Is Believing in 'God' Reasonable?--Part 6
If God is 'all-good' and 'all-powerful' why is there suffering and evil in the world?
The argument often goes, “If God is all-powerful He can defeat evil or not allow it at all, and if He is perfectly good He should want to, but we see evil in this world and it is not defeated so either God is not all-powerful or not all-good or there is no God.”
Evil is not a ‘thing’ like a piece of bread, or a watch or a car. Evil is a choice against a set standard and some level of suffering is the result. (breaking the speed limit/a ticket)
God did not create evil but created the world with the possibility of evil. If God created the world as it is then maybe He could be accused of not being all-good. But if our world is not as it should be but is degrading because of evil and the judgment of evil, then God could have created the world perfect and allowed evil as a result of choosing against His perfect good. This would mean that God could still be perfectly good in HiHisHisHisHiHis nature but evil could still exist in our world.
Believe it or not, but this world is the best possible world if the choice to love or do good is possible! Without a legitimate choice to do wrong you cannot have a world where freedom exists—where there is no freedom, there is slavery or ‘robotic choices’ and true love cannot exist. Forcing someone, or making it their only choice to ‘love’you or to ‘do good’ never has value to the person desiring love or good because it is not genuine.
You can make a computer program say ‘I love you’ over and over but the computer does not truly ‘love’ you--it is only doing what it is programmed to do and can do nothing else. Even an all-powerful God can’t create a world where there is real love with no choice!
Think about it: How could you create a world that had authentic love or good but the people in your world never had a chance to ‘prove’ their love or goodness by choosing differently?
If you were totally righteous, what would the opposite or necessary outcome of not choosing love or good be in your world besides evil and suffering? If there is light there must be darkness. If there is good there must be evil. If there is love there must be hate. You cannot differentiate one without having the other. It can be possible that God couldbe all-good or ‘love’ without there being evil (such as before the world was created) but we wouldn’t know it without a choice and something to differentiate His goodness.
So God allows a certain amount of evil andsuffering in the world but does not create it nor desire it. (like a parent holding their child down so they can be given a shot—painful for the child but a necessary ‘evil’ for the health of the child)
God will overcome evil and do away with it once its purpose has been fulfilled—but not before, and that is the stage we are in now. In fact it is precisely because God is all-powerful and all-good that there is hope that good can come out of evil.
The world is not as evil as it could be nor does it have as much suffering as it could have and this is proof that God has the power to only allow as much to go on as He sees fit for His own good purpose. (giving time for repentance, showing His patience and love, the desire in humans for something greater/better, etc.)
The suffering that exists in the world by natural means (starvation because of drought, death by hurricane, storm, fire, etc., death or malformation of infants, cancer, etc.) is a resultof the physical universe and our bodies being abnormal to how God originally created them. Sin, evil, death and selfishness entered the world with Adam and Eve choosing against God. Originally the universe and humans were created without evil but now the universe and our bodies are ‘winding down’ and suffering results from it. (Gen. 1-3)
But this does not mean suffering is purposeless because, as opposed to pleasure, it is often in our weakness, trials and pain that we find the deepest comfort, courage, and greatest character building. God is not detached or ‘above’ suffering, He embodied it when Jesus, as a poor son of a lower-class family, was beaten, tortured and hung on a cross to die to forgive us of the evil we commit—that is the God of love!
Sometimes we wonder why God doesn’t deal with the evil that other people commit when we might be the evil that other people wish God would deal with!
Also, if there is no God, then there is no real answer to the problem of evil and suffering now, and no ultimate justice someday—you ‘just have to deal with it’ and you are on your own in the world. But this idea betrays our inclination that there must be an answer for evil and our need for justice when wrong has been done.
“Justice delayed is not necessarily justice denied. There will come a day when God will settle accounts and people will be held responsible for the evil they’ve perpetrated and the suffering they’ve caused. Criticizing God for not doing it right now is like reading half a novel and criticizing the author for not resolving the plot!” —Peter Kreeft, Philosophy professor, Boston College
The beauty of the answer to the ‘problem of evil’for the Christian is that not only can our all-powerful God defeat evil and suffering, His all-goodness guarantees it! This is the best world for now, the best of all worlds is coming! (Rev. 21)