the rules of society, discrimination designed to harm others, humiliation of people designed to diminish their psychological well-being and dignity, destructiveness, motives of causing pain or suffering for selfish or malicious intentions, and acts of unnecessary or indiscriminate violence, in contrast, there can be no such thing as evil apart from the existence of God. Why not? Without God, without a moral law giver, we would not have any objective (real) standards (laws) by which we might deem something to be evil. We would not be able to conclusively say, “Kidnapping children and murdering them is evil.” We could say, "We don't like these things." But we could not call that kind of behavior evil (that which is morally wrong). It would just be a matter of opinion (one man's opinion against another's).

In non theistic universe, where no moral laws really exist, there could be no such thing as evil. And yet evil does exist! The existence of evil is the number one reason most non theists give as to why they don’t believe in God. They are convinced that there is evil. They point to things like slavery, racism, rape, kidnapping, molesting children, murder, and they say, “These things are truly evil.” And rightly so! These things are evil!
Well, it is this evil that actually exists that verifies there is an actual, objective, real moral law in the universe. But there can be no such thing as an objective moral law apart from a moral law giver, God.

So as complex as this might sound, the reality of evil is actually evidence for the existence of God, not against it.

There are two kinds of evil:
Moral and physical. Moral evil is willful sin, while physical evil is natural harm. Examples of moral evil are murder, adultery, fornication, theft, sorcery, abortion, etc. Examples of physical evil are famine, illness, natural disasters and death. Now evil is not something in itself, but a lack of something that should be present, e.g. a lie lacks in truth. God does not create evil since it is not a thing to be created. Evil is an imperfection, lack or void in God's creation.

Focusing first on moral evil:
If there is a good God, then why did He create morally evil people? In considering this question, we must realize that God does not create evil people (Gen. 1:26-31). Being all-knowing, God does knowingly create people who will be sinners, but knowledge and control are different. God created us with the gift of free will - the ability to willfully choose Him or reject Him. We choose to sin - to reject God - through willful disobedience. This rejection is a void in God's plan for us.
God gave Adam dominion over the world (Gen. 1:28). When he rebelled against God, he set in motion an entire series of events and changed the very nature of man and creation. Both were affected by sin. Creation was no longer a paradise, but bore thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-18Rom. 8:22). People became sinful (Rom. 5:12Eph. 2:3), who were haters of God (Rom. 3:9-12), etc. The only conclusion to such a situation is death. Jesus said, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened" (Matt. 24:22).
God wants us to love Him, but without free will, we could not sincerely love Him. We cannot be forced to love someone. If God created us without free will, we would be living machines and not made in His image and likeness. God permits moral evil to the extent that He gives us free will. Thanks to us, the moral evil in the world is the result of our choice.
Focusing next on physical evil, the question can be stated as:
"If there is a good God, why are there pain, suffering and death in the world?" Perhaps a harder hitting version is: "If there is a just God, why do good people suffer?" Now suffering does serve a purpose in the material world. Pain retards us from damaging our bodies. I do not put my hand in fire mainly out of fear of pain.

Material things operate according to physical laws. For example, fire operates according to the laws of thermodynamics. The same laws which allow us to heat our homes during the winter, can allow our homes to burn to the ground. To prevent the latter evil would require a miracle - a suspension of physical laws. God permits physical evil to the extent that He does not perform one miracle after another in order to stop suffering, thus causing the ordinary to become extraordinary. Physical laws also apply the same to both good and bad people (Matt. 5:45).
Sin is rebellion against God and His created order, but God has not left us alone in this fallen world. He continued to enter this world, pointing us to Himself, to truth, to morality, purity, and love. He used the evil of the world (liars, perjurers, the envious, etc.), to bring His Son to the cross so that we might have the opportunity to obtain eternal life. In this, God has not stepped away from fallen creation, but has stepped into it by becoming Jesus. God works within the fallen world to effect change and He uses fallen people to accomplish His will, in the same token and simultaneously, He is proving His sovereignty over evil, suffering, and rebellious people, proving that sin and evil are utterly futile, and that He is worthy of honor and glory.
Our sinful world is the unfortunate result of human choice; not even Satan can force us to sin. Pain, suffering and death are integral parts of the material world due to Adam's sin, but Christianity offers hope through the suffering of Jesus Christ. Evil in this world is not a disproof of God, but a constant reminder of our need for the perfect God of the Bible (2 Cor 1:8-9).


Special thanks to the following:
Matthew J. Slick of Carm Org
Charlie Campbell, Director of The Always Be Ready Apologetics Ministry
Philosophy Org
Reverend M. James Divis, S.T.L.
Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D.
Christ Nation Ministry

By: Max Shimba, A Bond Servant of Jesus Christ

Copyright Statement
This entire website is copyrighted by Max Shimba. All rights reserved.
Max Shimba grants permission to copy this material
for noncommercial purposes intended to further
the spread of the Word of God. If you copy any material
into any medium readable on the internet, you must
include a link
 to the page or pages you have copied.
Linking to us: If you find this page helpful, you
are welcome to post a link to it from your website,
using whatever words you think are most descriptive.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of the Zondervan Corporation. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society.
© 2012, Max Shimba Ministries

No comments: