How come bad things happen in the world? Rape, child abuse, tsunamis, hurricanes, war, and disease. The news is filled with accounts of the hurt inflicted on oftentimes innocent people. Why does an all-powerful and loving God allow this to happen? I have no doubt that most of us have wondered about the problem of evil from time to time. Especially when the hurt hits close to home.
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The Problem of Evil
If God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and really cares about us, surely he should be able to fix the evils in our world: the hurricanes and earthquakes; the diseases and famines; the tyrant who oppresses his people; and the drug industry that so disrupts society. If he has the ability to ‘fix it’ and yet does not, is he really all that loving? There are many people who use the evils in our world today as an excuse to reject the existence of a loving and caring God. And many others who, while not rejecting God, still question his motives and purposes; why does God allow all the hurts seen on the news or in my life?
The ‘Problem of Evil’, a topic that has occupied philosophers for ages. And it is one that has no easy answer, although many attempts are made. Some argue that God must allow evil if we are to truly have free will. Others will argue that suffering now can produce a long-term benefit for our eternity. And others offer other alternatives that are just as unsatisfying to the person who is hurting or deeply concerned about the hurting that is going on all around us.
I Trust God
I do believe that God exists. And that he is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing). And I believe that God is good, although not necessarily so when judged by human standards. I do believe that it is incorrect to overlay human concepts of morality onto our creator. He is, fortunately, not like us (can you imagine me as god). And his reasons and purposes are beyond our understanding. That God appears to be indifferent to the sufferings of mankind does not mean that he is, or that he is not at work in our world today.
For myself, I have no real answer to the problem of evil. But I choose to trust that God cares for me and that he is working through all the stuff that happens to me, whether I think it good or bad, to accomplish his purpose in my life (Romans 8:28). Living with an attitude of thankfulness does not make the problems go away. But it sure does affect my attitude and the way I view life.
God is At Work
While I am far from being a deist, I do believe that God has created a self-sustaining world. A world where he is not actively pulling all the strings. Children are born with defects, not because God made them that way, but because of genetic or other issues. People die and suffer from hurricanes. Not because God is punishing a particular place, but because of the way our weather systems function. Could God change them? I believe so. But it is apparent he does not always, if ever.
Many would have us believe that God’s desire for me now is that I would be happy, healthy, and prosperous. But I do not believe that to be the case. I have come to accept that what happens to me here is of little real (eternal) consequence, other than what God can work out in my life through it. And that what really matters is in the unseen eternal kingdom that God is preparing us for. My prayer for myself, my family, and for others is not that life would be dandy. Rather, that God would be glorified in us and in our response to what happens to us. And also that he would use the events and circumstances of my life to prepare me for whatever purpose he has awaiting me.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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This post was originally published on October 27, 2011
9 thoughts on “The Problem of Evil: Why Does God Allow Evil to Exist?”
I believe that God knows the end from the beginning, He is all knowing! If I could know what He knows, see through His eyes, I would make the same choices.
He wants us to come to Him in all circumstances, good and bad. We have free choice, ALL OF US, so we can choose to give Him all our pain and sorrow and accept a peace beyond our understanding.
To just trust him seems like the best course to me 🙂
No, I do not worship a heartless monster. I worship and serve the creator of the universe. My creator and my Lord.
This 'heartless monster', as you call him, gives you the opportunity to reject him and go about your merry way in this life as if you were god, just like he did Gottfried Wagner and every other person on this planet.
We could go round and round with this without resolution. But I have little to add that I haven't already shared so see no point in continuing.
"God does not interfere in our lives"
See if you remember Noah, flood, destruction of ALL humans except a handful because the world had gone evil.
The most loving entity would at least not watch his kids being raped for 41 years.
That is about 2/3rds of your life, Ed.
I am not asking that he kill every evil person, just that he free the victims trapped after a couple of days of raping. Like open a window, or get Friedl/Fritzl to leave a door open so that they escape, or that a neighbor is alerted by strange noises.
He parted the sea for Moses, he cannot open a door for his kids after they have been brutally raped for a few days?
A father who is willing to kill all life because it has gone evil by supposedly drowning them cannot do even that?
And you worship that heartless monster?
God does not interfere in our lives. And I suspect (if you believed in him) would generally be glad for that. How would you like it if you were forced to live a perfect life, especially if you knew there was an alternative?
God has his reasons for what he does, and in general they are beyond me.
If he does not intervene to impose his standard on us then some take offense when a human sinks into depravity and abuses his children. And if he does others would be upset because they would find themselves unable to do what they want.
"Why would his intervention make him different than what he is now?"
If you children were raped every day, and you intervened to stop it, would it not make you any different than it would have if you had stayed put?
And what if you instead just watched?
"And what makes your line the gold standard?"
That I am human. I cannot stand to see my kids raped for 41 years when I am able enough to stop it.
He could not see his son for a weekend, but can see his kids raped for 41 years?
"But what about the person who can help the down and out beggar and yet walks on by?"
He is uncaring.
If he is really wealthy and does nothing, he is really uncaring.
But imagine if he was infinitely wealthy.
Why would his intervention make him different than what he is now?
I agree that Gottfried Wagner's actions were heinous. But let's assume for a moment that God chose to intervene in such affairs. And further that he came to you to ask your advice on what kind of things he should intervene in. Now obviously you would recommend that he stop this kind of thing. And I would guess you would have him stop the Hitlers of our world and drunk drivers that kill innocent people. But what about the person who can help the down and out beggar and yet walks on by? Should he prevent that as well? Where would you draw the line? And what makes your line the gold standard?
If God were to intervene and prevent such atrocities
a. Would that making him more loving?
b. Would it make him more meddlesome?
Friedl raped his daughters and wife for 41 years.
And God the father watched this.
Yes, these are the mysterious ways of a loving God who does not want evil, but is bound by his promise to honor free will.
The free will of Friedl.
And that of his wife and daughters.
Seriously, isn't it arrogance that he is planning out or has planned out your purpose after you die rather than stopping these rapes.
Maybe after a day.
How long would you wait before you intervene if your children were being raped every day and you could?